Introduction to Genealogy

Are you interested in genealogy but don’t know how to go about it? This WINDSOR PUBLIC LIBRARY pathfinder will help you get started. Doing genealogy is like following your family through a time machine back through time. Each set of records will reveal your family getting younger and younger.

Watch our video about Genealogy and Local History.

Here are the steps in brief:

  1. Interviews with Family members
  2. City directories and newspaper Obituaries
  3. Census records & registrations of births, marriages and deaths
  4. Before 1869 Church records baptisms, marriages & deaths
  5. Other sources


  • Talk to some of your older family members: Parents; Grandparents; Great aunts/uncles
  • Ask the following question – Who, when, and where?
  • When remembering parents and grantparents: what were their names? Where were they born? Who did they marry (Remember maiden names!) All information should be verified.


City Directories

– Windsor City Directories Bom 2001 back to 1891
– from 1891 to 1949 on microfilm.
– useful in ascertaining that a retain relative lived in the city at certain time
– information also included is the name of the spouse and the occupation ofthe head of the household


– Watch for the “Windsor Star” and what it was named in the past! (WPL has the whole collection)
– Evening Record 1893 -1917
– Border Cites Star 1917-1935
– Windsor Daily Star 1935- 1959
– The Windsor Star 1959 – present
gives the namer of parents, siblings (and their spouses), and the names of children.

The library also has collection of other Essex County newspapers

– Amherstburg Echo (1873-2004)
– Leamington Post (1907-2003)
– Kingsville Reporter (1893-2003)


Census records:

– Used for tracking your family back to the 19th century
– Usually taken every 10 years
– The first nominal census in Canada was the Census of 1851.
– Important tools for using the censuses are indexes by surname to the censuses. Find the index if you can !

What the library has

– index for Essex County (excluding Windsor) for l90l
– index for Essex County for the 1851 census
– index to the 1861 of Essex County includes Windsor

On the World Wide Web

– The 1881 census for all of Canada is found at
– The index to the 1871 census for Ontario which is done county by county is found here.


Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths

  • gives information about the registration of the event such as father and mother (including maiden name) of the new baby, or parents of the bride and groom
  • Ontario began July 1, 1869 (index on microfilm)

-index for births covers 1869 to 1905
-index for marriages covers the time period 1873 to 1922
-index to deaths covers the years 1869 to 1932

**When using this index, the most important items to take note of are the registration number for the event, and the year of registration, this helps to order from the Archives of Ontario. The first four years of marriage registrations did not have registration numbers, so extra steps are required to find the registration of early marriages.

What the library has

– complete set of indexes to birth, marriages and deaths on microfilm for Ontario
– partial collection for the registration for the county of Essex
– various other counties such as Brant. Carleton, Durham, Elgin and sometimes Frontenac.


Time periods before 1869 (for Ontario) and the pre-census era (before 1851)

Where to look

  • Church records for baptisms, marriages and burials

– The Catholic Church kept meticulous records about each baptism, marriage and burial.
– The Catholic Churches of the area which were founded by the French have kept records since 1848,
when Assumption Parish was founded.
– There are records available going back to 1701 when Ste. Anne’s in Detroit was founded.
– The Société franco-ontarienne d’histoire et de généalogie has indexed many of the church registers in Essex County.
-indexes for Assumption, Ste. Anne’s Church (Tecumseh), St. Simon and St. Jude (Belle River), St. Joachim
Church (St. Joachim), St. John the Baptist (Amherstburg), Annunciation (Stoney Point).

  • Other sources for birth and marriage registrations

– “The Ontario Register”, which gives birth and marriage registrations from many churches around Ontario.
– The microfilms for baptisms in the Wesleyan Methodist Church (plus indexes for some counties)
– The Marriage Registers of Upper Canada by Dan Walker and others.


Overlooked sources

  • Cemetery transcriptions
  • tax assessment rolls
  • family histories
  • township papers
  • wills and estate papers (on microfilm from the Archives Ontario)
  • for ancestors who received land grants between the time of 1796 to 1845
  • Index to Upper Canada land petitions and the executive council minutes (on microfilm)

French genealogy

  • Dictionaire généalogiques des familles canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu’à nos jours (“the Tanguay Books”) by Cyprien Tanguay
  • Dictionnaire généalogique des families du Québec by René Jette
  • Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Français (3volumes) by the Drouin Institute
  • Répertoires des actes de baptêmes, marriage, sépultures et des recensements du Québec ancient, also known as the PRDH
  • Loiselle File, an index to marriages in Québec on 1500 fiche
  • Genealogy of the French families of the Detroit River region, revision 1701-1936 by Christian Denissen