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Featured Provider: celeste-d-r

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A native of rural Saskatchewan, a Certified Saskatchewan Researcher, and a life-time member of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, celeste-d-r has over 30 years of experience researching family history. She can access most Saskatchewan records. Her individual offerings on Genlighten cover newspaper, court, homestead, and teacher records but she also offers a comprehensive search of basic province records.

How did you get started doing genealogy research?

I think I’ve always been interested in finding out more about my family. When I was about 10 years old I used to listen to my aunts talking about their memories of the “old days” when they came to visit my parents. Then, when my children were very young, I was helping to prepare for my husband’s grandparents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. I was at the archives looking school district records for information about them. I decided to also check the school district records for the area where my grandparents lived to see what I might find about my own family. A few pages into the file I saw my grandfather’s signature. What emotions I felt, as he had died many years before I was born. I felt such a powerful connection to him – to know that he had held the very paper I was holding and to see his signature. I was hooked on genealogy from that day forward!

How have you developed your research skills?

I believe that one can never have too much education. I try to stay up-to-date on developments in genealogical research by attending seminars and conferences, listening to online webinars, and reading several genealogical periodicals and newsletters.

I have successfully completed three of the four certification courses offered by the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society: Certified Saskatchewan Record Searcher, Certified Saskatchewan Instructor, and Certified Saskatchewan Researcher courses. I am presently working on the Certified Aboriginal Researcher course.

I have a membership in the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the College of Certified Saskatchewan Genealogists, the Friends of the Saskatchewan Archives, and have a lifetime membership in the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society. I actively volunteer in the three Saskatchewan-based organizations.

Tell us a favorite story about one of your ancestors.

My great grandmother, Caroline Elizabeth (nee McLaren) DeClare packed a lot of living into her few years of life. She was born in 1861, was married at the age of 18, and by the time she was 35 years old, she had eight children. Ten years later, at the age of 45, she succumbed to throat cancer.

She made a button charm, also known as a memory string or a friendship string, that was 10 feet long. These were popular during the 1860s up to about 1900. No two buttons on the string are the same. It was believed that if a young woman could collect 999 different buttons, the 1,000th button would be given to her by her true love. I treasure this family heirloom.

What’s the most unique record source that you access for research?

The Inactive Teachers Register 1912-1938 are on 59 reels of microfilm. These records contain a goldmine of information and are well worth searching if you suspect that one of your ancestors may have taught school in Saskatchewan. The sheets for each teacher list the name (including the maiden name for women), date of birth and place, birth certificate number, teacher training in Saskatchewan and elsewhere, soldier’s discharge information, and the names of schools and the years the person taught in each.

What tools do you use to create the reports/images you provide to clients?

I have Legacy and Family Tree Maker genealogy software. However, I prefer to prepare reports using a word processing program and provide the report as a pdf file. I can save files in almost any format a client would prefer.

Images of documents from microfilm or scanned from original documents are saved as tiff or jpeg files and may be provided to clients in a pdf file. Digital camera copies may also be provided. Reports are detailed, giving proper source citations, including sources checked where the outcome was unsuccessful.

What advice would you give to someone trying to break through a 
brick wall?

Brick walls – although frustrating – can usually be broken down. My motto is “Your ancestors will make themselves know to you when they are ready to be found.” I truly believe in serindipity and following your instincts.

Sometimes you will need to leave the search for a period of time and focus on something else. Searching collateral lines will sometimes provide the clues you need to break through your brick wall.

What hobbies do you pursue when you’re not doing research?

Genealogy, genealogy and more genealogy. That is my main interest next to my family, of course! I also enjoy camping, going for walks, motorhome vacations, and motorcycling.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am a huge believer in “giving back” through volunteerism. A lot of what I have used to create my family history is because of other genealogists and family historians who volunteered their time to create record indexes, databases, cemtery transcriptions and more. Volunteering is my way of saying thank you and of ensuring research tools and information is available for present and future genealogists.

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