Presentation Notes: 2005-2006

Nova Scotia and Cape Cod Genealogy

Presented by David Allen Lambert, NEHGS - May 10, 2006

Notes by Carolyn Weiss

David Lambert is the on-line editor for the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (HISTGEN). He said he started doing genealogy when he was only seven and was submitting genealogical papers at 12.

There was a lot of migration between Cape Cod and Nova Scotia in the 171th, 181th and 19th centuries. Even the Township Records of Nova Scotia show the influence of Cape Cod and much resemble town records found here.

Nova Scotians consisted of Micmac, Scottish, Irish, French, Acadians, Vikings, British soldiers, Loyalists and others. Cape Codders probably migrated to Nova Scotia because the life style and economic climate was similar. Cape Cod fishermen would have been most comfortable there. When the French were ejected from Nova Scotia, the government there encouraged Cape Codders to migrate to Nova Scotia. They would have arable land, a house and out buildings left behind by the departing French.

He mentioned several good books to read while researching Nova Scotia roots, including Stephen White's two volumes on Acadian Families, Terrence Punch's Genealogical Research in Nova Scotia and George F. Sanborn's chapter "Genealogical Research in Nova Scotia" published in A Guide to the Library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. A typed list of sources, immigration studies and township records was distributed. It included a very detailed map of the counties of Nova Scotia. He also passed around a sign-up sheet for those interested in receiving links to Nova Scotia web-sites. HISTGEN in Boston has much Nova Scotia material on microfilm and he remarked on Parish Registers, Genealogies, Atlases, and A.F. Church & Company Maps.

He suggests that anyone planning to travel to Nova Scotia to do genealogical research first visit HISTGEN in Boston and speak with experts there, peruse the materials on Nova Scotia and then organize their trip.

CHURCH RECORDS: Nova Scotia is extremely difficult. One must have a letter from the priest of the parish in order to be permitted to see records in Halifax. They do have some of these records at HISTGEN which can be burned onto a CD and then, using contrast controls, made more readable. LDS has also copied some Nova Scotia records. Acadian Records will include Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland records.

Pre-1864, the only records available are marriage records. 1864-1877 is the only early period recording births (parents didn't want to register their child's birth if it was less than nine months after marriage because that date was entered in birth registers). The birth records, however, gave a lot of genealogical data, including mother's maiden name, where the parents lived, occupation of father, etc. Nova Scotia is starting to digitize and put records on line, beginning with death records from 1908-1955, marriages through 1930 and births over 100 years previous. This project has not been finished yet.

PROBATE RECORDs: These are available at HISTGEN and as original records, not transcribed records. However, they are not necessarily filmed alphabetically and are difficult to research.

CROWN LAND GRANTS: These contain lots of information and can replace immigration records as they give the national origin of the grantee. They also often give the layout of property with names.

CENSUS RECORDs: Sporadic, but started before our first census, in 1770-1771. The 1838 is the most complete. 1851 gives names of every person in household. 1861 had much information giving a "picture of your ancestor's life". Over 100 questions were asked on that census. 1871 lists religion and family origin. 1881 has been indexed by name by Family Search. 1901 gives the complete date of birth of each person and has been indexed. 1911 is indexed.

HISTGEN has city directories for Nova Scotia and other miscellaneous records including town account books. Also important are the records of the "French neutrals" who came to Massachusetts from Nova Scotia and which are available at the Massachusetts Archives.

David suggested that any questions concerning the above be directed to him at: He also has a blog:

Visit NEHGS online at:

See the Presentation Notes Index for summaries of other presentations given at the Society's monthly meetings.