Friday, August 14, 2015

The Ancestor Investigator: Serious TherapyAuthor Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PL...

The Ancestor Investigator: Serious TherapyAuthor Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PL...: Serious Therapy Author Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS © 22 June 2015 Many of us do it naturally without thinking about it. We have a nat...
Serious Therapy Author Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS © 22 June 2015 Many of us do it naturally without thinking about it. We have a natural interest in where we come from. Relatives would call us the family historians, the keepers of the past. "No need to do my family history, Aunt Mary has already done it". However it may not be as simple as that. I have been busy taking Horticultural Therapy courses through the Toronto Botanical Gardens as well as taking the Garden Design Courses from George Brown College. It has taken me years to realize what my high school guidance counselor had discovered on the career aptitude test that I wrote. Apparently I liked the arts and the outdoors; I also knew I liked sciences and history. The problem with that was I had no real direction as to what career path I should take. I truly wanted to be an artist but how could I fit that into a sustainable lifestyle. Sustainable being the optimal word. If that aptitude test had been more detailed it would have shown me that the creativity I possess from a long line of ancestors need not be delegated to one discipline, which I am now learning in my 50s. While researching my family history I always felt a sense of complete well being physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. All these components of my life strengthened the more I delved into my past. I suffer from Fibromyalgia which can cause all sorts of physical, mental and emotional challenges and becoming involved in genealogy was one of the best therapies I could have ever embraced. When I first started looking for my ancestors, I did not think of it as a therapy but rather a curiosity itching to be scratched and boy did I scratch that itch all the way to becoming a professional genealogist. One thing I suffered through was sciatica down my left leg. I could not function for over half a year. What helped me through the pain was the deep concentration I put into searching for my ancestors online; the Internet was a genealogy gift for me at that time. Physically I was able to stretch my leg out while on the computer and mentally I was able to forget the pain as I searched through census records, birth, marriage and death registrations as well as church records and other family history records I could locate at the click of the keyboard. Anxiety and depression are other fall outs from Fibromyalgia that I intermittently suffer from and I find that researching for myself or others helps me battle these mentally debilitating challenges in my life. I am sharing these intimate details of myself with my readers because I want you to understand that there is a serious therapeutic importance in doing genealogy. I always knew that doing one's own research put you in closer contact with your ancestors. After spending a full year searching for my great grandfather's baptismal record, and finding out that he had been baptized twice in the Catholic Church, once as a baby by his Catholic mother and once before he married my Catholic great grandmother, as he was raised by his father who was Presbyterian, I certainly feel much closer to this mysterious and mischievous chap. Ah, but that is another story for another time. The point is that as I worked my way through my ancestors personal and not so personal records I began to understand myself, my parents and my grandparents better and for that matter my siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. As I began my professional work in the field of genealogy; really starting as a non-member volunteer with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the mid 1990s, I started to see the benefits of genealogy as a therapeutic tool for others. This included individuals looking for their aboriginal ancestors who thought they were only looking for proof so they could have membership with First Nations or Metis; many wanting hunting and fishing rights. I mention this because some genealogists would get frustrated with these individuals thinking they had the wrong intentions when it came to searching for one's ancestors. I looked at it and still look at it differently. I believe it does not matter the motivation for searching out one's ancestors as long as one is not doing so to harm someone else. Could the ancestors be trying to reach out and be found by their descendants, one cannot be sure, however if one is not motivated to do family history research for the sake of doing it, then some other kind of motivation could be just what is needed to grab the attention of those who may need to do their genealogy the most and not realize it; I am talking about the need for genealogy therapy here. As more and more clients came to me for consultations, I realized that what most wanted was to be listened to and heard. Yes they wanted to gain information from me on how to trace their line, but more importantly they needed to share their stories, be it about adoption, losses, separation or frustrations, they were all trying to learn more about themselves through their past. I can honestly say that of all the clients I have had home consultations with, all have left satisfied, uplifted and ready to face the challenges of continuing the quest for their past knowing that they may find unexpected events or nothing at all. It was the process that seemed to help them the most. It was not until I began my Horticultural Therapy journey this past year that I realized the significance of genealogy as a therapy for others in a more serious fashion. I began doing some investigative research online for scientific research that indicated the benefits of doing genealogy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there had been many different types of research on the benefits of tracing the past. Some studies referred to this type of genealogical therapy, as I like to call it, as narrative therapy, lineage therapy, reflective therapy, life review, life story work or reminiscence. A wide range of studies concentrated on different benefits including cognitive benefits, emotional benefits, spiritual benefits and physical benefits. Some studies find that psychotherapists are advising patients to rebuild family histories to help reconnect dislocated family and to develop cultural identity. Further, Dr. Murray Bowen from the 1950/60s suggested that in order for family therapist to better help their clients that they should understand their own family dynamics. Life Review studies have shown that some difficulties within a family and marriage may come from original families; we carry into a relationship what we have learned from our past relationships. Life Review has helped individuals recognize and take into account family conflicts from the past, while reminiscing re-enforces concentrating on positive memories in a group setting. Life Review and reminiscing has helped residents in nursing homes improve behaviour, elevate mood, increase self-esteem as well as decreasing depressive symptoms, the feelings of hopelessness and increasing life satisfaction better then when a comparable group concentrated on current event interventions. On the spiritual side of things, some studies have shown that some individuals have strengthened their connections of faith their ancestors followed. I have seen these types of improvements myself when working with clients of even younger ages. To say that genealogy is just a hobby is an understatement. Over the 20 plus years I have conducted genealogy for myself, others, in consultations, workshops and lectures I have seen the overwhelming benefits of it as a therapy for everyone that ventures down their historical family path. I continue to work in this field because of all those benefits mentioned not only for myself, but my family, friends and others that surround me. To understand where you are headed, you must understand where you have been and that includes your ancestors. Some serious therapy indeed. Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS The Ancestor Investigator

Monday, April 06, 2015

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2015 in Barrie

The Ontario Genealogical Society is hosting our 2015 Conference, Tracks through Time, at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario from May 29 to 31, 2015. If you have not yet registered, check out the OGS YouTube Channel to see the Conference 2015 speaker interviews: More information on Conference 2015 as well as on-line registration, can be found at Early Bird registration ends on 10 April.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Update to for Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913 URL: Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 URL: Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947 URL: What’s in the update? · The right side or second page of several ledgers were previously missing from the browse and have been added. · Several marriage records with years 1907 and 1926 were corrected to 1901 and 1920, respectively. · Other corrections were made to record or browse data based on member services tickets. · Additional fields have been opened for corrections in the image viewer.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Higher Learning in Genealogy Research

Are you looking for a convenient, cost effective place to learn more about how to research your family history. Try the National Institute for Genealogical Studies at

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Check too see all the useful record databases available to the Canadian Ancestor Hunt.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Safety When Doing Genealogy
Author Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS © 6 August 2014
Now some of you may not worry about your safety or the safety of others when it comes to researching your family history, but the longer you trace those lines, the more aware you become of the importance of safety in the genealogy field.  I have always tried to be aware of my safety while delving into my past or the past of others.  Yes, there are many things to consider safety wise when conducting genealogy.  Safety with your finances, safety with your information, safety with meeting others for the first time, safety in helping others,  safety in traveling, safe keeping of documents from fire, flood, mice and the dog and the list goes on.  As you start to gather information about your family, construct those pedigree charts and family group forms, you will need to keep in mind your safety as well as others.

Lets first talk about the number one rule when conducting genealogy, that is start with yourself and work backwards.  It sounds simple enough and you wonder why worry about the safety in this, but there are pitfalls in not working back methodically.  Oh sure there are times when one must work forwards or even sideways to find the path to the past and even when one must meander through the records of information in such a manner, safety is still a concern.  When starting with yourself one needs to be able to find the most recent records for themselves and eventually their forefathers and mothers.  Obtaining the records which have the evidence that links one to the next generation is necessary in order to be sure you are on the correct path.  If not you could spend years and money tracing the wrong line.  Secondly you must be aware of the privacy laws in your area; who can order your or your ancestor's birth, marriage and/or death registration in the 20th and 21st century.  This will all be mandated by the provincial/state or federal government depending which government is responsible for such laws.  Make sure you read the application carefully and try and order a long form or full certificate which most often will have the connection to the next generation you are looking for. 

When meeting others who claim to be a long lost cousin, be smart.  Don't meet alone; bring along another family member or friend.  Now days you can do Internet searches to find out who people are including Googling them, finding them on Facebook as well as on LinkedIn.  Ask older relatives if they have ever heard of the person(s) you want to meet up with.  I have met many distant relatives over my 22 years of conducting family history research and if I ever felt uncomfortable meeting someone, I always made a point of bringing along my mother, husband or a friend.  If you absolutely must meet up with someone on your own, I suggest meeting in a public place like a coffee shop or library.  That way you have other people around just in case the meeting does not go as planned.  These days with identify theft and fast paced technology anyone can get a hold of personal information.  The same holds true if you are trying to help someone with their genealogy project, if you don't know them find out about them or at the very least don't meet up with them alone.  Now don't let this scare you off of sharing your family tree with others, all I am saying is be careful when meeting up with strangers who want to compare notes; just be smart about it. 

When traveling to ancestral homelands, be sure you know the laws and regulations in the area you are traveling.  Not only is this smart advice for genealogist but all travelers in general.  This could mean anything from a speeding ticket to military occupation.  Make sure you know what you are getting into before heading back to the land of your ancestors.  Will you need a passport, visa and other documents to get to where you are going.  Also bring along maps and the GPS, if it works properly.  There is nothing worst then the GPS sending you down some unplanned route telling you that you have arrived at your destination on the right and it is not where you were suppose to be at all.  Bring water and some food with you.  If you are traveling in places like Arizona you may have long stretches of road a head without a place to stop for miles.  I really like to stop at all the tourist information offices.  First you get to take a rest in a place that is relatively safe, washrooms are at hand, maps are usually available for the area and helpful tourist information guides are very willing to help you out if you are lost or just looking for the nearest hotel; these guides know the inside scoop so don't be afraid to ask for their help.  Also remember to plan your genealogy trip a head of time.  There is nothing worst then showing up at a church, archive, library, etc. to find that they are closed for some holiday.  Oh yes and bring along a cell phone, you never know when you will need it, and it can come in hand if it has features like note taking, recording, a camera and any other app you  may need.

A side note about finances; shop around for the best price realizing the cheapest price is not always the safest route.  There are plenty of free websites out there, however some well recommended pay/per view websites may end up costing you less in time and money.  Ask others what they recommend and try to find pay/per view websites that may be offered for free at your local library or archive.   There is also the old fashioned way of researching through books and microfilm at local genealogical society libraries.  Also check you public library for access to local newspapers, voters lists and city directories; librarians and archivists are a wealth of information when it comes to their collections.  Be ware that time may be limited at various institutions in the way of help so prepare a head of time what questions you will ask and definitely bring filled out pedigree charts and any family group sheets to make things easier for all.
Lastly I want to talk about record preservation.  Keep your records out of the basement to prevent damage from floods, mold and mice.  The attic is a tempting place to store those records, however it can be too dry in the attic and records can become brittle and vanish into dust.  Pests can get into these records and eat away at them as well in the attic.  Watch that you store your records in temperatures and humidity levels that we humans enjoy.  I have a fire safe to keep my most treasured records in and filing cabinets and binders for others.  Of course storing your information on the computer is great as long as you have those records backed up.  Photographs need to be cared for properly as well.  Acid free pens and pencils should be use for labeling and never write on the back where someone's face is on the other side.  Acid free ink should not bleed through or eat away at the photo paper, but why take a chance; it could be the only picture you have of that relative.  Better yet scan those photographs and share copies of them along with copies of the records you have with other family members, that way if something does happen in your home you have recall from others.   I myself have an old cardboard picture of a Great Great Uncle that is turning to dust.  Luckily I had scanned the image years ago and thus Uncle Calixte will still be around for future generations to admire.  

Oh yes and don't forget to cite your sources as you will want to remember where you found the record, thus making it more reliable to yourself and others.  Also watch out for any copy right issues as each country has its own laws.  Better to be safe then sorry!  Here's hoping you have many years of safe genealogical journeys.  Happy Hunting!!


Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS
The Ancestor Investigator is also the Ancestor Whisperer!