M.C. Moran

Playground at St. John’s (Perth, Ontario) dedicated to three local WWII soldiers

From Let Them Be Kids — St. John Catholic Elementary School, an account of the dedication of a new playground to “two local fallen Canadian Forces heroes and one local Veteran.” All three came from Perth (Lanark Co., Ontario); all three served in World War II. The two fallen soldiers are Flying Officer William Kyle and Corporal James Michael McGlade. The veteran (who happily returned from the war to marry a woman named Rose, with whom he raised a family of seven children) is Corporal Francis E. DiCola.

James Michael McGlade was the son of Patrick McGlade and Elizabeth Cahill.

Blog Break

Slow blogging these days as real life intervenes. I’m still checking email, but response may be a bit slower than usual.

Back to (semi-)regular blogging in a few weeks, I hope. In the meanwhile, I recommend Lumbering Songs from the Ontario Shanties, put out by Smithsonian Folkways. The clips of O.J. Abbott are especially worth listening to. More on O.J. Abbott in a later entry —

John Joseph McCarthy, James McCarthy, and two unidentified

Courtesy of Ryan McCarthy (a descendant of Eugene McCarthy and his first wife Catherine Traynor), here’s a really nice studio portrait from about 1915 (taken at Perth, Lanark Co., Ontario):

Left to right: Unidentified (John Joseph McCarthy Sen.?); James Francis McCarthy; John Joseph McCarthy Jun.; Unidentified.

Only two of the four subjects (the two in the middle) can be positively identified. The two people in the middle are half-brothers: the young child is James Francis McCarthy (born 1912), son of John Joseph McCarthy (1869-1923) and his second wife Annie Powell; and the young man who is holding the child is John Joseph McCarthy (born 1893), son of John Joseph McCarthy and his first wife Catherine O’Dea. The man on the far left is probably John Joseph McCarthy Senior. The man on the far right is unidentified, though a notation on the back of the photograph suggests he might be an O’Dea.

Free Online Archives (and hair brushing by steam engine)

Advertisement from The Town Crier: or, Jacob's Belles Lettres, Birmingham, Nov 1866

In Birmingham, England, circa 1866, there was a “Professor Steele, Practical Hair Cutter,” who offered a yearly subscription to men’s hair care services.  “All Subscribers,” advertised Professor Steele (see advert, left), “will receive immediate attention from himself and Eleven first-class Men, and may have their HAIR CUT, CLEANED, SHAMPOO’D, AND BRUSHED BY STEAM, As often as they like, all the year round, in the largest, handsomest, and best-fitted saloon in the three Kingdoms.”1 Subscription price: One Guinea.2

Their hair brushed by steam? And just how did that  work?

Well, it worked by means of a Camp’s Rotary Hair Brush, of course, which was “propelled by a pretty bright Steam Engine, which performs its revolutions in a glass case, in a perfectly noiseless manner.” I have to admit, I cannot form a clear image of this device in my mind, not even after having read the accompanying paean to the THE ROTARY HAIR BRUSH in rhyming verse (“It rolls with soft mechanic power/Around the head with ease/And thousands who have tried it say/It cannot fail to please.”).

  1. The three kingdoms = England, Scotland and Ireland.
  2. 1 Guinea = 21 shillings, or one pound and one shilling

Census Returns: Access versus Privacy (with Poll)

Of course, I’d love to see full details, with all personally identifying information, for every Canadian census ever taken, up to and including the day before yesterday. But: I also realize there are genuine privacy concerns relating to the public release of personally identifying information.

The fact is, you can learn a lot from the recorded facts of the census, if you pay attention to the details. “Illegitimate” births; unofficial (and perhaps unacknowledged in the adoptee’s lifetime) adoptions (including, e.g., British Home Children whose birth names were erased/subsumed under the surnames of their adopters, or, perhaps, employers); “widows” who were not actually widowed; bigamy … look, I don’t mean to suggest that the census is just a big scandal sheet in tabular form, but I’ve seen examples of all of the situations just mentioned, and more, in currently publicly available Canadian census returns.

About a month and a half ago, when the US federal census of 1940 was first released, people were posting pages from the 1940 on facebook: ‘Here’s my grandmother in Detroit, Michigan!’; ‘Hey, Dad! Here you are, just five years old!’ Needless to say, I felt a pang of, well, envy, I suppose: under current rules and regulations, it won’t be until 2033 that we see the public release of the 1941 Canadian census, after all, and even the release of the 1921 Canadian census is a year away. At the same time, though, I couldn’t help thinking that 1940 is awfully recent (in historical terms, it is almost the day before yesterday): still well within living memory, and, indeed, a date that many people now living have actually lived through.

On the other hand, I have very little patience with the idea that the census returns should be destroyed just as soon as the data has been extracted and compiled into socio-economic profiles of the aggregate. I want to see the details; I think we should all have access to the details, once a certain amount of time (72 years? 92 years?) has elapsed. My perspective here has admittedly been coloured by the loss of the 19th-century Irish census (which, sob! I’m still not over…): a great loss not only to Irish genealogy and family history, but also to Irish social history and demography (but see Fiona Fitzsimons on Griffith’s Valuation as a census substitute).

Is the American 72-year rule too lax? is Canada’s 92-year rule too strict? What is a reasonable middle ground between access and privacy?

UPDATE (7 June 2013): Poll removed due to technical issues (basically, the poll plugin was slowing down the site).

Best general guide to Scottish genealogy? to English genealogy?

If I had to name just one reference guide to Irish genealogy, I would not hesitate to say John Grenham’s Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. As a general, all-purpose guide, there’s no question that this is the book: it is very well-written and very well-organized; both comprehensive and comprehensible; and also just smart and insightful, which makes it a pleasure to use.

Is there a comparable ‘the best general guide’ to Scottish genealogy? to English genealogy? and I suppose I should also add, to Welsh genealogy? (and why is Wales so frequently overlooked?)