Irish Genealogy Newsletter - Boundary Changes

Hi Folks. Wow, it’s almost March (hopefully spring is just around the corner).

My upcoming presentations include:
March 1, 2011, 7pm, Hands-On Workshop for Course I – Searching US Records, Irish American Cultural Institute at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY, event details
March 3, 2011, 7pm, Hands-On Workshop for Course II – Searching Irish Records, Irish American Cultural Institute at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY, event details
March 8, 2011, 7pm, Course I - Searching US Records for your Irish Ancestors, Ontario Public Library, Ontario, NY
March 16, 2011, 6:30pm, Course I - Searching US Records for your Irish Ancestors, Ogden Farmer's Library, Spencerport, NY

At the hands-on workshops (March 1st & 3rd), each participant will be at a computer as I show you how to take advantage of several important websites (see event details). For non-IACI members there is a small fee, all of which goes to the organization for future programming. There is no charge for the March 8th or 16th courses.

Last Friday night I had a chance to watch Who Do You Think You Are. It was a great show featuring Rosie O’Donnell (this was a “kinder and gentler” Rosie). Included was a great segment about “life” in a Poor Law Union workhouse. You can watch the entire program at (In a recent newsletter I listed online links for viewing several of the genealogy TV series, see

Changing boundaries can cause problems for researchers. I’ve heard of families that lived in one house for many years, yet because of boundary changes they “resided” in multiple states and multiple counties. If you are not finding your ancestor, you may need to look in bordering jurisdictions. Just to confuse us, there are some entities which straddle a border like Rushville, New York which sits in both Yates and Ontario counties. When researching an area, it’s important to understand the “genealogy” of the town, county, etc. There are tools that can help with this challenge.

There are interactive boundary maps for the US which allow you to scroll through the years and watch the county/state boundaries change. Here’s three examples: No charge. No charge. Not currently working but has other content. $ Has features which the no charge options do not have.

In Ireland, the boundaries of counties and civil parishes have been relatively stable. However, boundaries were somewhat invisible to the Irish. So they may live in one county and go to church or “do business” in a convenient market town in the next county. Church records and even civil records may not be recorded in a family’s home county if they lived near a boundary.

Irish Catholic parish and church boundaries have not been stable since the early 1800s. As Catholics were allowed to worship publically, many more churches were needed. Several sources indicate Catholic boundaries, but they usually represent just a one-time snapshot which may not be relevant to the timeframe that you are researching. An Irish Catholic Directory may help. These directories list dioceses, parishes, churches, and priests including historic & current parish names. Published annually since 1835, several past directories can be found on Google Books. For current-day info see

Take Care,