Today started off with a bang! The Ulster Historical Foundation also had their research week scheduled so lots of researchers were hitting PRONI first thing. Because of some scheduling difficulties, Dr. William Roulston, the Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation started our week out with an excellent presentation on Estate Records. William showed examples of estate records that might be found at PRONI, including leases and rentals but also miscellaneous other documents...correspondence, a will, a list of tenants or even cottiers. You just don't know what you'll find until you look! He was also quick to point out that these records may not be complete so you won't find everything. I have heard this lecture on multiple occasions, but as I mentioned to the group, I learn something new every time.
After a short break to obtain Visitor Passes (PRONI equivalent to Reader's Tickets) Dr. Desmond "Des" McCabe did an orientation and overview of some of PRONI's records. I had provided a list of some of the interests within the group. Des is a historian and his point of view is that history doesn't exist without people and our work as genealogists is to view our people from the standpoint of where they fit in history. Births, marriages and deaths are a starting point, but there is so much more to put the flesh on the bones of our ancestors. He pointed out the importance of writing our ancestors' stories. If you write as you research, the technology allows you to go back and add to or re-organize the story which may bring to light new sources or opportunities for future research. I had provided him with some questions from the group and he also spent time discussing Presbyterian records and the evolution of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
The two lectures took up the morning and the afternoon was spent becoming familiar with ordering items from the catalog and then jumping into individual research. I think everyone is prepared to hit the ground running at 9:00 tomorrow morning.
Here are some comments from the researchers.
From Pat W...
What an incredible day! Found the record I was looking for and am inspired to continue looking for more. Another inspiration and reason to continue is the assistance available from the knowledgeable employees of PRONI. It's one thing to try to find records on a computer, but, to find it on a computer in another country, is a whole new ball game.
Thank you Donna and PRONI!!!!
First day researching at Proni today. I especially enjoyed the talk on estate records by William Roulston. I learned so much. I never realized the landlord could add additional conditions to a lease such as where to mill you corn or what to plant. I found such a lease today for Thomas Kirkwood. There is something magical about having the opportunity to hold in your hand an original hand written “Lease for 3 Lives or 31 years” from 1770.
Our first day at PRONI was so interesting. The orientation to estate records by William Roulston and the records overview by Des McCabe really helped ground our work today. And after an intense day of work, a relaxing meal is the perfect wind down.