Digital Curation and Genealogy

31 Oct

It’s been almost a month since my last post and I still haven’t found the time to continue my writing as I’m working full-mode in digital consultancy. I have plenty of stories left to tell but until I find the time to write them (probably around Christmas holidays) I invite you to view and share the news/stories I follow every week about genealogy & family history.

Some of you might wonder what digital curation is? It means I select, collect and archive relevant websites, databases and web portals about genealogy. I know the big ones out there (Ancestry, MyHeritage, etc) are fee-based so I am much more interested in free, volunteer projects that are available to anyone who has internet access. I mainly use the “magazine” model to present my updates about family history: some are selected automatically but mostly I hand-pick my articles:

My topic: Researching Genealogy Online

My magazine: Digging up our Roots Online

I tweet and retweet a lot about genealogy, culture, libraries and archives: I am also aware that not everybody likes the Twitter interface for reading so instead view my Rebelmouse page. It’s a much more fun and visual way of reading great articles and resources I find.

Interested in bookmarks instead? I use two separate sets of tools:

My Pearltrees : Team Genealogy

My Diigo group: Canadian Genealogy Online

The point of digital curation is also to share and annotate content so I welcome you to try (or retry) one of these tools and comment, correct or add anything that you might find interesting!

Paul Emery Genereux charged with manslaughter in 1923

16 Sep

There seems to be an endless supply of skeletons in the Genereux family I have been researching in Massachusetts. After Alfred Genereux and his stealing habit, his oldest son Paul Emery Genereux had his share of misdemeanor.

Paul Emery was born on the 2nd of July, 1892 in Somerville, Middlesex to Alfred and Mina Etta. Two years later, the young Paul got thrown in the air… by a cow!

Source: Boston Evening Transcript 5 Jun 1894, p.3 on Google News Archive

Source: Boston Evening Transcript 5 Jun 1894, p.3
on Google News Archive

He did get better and apparently suffered no serious mishap from this adventure. He married Estelle Courtney Snow on the 24th of August 1911 in Lynn, Essex. At the time, he was a clerk in a periodical store. For some unknown reason, they separated before 1920 as she remarried Dr Carolus Melville Cobb in 1919. Dr Cobb even adopted their only daughter, Courtney Estelle who was born in 1912.

But back to Paul: in 1918 he got drafted in WWI for a duration of about six months and in 1920, he is found living with his parents in Lynn where he is a professional photographer. I found many city directories entries for him in Lynn however starting in 1926, he was with a wife named “Anna M”. I had no record of their marriage but a quick look at the Massachusetts, Marriage Index on Ancestry revealed that they married in 1925.

While I was researching articles about him, I mangled his surname on purpose and fell on this article:

Source: The Boston Sunday Herald, 27 May 1923, p. 6 on

Source: The Boston Sunday Herald, 27 May 1923, p. 6

He was teaching his future wife to drive and they ran over a small child in the street. Now, I manually re-ran searches for Paul in the Lynn city directories from 1923 to 1926 and I couldn’t find any so does this mean that Paul and Anna were imprisoned? I’m still unfamiliar with the U.S. Court system and the mention “grand jury” speaks of trial and prison for me, am I wrong?

Whatever happened to them between those years, they remained married and living in Lynn on Gertrude street.  He became a mason, in Damascus Lodge of Lynn in 1948. He also registered in the WWII “Old Man’s Draft” in Lynn. Paul eventually became a commercial photographer of some renown: he is cited in several gardening photography credits from the 1950’s till 1970. He eventually died on the 19th of October, 1977. Anna survived him by 11 years, she died in 1988.

Source: Boston Herald American, 22 Oct 1977, p.23 on

Source: Boston Herald American, 22 Oct 1977, p.23

Alfred Genereux: from crime in Boston to fame in Lynn

14 Sep

Alfred Genereux: a 13-year old burglar

I love old newspapers, I mean I really do, especially being so far away from my country I really appreciate the fact that I can research my family history (or just history in general) from the comfort of my own home nestled in the French Alps countryside.  I have discovered several articles about my ancestors who went stateside in the late 19th century that helped me flesh out their lives in New Hampshire, California and Massachusetts.

Here is one individual that gave me plenty of hours of research in newspapers: Alfred Genereux, son of Paul Genereux. He was born on the 9th of November, 1862 in Quebec city. He moved with his family to Boston around 1869. He married Minnie Etta Cash (daughter of Charles Emery Cash 1832-1907 and Elisabeth Chapman 1835-1886) on the 1st of March 1892, in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts. But before he was married, Alfred was a very naughty boy.

In the space of ten years, he got arrested at least three times for burglary and theft. On his first attempt Alfred was only aged 13!

Source: The Boston Post, 18 May 1875, p.3 on

Source: The Boston Post, 18 May 1875, p.3 on

Source: The Boston Daily Globe, 5 Jan 1876, p.5 on

Source: The Boston Daily Globe, 5 Jan 1876, p.5 on

Source: The Boston Herald, 8 Oct 1884, p. 4 on

Source: The Boston Herald, 8 Oct 1884, p. 4 on

Luckily, he put a stop to his youthful enthusiasm for shiny things and married his Etta. They had four children :

Alfred went on to become a Century Road Club Centurion for the region of Lynn, he won several bicycle races and became involved in local fraternities such as The Improved Order of Red Men, the Odd Fellows Society, the Knights of Pythias as well as local cycling clubs.

Source: Boston Globe, Sep 8th 1926, p.10

Boston Globe, Sep 8th 1926, p.10


Online Newspapers Archives Quick Tips

There are so many newspapers archives out there that it can seem a bit daunting so I’m sharing (again) a few tips for researchers out there who want to get the best out of newspapers.

  • Start your research by identifying a location (state, county, city, etc) that might have an online archive of newspapers. I use the U.S. Newspaper Directory from the Library of Congress to locate specific newspapers (online or not) and publication dates.
  • Don’t spell properly : OCR is not infallible so whenever I search for a surname (especially foreign ones), I use wildcards (they are your best friends in online research). A “*” to replace a given letter in a word and a “?” to replace the ending of a word.
  • Search for addresses and locations, names of businesses, neighbors you have found in census records, clubs and fraternities, etc. Anything that might be connected to the individual you are researching.
  • Check out Kenneth R Marks, the Ancestor Hunter’s Beginners Guide to Newspapers Research for Genealogy: this is the best info and updated lists of links to several newspaper archives in the U.S. and Canada

There is one thing missing out on big newspapers archives databases: the possibility to create alerts for a specific individual, newspaper or time frame in a given region. That would certainly help my research instead of having to crawl through the websites every so often to search for a reference.


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