Friday, April 29, 2016

Upcoming Event: Genealogy Club on French-Canadian Research

If your family descends from French-Canadians and you've been struggling to locate records, you're in luck! On May 7, the Godfrey Genealogy Club will welcome Maryanne LeGrow, president of the French-Canadian Genealogical Society of Connecticut.

Maryanne will discuss the types of records available for French-Canadian research; how they differ from American records; what challenges you might face when doing research; and what records you can access at the Society's library in Tolland and at the Godfrey Library.

Maryanne LeGrow

If you've yet to attend a Genealogy Club session, it's time to check us out. The Genealogy Club meets on the first Saturday of the month, starting at 9:30 a.m. For Premium members, admission is included with your membership. For Basic members and Guests of the library, admission is $10 per session.

Genealogy Club attendees are welcome to use the library after the meeting. Staff will be available to answer questions.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday's Tip: Using FamilySearch to Order French-Canadian Records

Most genealogists start by reviewing the same set of records, no matter what country they are researching: census, vital and church records, land records, probate files, military records, newspapers, and city directories. For French Canada, census records, military records, newspapers, and city directories may be online. But how do you find land and probate records?

You can order many land and probate records (called notaire records in Quebec) on microfilm and have them sent to the Family History Center at Godfrey.  To do so, go to and follow the instructions below.

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First, "sign in." If you don't have an account, you can create one by clicking on "Free Account." Once you are signed in, you'll be brought back to the main page. Click on "Search," and then "Catalog."

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Enter Canada and then the province name under "Place."

Entering "Canada, Quebec" and then clicking on "land and property" results in a number of titles related to the topic.

For example, click on Land Records, 1754-1857. Clicking on the title brings up a page about the item. Going to the bottom of page, you can see how the land records are available.

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This particular set of records is available on microfilm. Once you see the years you need, click on the film reel to order that roll.

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Follow directions to add it to your cart and have it shipped. Hope to see you soon at our Family History Center!

Friday, April 22, 2016

How a Gazetter Can Help Your Research

"Gazetteer" is an unfamiliar word to most researchers, but it can be a huge help in your research. 
Columbia Gazetteer
Also known as "geographical encyclopedia," a gazetteer provides detailed information about a place. This includes current and former names, the boundaries, major geographical features, and more.  

Why would you want to use a Gazetteer? Often our ancestors' places of birth, death, or marriage have changed names since they lived there. A gazetteer can help ensure that you're looking in the right place. It can also provide important hints about their way of life in that location, including why they choose to fish or farm, and what crops they might have grown. 

How do you access a gazetteer? Library members have access to the Columbia Gazetteer through Godfrey Scholar. To get there, go to, click on "Godfrey Scholar+" and log in. Then click on "Maps" and "Columbia Gazetteer."

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday's Tip: Getting Started with the Canadian Census

553px-lib maple leaf.png
Canadian Maple Leaf

Bonjour à tous! We're getting ready for our May 7 Genealogy Club meeting by delving into French-Canadian records. If you've never researched your Canadian ancestors and want to be ready for the meeting, the census is a great place to start.

Begin by visiting the Library and Archives Canada site. Canada began taking censuses in 1825 (well before Canada was a country!) and are open to the public up to 1921.

The first modern census was 1851.

To search a census, click on the year, and search census. You'll see the search screen next. 

Fill in as much information as you know, starting with the surname (last name).

The results will include the first name, last name, location, and an image of the census enumeration. Click on the links under the names to pull up the image.

To go back, click on "Census" on the left-hand side.

Need help? Feel free to stop by the library.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Upcoming Event: Using ResearchIT CT for Genealogy

We all loving hear the words "free genealogy resources!"

Did you know Connecticut residents have free access to a number of genealogy databases through the database ResearchIT CT (formerly IConn)? These include newspaper databases, genealogy specific websites, and more. 

To begin, go to

For genealogy specific databases, click on "Genealogy" on the left side of the page. 

Then click on the title, and if requested, enter your library bar code.

To get more help or to find out what else is available, join us for a session on using the ResearchIt CT website for genealogy on April 18, 2016 between 6-8 pm.

Please bring your laptop. The session is free to Godfrey Premium members and open to others at $15.

Pre-registration is required. Register by calling the library at 860-346-4375. Questions? Visit at

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday's Tip: Finding the Full Run of Connecticut Newspapers

With obituaries that provide date of death, social columns that track vacations, and more, newspapers can be a valuable resource - but how do you locate them?  

If your ancestor was from the Middletown area, Godfrey may have the resources you need at the ready. Middletown's Penny Press covered the area in the late 19th and early 20th century - and still does today as the Middletown Press. The Library has a nearly full run of newspapers on microfilm from 1885 to 1921, as well as an index covering 1884 to 1921. 

If your ancestor was from the Hartford area, try The Hartford Courant instead. If you're a Connecticut resident, did you know you can access historic issues on ResearchIT CT? To do so, go to, 

click on "Newspapers," the title you want to look at, and enter your library card number to begin searching. 

Stuck? Consider joining our next internet genealogy club, which will cover how to use ResearchIT CT. 
Happy hunting! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Celebrating Middlefield's 150th!

  Separated from Middletown in 1866, Middlefield is celebrating its 150th this year by acknowledging its history!

  Did you have Middlefield, CT heritage? Godfrey Library can be a great place to start... We have a number of books about Middlefield's past, including cemetery inscriptions, collections of historic photos and more.

Middlefield's cemeteries have also been completely photographed and are available as part of our Godfrey Scholar collection for Premium Members. 

Have a membership? 

Go to and click on "Godfrey Scholar +." 

Click on "Cemeteries." 

Click on "Connecticut, Middlesex County Cemeteries."

Click on "Middlefield, CT."

And click on the cemetery name to see photos. Often, our collection is better than what's available on Find A Grave, as it is photographed more completely and earlier, avoiding the recent damage to stones...

Looking for more Middlefield history? The Middlefield Historical Society and Wadsworth Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution are hosting a cleaning for Middlefield's Old North on April 30th at 9 am. More information available here. 

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tuesday's Tip: Where to Find Real Estate Deeds

Thanks to Al for today's guest post... Don't forget you can order deeds on microfilm directly from the Family History Library. 

Where to Find Real Estate Deeds

            The first two installments of this series discussed various uses of real estate deeds in genealogical research.  This installment will discuss where the researcher can find real estate deeds.
            When a property is acquired, an original deed is prepared and becomes the evidence of ownership for the buyer.   The genealogical researcher is typically interested in those deeds from the early 20th century backwards.  The writer has worked extensively with early deeds from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.  In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the early deeds were written on preprinted forms and then a copy was made into the master deed books maintained at the county level.  This was the process of recording the transaction onto the official land records.  In Connecticut, the deeds were recorded at the town level.  Each deed was referenced by its Book and Page number.
            These old deed books are available for inspection by the public at either the county or town repository.  In Connecticut, the town clerk will often not allow the general public to inspect these books, but will make copies requested.  Having a Godfrey Library card generally allows the holder direct access.
            A more efficient way to examine the old deeds is to view them on microfilm at a local Family History Center such as at Godfrey.  The Family History Library at the Church of LDS has microfilmed numerous old deed books around the nation.  For instance, the writer found all the old deeds on microfilm for his areas of interest in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Generally, there are also master index books for the old deeds, so obtaining the microfilm for the index books is the best place to start.  These books are typically divided by grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer).  With this knowledge in hand, the specific microfilm of interest can be ordered for viewing.  Knowing the year title passed on a property will not be sufficient to zero in on the correct deed book since often times the recording authority had multiple books going at the same time in which deeds were recorded and often times many months, if not years, passed between the date of the sale and the date it was recorded in the deed books.  To find these master indexes, search in the FHL catalogue with the state name, followed by the county name and look for land records.  In Connecticut, add the town name to the search string as deeds are recorded at the town level here.
            More recently, the FHL has been digitizing microfilms of these deeds.  This process has just begun; however, if you find a film of interest, the FHL will note if it is available for online viewing.
            Certain other towns and counties around the country have also been adding real estate deeds to their websites for online viewing.  This process will continue so conducting a general web search is also a good way to locate these deeds.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Volunteering at Godfrey

  Looking for a way to give back and love genealogy? 

          Have you ever thought about volunteering for Godfrey? 



We would love your help! Here are a few of the opportunities we offer.

Database builder: As a database builder, you will digitize materials or help transcribe information in spreadsheets. You may work with original church and funeral home records or on the Ed Laput Connecticut Cemetery Collection.
Family History Center Volunteer: Our in-house Family History Center offers patrons onsite access to microfilms rented from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. As a volunteer, you will help patrons use the films and, if needed, decipher records.
         Genealogy Researcher: As a genealogy researcher, you will respond to requests for research.
         Projects may be simple look ups or require more extensive research. 

          Marketer: As a marketing volunteer, you will help create blog posts, press releases, and
          other marketing materials.  Love programming? You may be asked to help revamp our website.
          Love people? Volunteer to "man" our booth at a genealogy conference.

         Presenter: As a presenter, you will give presentations at public libraries on our behalf. Topics can be an
         overview of our resources, basic genealogy, or something more specialized.

         Reference Assistant: As a reference assistant, you will greet patrons, offer tours of the library, and
         guide them in the use of our resources.

Did you know we offer benefits? 

Volunteers receive specific training for their volunteer task; monthly group training; and premium membership to the library, allowing online access, event entry and book sale discounts.

Want to join us? 

Call 860-346-4375 today!