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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Canadian Clippings

I've just learned from The Internet Guy that the New Brunswick Provincial Archives has added Daniel F. Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics to its website.

As someone who has thumbed through the 102 volumes of this collection at the Maine State Library, I know what a huge boon this will be to genealogists with roots in the Maritimes. What's most remarkable about the collection—aside from the fact that the compiler is, like me, a native of Maine—is that it was mostly a one-man project.

Danny worked persistently and comprehensively mining all English-language New Brunswick newspapers available in original form or on microfilm. He copied out notices of births, marriages, deaths, and also of ship wrecks, trips outside the province and many other events, all containing names that would further the search for an ancestor. The work is remarkably accurate although as Danny was not a strict proof reader, preferring to use his time to push ahead with indexing and transcribing, occasional typographical errors crept in. Danny sold many copies of the Vital Statistics volumes to libraries, historical societies and individuals over the years and maintained a list of on-going subscribers.

Danny kept the extracted information in a database to which he later added a search capability enabling him to provide a service to researchers who did not have access to the published volumes. In celebration of the first 100 volumes of Vital Statistics, he produced a CD index of the entire series. It is hard to convey what a monumental undertaking the vital statistics project was and what a unique and invaluable benefit it is to research. [Link]

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