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Ordnance Survey Memoirs: Filling Out Family Stories

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 25, 2009


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by Mary F. Wack

"The Ordnance Survey Memoirs provide historians of Ulster families and localities with an unparalleled source of detail for filling out the story of ancestors’ lives between the isolated snapshots of censuses and census substitutes. The Memoirs were written during the mid-1830s, which positions them in the period of the Tithe Applotment Books (1820s–30s) and the 1831 census, and they can be used to validate or expand upon the information in those sources. More than that, the evidence they preserve enables a rare glimpse back into the eighteenth century as well as a forward look to Griffith’s and other later nineteenth-century sources."

This article examines how the Ordnance Survey Memoirs can provide historical and economic context for life-choices, they can help with capturing ancestral voices and mentalities of the past, and they can help with finding additional ancestral stories.