The Irish Ancestral Research Association

2009 TIARA Meetings

January 10th, 2009

Janis Duffy and Margaret Sullivan

At the
Massachusetts State Archives

Mining the Boston Passenger Lists for Gold
Janis P. Duffy is the Reference Supervisor at the Massachusetts State Archives and coordinator of the Archives Volunteer Program. She is Past President of TIARA (The Irish Ancestral Research Association). Janis has been pursuing her roots for almost 20 years and has led several research trips to Ireland.
Janis spoke of the ships' manifests available at the State Archives, and showed interesting examples. Led by Janis, a team of volunteers has spent the last 12 years transcribing the records to digital form. Over 550,000 are completed, out of a million total records. They hope to finish in another 8 years!

Boston Police Archives
Margaret R. Sullivan became Records Manager & Archivist for the Boston Police Department in 2008. Ten years ago, her interest in family genealogy led to research on fallen Massachusetts police officers for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, including documenting the earliest line-of-duty deaths in Massachusetts. Eventually, she became the recognized expert on this subject!
Margaret showed many interesting photos and records of Boston's police, from the 1860's to the 1970's.

February 13th, 2009

Michael J. Leclerc

Research in Canadian Records, Part II

Michael J. Leclerc is the Director of Special Projects at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. His areas of expertise include the French and non-French in Eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes), general methodology and research practices, and genealogical writing and speaking.

Michael gave us a lecture on Canadian record sources last year. In this presentation, he focused on records that he was not able to cover in the previous presentation. The following links will be very useful in researching Canadian records:

Archives Canada
Archives of Ontario
Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales de Quebec
Canadian Genealogy Centre
New Brunswick Provincial Archives
Prince Edward island Public Archives and records Office
Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador
Public Archives of Nova Scotia

March 14th, 2009

Robert O'Neill
Marie Daly

spoke on

Irish Archives, Libraries and Genealogy Centres
The Health of Our Ancestors: Public Health from the Eighteenth Through the Twentieth Centuries

This meeting was sponsored jointly by the New England Historic Genealogical Society and TIARA, and held at the NEHGS Library on Newbury Street, Boston. NEHGS welcomed TIARA members to use the facilities of the Research Library on this day as their guests.

Topic: Irish Archives, Libraries and Genealogy Centres
Speaker: Robert O'Neill, Ph.D.
Robert K. O'Neill is the Burns Librarian at Boston College. He is the editor of Irish Libraries: Archives, Museums & Genealogical Centres.
Robert explained the history behind the creation in 1988 of the Irish Genealogical Project as a joint private/public venture to computerize all the major Irish genealogical resources. At one time there was a genealogical centre for every county in Ireland. Over the years, some have closed, some have become independent, and some are flourishing. Because the holdings vary from county to county, there was a need for a published guide to the genealogical resources available in Ireland. Robert's book has met this need.

Topic: The Health of Our Ancestors: Public Health from the Eighteenth Through the Twentieth Centuries
Speaker: Marie Daly
Marie Daly is Director of Library Services at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. She is the past president and co-founder of TIARA (The Irish Ancestral Research Association) and has been researching, lecturing, and writing about Irish genealogy since 1976.

Marie's talk covered the many diseases and epidemics that affected our ancestors, both in Irleand and in The United States, such as cholera, diphtheria, influenza, scarlet fever, smallpox, tuberculosis, typhus and relapsing fever, yellow fever, and malaria. She explained the attitude that immigrants were responsible for the illnesses, because of their low morals. It was many years before a more enlightened view of sanitation and the causes of disease became prevalent.

May 9th, 2009

Janis Duffy

Researching Vital Records At The General Register Office

This meeting was sponsored jointly by the Cape Cod Genealogical Society and TIARA.

This lecture focused on how to access and use the Birth, Marriage, and Death records at the General Register Office in Dublin, Ireland. Janis explained the process of using the Indices and showed examples of the actual records.

Janis P. Duffy is the Reference Supervisor at the Massachusetts State Archives. She is a member and Past-President of TIARA (The Irish Ancestral Research Association). Janis has been pursuing her Irish heritage for over 20 years. She has traveled many times to Ireland and Canada. Janis is a member of the Tiara team that has led several tours to Ireland and recently to Salt Lake City. She also lectures locally and nationally on many genealogy subjects, especially the Irish.

June 12th, 2009

Kate Chadbourne

Irish Fairies on the Edge

The fairies we encounter in Irish tradition are not those gauzy-winged wish-granting fairies made popular by the Victorians and immortalized by Walt Disney. On the contrary! The real Irish fairies are a lot more dangerous, and also a lot more interesting. With stories, music, folklore, and scholarship, Kate explores the earthy and mysterious dimensions of Irish fairylore and belief.

Kate Chadbourne has built her life's house at the crossroads of song, scholarship, poetry, story, and music. She holds a Ph.D. in Celtic from Harvard where she teaches courses in Irish language, folklore, literature, and storytelling. The stories she tells are mainly Irish folktales and medieval legends, often embellished with harp accompaniment.

The evening was made enjoyable by Kate's singing (with audience participation!), her harp and flute, and numerous stories of human encounters with fairies. These usually ended badly for the human! Many people were able to relate these stories to their grandparents' customs and expressions, for the belief in fairies is still alive in Ireland today.

Kate has a website at .

September 11th, 2009

Melinde Lutz Sanborn

The Irish of Ward One, Boston: Clues & Misdirection from the Census

A fellow and vice president of the American Society of Genealogists, Melinde Lutz Sanborn is one of only fifty living genealogists elected to the Society, based on the quality and quantity of their published work. A cultural anthropologist and archivist, she is also vice president of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council, CEO of the Graceful Companies, a Donald Lines Jacobus Award Winner, National lecturer, and noted author of numerous books, including Volumes I and II of The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635. Sanborn is editor of the New Hampshire Genealogical Record and co-editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. She is also the Program Director for the new Genealogy Certificate Program at Boston University.

Melinde Lutz Sanborn has closely studied the 1860 census for Ward 1, Boston, the area that is now called the North End. The unique characteristic of this Ward in 1860 was that the census-taker wrote down not just the country of birth, but the town!

As many of the inhabitants were Irish, this provides a valuable source to discover their origins.

Ms. Sanborn shared many insights into the population, the methodology for collecting census information, and the census records that are available to us for research. Three copies were made: and other published sources used the Federal copy for digitizing. She shared some examples of errors that were created when the copy was made from the State copy (usually the first good copy made from the census-taker's notes.) The third copy was for the county, and is very rarely found.

October 10th, 2009

John Canavan and Mary Ellen Radziewicz

Collecting and Chronicling Worcester's Irish

This was a joint meeting with The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 36, Worcester, MA, held at the Worcester Hibernian Cultural Centre, 19 Temple Street, Worcester, MA.

The meeting began with a presentation by Virginia Wright on the genealogical records from the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters, held by TIARA. Several interesting Foresters from the Worcester courts were featured.

John Canavan has built a spreadsheet of Worcester Irish vital statistics for the pre-1850 period. He found that the Catholic pre-1850 records were not included with the non-Catholic records in the submission to the state in 1848 - apparently they were handed in late! They were also incomplete. The pages were added to the record book as an afterthought. John displayed the information in the spreadsheet, including marriages and christenings gleaned from the Archdiocese records for that period.

TIARA member Mary Ellen Radziewicz presented a talk on the post-1850 Irish in Worcester. She participated in a project that recorded all the tombstone data from St John's Cemetery in Worcester, and shared her insights about their experiences.

Both speakers can be reached through the chat room at, and are willing to help researchers with requests.

After the talks, there was time for breakout discussions on the brick walls and issues unique to Irish research.

November 15th, 2009

Brian O'Donovan

The Wind that Shakes the Barley: Irish Songs of Rebellion and Insurgency

Brian O'Donovan is the host of WGBH's long-running Celtic Sojourn Radio Program. He has been a friend of TIARA for many years, working extensively with us in his role as Artistic Director of the ICONS Festivals.

Brian gave a brief history of Ireland through song, starting with the prehistoric builders of monuments such as Newgrange, through the flight of the earls in 1608, the English Penal Laws, The Ascendancy Rule, and the 1798 Rebellion. Brian sang songs such as "The West Awake" to illustrate the history.

This meeting was the Annual Banquet, held at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, with delicious food and a roaring fire in the fireplace to add to the festive atmosphere.

December 11th, 2009

David Lambert

Researching in Canada, Nova Scotia & New Brunswick

David has been on the New England Historic Genalogical Society staff since 1993. His interest in genealogy started at the young age of seven, and has increased over the past four decades. He has published several articles in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register; the New Hampshire Genealogical Record, Rhode Island Roots, The Mayflower Descendant, and New England Ancestors magazine. His genealogical expertise includes New England and Atlantic Canadian records of the 17th through 21st century; military records; and Native American and African American genealogical research in New England. He has published A Guide to Cemeteries in Massachusetts (NEHGS, 2000), and Images of Stoughton, Mass. (Arcadia Publishing, 2001). David has been a Civil War re-enactor for the 12th Massachusetts Infantry. He is a Life Member of the New Hampshire Society of the Cincinnati. He is currently the tribal genealogist for the Massachuset-Punkapoag Indians of Massachusetts. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Stoughton Historical Society, of which he has been a member since the age of 10. David is currently authoring the vital, church and cemetery records for the town of Stoughton, Massachusetts.

David spoke about research in Canada; specifically in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Many Irish immigrants came through these provinces, as the boat fare was cheaper and the immigration laws were more favourable. Later, some of them emigrated again to New England.

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