Monday February 24, 2014 | 10:31 AM

Be sure to check out the oral history link:  www.curtislibrary.com/record-your-story/               

A genealogy room located on the second floor level of Brunswick’s Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick opened on Thursday, February 20th.

Brian Bouchard, 38, is a lifelong Brunswick resident and the chairman of the Pejebscot Geneological Society. He’s also the Vice-President of the Maine Genealogical Society. He says the genealogy room is needed in the Mid Coast area.  “It opens up space in the library for local people to meet, exchange, preserve, research and publish their family’s historical data,” he says. A unique feature of the Curtis Memorial Library’s genealogy room is a book scanner created inside of a lobster trap.

Brunswick Genealogy Room Bouchard and Doucett

Brian Bouchard is chairman of the Pejepscot Genealogical Society with Elisabeth Doucett library director of Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, in the genealogy room with a book scanner created inside of a lobster trap in the background.

Thousands of families probably still keep their genealogy information scattered among relatives who store old photographs and hand written notes in fancy cardboard boxes. Unfortunately, the oral histories associated with a family’s memorabilia often loose authenticity after only a few generations. Therefore, collecting, storing and publishing genealogies helps to maintain the integrity of a family’s oral history.

L'Heureux genealogy family data

L'Heureux family data stored in a photo album provides the names of multiple generations of ancestors including Morin, Martin, Savoy (Savoir), Sanfacon, Valincourt and LaValley

Family histories are important because they’re inclusive of a community’s memories. The ability to retain genealogical information can help educate future generations about where our ancestors came from and the history of the times during which they lived.

Franco-Americans enjoy particularly accurate genealogical data because clerics and notaries carefully documented vital statistics associated with religious affiliation and the transfer of property among the colonial settlers of New France. This attention to detailed records persisted since the first settlers arrived and continues today.

Details in researched family records, conducted by generations of professional and amateur genealogists, can verify most of a family’s oral and “jotted down” history. Moreover, previously documented data can be verified as new information is revealed.

In other words, genealogy is not just about the past but it’s also a foundation of information for research by future generations.

Volunteers and professional researchers who support local genealogical societies have accumulated documentation about multiple generations of people who were the ancestors of those that are the researchers of today.

David Nadeau in Brunswick Curtis Memorial Library Genealogy Room

David Nadeau of Brunswick attends the opening of the Curtis Memorial Library genealogy room, located on the second level floor of the building.

By relying on repeatedly cross referenced data, an amateur genealogist can trace a family tree back as many as 12 generations with confidence about the information being accurate. Research validated by the work of others is also widely available in extensive data bases, stored in electronic files. As a result, those myriad of vintage photographs and bits of paper with the family’s vital statistics, often stored in boxes and packed in closets, can now be digitally protected for the future genealogists to access. 

But, data collection, vital statistics and history notwithstanding, the fun part for amateur genealogists is the discovery, through research, of the family names of people we have been related to, from the past.

For example, Bouchard traced his family tree to his earliest first generation ancestor who was Stephen Hopkins, a 1620 passenger on the Mayflower, with the Pilgrims who signed the Mayflower Compact.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hopkins_(Mayflower_passenger)

Bouchard’s French-Canadian ancestry includes his great-grandmother Pauline Therriault, who came to Tophsam, ME to find work in the area’s mills.

On April 5, the Maine Genealogical Society welcomes the internationally known photo detective Maureen Taylor to speak about her work. She helps people to resolve photo-related mysteries. Check the website https://www.maineroots.org/ for more information.

 

About this Blog

Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.

Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at Juliana@mainewriter.com.

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