Tag Archives: Stephen Peirce

Research Tip of the Week.

Social networking and the genealogist.

“For the times they are a changing”, Bob Dylan’s immortal words can be applied to many things, not least genealogical research in the digital world. The greater availability of records online and the surge in global interest in family history over the past decade has meant that never has there been as much genealogical information available to as many people.

While the “digital revolution” dramatically altered access to records, in many ways it didn’t alter the practice of genealogy to the same degree, records were still studied and mined for information in the same way. However, one aspect of the “digital revolution” which is truly changing the practice of genealogical research, is social networking.

Where in the past the genealogical researcher may have ploughed a lonely furrow, with the advent of social networking, new opportunities to engage with others ploughing similar furrows have been created. Blogs, family trees, message boards, etc. all offer new possibilities in terms of sharing information and advice.

Below are some tips on how to take your first steps in genealogical social networking.

Age is but a number Many think of social networking as the preserve of the youth, but ‘silver surfers’ are one of the major growth groups in the sector. You’ll be amazed by how many of your contemporaries are already networking.

Do your research – As with anything to do with genealogy, it’s worth putting research in. Don’t simply join the largest networks or those marketed most actively at you. Seek out the groups and sites most relevant to your line of research. This can be done by focusing on a geographic location or family name.

Connect, like, follow – When you’ve identified the groups, organisations and sites that are relevant to your research, connect with them through your preferred medium (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, newsletter, etc). You’d be amazed how many are running events that could be of use to your research. One such example is Eneclann and FindMyPast’s “Ask the experts” Facebook Q&A events which are held during the year (Next event: Friday 20th February on Irish central’s Facebook page).

Be active not passive – When you find information of use in discussion groups or forums don’t just read it and move on, be brave, post a comment or if you don’t find what you’re looking for, start a discussion topic, you never know who might reply!

The genealogical landscape is no longer shaped by long straight furrows, but rather a criss-cross patchwork of intersecting research. Get out there and make some connections, you never know where it might lead, or who it might lead to.

 By Stephen Peirce

Expert Researcher at Eneclann.

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Research Tip of the week.

Each newsletter we offer you a research tip written by one of our expert researcher’s, in the hope that we can somehow help along your genealogy path. This week Stephen Peirce has written a research tip on….

Researching Families.

When researching families we often use evidence from civil certificates to guide our searches. In particular townland addresses are of use to avoid doppelgangers where a name is common.

However, addresses can sometimes be more instructive on certain documents than others. For instance, a series of birth certificates for the issue of marriage can offer an indication of how long a family were resident in an area. If five children were born in the same townland over a 10 year period, it is a safe bet that the family were resident in that townland for those 10 years.

Therefore, even if you’re only interested in a direct ancestor, often obtaining birth certificates for older or young siblings can be useful if you’re experiencing difficulties in locating a family outside of the birth of an ancestor.

One to be wary of however is residence at time of marriage. Time and again we see instances where the residence recorded for individuals, particularly men, is just that, their residence when they married, rather than actually their place of origin. In particular be wary when dealing with potentially ‘nomadic’ professions, such as ancestors that may have worked as labourers on the railroad.

A good rule of thumb if you believe the recorded townland may not be the place of origin is to turn to a census (if the event is between 1880 and 1930), census substitute (if the event is before 1880) or best of all the Cancelled Books, and see if the surname is in that townland. If there’s no sign of the surname, this may be an indication that you need to broaden your search.


By Stephen Peirce,

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