Genealogy researchers in Atlantic Canada, and those having family connections there will be saddened to learn that Sandra Devlin, writer of "Missing Links," has published her last column. Sandra has been diagnosed with terminal Cancer, and its effects have forced her to give up her syndicated column.
For many years, Sandra wrote a weekly column that was published in newspapers in Atlantic Canada. Sandra successfully turned her personal fixation with genealogy into her livelihood. After a 25-year career as a daily newspaper reporter, photographer, editor and managing editor in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Southern and Northern Ontario, followed by a three-year stint as a community college journalism instructor in P.E.I., Sandra decided in 1996 to launch a full-time freelance journalist career from her home office.
A cornerstone of this enterprise was her self-syndicated, weekly genealogy column launched and published over nine years in upwards of 17 newspapers in the Atlantic Provinces. Sandra also contributed many articles to the online Global Gazette.
Among awards in other categories of her writing, Sandra accepted the first-place Award of Excellence in Genealogy-Column Writing on the Internet, presented by the highly respected Council of Genealogy Columnists in May 2000, in Providence, Rhode Island. In 2002 Sandra received an Excellence in Writing Award (first place in the Newspaper Columns category) from the prestigious International Society of Family History Writers and Editors in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In advising editors that she would be unable to continue writing her columns she stated:
"I will miss my regular contact with a fabulously loyal readership. I treasure the friendships I have made over the nine years that Missing Links has been published in more than a dozen Atlantic Canadian newspapers. I will very much miss being a part of connecting family researchers and helping them fill in the gaps in their family tree."
I never had the pleasure to meet Sandra in person, but on occasion corresponded with her during our campaign to regain public access to Historic Census records in Canada. Sandra supported our effort in that direction, and wrote about it in her column. "Missing Links" was one of the first - if not the only - mainstream newspaper columns to include several articles written about the potential destruction of Post-1901 Census records, and all of the ramifications thereof.
As much as is possible under the circumstances, we wish Sandra well. She, and her column, will be missed. Sandra's "Missing Links" column may be gone, but it will be a long time - if ever - before it is forgotten.
Our prayers go with Sandra.
Gordon A. Watts