US Genealogy Records
Below is a list and description of the most recent genealogy records for the United States (see list of most recent records for other countries). Many of these records can be searched using our free Genealogy Search Engine.
Illinois– Cartographer Dennis McClendon has created a useful website called Chicago In Maps. It provides links to online maps of Chicago found on different websites. Click on the link titled Historic Maps to view an interesting collection of historic street maps of Chicago. The value of this website is that it saves you the effort of having to search all over the internet for historic Chicago maps. Access is free. [Historic Chicago Maps]
Washington – The Spokane Public Library in Washington State has put online a collection of historic high school yearbooks from the region. There are currently some 200 yearbooks online organized by the name of the high school and by year. The collection goes back as far as 1911 and as recently as the 1970s. Many of the yearbooks are available in multiple formats, including pdf, Kindle and EPUB. Access is free. [Historic Spokane Yearbooks] The website currently does not have any means to search the collection by keyword, such as name. You need to know the name of the high school and the year to begin your search.
National – FindMyPast has put online the remains of the US 1890 Census. Most of the records from this census were destroyed in a fire in 1921 (at the time, the records were being stored in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C). However, about 1,000 pages and fragments of pages survived the fire. It is these records that FindMyPast has put online. The records come from specific counties in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas.
The US 1890 census enumerated each member of the household, including their name, age, gender, relationship to the head of the household, occupation, marital status, place of birth, parent’s place of birth, level of literacy, number of years in the United States and whether they were a civil war veteran or widow.
Although there is a low probability that your ancestors will be listed in the limited remains of the 1890 census, it is still worth taking a look if you happen to already have a subscription to FindMyPast. Access is by subscription. [US 1890 Census]
Iowa – Ancestry.com has added the Iowa state census of 1905. The collection can be searched by first and last name as well as place of residence. Access to the collection is by subscription. Most of these records can also be found on the FamilySearch website for free. [Iowa 1905 Census]
Massachusetts – The State Library of Massachusetts has completed digitizing 8,400 images of World War I soldiers primarily from Massachusetts, with some images of soldiers from surrounding states. Many of the images are of individual soldiers and contain biographical information, as shown in the sample image below. This collection was donated to the state library in 1935 by the Boston Globe newspaper. It is a good collection to search if you had ancestors from the Northeast who were soldiers in WWI. Access is free. [Massachusetts WWI Soldier Images]
District of Columbia – FindMyPast.com has added a collection of birth, marriage and death records for the city of Washington, District of Columbia. The some 109,000 birth and baptism records cover the period from 1830 to 1955. The 479,000 marriage records span the years from 1830 to 1921 while the 365,000 death and burial records are from 1840 to 1964. Access is by subscription. [District of Columbia Birth Records]
New York – Ancestry has added to their collection of New York state prison records. This week, the famous Sing Sing prison registers have been added. This collection spans the years from 1865 to 1939. Sing Sing opened in 1826 as a maximum security prison. It was notorious for imposing absolute silence on the prisoners, a system that was enforced by brutal punishments. Sing Sing prison is still in operation today, but it is known as the Ossining Correctional Facility. Access to this collection is by subscription. [Sing Sing Prison Records]
National – FamilySearch.org has created a new collection called United States World War I Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918. It consists of 24 million draft records of adult males, which according to FamilySearch “representing almost half of the male population of the United States at the time”. Given that this collection represents such a large proportion of the male population, it can be used as a proxy for census records. As shown in the example below (the draft card for Babe Ruth), a typical draft card listed the full name of the person, home address, date of birth, place of birth, occupation, employer, dependants, marital status, height, build, eye color and hair color. The collection can be searched by first and last name. Access to the collection is free. [US World War I Draft Records]
National – A new genealogy website called Crestleaf has launched in the United States. It allows you to search historic records and create family trees. Family trees can contain photographs. The website has some 75 million records which list basic information such as name, date of birth and date of death. Each record is associated with a particular town.
Most of the records come from the US Social Security Death Index (1935 to 2011). The records can be browsed for free by state and town or alphabetically by last name. Up to 1GB of photographs can also be stored in a family tree for free (after which there is a monthly subscription fee). Check it out. [Crestleaf]
New York – FamilySearch has added an additional 2.6 million indexed records from the New York state census of 1865. This census lists the name, age, occupation and birthplace of each household member. Most of the counties are covered, although some of the records have been lost/destroyed over the years. This collection can be searched by first and last name. If you suspect that the records for the county you are interested in are not available, then consider browsing the images by county first. Access is free. [New York State 1865 Census]
Oklahoma – Ancestry has added several collections of Indian records from the Oklahoma territories. Included are marriage and citizenship records, land records, census cards and Indian rolls. The records in the various collections span the years from 1851 to 1959. The records can be searched by first name, last name, year and location. Access is by subscription. [Oklahoma Indian Records]
Pennsylvania – FamilySearch.org has put online some 932,000 recent obituaries from Pennsylvania. These are newspaper clippings collected by the Old Buncombe County North Carolina Genealogical Society and span the years from 1977 to 2010. FamilySearch also has Pennsylvania newspaper obituaries from 1947 to 1958 in the same collection. The collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Pennsylvania Obituaries]
National – The New York Times has launched an interactive digital archive called TimesMachine. It allows users to search more than 11 million Times articles published between 18 September 1851 and 31 December 1980. The articles can be searched by keyword. Access is by subscription, but is free to anyone who has a current online subscription to the New York Times (which includes most libraries). [TimesMachine]
National – Yale University has created an incredible online archive of images from the Great Depression. The archive allows viewers to explore some 175,000 photographs of America taken in the 1930s and 1940s.
Most of the images were taken by government photographers under the Farm Security Administration act. Although all these images were already available online from the Library of Congress, what is amazing is how Yale University has managed to create a website called Photogrammar that organizes and visualizes the images on an interactive map.
Simply zoom in to the region where your ancestors lived in the 1930s and 1940s to view all the photographs from that region. Access is free. [Photogrammar]
New Jersey – FamilySearch has indexed some 2.8 million records from the New Jersey state census of 1915. Key facts from this census include name, sex, color, date of birth, place of birth, birthplace of parents, occupation, whether owner or renter and if the person can read, write and speak English. This collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [New Jersey 1915 Census]
Massachusetts – The Winchester public library in Winchester, Massachusetts has put online past issues of the Winchester Star newspaper. The collection spans the years from 1901 to 1951. Access is free. [Winchester Star Newspaper Archive]
New Mexico – FamilySearch.org has begun the process of indexing the New Mexico 1885 territorial census. So far, some 59,000 records have been indexed from the collection. The collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [New Mexico 1885 Census Records]
Massachusetts – AmericanAncestors.org has put online a free collection of Middlesex County Massachusetts probate records. The records are being made available through a partnership with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives. Middlesex County is one of the four original counties in Massachusetts. It originally encompassed the current Middlesex County plus Worcester County and Hampshire County. This collection of probate records covers some 45,000 cases between 1648 and 1871. It includes such things as wills, guardianships, and administrations. Access is free. [Middlesex County Probate Records]
National – FamilySearch.org has announced a partnership with GenealogyBank.com to one day eventually put online for free some 100 million obituaries from historic US newspapers. Some estimates would suggest that about 250 million people have died in the US since the country was founded. This would imply that this initiative would cover about 40% of all deaths in the United States, which is an impressive proportion. Here is the press release.
Of course, we should probably mention that you can already search for free right now a massive number of US obituaries using the Genealogy Search Engine. It covers obituaries in historic newspapers from many different websites, including Chronicling America. It is also the only ancestral search engine that covers the massive Google Newspaper Archive, which has an incredible number of US obituaries.
No new records.
Iowa – FamilySearch.org has indexed an additional 725,000 records from the Iowa state census of 1905. This census names every person in the household. A typical record lists the name, mailing address, sex, color, age, place of birth, place of birth of parents, whether the person can read/write, number of years in the US and in Iowa, marital status, occupation, details of military service and level of education. This collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Iowa 1905 Census]
Idaho – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 2.5 million newspaper obituaries from the southeast counties of Idaho. The obituaries cover the period from 1864 to 2007. They can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Idaho Obituaries]
Massachusetts – American Ancestors (the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society) has created a new database of Middlesex County, Massachusetts probate records. The collection contains the records of some 45,000 probate cases in the county filed between 1648 and 1871. This collection includes wills, guardianships, administrations, etc. The collection can be searched by first name, last name and year range. Access is free. [Middlesex County Probate Records]
Tennessee – The Tennessee State Public Library has put online a collection of some 1,500 family bibles that the library has been collecting since the 1920s. The collection consists of scans of all the pages in the bibles that contain notations such as dates of birth, baptism and marriage of various family members. In Tennessee, birth certificates were not required until 1908, making this collection particularly valuable for anyone with Tennessee ancestors (interesting fact: the US government still accepts a list of births in a family bible as one proof of citizenship).
When looking at this collection, be mindful that the information written into any bible has not been fact checked. Family records can deviate from official records in several ways. For example, it was not uncommon for families to alter the date of marriage in bibles to make it look like children were not conceived out of wedlock. Sometimes the cause of death is also different from the official record. This is particularly common if the individual died of the flu. Finally, some wealthy families also recorded the names and date of birth of their slaves. This collection can be searched by name. Access is free. [Tennessee Bible Records]
Hawaii – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 1.2 million records of ship passenger lists for Honolulu Hawaii. The collection spans the years from 1900 to 1953. A typical record lists the following information for each ship passenger: name, age, sex, marital status, occupation, able to read, able to write, nationality, race, last residence, final destination, height, hair color, eye color, distinguishing marks and place of birth. These records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Hawaii Ship Passenger Lists]
National – Mocavo, the US-based genealogy search website, quietly announced in a blog post in late June that they were sold to FindMyPast.
Mocavo is based in Boulder, Colorado. The website initially launched in March 2011. Six months later in September 2011, they raised $1 million from local venture capitalists. This was followed up by a second round of $4.1 million of venture capital funding. The firm currently has 16 employees.
In the Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2014 list, Mocavo ranked #28, relatively unchanged from their 2013 ranking of #25. Despite a major marketing push from several prominent genealogy bloggers, the website was never able to crack the top 10 list. With 16 mouths to feed and $5.1 million in venture capital funding, the window for any company in that kind of situation to gain traction and prove itself is somewhat limited.
Mocavo offered a service similar to the free Genealogy Search Engine, which was launched about 3 months before Mocavo in January 2011.
Cliff Shaw, the founder and CEO of Mocavo has been involved in other genealogy companies in the past. He founded both Pearl Street Software and GenForum. Pearl Street Software owned the once-popular genealogy software program called Family Tree Legends. They also owned the website Gencircles, an early online social website targeted towards genealogy. Pearl Street Software was sold in 2007 to MyHeritage. Since then, Family Tree Legends has slowly faded away (it is still available as a free download on the internet). MyHeritage seemed to have been primarily interested in incorporating the algorithmic matching software from Gencircles into the MyHeritage website. Gencircles no longer exists as a stand-alone website.
The other enterprise founded by Cliff Shaw (GenForum) was sold to Genealogy.com, which was then later sold to the A&E Television Network back in the days when A&E was interested in getting into the genealogy field. A&E then later sold Genealogy.com to Ancestry. Ancestry recently announced that GenForum will be shut down in September 2014.
This was the second purchase by FindMyPast in a short period of time. Earlier in June, FindMyPast also purchased Origins.net. It is not clear what FindMypast’s long-term plans are for either Origins.net or Mocavo.
FindMyPast’s purchase of two independent genealogy companies combined with Ancestry’s recent announcement that they were shutting down some of their websites clearly shows a consolidation trend going on within the genealogy industry. Ancestry, FindMyPast and MyHeritage continue to grow in size and strength.
It is starting to feel lonely here at GenealogyInTime Magazine. There are few independent voices left in the field of genealogy.
New York – Ancestry.com has released four collections of New York state prison records. The largest collection (some 295,000 records) contains prison records from 15 prisons in the state. It spans the years from 1842 to 1908. A typical record lists the name of the convict, date of sentence, court, last name of the judge, county, the crime and the term of the sentence. Some of New York’s most famous prisons are in this collection, including Sing Sing. A couple of prisons for women are also included in the collection.
A second smaller collection of 44,000 records lists convicts who had their sentence commuted. This collection covers the time period from 1882 to 1915. The two other collections are much smaller. They cover state pardons and very old records from Newgate State Prison (1797 to 1810), New York’s first state penitentiary. Access to these collections is by subscription. [New York Prison Records]
National – The blog The Ancestry insider has reported that Ancestry.com has quietly dropped access to cemetery records on BillionGraves from the Ancestry.com website. Previously, Ancestry users could directly search the BillionGraves database when they were logged into Ancestry. No more. BillionGraves became a competitor of Ancestry when Ancestry bought out the other major cemetery record website Find A Grave in October 2013 (see the article Ancestry.com Buys Find A Grave). If you attempt to do a search for BillionGraves records on Ancestry.com you will now get a message “Collection Not Available”
It is unusual, but not unheard of for Ancestry to remove access to records. As we discussed in the article Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2014, the competitive landscape in genealogy is hardening.
BillionGraves and Find A Grave both depend on users to contribute free cemetery records to help their websites grow. It will be interesting to see if users stop contributing new content to Find A Grave given this recent maneuver from Ancestry.
In addition to going to each website separately, the free Genealogy Search Engine simultaneously searches both Find A Grave and BillionGraves (and over a thousand other websites). If you want to search just one of the websites at a time using the search engine (and say you were looking for an ancestor named Smith), you would enter:
Puerto Rico – Ancestry.com has put online nearly 5 million Puerto Rico birth, marriage and death records. The collection spans the years from 1836 to 2001 and comes from the Puerto Rico Department of Health. These records are in Spanish. Access is by subscription. [Puerto Rico Civil Registration Records]
National – Ancestry.com and Find A Grave both experienced extended website outages this week (starting on Monday the 16th of June). The websites were flooded with fake traffic in what is known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, a method popular with internet pirates. The important thing is that Ancestry announced no user data was compromised in the attacks.
Ancestry.com and Find A Grave are the number 1 and number 2 genealogy websites in the world. Both websites are owned by Ancestry. The attacks were clearly not random. Someone chose to target Ancestry for unknown reasons. Fortunately, Ancestry now seems to have the issue under control.
Such attacks are becoming more common on the internet. Sometimes they last for several days. According to experts, the main reason why such attacks are launched in general is to blackmail the intended target. Attacks are also done for ideological and political reasons. It is not clear why anyone would want to attack Ancestry.
If you have trouble accessing any website, you can check to see if it is down by using the free service Is It Down Right Now? And the big lesson learned this week? Diversify your research sources. A good place to start is the list from the Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2014.
New York – FamilySearch.org has indexed an additional 160,000 records of immigrants who arrived into the United States from Canada through northern New York state border crossings. Below is a sample immigration card. Note the level of detail in the card. The records from Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagara Falls and Rochester New York cover the years from 1902 to 1954, while records from northeastern New York State (Ogdensburg, Morristown, and other towns along the St Lawrence River) span the years from 1929 to 1956. This collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [New York State Immigration Cards]
Minnesota – FamilySearch.org has added some 444,000 additional marriage records from Minnesota. These records span the years from 1849 to 1950. The records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Historic Minnesota Marriage Records]
National – The Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley has launched a website dedicated to documenting Japanese American confinement sites during World War II. The collection consists of some 100,000 original manuscript items (see example below). Included in the collection are personal narratives, many never before made public. Also included are documents detailing the minutia of everyday life at the confinement sites. The online archive is the result of a two-year digitization project funded by the National Parks Service. Access is free. [Japanese American Confinement Website]
National – Just in time for Memorial Day, FamilySearch.org has created a special portal devoted to US Civil War records. The portal lists all the various types of records held in the massive FamilySearch database that are devoted to the Civil War era. Records are listed by type (military service records, enlistments, pensions, freedmen and census records) and then by state. This makes it easy to quickly zero in on what you need. Links are also provided to relevant articles in the FamilySearch wiki. Access to everything is free. [US Civil War Records]
National – A few months ago, Ancestry signed an agreement with FamilySearch to share many of the record sets produced by FamilySearch. Ancestry has now started the process in earnest of putting these FamilySearch record sets online at the various Ancestry-branded websites (Ancestry.com, Ancestry.ca, Ancestry.co.uk, etc.). A typical day might see several of these collections appear. These are not new record sets. They are simply previously free record sets that are also available at FamilySearch.org
We thought we would bring this to your attention in case you are wondering why so many “new” records sets are now appearing on Ancestry.
National – Readex has finally released their long-awaited American Slavery Collection. This is the digital edition of the American Antiquarian Society’s vast holdings of slavery and abolition material. The collection consists of more than 3,500 works (books, pamphlets, ephemera, etc.) that have been built up over 100 years. The collection is fully searchable. Readex can be accessed through most public libraries (they do not sell individual subscriptions). [American Slavery Collection]
Nebraska – FamilySearch.org has started a new indexed record collection of the Nebraska state census of 1885. The current collection consists of some 750,000 records, which can be searched by first and last name. This census lists the name of every member of the household, race, gender, age, relationship to head of the household, marital status, occupation, place of birth and birthplace of father and mother. This is a fairly extensive census for the time period. Access is free. [Nebraska 1885 State Census]
Indiana – The Indiana State Library has created a new online platform to provide access to historic Indiana Newspapers. Called the Indiana Digital Historic Newspaper Program, it contains some 14,200 issues and 95,500 pages. Most of the newspapers in the collection date from the 1855 to 1900 time period, with some newspapers before and after this date range. The collection can be searched by keyword, publication and date range. Access is free. [Historic Indiana Newspapers]
National – Readex continues to add to their American Civil War collection. This collection comes from the comprehensive holdings of the American Antiquarian Society. It consists of a diverse set of material such as broadsheets, lithographs, maps, books, pamphlets and photographs. In total, the collection now features more than 13,500 works published between 1860 and 1922. It is fully indexed and searchable. Readex can be accessed through most public libraries. They do not offer individual subscriptions. [Readex Collections]
New York – The New York Public Library (NYPL) has released an incredible collection of more than 20,000 maps with no known copyright restrictions. These maps can be downloaded in high resolution format for free. The collection is diverse. Included are 1,100 maps of the mid-Atlantic United States from the 1500s to the 1800s; 700 topographical maps of the Austro-Hungarian empire from 1877 to 1914; 2,800 state, county and city maps mainly of New York and New Jersey and finally the really big one for genealogists: 10,300 property, zoning, topographical and Sanborn fire insurance maps of New York city from 1852 to 1922 as well as 1,000 additional maps of the five boroughs and neighborhoods dating from 1660 to 1922. The collection can be searched by keyword. Access is free. [Free Historic Maps of New York City]
The website also has a tool that allows you to ‘warp’ (overlay) historic maps onto modern maps. We have talked about this before (the Map Warper tool is about three years old). Below is the YouTube video that describes how the process works. If you want to download a high-resolution copy of a map for your files, you need to do it through the Map Warper tool. Access is free. Registration is required. [NYPL Map Warper]
National – FamilySearch.org has added some 1.7 million more indexed records to its collection of muster rolls of the US Marine Corps. The original documents come from the National Archives and cover the period from 1798 to 1892. A typical muster roll shows the name of the officer or enlisted man, rank and unit, date of enlistment (or date of re-enlistment), name of the ship and any appropriate notes, such as promotions, etc. In some cases, additional information may also be included, such as injuries or illnesses and date of death or discharge. For challenging situations, information may also include date of desertion, date of apprehension, date of court martial and the court martial sentence. The collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Historic US Marine Corps Muster Rolls]
US – The free website Genealogy Trails is currently working on adding the 1883 Pensioners on the Roll for every county in every state. These are pension records of Union soldiers. The project is currently around 60% complete. Work has also started on transcribing the 1890 Veterans Census. This project is currently around 25% complete (note: records are not available from all states because some of these census records were destroyed by fire). Access is free. [Genealogy Trails]
Texas – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 2.6 million county tax rolls from Texas. These records span the years from 1846 to 1910 and cover 231 out of 254 Texas counties. The indexing project is 13% complete, although all the record images are currently available for browsing. A typical record lists the land owner’s name, name of the original grantee, number of acres of land, plot description (for town lots), value of land, closest town or city, type and value of livestock and quantity and value of crops as well as amount of county and state taxes. This collection is being indexed in partnership with the Texas State Genealogical Society. It can be searched by name, year and place. Access is free. [Historic Texas Tax Rolls]
New York – The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States, has put online their entire historic archive going back to 1842. Normally, this type of archive is not particularly interesting to genealogists. However, this archive has millions of pages of material on every aspect of the orchestra, including some 16,000 photographs of musicians who played for the orchestra over the years. If you had an ancestor who was a professional musician, you might find a reference in this collection. Access is free. [New York Philharmonic Orchestra Archives]
National – The US GenNet Data Repository continues to grow with new record collections. Some of the latest additions include US military fatalities from the Korean and Vietnam Wars from West Virginia and US fatalities of the Korean War from Michigan. Access is free and there is no registration of signup required. Records are organized by state. [US GenNet Data Repository]
Montana – The Butte Montana Archives has put online 20 different databases related to the mining city’s history. Included in the collection are local cemetery records, immigration records, obituary indices and widow pension applications. Access is by subscription. Subscriptions are available for 3-month time periods. [Butte Montana Archives]
New York – The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, New York has put online more than 100 years of student newspapers from the university. The collection spans the years from 1885 to 2001 and consists of some 41,000 pages of newspaper content. The link below also provides access to other digital content from Rensselaer, including historic alumni magazines. The collections can be searched by keyword. Access is free. [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Historic Student Newspaper Collection]
Iowa – Ancestry.com has added a new collection of Iowa marriage records. The collection consists of some 612,000 marriage records from Iowa that span the years from 1923 to 1937. These records can be searched by name, date of marriage and location of marriage. Ancestry also has a collection of Iowa marriage records from 1851 to 1900. Access is by subscription. [Iowa Marriage Records 1923 to 1937]
National – Archives.com has added 5 million US vital records to their collection. This is the first significant addition to the website since it was purchased by Ancestry.com in 2013. The new additions include Alabama marriage records (1816 to 1957), Arizona birth records (1907 to 1917), Arizona marriage records (1888 to 1908), Arizona death records (1910/11 and 1933 to 1994), California birth records (1812 to 1988), California marriage records (1850 to 1945) and District of Columbia birth, marriage and death records (various dates). Please be aware the coverage is not complete by state, but seems to vary county by county within each state. Access is by subscription. [Archives.com]
National – MyHeritage has put online a massive collection of 816 million recent US public records. The records come from recent telephone books, property tax assessments, voter registration lists and credit applications [not sure how they managed to get credit applications]. The collection spans the years from 1970 to 2010. Access is by subscription. [US Public Records]
World – An additional 100 million ancestral records have been indexed by the free Genealogy Search Engine. Some highlights of the new additions include:
• Poland – several online digital collections have been added.
• US – more historic university archives have been added, as well as several more obituary websites.
• UK – indexed some early photographic collections.
• Canada – indexed websites containing historic biographies.
• Israel – indexed historic city directories from the 1930s and 1940s.
• Netherlands – added a few more websites containing ancestral records.
• Indexed various WWI commemorative websites.
The Genealogy Search Engine now searches over 3.1 billion free ancestral records from more than one thousand websites containing ancestral records. It is the most powerful free ancestral search engine available. [Genealogy Search Engine]
Read the article A Guide to Performing Online Genealogy Searches to learn how to use the search engine.
World – Ancestry.com has expanded their collaboration with FamilySearch. An additional 1billion records held by FamilySearch will become available on Ancestry. These are records that have already been digitized and are in addition to the previous announcement to digitize a separate 1 billion records. Apparently, the additional 1billion records come from some 67 different countries.
James Tanner has an interesting blog post suggesting these may be records that FamilySearch had in their possession, but they were not able to secure the digital rights. In the press release, Ancestry also mentioned they have committed to investing $100 million to digitize and index new content over the next five years. [Ancestry.com Press Release]
National – GenealogyBank has added 13 million more articles to their newspaper archives. In total, 29 newspapers from 17 states were added. The earliest addition comes from Fresno, California in the 1890s. The link provides the list of all the new additions. Access is by subscription. [New Additions to GenealogyBank]
National – Readex has expanded their early American newspaper collection. The new additions span the years from 1730 to 1900. Some of the early newspapers are rare, such as the Pennsylvania Gazette (1776 to 1793), one of the US’s most respected eighteenth century newspapers. In total, this collection contains some 440 newspaper titles. Readex does not sell individual subscriptions. Instead, it is accessible at most public libraries.
New York – Ancestry.com has teamed up with the New York City Municipal Archives to compile an index to more than 10 million New York City birth, marriage and death records. The index is free to search. Ancestry also announced they are expanding their New York State census collection to include 1855, 1875 and 1905. [Historic New York Genealogy Records]
New York– The Troy Irish Genealogical Society of Troy, New York has added to their collection of interment records. Included are new interments from St. Mary’s Cemetery (1952 to 1970). Also new to the website are marriage, death and miscellaneous news stories from the newspaper West Troy Advocate (1837 to 1860) and a list of local casualties from World War II. The link provides a list of all the transcription projects done by the society. Access is free. [Troy New York Genealogy Records]
US – FamilySearch.org has created three new browsable image collections of ship passenger lists for Baltimore (1820 to 1897), Boston (1899 to 1940), and Philadelphia (1800 to 1906). Baltimore has been partially transcribed but the other collections are identified by NARA roll numbers so it will take some time to search through the images. One thing to note (as we identified in the article Ellis Island Immigration Records) is that ship passenger forms were typically filled out by ship’s pursers before the ship docked (and not by customs officials upon arrival). Ship’s pursers were not the best spellers. Misspelling names and places was a common occurrence, as shown by the example below. Access to these records is free. [Baltimore Ship Passenger Records] [Boston Ship Passenger Records] [Philadelphia Ship Passenger Records]
Pennsylvania – The Historic Pittsburgh Census Project allows users to search early 1850 to 1880 censuses of the city. The records can be searched by a variety of means, including by name, by street, by city of birth and by occupation. Access is free. [Historic Pittsburgh Census Project]
New York – The New York Public Library has a service called Direct Me NYC 1940. Basically, you look up your ancestor’s New York address in the online 1940 NYC telephone directory. The website then converts the address into the appropriate census enumeration district. This makes a good second check for people who were not able to find their 1940 ancestors through the FamilySearch website. [Direct Me NYC 1940] [FamilySearch 1940 Census Search] [Official 1940 Census Website]
World – The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. There will be many websites launched in 2014 to commemorate this event. A good place to follow the action is the First World War Centenary website. It provides useful information on upcoming events and website launches. It also has a very useful guide for genealogists wanting to research soldiers from WWI. Access is free. [First World War Centenary]
Washington – FamilySearch.org has added some 1.4 million images to their collection of Washington State county records. This collection spans the years from 1856 to 2009 and includes various types of records such as vital, probate, school, tax and naturalization records. This collection now totals some 5.4 million images in total. The images are organized by county and then record type. Below is a sample image of a school register. Access is free. [Washington State County Records]
New York – FamilySearch.org has made a huge increase to the collection of New York City passenger records. Some 28.3 million additional records have been indexed and put online from two different time periods: 1820 to 1891 and 1909 to 1957. This is a massive addition to free online records from Ellis Island. For more information on Ellis Island, please see the article Ellis Island Immigration Records. Access is free. [New York 1820-1891 Passenger Records] [New York 1909-1957 Passenger Records]
National – Genealogy Trails continues to add new genealogy records on a daily basis from across the United States. All of the information is sorted by state and region. The website now has a couple million records. This is one of the best free genealogy websites available and it is worth checking out on a regular basis. It can also be searched using the Genealogy Search Engine. Access is free. [Genealogy Trails]
Minnesota – FamilySearch.org has added some 71,000 indexed records to its collection of Minnesota naturalization records. This collection spans the years from 1930 to 1988. A typical record lists the name, home address, age or date of birth, date of admission, various court information and the signature of the immigrant as shown in the image below. Access is free. [Minnesota Naturalization Records]
Wisconsin – The Wisconsin State Historical Society is about half way through digitizing their collection of 8,000 Sanborn fire insurance maps from across the state. The collection is being digitized alphabetically. So far, the towns of Ableman to Marshfield have been completed. For those not familiar with Sanborn fire insurance maps, they were maps drawn up by insurance companies that provide detailed information on types and structures of buildings within a town. Below is a sample image. If you happen to know the address of an ancestor, these maps can be invaluable in providing a detailed layout of an historic street. Access to this collection is free. [Wisconsin Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps]
Pennsylvania – Record Hunter Search has grown over the past few months. The website hosts numerous historical and genealogical records primarily from Pennsylvania, with some records from upstate New York. Currently, the records are not indexed and exist as images only. Included in the collections are newspaper clippings, obituaries, Revolutionary War pension files and service records. [Record Hunter Search]
National – FamilySearch.org this week signed agreements with MyHeritage.com and FindMyPast.com to make records from FamilySearch.org available on these websites. FindMyPast.com will initially host 13 million records from FamilySearch.org with more records to follow. No specific number was given by MyHeritage.com, but according to the press release, more than 2 billion records from FamilySearch.org will be searchable from their website.
National – Ancestry.com has a collection of US school catalogs. These are essentially yearbooks of middle schools, junior high schools, high schools and colleges from across the United States. This collection contains some 5.4 million records and spans the years from 1765 to 1935. The records can be searched by name, location, year and keyword. The nice thing about school yearbooks is they typically provide a rare chance to see photographs of your ancestors when they were young. Access to this collection is by subscription. [Historic US School Yearbooks]
Florida – FamilySearch.org has indexed an additional 1 million Florida marriage records. These marriage records date from 1830 to 1993. This collection can be searched by name and contains marriage affidavits, marriage applications and marriage licenses. Access is free. [Florida Marriage Records]
Iowa – FamilySearch.org has created a new indexed collection of the Iowa state census of 1905. Iowa genealogy records can be hard to find so this will be an important collection for anyone with ancestors from the state. This new collection contains some 1.5 million records. A typical record lists the full name of the person, town of residence, address, gender, age at time of census, marital status, occupation, military service (if applicable) number of years in Iowa, birthplace (often just listed as a State) and place of birth of both parents. See image below. Access is free. [Iowa 1905 State Census]
National – FamilySearch.org has added an additional 189 million records to its United States Public Records Index. This massive collection tries to index everyone who resided in the US between 1970 and 2010. The collection is built from telephone directories, driver licenses, property tax assessments, credit applications, voter registration lists and other types of records available to the public. The collection can be searched by name. FamilySearch reports the collection is now 28% complete. Access is free. [Database of US Citizens]
National – FamilySearch.org has now completed 80% of their collection of US Veteran Administration Pension Payment Cards for the period 1907 to 1933. An additional 576,000 records were recently added to the collection. Many of the records in this collection were for pension payments made to widows (see image below). Note how it states the date of death of (in this case) the widow. This collection can be searched by name and gender. Access is free. [US Veteran Pension Payment Collection]
New York – The German Genealogy Group continues to add to its collection of free searchable databases. The group based on Long Island, New York is focussed on German genealogy, but it has a variety of records that would be of interested to many people. There are databases for marriages, naturalizations, cemeteries, churches, veterans and even yearbooks. One particularly nice database is the surname database that is a compilation of the German surnames submitted by members of the group that shows how to contact members for various surnames and regions of Germany. Access is free. [German Genealogy Group]
California – Ancestry.com has created an index of California marriages covering the period from 1949 to 1959. The index has some 2.3 million names and lists the groom’s name, bride’s name, bride and groom’s age, date of marriage, county of marriage and the state file number. These records come from the California Department of Health and Welfare. Access is by subscription. [California Marriage Records]
New York - The Troy New York Irish Genealogy Society has launched a new database of the State Street Burial Ground in the city of Albany. The city opened the burial ground in 1801 to alleviate the overcrowded churchyards and private family graveyards in the city. It was located at the eastern end of what is now Washington Park. This new database contains roughly 3,700 burial records indexed by last name. Access is free. [State Street Burial Ground]
Iowa – FamilySearch.org has added another 128,000 indexed records to their Iowa County Marriage collection. This collection spans the years from 1838 to 1934. It is now approximately 86% complete. One nice thing about Iowa marriage records is that the maiden name of the bride is often listed along with the names of both sets of parents and the birthplaces of both the bride and groom (see image below). This collection can be searched by name. Iowa genealogy records can be hard to find and this is a welcome addition. Access is free. [Historic Iowa Marriage Records]
World – Yad va Shem, the Jewish Holocaust victims website continues to add more genealogy records. The website now records some 4 million names and biographical details. This is approximately 2/3 of the roughly six million Jews killed by the Nazis. The database can be searched by name and place of residence. Yad va Shem also accepts submissions of testimony and photographs. Access is free. [Yad va Shem]
New York – Ancestry.com has released a new collection of naturalization petitions from New York State. These petitions date from 1794 to 1906 and were filed in various federal, state and local courts in New York State. The collection contains some 1.2 million records. A typical record lists the name of the petitioner, age or date of birth, nationality, date and port of arrival and the court where the petition was filed. Access is by subscription. [New York State Naturalization Records]
National – FindMyPast.com has partnered with the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center to enhance the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI). PERSI is a subject index for genealogy with more than 2.5 million records indexing articles from 8,000 different periodicals. FindMyPast will be providing additional linkages to the PERSI index. Access to FindMyPast is by subscription. [FindMyPast.com] [Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center]
New York – FamilySearch has created a new indexed record collection of people who lived in the five boroughs of New York City between 1970 and 2010. This is a massive new collection of some 29.5 million records and has everything from telephone directory listings, driver licenses, property tax assessments, credit applications, voter registration lists, etc. This collection of public records can be searched by name. Access is free. [Recent New York City People Records]
US - Ancestry.com has created a new collection of Rhode Island State censuses covering the period from 1865 to 1935. Some 2.6 million records are in this collection, which can be searched by name. Access is by subscription. [Rhode Island Censuses]
Massachusetts - Ancestry.com has made a major addition to their Massachusetts collection with some 9.6 million vital records added this week. The records consist of about 3.8 million birth records, 2.7 million death records and 3.1 million marriage records. The records span the years from 1840 to 1915. In total (with the new additions), Ancestry.com now has some 23.1 million town and vital records from Massachusetts covering the period from 1620 to 1988. Access is by subscription. [Historic Massachusetts Birth Records]
Colorado – FamilySearch.org has added some 452,000 indexed records to its collection of Colorado marriage records. Officially, the collection spans the years from 1900 to 1939 but there also appears to be some records from the late 1800s in the collection (starting in 1888). These records are from the State of Colorado Division of Vital Statistics and contain basic marriage information such as the name of the bride and groom, age, race, date and place of marriage and the name of the official who performed the ceremony. As shown in the sample image below, not all the cards contain complete information. Access is free. [Early Colorado Marriage Records]
Illinois – FamilySearch.org has added 703,000 indexed records to their existing collection of county marriages from Illinois. These marriages span the years 1810 to 1934. This collection can be searched by first and last name. Illinois marriage records from this era list the names of the bride and groom, the residence of both (a good way to trace the address of the parents), as well as the usual information such as the place and date of marriages and the names of witnesses. Access is free. [Early Illinois Marriage Records]
US – FamilySearch.org has indexed an additional 217,000 records of arrival manifests from Eastport, Idaho. These records date from 1924 to 1956 were filled out by anyone migrating from Canada to the US. Eastport is a small community in Idaho on the I-95 due south of Cranbrook, B.C. Most of the people passing from Canada to the United States during this time and at this border crossing would have been to meet up with relatives (see sample image below) and/or were migrating from BC or Alberta to the Pacific Northwest looking for jobs in the forestry or mining industries. These records can be searched by name. Access is free. [Eastport Idaho Immigration Records]
World – The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has expanded their unique online collection of early remittance lists from the World War I period. Remittance lists are essentially collections of names of people in Eastern Europe and Palestine who received funds (or remittances) from relatives in the West. These are pdf versions of the original typed lists of who sent funds (the remitter - primarily from the US, often from New York) and who received funds (the payee - typically in Poland, Romania, Russia or Palestine).
The information on the remitter includes name, address and the amount remitted. The payee lists the name, the location of the payee and how many children where in the household (see sample image below). These lists are useful to check if you have Jewish ancestors from the New York region that may have sent money back to the old country as well as looking for Jewish relatives from Poland, Romania, Russian or Palestine during the World War I period.
In addition, the website has many other lists associated primarily with refugees during and after World War II. Access is free. [World War I Jewish Remittance Lists]
National – MyHeritage has announced that the entire collection of US federal censuses in now available on their website. These censuses span every decade from 1790 to 1940 and cover some 520 million names. Access is by subscription. [Historic US Census Records]
World – FamilySearch has changed the look of their website. When you go to the relaunched website for the first time, it should give you a video tour of the website enhancements. Of particular interest is the ability to build a family tree and share photos of ancestors online. We could talk more about the changes, but you should probably see for yourself. Access is still free. [New FamilySearch.org website] If you are having trouble accessing the video of the website enhancements, try this link.
US – FamilySearch.org has indexed an additional 2 million World War I draft registration cards from 1917-1918. The draft registration cards can be searched by name. A typical record lists full name, home address, date of birth, race, citizenship, occupation, employer, address of employer, height, build, eye color, hair color and name/address of next of kin. With this latest addition, FamilySearch has now indexed 86% of all US World War I draft cards. This is a good record set to search even if your ancestor did not serve in World War I. We have found records of men in their 40s who completed the registration cards. Access is free. [US World War I Draft Cards]
US – Archives.com has put online some 3 million birth, marriage and death records of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These records date from the mid 1800s to 1940. Details vary somewhat from church to church, but most records list the parent’s name, place and date of the event as well as other relevant details. Access is by subscription. [Historic US Lutheran Parish Records]
US – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 931,000 New York City passenger and crew lists from 1925 to 1942. This collection can be a bit challenging to search because immigration officials sometimes guessed at the spelling of foreign names. It is therefore a good idea to check multiple spellings of a family name if you search this index. Access is free. [New York City Passenger Lists 1925 to 1942]
World – ProQuest has announced they will now become a global distributor for NewspaperArchive. ProQuest is the ancestry database used by many public libraries. NewspaperArchive is the largest (130 million records) online newspaper archive. You might want to check with your local library to see if they subscribe to ProQuest. If they do, then this will be a convenient and free way to access Newspaper Archive. Newspaper Archive has newspapers from around the world, with a focus on historic newspapers from Canada and the US. The link is to the press release, which lists some of the major newspapers in the Newspaper Archive collection. [Proquest]
New York - FamilySearch.org has added 8.6 million images of New York State probate records. This collection spans the years 1629 to 1971 with most of the records pre-1920s. Access is free. [Historic New York Probate Records]
National – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 852,000 veteran’s pension payment cards from 1907 to 1933. These were payments of pensions to veterans, widows and other dependants. About 48% of the collection has currently been indexed. Access is free. [US Veteran Pension Records]
Illinois – Ancestry.com has added birth, marriage and death records from Winnebago County, Illinois. This new addition consists of 65,000 birth records (1857 to 1937), 76,000 marriage records (1836 to 1962) and 107,000 death records (1844 to 1992). Access is by subscription. [Winnebago Birth Records]
Missouri – FamilySearch.org has created a new browsable image collection of Missouri marriage records. This collection of some 1.4 million images includes recorded marriages, marriage applications, marriage licenses and marriage certificates. The images span the years from 1819 to 1969 and can be searched by county. Access is free. [Missouri Marriage Records]
Kansas – The McPherson Public Library of McPherson, Kansas has completed a digitization project of atlases from the region. The atlases are for the years 1884, 1903, 1921, 1937 and 1969. The atlases provide detailed property ownership maps showing the various parcels of land, the property owners, buildings and other features. The library also maintains a list of pioneer families of McPherson County. This is a great resource for anyone with ancestors from the region. Access is free. [McPherson County Genealogy Resources]
Wisconsin – The Door County Library of Door County, Wisconsin has created a website of digitized newspapers from Door County. The website currently hosts all newspapers from the region from 1862 to 1923. There are plans to digitize more newspapers for the years 1923 to 1940. The website is searchable by keyword, such as name. Access is free. [Historic Door County Newspapers]
National – Fordham University is launching a website called Vanishing History to document burial grounds of enslaved African Americans. The university is reaching out to descendants, property owners, churches, local community groups and anyone who may have knowledge of undocumented burial grounds. The website contains details on how to submit information about a burial ground. Access is free. [African American Burial Grounds]
Texas – FamilySearch.org has indexed an additional 527,000 birth certificates from Texas. These birth certificates come from the Texas Department of Health and span the years from 1903 to 1935. Access is free. [Texas Birth Certificates]
New York – FamilySearch.org has indexed an additional 2.8 million records from the 1855 New York State census. This mid-1800s census is valuable because it lists every member of the household and it also lists where people were born. Access is free. [1855 New York Census]
Wisconsin – The Waunakee Public Library of Waunakee, Wisconsin has put online the town’s newspapers dating from 1896 to 2006. In total, there are some 54,000 pages in the collection. The collection can be searched by name, keyword or date range. The newspapers are hosted by NewspaperArchive.com [Historic Waunakee Newspapers]
Ohio – FamilySearch.org has added some 944,000 images of county birth records from Ohio. Some of these images have already been transcribed and cover a wide time span from 1841 to 2003. Access is free. [Ohio Birth Records]
World – FamilySearch.org has formed a partnership with OCLC to share genealogical data. OCLC is a non-profit library organization that originally started as the Ohio College Library Center (OCLC) and has since grown to become an international library cooperative that is best known for the WorldCat library catalog. WorldCat links over 10,000 libraries worldwide. It is essentially the world's largest library catalog.
In this new partnership, FamilySearch.org will make its catalog of genealogical information accessible to WorldCat users. In exchange, going forward FamilySearch will be incorporating WorldCat search results into their website. What this means for genealogists is that the sharing of genealogical information across two major (and free) organizations will ultimately make it easier for people to find their ancestors. Well done FamilySearch! [WorldCat] [FamilySearch.org] [Press Release]
National – Genealogy Trails has completed their US Civil War Union Soldier Headstone Project. Over 167,000 soldier records and burial records are now available to view on the website. A typical record lists the name, rank, company, regiment, place of burial, grave number and date of death (if known). Most of the records are for Union soldiers who died between 1879 and 1903, although a few War of 1812 veterans are also included in the database. This project is the result of a two year effort and it is very well done. Access is free. [Union Soldier Burial Records]
National – Google has prepared a short and very interesting video that summarizes the main search terms featured in 2012. Although not specifically about genealogy, it does provide an interesting context for anyone that uses Google to search for their ancestors.
National – FamilySearch.org has created a very interesting indexed record collection of some 4.1 million records of Germans who migrated to America between the years 1850 to 1897. These records come from the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies. The key information found in these records are name, age, sex, last residence in Germany and expected town/city destination in the United States. Access is free. [German Immigration Records]
Washington – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 360,000 passenger ship records for Seattle, Washington. These are passenger and crew lists of ships that arrived in Seattle between the years 1890 to 1957. A typical record lists the name of the individual, age, sex, marital status, occupation and citizenship as well as details on the ship such as the name of the ship and date of arrival. Some records also list additional details such as last permanent address and final destination. Many of the ships that docked in Seattle during this time period had come from Asia. This is a good record set to search for anyone who had ancestors who migrated from Japan. These records can be searched by name. [Historic Seattle Ship Passenger Lists]
National – Genealogy Trails continues to add new genealogy records on a daily basis from across the United States. Recent additions include newspaper records from Alabama, census transcripts from New Mexico and obituaries from Texas. This is a great website worth checking out on a regular basis. Access is free. [Genealogy Trails]
Pennsylvania – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 454,000 records of Philadelphia passenger lists. These are passengers that entered the port of Philadelphia from 1800 to 1882. Access is free. [Historic Philadelphia Passenger Lists]
New York – FamilySearch.org has made a massive addition to their images of New York State land records. Some 8.1 million new images have been added to the collection, which spans the years from 1630 to 1975. Access is free. [Historic New York State Land Records]
Indiana– The Indiana Historical Society combined with Newspaper Archive have jointly put online 2.5million pages of historic Indiana newspapers. The newspapers date from 1924 or earlier. In total, some 760 different titles are in the collection, including many small-town newspapers. Access is by subscription. [Newspaper Archive] Alternatively, the newspapers can be searched free of charge at the Indiana Historical Society’s reference room in downtown Indianapolis.
Michigan – The US Data Repository website has added a new section called Great Lakes Maritime History. Dedicated to the genealogy history of the Great Lakes, it covers both US states and Canadian provinces that surround the Great Lakes. At the moment, the records listed include biographies, 1930 census of merchant seamen, a list of shipwrecks, and a list of US and Canadian lighthouses. The US Data Repository is part of the USGenNet system. Access is free. [Great Lakes Maritime History]
Idaho – FamilySearch.org has added an additional 132,000 Idaho marriage records to its collection. The marriage records span the years from1947 to 1961 and come from the Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics. Access is free. [Idaho Marriage Records]
Iowa – FamilySearch.org has created a new indexed collection of some 1.3 million Iowa birth records. This collection covers about 80% of the birth records for the years from 1880 to 1935. Access is free. [Historic Iowa Birth Records]
Maine – FamilySearch.org has added additional Maine marriage and death records to its existing collections. A total of 857,000 new marriage records have been added that cover the years 1892 to 1966 and 1977 to 1996. The new Maine death records (some 402,000 new record additions) spans the period from 1960 to 1996. Neither collection has data for 1967 to 1976. Access to both collections is free. [Maine Marriage Records] [Maine Death Records]
Michigan – FamilySearch.org has created a new collection of customs immigration cards of individuals entering the United States through Detroit. This new collection contains some 845,000 records and spans the years 1906 to 1954. This collection can be searched by first and last name.
A typical record lists the following information: port and date of entry, name of ship, name of passenger, country of passenger, age, gender, marital status, occupation, place of birth, place of last permanent residence, final destination, name and address in the United States and a physical description. People crossing at Detroit would have come from Canada and many would have been moving to Michigan to work in the automotive industry.
One of the interesting things about this record set is that it lists the date and port of entry of the person when they immigrated to Canada. This could have occurred many years previously, as seen in the example in the image below. Access is free. [Detroit Customs Immigration Records]
National – FamilySearch.org has added almost 2 million additional World War I draft registration records for the United States. These latest additions cover the years 1917 and 1918. This collection now contains some 24 million records. It is approximately 54% complete. A total of some 38 million images are online and can be searched by state if you cannot find the record you are looking for by searching by first and last name. Men aged 18 to 45 are in the collection. Access to this collection is free. [World War I Draft Registration Cards]
US – Ancestry, the number one genealogy website in the world, has launched a new website called Newspapers.com It focuses on historic US newspapers. The website currently has 819 historic US newspapers dating from the late 1700s to as recent as the early 2000s. In total, there are some 25 million pages in the collection.
By comparison, Newspaper Archive, the world’s largest online newspaper database has over 5,000 newspapers and some 120 million pages of historic information. The new Ancestry website can be searched by keyword (including an ancestor’s name), location, time period and specific newspaper name.
One nice thing about the website is that a user can ‘clip’ an article or a section of a newspaper page (like one would do with a pair of scissors for a physical newspaper). The clipping can then be saved and shared with others on the internet. Access is by subscription (with a free 7-day trial). [Newspapers.com] It should be noted that subscribers to Ancestry already have access to a large online newspaper collection. It appears that about 60% of the newspapers on Newspapers.com overlap with newspapers found at Ancestry.com.
Global – MyHeritage, the number two genealogy website in the world has purchased Geni.com, the number five genealogy website in the world (see the list at the Top 100 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2012). Both websites specialize in online family networks and collaborative genealogy.
Geni.com was launched in 2007 and has over 65 million profiles in its collection and 7 million users. MyHeritage is much larger, with about 1.5 billion profiles and 72 million users across 38 different languages. The price of deal was not announced. However, in the same week MyHeritage raised an additional $25 million in venture capital financing. According to the Geni.com blog, the website will be run separately from MyHeritage with users noticing some immediate enhancements:
• Geni.com will now be ad free.
• There will be more privacy controls for living relatives.
• No limits will be set on the number of family trees that can be created by a single user.
• The users of MyHeritage and Geni.com will now receive matches from the other website’s family trees.
The website follows the freemium model. Free to start and then you have to pay later once you start to use the website. [Geni.com]
MyHeritage works on a subscription model. Here are a couple of interesting facts about the website:
• The average user spends 8 hours a month on the website and logs in about 40 times each the month.
• Subscriber turnover (called churn) averages just 1.25% per month at MyHeritage. This is considerably less than the churn on Ancestry.com, which averages a much higher 3.5% per month.
National – Mocavo has added a yearbook collection consisting of some 17,000 yearbooks from high schools, colleges and universities. Most of the yearbooks are from the United States, with some from Canada. The yearbooks typically range from about 1930 to around 1980. There are a considerable number of yearbooks from the 1960 to 1980 period. Some of the yearbooks appear to have been sourced from the Internet Archive. Access is free but registration is required. [US Yearbook Collection]
US – The New York State Military Museum has put online records of some 29,000 New York National Guard soldiers who were mobilized in the fall of 1940. A typical record lists the name, home address, date of enlistment, serial number and home unit of the soldier. The collection is organized alphabetically and can be searched for free. [New York National Guard 1940 Mobilization Records]
Iowa – FamilySearch has made a significant addition to its Iowa county marriage collection. In total, some 1.6 million new records have been indexed in the collection, which spans the years from 1838 to 1934. Historic records from Iowa can be hard to come by so this is a good collection to check if you have ancestors from the region. Access is free. [Historic Iowa Marriage Records]
National – On 22 October 2012, the website Chronicling America posted its 5 millionth historic newspaper page onto its website. The Chronicling America project now covers more than 800 newspapers from 25 different states spanning the period from 1836 to 1922. As a bit of history, this website was originally launched by the Library of Congress in 2007. Today, it gets some 2.5 million page views per month. Did we mention it was free? [Chronicling America]
Massachusett – FamilySearch has indexed some 430,000 new records of passenger lists for the port of Boston. The collection spans the years 1820 to 1891 (with a gap from 1874 to 1883). Early lists give the name, age, sex and occupation of the passenger. These lists were usually prepared on board the ship and given to customs officers when the ship docked. Many of the ships that docked in Boston in the 1800s did not carry immigrants, but carried merchants from various Eastern seaboard ports. The example below shows a passenger list for a ship from Liverpool, Nova Scotia that docked in 1837. It might be worth checking this collection if you had an ancestor who was a sea-born merchant on the east coast of North America anywhere from Canada to the Caribbean. [Historic Boston Ship Passenger Lists]
National – Ancestry.com has significantly expanded its collection of US yearbooks. A further 18,000 yearbooks from junior high schools, high schools, colleges and universities have been added to their collection. The new additions span the years 1806 to 2008, although presumably most of the yearbooks date from the 1900s. The nice thing about yearbooks is that not only does it identify the school your ancestor attended, but it also typically has a photograph of your ancestor. In addition to searching by name, this collection can be searched by location and year. Ancestry may even have your high school yearbook. Access is by subscription. [US Yearbook Collection]
National – GenealogyBank continues to add to its newspaper collection. The latest additions are two newspapers from Massachusetts (Boston newspapers from 1951 to 1986), four newspapers from North Carolina (mainly Greensboro newspapers from the 1900s) and one newspaper from Richmond Virginia from 1969/70. Access is by subscription. [Historic US Newspapers]
Midwest – The University of Illinois has been quietly growing their online collection of agricultural newspapers. The Farm, Field and Fireside collection as it is known consists of significant US farm weeklies published primarily in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The collection currently consists of 21 titles and spans the range from 1841 to 1981. Most of the newspaper titles in the collection are concentrated in the Illinois and Ohio region, but some are from other farm regions. This is a good collection to search if you are having trouble locating ancestors in certain farm states such as Iowa, where there are few online collections. The collection can be searched by keyword (such as name) and by newspaper title. Individual articles from the newspapers can be downloaded for free. [Historic US Farm Newspaper Collection]
Nebraska – The University of Nebraska has put online a small collection of historic Nebraska newspapers. The collection spans the period from 1878 to 1913 and consist of newspapers from the following communities: Valentine, Norfolk, Broken Bow, McCook, Omaha, Lincoln and Falls City. The collection can be browsed by community and date range as well as searched by keyword (such as a name). Access is free. [Historic Nebraska Newspapers]
National – GenealogyInTime Magazine has added 400 million new records to their two free search engines. The Genealogy Search Engine (which covers ancestral records) now searches an additional 100 million more records, while the Family Tree Search Engine (which covers genealogy forums and online family trees) searches approximately 300 million more records.
In total, the two search engines now cover 5.7 billion records across more than 1,000 different websites (split between the Genealogy Search Engine covering 1.9 billion records and the Family Tree Search Engine covering 3.8 billion records – there is no overlap of records between the two search engines).
GenealogyInTime Magazine now gets over 40,000 queries per month for the two search engines. This makes them one of the most popular alternatives to the FamilySearch website for people wanting to look for free ancestral records. Significant holdings exist for the United States, Canada, England/Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Continental Europe, Australia and New Zealand with minor holdings for the Caribbean, South America and South Africa.
Some of the highlights of the latest addition to the Genealogy Search Engine include:
• 55 million new records for the United States and 6 million new records for Canada. These are primarily ancestral records held in digital archives of public libraries and universities across North America. Many of these new records are historic photographs.
• 23 million new records for England, Ireland and Scotland. These are primarily twentieth century obituaries.
• 14 million new records for Europe. These are primarily birth/marriage/death records from Central and Eastern Europe.
• 2 million more ship passenger records.
In this latest release, the search routines for both search engines have also been strengthened to provide better results. In addition, the number of returned records for a search query has been increased from 8 pages to 10 pages. Finally, results are delivered even faster than before.
Access to both search engines is free and the underlying records are also free. [Genealogy Search Engine] [Family Tree Search Engine] GenealogyInTime Magazine also has a number of genealogy articles to help you become better at online genealogy searches.
GenealogyInTime Magazine is now the world’s most popular online genealogy magazine. It is also now the fifth largest free genealogy website in the world (according to Alexa, the internet traffic people, the largest free genealogy websites in order are FamilySearch, Find A Grave, Geni, GeneaNet and GenealogyInTime Magazine).
National – The Lost Souls Genealogy Project has now added over 100,000 records of ancestors to its database. Most of the records are structured as brief biographies submitted by users of the website. Some of the biographies include photographs. The information on the website is organized by state, with each state being moderated by a volunteer.
The website contains a search engine that you can use to search for a specific ancestor as well as many useful links and printable genealogy forms. The website can also be searched using the Genealogy Search Engine. The Lost Souls Genealogy Project is a wonderful example of a volunteer genealogy project (that are, unfortunately, becoming all too rare these days). The website is run by Diane Siniard. It is well worth checking out. Access is free. [Lost Souls Genealogy Project]
National – FamilySearch.org reported on 28 August 2012 that the final batches for the 1940 US census have been indexed. All 132 million people listed in the index are now fully searchable by name at FamilySearch.org and the associated partners’ websites (in early August, Ancestry.com announced the 1940 census had been completed, but they jumped the gun – there were still some final batches to be processed). Access is free. [1940 US Census]
Civil War – FamilySearch.org has added and indexed 404,000 records from their extensive collection of pension files of Civil War widows and other dependents. This is the second large addition to this collection in the last two months. Access is free. [US Civil War Widow Pension Records]
Indiana – FamilySearch.org has added another 84,000 marriage records for the state of Indiana. These records span the years 1811 to 1959 and have been indexed in partnership with the Indiana Genealogical Society. This latest batch means that about two-thirds of the marriage records for Indiana have now been indexed. Access is free. [Indiana Historic Marriage Records] You can learn more about this indexing project at the website of the Indiana Genealogical Society. [Indiana Marriage Indexing Project]
Texas – FamilySearch.org has added 4.5 million new images of Texas death records and indexed the images to make them easy to search. The death records span the years 1890 to 1976 and come from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Access is free. [Texas Death Records]
National – An unusual and helpful resource for anyone looking for ship passenger lists to the United States and Canada can be found at ActionDonation.org. Some of the resources listed appear to be fairly new. Many of the listings involve ship passenger lists from Germany, which are always hard to find. All the resources listed are free. [Historic Ship Passenger Lists]
US – Ancestry.com has added a list of US high school students (1821 to 1923) and a list of college students (1763 to 1924). In total, the two lists comprise some 2.2 million names. Most of the records seem to come from an assorted collection of annual reports, yearbooks, registers, memorial, fraternity listings and other sources. Most of the collection seems to be concentrated in the New England area. Access is by subscription. [Historic US College Lists]
National – GenealogyTrails continues to add to their collection of Civil War headstones. The collection has now grown to 80,000 Union soldier names spanning the years 1879 to 1903. A typical transcribed record of the headstone lists the name and rank of the soldier, company, regiment, name and location of cemetery and the date of death. This is a very nice collection. Access is free. [Union Soldier Headstone Records]
National – The 1940 Census indexing project led by FamilySearch.org has now been completed. All 134 million records from the US 1940 census will be searchable in a few weeks by first and last name, state, county, town/city, place of birth and other key information recorded in the census. The last batch of records went online on Monday 6 August 2012 with posts from 6 states (Arkansas, Washington DC, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia). Here are some interesting facts about this massive indexing project:
• According to Ancestry.com, the total number of people counted in the 1940 census was 134, 395,545. This is about 2 million over the official population of the US in 1940 (132,164,569) because the 1940 census included about 2.1 million people from the US protectorates of Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Panama Canal Zone.
• The average 1940 US household contained 3.7 people and the average age of the head of the household was 43.
• The top five immigration countries in 1940 (as determined by people reporting their birth country in the census) were Italy, Germany, Russia, Poland and England.
• Roughly 175,000 indexers took part in the project that involved some 3.5 million pages of data. The average person involved in the project indexed approximately 750 records.
•The entire 1940 census project was completed in about five months. By comparison, indexing the US 1880 census took FamilySearch about 10 years to do and was only completed in 2000. The 1880 census also contained much less information than the 1940 census.
• The video below describes the indexing process.
• Most of the indexers for the 1940 census were Latter-day Saints. The greatest concentration of indexers came from the western corridor of Utah, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada. Some people were able to index an incredible 100,000 records by themselves.
• Access to the 1940 census is free. [FamilySearch 1940 Census]
• There are actually two groups indexing the 1940 census. The US Genweb Census Project is also indexing the 1940 census. They are still looking for volunteer indexers. One nice thing about the US Genweb Census Project is that the results are automatically available for search through the Genealogy Search Engine and Google. [US Genweb 1940 Census Project]
New York – Ancestry.com has made an agreement with the New York State Archives and the State Library to create a searchable database of New York records that will be accessible for free at the new state archives website. Some of the material has already been posted online. Some of the highlights will be the 1892, 1915 and 1925 New York State Censuses, New York marriages (1600 to 1784), New York Civil War muster roll abstracts (1861 to 1900) and WWII enlisted men cards (1940 to 1945). There are also several other collections that will be of interest to genealogists. Access is free although you do need to enter a New York State zip code to access the records. [Genealogy Records at the New York State Archives]
Michigan - The Oakland County Michigan Genealogical Society has created an index of the 1891 tax assessment roll for the Avon township area to add to the society’s 1884 and 1894 state of Michigan censuses for the region. The index is available for free on the society’s website. [1891 Oakland Tax Assessment Rolls]
National – FamilySearch has added an additional 166,000 Civil War widows pension files. The collection consists of approved pension case files for widows and dependants of soldiers submitted between 1861 and 1934 and for sailors submitted between 1910 and 1934. Some of the records are for service in the civil war in Spain. These records can be searched by name. Access is free. [US Civil War Widow Pension Records]
Utah – FamilySearch.org has added an additional 105,000 Utah marriage records to its collection. These records date from 1887 to 1937 and are derived from local county courthouse records. Access is free. [Historic Utah Marriage Records]
National – The United States Census Bureau has just launched a great infographic that clearly and concisely describes how questions on the census have evolved since the first national census was conducted in 1790. This is a wonderful resource to help genealogists identify when certain key questions were incorporated into the census questionnaire. It also helps place the census in an historical and economic context. Well worth checking out. [Evolution of the US Census] Also included below is an informative video from the US Census Bureau that looks back at what America was like in 1790 during the first census.
New Jersey, New York – FamilySearch has added fully searchable indexed records from three state censuses. Included are the 1905 New Jersey census (2.1 million records), the 1915 New York State census (9.7 million records) and the 1925 New York State census (11.1 million records). Access is free to all these collections. [1905 New Jersey State Census] [1915 New York State Census] [1925 New York State Census]
Maryland – GenealogyBank is now reporting that they have over 30 Baltimore, Maryland newspapers in their collection. The newspapers go back as far as 1773 with continuous coverage up to 1922. There is a gap in coverage from 1922 to 1990 and then complete coverage from 1990 to the present. It is interesting to note the changing trends in newspaper names over the years given this is a very large collection from one city that covers almost 240 years. Papers from the 1700s favored names such as “Federal Intelligencer”, “Maryland Journal” and “Baltimore Daily Intelligencer”. In the early 1800s the names became more patriotic, such as the “Baltimore Patriot” and the “Federal Republican”. In the late 1800s / early 1900s the newspaper names seem to have become more information focussed, such as the “Baltimore Bulletin”. Access is by subscription. [Historic Online Baltimore Newspapers]
Pennsylvania– FamilySearch.org has indexed 1 million Philadelphia, Pennsylvania birth records spanning the years 1860 to 1906. It includes birth returns filed by hospitals, doctors and midwives. A typical record lists name of child, date of birth, gender, color, place of birth (with address), name of parents, occupation of the father and name of the attending physician. The records can be searched by name, year and place of birth. Access is free. [Historic Philadelphia Birth Records]
National – The US Geological Survey has created an amazing online collection of historical topographical maps. The process was begun in 2009 and the collection from the contiguous United States is now complete. Maps for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands should go online by the end of summer. In total, the collection is comprised of some 200,000 historical maps. This is a great resource if you are looking for high resolution historic topographical maps of your ancestors’ lands that you can download and add to your family records. You can search the archive by place name, zip code, address and USGS topographic map name. The link provides instructions on how to download maps from the database. Some charges may apply. [US Geological Survey Historic Topographical Map Collection]
Texas – FamilySearch.org has added a new collection of Texas divorce records. This collection of some 3.6 million records is for recent divorces from 1968 to 2010. Concurrently, FamilySearch has also added 7.6 million marriage records for Texas from 1966 to 2010. The records come from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Access is free. [Texas Marriage Records] [Texas Divorce Records]
Oklahoma – Debra Osborne Spindle in her excellent blog All My Ancestors (which can be picked up using the Genealogy Blog Gadget) mentioned that the Oklahoma Historical Society has added some rare pre-statehood ledgers to their website. These contain a wealth of information as they are essentially the government ledgers for such items as business agreements and incorporations as well as lease and mortgage transactions. These ledgers cover businesses, churches and lodges. A total of 27 volumes cover the Oklahoma Territory Incorporation Records and 15 volumes cover what was then known as the Indian Territory. The time period is from 1890 to 1907 (when statehood began). Access is free. [Oklahoma Territory Business Incorporation Records]
National – FamilySearch.org now reports that it has indexed 84% of the entire 1940 Census. A total of 31 states are fully indexed and available for searching. This works out to over 116 million names already completed. The link below provides the latest update from the FamilySearch blog, including a list of what states have already been completed. FamilySearch is still on track to complete the indexing of the 1940 census by the end of summer. [Update on 1940 Census Indexing from FamilySearch]
Ohio – FamilySearch has released a new collection of Ohio probate records. The collection consists of some 3.8 million browsable images of wills and estate files from county courthouses in Ohio. The collection covers a broad period from 1790 to 1967. The records can by browsed by county and then by year. Access is free. [Ohio Probate Records]
Ohio – The Oberlin (Ohio) High School Alumni website has an excellent collection of class lists dating back from the first graduating class at the high school in 1863 to the present, some 9,500 records. The website also contains nearly 2,500 obituaries of deceased classmates. [Oberlin High School Alumni Records]
Global – MyHeritage, one of the world’s largest genealogy websites, reached a significant milestone this week. One billion individuals are now listed in the website’s 23 million family trees. The website also has 151 million photos. MyHeritage continues to grow rapidly with 63 million registered users and 600,000 new users being added every month. This translates into about 1 million new individuals being added to the website’s family trees every day.
MyHeritage is also a truly global genealogy website. It is available in 38 different languages. MyHeritage has also been expanding in other ways with the purchase of FamilyLink and WorldVitalRecords in November 2011 (#11 and #28 on our list of Top 100 Most Popular Genealogy Websites). MyHeritiage also recently announced they would be hosting the 1940 US Census and in December 2011 they launched a popular mobile app. The company is backed by two venture capital firms: Accel Partners and Index Ventures, both of whom also backed Facebook and Skype. Access to MyHeritage is free to download a family tree. There is a fee to access records from other family trees. [MyHeritage] The interesting video below shows MyHeritage CEO Gilad Japhet discussing how the website has grown from its humble beginnings.
US – The US Data Repository (a USGenNet project) continues to add collections of free genealogy records to its website. The latest additions include an index of 11,000 names from the Clock Funeral Home in Muskegon MI (1894 to 1948) and records from the First Congregational Church of Hanover Mass. (1727 to 1865), with the first installment being church admissions (1728 to 1864). Hanover is in Plymouth County, and the US Data Repository already has an existing collection of historic letters, census, church and military records from the county. Access is free. [Muskegon Funeral Records] [Hanover Church Records]
California – The group SFgenealogy, which provides genealogy information for the San Francisco Bay area has added records from the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California. The some 305,000 records span the years 1887 to 2001. These records can ben searched by name (first, middle, last) and date of burial. Access is free. [Colma Cemetery Records]
New Jersey – Princeton University is putting online the images and text from the university newspaper called The Daily Princetonian. The archive covers the period from the newspaper's inception in 1876 through to 2002. The collection comprises some 685,000 articles. Most of the issues are already online with the final issues expected to be uploaded by the end of the June. The text is fully searchable. Access is free. [Archives of The Daily Princetonian]
National – GenealogyBank has recently added 152 more newspapers to its collections. The newspapers come from 42 different states and are a combination of articles and obituaries. Most of the new additions date from the 1880 to 1920 time period, although there are new additions to the collection that go back well before this time period as well as some recent newspapers. The link provides a complete listing of the new additions organized by state. Access is by subscription. [Historic US Newspapers]
Ohio – FamilySearch has added about 850,000 county birth records for Ohio. This collection ranges in date from 1856 to 1909. Access is free. [Ohio Birth Records]
National – ProQuest has sent announced they are joining the US 1940 census consortium comprised of FamilySearch, FindMyPast and Archives.com (now Ancestry). ProQuest plans to eventually host the 1940 census records on their website. For those who are not familiar with ProQuest, the company is a large database subscription service that is normally accessed through public libraries and universities. With the addition of ProQuest to the 1940 census consortium, there are now three subscription services (FindMyPast, Ancestry, and ProQuest) and one free service (FamilySearch) hosting the 1940 census data that is being translated by volunteers. The consortium has also announced that they have indexed 35% of the census. They expect the indexing to be completed by late summer. The US Genweb Census Project also uses volunteers to translate the 1940 census records. They make the results freely available on their website and (as an additional bonus) to search engines. [Proquest] [US Genweb Census Project]
US – Ancestry.com has put online a collection of 300,000 World War II cadet nursing corps card files. These are records of individual cadet nurses from between 1942 to 1948. In total, the collection covers some 124,000 young nurses who served in civilian, military and veteran hospitals in the United States during the war. These records are basically membership cards that list the name of the nurse, date of birth, date of admission to the corps, etc. Access is by subscription. [World War II Nursing Records]
National – Ancestry.com the number one genealogy website purchased the sixth most popular genealogy website Archives.com in a deal that valued the company at US$100 million. Archives.com runs a subscription genealogy search engine that focusses primarily on free ancestral records found on the internet (which incidentally is essentially the same as the free Genealogy Search Engine).
Archives.com had 380,000 paying subscribers, had over 5million monthly visits and generated some $15 million in annual revenue. This translates into Ancestry paying about 6.7 times sales for Archives. Ancestry now has access to the Archives team, who has done very well since Archives launched in July 2009 (as GenealogyArchives.com). The company behind Archives is Inflection, which specializes in people search websites (it also runs PeopleSmart.com and Identity.com).
Ancestry plans to continue to run Archives as a separate website with a differentiated offering from Ancestry. As Ancestry continues to grow, however, there are now less independent genealogy websites on the internet. According to the Top 100 Genealogy Websites List, Ancestry now owns five out of the top ten genealogy websites: (#1)Ancestry.com; (#6)Archives.com; (#7)Genealogy.com; (#8)Ancestry.co.uk and (#10)MyFamily. In addition, Ancestry.com owns ten other websites in the Top 100 List: (#14)Ancestry.ca; (#17)Fold3; (#18)Ancestry.com.au; (#31)Ancestry.de; (#36)FamilyTree Magazine; (#37)Jiapu; (#46)Mundia; (#53)FamilyTree Maker; (#74)ProGenealogists and (#77)Ancestry.se. It is starting to look a little lonely here at (#20)GenealogyInTime Magazine.
National – The US Genweb Census Project has been very active since the release of the 1940 census records. Volunteers have been busy transcribing the new census records. This is a wonderful, website to check if you are looking for free census records from 1940 or earlier censuses. It is also a great website to volunteer your time doing some transcribing work. One particularly nice thing about the US Genweb Census Project is that they make their records freely available to all search engines.
Other participants in transcribing the 1940 census (Archives.com, FamilySearch, FindMyPast), who are also looking for volunteers, tend to hide their 1940 census records behind firewalls where they cannot be searched by Google and other search engines. By comparison, the US Genweb Census Project is fully searchable by Google as well as our free Genealogy Search Engine, which will automatically pick up the new 1940 census records as they are added to the website. [US Genweb Census Project]
National – FamilySearch.org has set up a special page on their website dealing with the recent release of the 1940 census. You can search the digital images from the census as well as keep track to see which records by state have already been published. This is a very useful page to check out. Access is free. [US 1940 Census Records]
2012 January to March
National – MyHeritage will be offering images and a searchable name index of the US 1940 Census. To coincide with this release, MyHeritage also plans to launch a new family history search engine to provide better name matching and search capabilities. As well, the results from the 1940 census will be integrated into family tree data stored on MyHeritage. Access is free. [US 1940 Census Records]
Massachusetts – Ancestry.com has created a new collection of Massachusetts town vital records. Comprising some 8.2 million records and going back over 300 years, this collection consists of vital records collected by various Massachusetts towns. Included in the collection are birth records, baptism records, marriage records, courthouse records and even some death records. Access is by subscription. [Massachusetts Vital Records]
California – FamilySearch.org has been on a tear recently with various California records. This week they have added a California death index spanning the years 1940 to 1997 and a divorce index from 1966 to 1984. The death index contains some 9.4 million names and the divorce index has 3.5 million names. The death index comes from the California Department of Health Services and lists the name, sex, date and place of birth, date and county of death as well as the father’s family name and the mother’s maiden name. Access to both indexes is free. [California Death Index] [California Divorce Index]
Nevada – FamilySearch has added a marriage index for the state of Nevada. It covers the years 1956 to 2005 and is composed of some 5 million names. Now you can see how many of your friends got married at those funny little white chapels in Las Vegas. Access is free. [Nevada Marriage Index]
California – FamilySearch.org has released a massive new index collection of California births. The collection contains reference to some 24.6 million birth records from 1905 to 1995. This is not a complete birth record, but an index to birth records created by the California Department of Health Services. The index contains the following: name, date of birth, place of birth, sex and mother’s surname. The index can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [California Birth Records Index]
National – Archives.com will be adding over 3,000 US high school, college, middle school and military yearbooks to its website during the month of March. In total, over 300,000 pages of yearbook information will be searchable by name and keyword. The yearbooks are organized by state, city, school and year. The first batch has already gone online. This represents about 360,000 high school records and 10,000 college records. Access is by subscription. [US Yearbooks]
National – Archives.com has launched a new database called Patriots of Color in honor of Black History Month. This database is compiled from research collected by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Director of this institute. Basically, the database contains records of anyone who was identified as non-white and who played a part in the Revolutionary War. This would include such diverse groups as soldiers, seamen, wagoners, scouts, guides, carpenters, craftsmen, servants, laborers, etc. or anyone who provided aid to the military.
The records in the database come from a fairly extensive list and include pension applications, bounty land applications, muster rolls, pay rolls, troop lists, court records, legislative records and census records. Records can be searched by first name, last name, state, alternate name, type of military service, complexion and type and state of pension application. Searches currently just pull up a brief summary with no access to the source or the underlying record. As well, at the moment, there does not appear to be too many records in the database. For example, a search for the last name “Williams” (the most common African American last name) pulled up just 11 records, while “Smith” and variants only pulled up 28 records. A search for the first name “James” (with variants, such as “Jim”) brought up 105 records. More records are expected to be added later. Access is free. [Patriots of Color]
National – The release of the US 1940 census is scheduled for 2 April 2012. In preparation, the National Archives has announced with their partner Archives.com a new website called 1940 census. At the moment, the website contains no data. There is, however, an interesting video that discusses how the National Archives has digitized the 1940 census, which you can watch below. The actual census results will be released at 9am EST on the morning of 2 April. Access is free. [US 1940 Census]
National – Fold3 is making it easier to search its Civil War collection by adding the index to its Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers. At the moment, the new index covers four states: Ohio, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Each index card lists the name of the soldier, rank and unit. Access is by subscription. [Civil War Soldier Service Records]
Virginia – The Virginia Historical Society has launched a free database devoted to identifying slaves. Called Unknown No Longer, it currently contains supporting documents to identify some 4,000 slaves. Eventually, the database is expected to contain reference to some 8 million unpublished documents related to the identification of slaves. These documents include such things as letters, diaries, ledger books and various farm documents. Most of these documents come from the vast collections of the Virginia Historical Society. Some of the items date back to the 1600s. More details about this new database can be viewed in the video below. Access is free. [Virginia Slave Documents]
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania has changed the state law regarding the public release of birth and death certificates. Birth certificates will now be made available to the public 105 years after issuance and death certificates will be made available 50 years after issuance. Thus, birth certificates up to 1906 and death certificates up to 1961 are now available. The records can be ordered for a fee from the Pennsylvania Department of Health [Historic Pennsylvania Birth and Death Certificates]
Florida – FamilySearch.org has created a new collection of 5.2 million records from the Florida death index. These records cover the period from 1877 to 1998. Access is free. [Florida Death Index]
Wisconsin – FamilySearch.org has added about 950,000 marriage records from Wisconsin in addition to 435,000 death records from the state. The marriage records span the years from 1973 to 1997 and the death records are from 1820 to 1907. Access is free. [Wisconsin Marriage Records] [Wisconsin Death Records]
California – FamilySearch.org has added a rare collection of electoral rolls (voting registers) for the state of California. This searchable collection has some 1 million records. It lists eligible voters by county. These lists were created every other year for most California counties. The records span the time period from 1866 to 1910 (it varies somewhat by county). This is a great collection to use if you want to trace the movement of your California ancestors between censuses. We suggest you read the article Searching Electoral Rolls for Ancestors to get the most out of this collection.
California voting registers provide a considerable amount of information that would be valuable to a genealogist. This is because much of the information that was collected in the voter registration was done to help counteract fraud (in particular to prevent someone else from impersonating a voter). In addition to providing the name and address of the voter, the California voting register also gives the age, business/occupation, height, visible marks or scars (and their location), disabilities, country or state of birth, date of naturalization, date of registration to vote, ability to read English and the ability to write name. See the image below. Access to this collection is free. [Historic California Voter Registers]
Wyoming – Genealogy Trails has updated their website with more genealogy data from Wyoming. In particular, more records were added for the following counties: Albany, Big Horn, Carbon, Johnson, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Niobrara, Park, Teton and Uinta. Access is free. [Wyoming Genealogy Records]
Arkansas – FamilySearch.org has added new searchable indexes for the state of Arkansas. Included are a marriage index (1933 to 1939) and a death index (1914 to 1950). In total, some 1 million names are in the indexes. This data comes from Ancestry. Access is free. [Arkansas Marriage Index] [Arkansas Death Index]
Florida – FamilySearch.org has added a massive marriage index for the state of Florida that spans the years 1822 to 1875 and 1927 to 2001. There are some 11.7 million names in this collection and it is searchable by name, by spouse and by parents. The records originate from the Florida Department of Health. Access is free. [Florida Marriage Records]
Tennessee – FamilySearch.org has created a new collection of a Tennessee marriage index from 1780 to 2002. This index comes from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and lists some 3.3 million names. The index can be searched by name. Access is free. [Tennessee Marriage Records]
Minnesota – FamilySearch.org has added a marriage index for the state of Minnesota. The some 2.4 million records in the collection cover the period from 1958 to 2001. The index lists the name of the bride and groom, their parents, the calculated birthdates of the married couple and well as the marriage date and place. The easiest way to search this index is to know the name of either the bride or groom or the date and place of marriage. Access is free. [Minnesota Marriage Records]
National – A major new genealogy website has just quietly and unofficially been launched. It is from the Scottish genealogy company brightsolid. It clearly shows the company has moved into the US genealogy market in a big way. The company has yet to make an official announcement, but the website is called CensusRecords.com As the name implies, this website is all about US census records.
At the moment, transcripts of all the US censuses from 1790 to 1930 are already available for viewing except 1860, 1870, 1890 and 1920 which the website says will be available soon. There are no census images available on launch, but these are also expected to be ‘coming soon’. Transcripts for the 1790 to 1840 censuses are free once you register. The rest of the census records can be viewed by pay-per-view or by subscription. [US Census Records] This site will quickly become popular with genealogists.
A bit of background on the company: People researching their ancestors in the UK will be familiar with brightsolid. They run the popular genealogy website FindMyPast.co.uk (ranked #13 on the global list of the Top 100 Most Popular Genealogy Websites). The company also runs ScotlandsPeople (in concert with the Scottish government, ranked #75 in the Top 100), 1911 census, findmypast.com.au and most recently findmypast.ie (ranked #91 of the Top 100). Brightsolid also formed a partnership with the British Library for the recently released website British Newspaper Archive, which already ranks #43 on the Top 100 list. Thus, brightsolid already has several popular genealogy websites and this new US website adds to their collection.
It is interesting that brightsolid has not made any announcement about this new website. GenealogyInTime Magazine picked it up through the automatic scripts that we use to monitor the internet. Brightsolid is one of the sponsors of RootsTech being held 2-4 February 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Perhaps an announcement will be made at the conference, so consider this a special sneak peek.
Virginia – American Ancestors (the website of the New England Genealogical Society) has put online volumes 1 through 49 of the Virginia Genealogist. This is essentially a database of Virginia genealogical records that was first published in book format. The database contains approximately 483,000 records. It includes such things as compiled genealogies, property tax lists, deeds, court orders, wills, marriage records and other records from various county sources. Also included are transcripts of bible abstracts, church records, military records and mercantile lists. Access to this database is by membership (anyone can join). [Virginia Genealogist]
National – Arlington National Cemetery has been plagued over the last couple of years by reports of mislabelled graves, misplaced remains and general mismanagement. Now it is reported that the number of people buried at the United States’ national cemetery has been significantly underreported. It is now estimated that 400,000 people are interred at Arlington National Cemetery, about 20% more than the previously stated number of 330,000 people.
Examples of underreporting include situations where the husband and wife are buried in the same plot but only the husband’s name is on the tombstone and multiple soldiers buried together but not all of them were identified. There are also reports of multiple errors in the spelling of names and discrepancies between records and tombstones on the dates of birth and death. The exact number of people buried within the 150-year old cemetery will not be known until the summer of 2012 when the full survey is completed. But it is known that thousands of markers in the cemetery will need to be replaced or changed. [Arlington National Cemetery]
Pennsylvania – Ancestry.com has put online a collection of 7.5 million ancestral records from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The collection spans the years 1593 to 1908. The highlights of the collection are birth, church and town records from 1593 to 1708 that have been sourced from churches, funeral homes, cemeteries, newspapers and historical societies. There is also a naturalization database (1794 to 1908) that includes petitions for citizenship, certificates of citizenship, court naturalization lists, and country of origination lists. This is a significant collection for anyone with Pennsylvanian ancestors. You can learn more by watching the video below from Ancestry. Access is by subscription. [Pennsylvania Ancestral Records]
North Carolina – GenealogyBank has announced that their collection of historic North Carolina newspapers now numbers more than 100 in total. Many of the newspapers in the collection are recent, although some newspapers go back as far as 1787, with most of the historic newspapers starting in the early 1800s. Access is by subscription. [Historic North Carolina Newspapers]
National – Fold3 has added a significant new collection of Revolutionary war documents know as Numbered Record Books. These include orderly books, oaths of allegiances, lists of men and officers in state regiments, quartermaster accounts, correspondence, and supply records. The orderly books are particularly interesting because they include rosters, instructions for troop movements, promotions, reprimands, findings of court martial cases and camp regulations. Most of the numbered record books date from 1775 to 1783. The books are indexed and searchable. This is quite a collection. Access is by subscription. [US Revolutionary War Record Books]
US – The Martin Luther King digital archive has opened online. It contains over 200,000 personal documents belonging to and related to Martin Luther King Jr. Included in the collection are letters, speeches, telegrams, notes and other items of interest. Access is free. [Martin Luther King Archive]
Texas – Archives.com has added over 900,000 Texas and North Dakota cemetery and vital records. Access is by subscription. [Texas Cemetery Records]
New York – The Troy Irish Genealogy Society has added over 5,100 interment records from St. Mary’s Cemetery of Troy, New York. Each record shows the last known city of residence, interment date and section/lot number. The records can be searched by name. St. Mary’s cemetery covered the general population in the area and burials were not restricted to people of Irish origin. The Troy Irish Genealogy Society also has a great variety of other genealogy records from the region of Troy, New York. Access is free. [Troy, New York Burial Records]
California – FamilySearch.org has added a California marriage index composed of some 4.9 million names and covering the period from 1960 to 1985. The index was provided by Ancestry.com and lists the following information: name of bride and groom, bride’s parents, groom’s parents, ages of bride and groom and the marriage date and place. This collection can be searched by name. Access is free. [California Marriage Records]
Pennsylvania – The Scranton Public Library in Scranton, Pennsylvania has created a new website called the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives that will serve as the archive for the area’s past. The collection contains letters, books, paintings, city directories, photographs and other artefacts that can be viewed online from 1850 to 1865, which was the key industrialization period for the area. More content is expected to be added in the future. Access is free. [Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives]
National – FamilySearch.org has added a variety of death indexes from various states: Connecticut (1.4 million records - 1949 to 2001); Indiana (800,000 records – 1882 to 1920); Massachusetts (2 million records – 1970 to 2003); Michigan (2 million records – 1971 to 1996); Minnesota (2.9 million records – 1908 to 2002); Montana (660,000 records – 1860 to 2007); Oregon (1.5 million records – 1903 to 1998) and Wisconsin (1.6 million records – 1959 to 1997). Access is free. [US Death Indexes]
Texas – FamilySearch.org has added 17.1 million Texas birth records from 1903 to 1997. Each record lists the child’s name, date and place of birth and the parent’s name. Access is free. [Texas Birth Records]
2011 October to December
Vermont – FamilySearch has expanded the collection of vital records from Vermont. The newest additions cover the period from 1760 to 1954. The entire collection covers some 2.1 million images and it is now complete for the years 1871 to 1908. Access is free. [Historic Vermont Birth, Marriage, Death Records]
North Carolina – Ancestry.com has released 2 million World War II draft cards from the state of North Carolina. These were completed by men living in North Carolina in the early 1940s and who were born between 1897 and 1929. Information on a typical draft card included name, address, age, place of birth, employer’s name and physical measurements. Access is by subscription. [North Carolina World War II Draft Cards]
California – FamilySearch has created a new collection of passenger lists for the Port of Los Angeles. These records date from June 1907 to June 1948. A typical record lists name, place of birth, age, gender, occupation, nationality, date and port of entry, name of ship, last permanent residence, final destination, and the name and address of a relative or friend in the United States. There are approximately 120,000 images in this collection. Access is free. [Port of Los Angeles Passenger Lists]
Texas – FamilySearch has created a major new index collection of Texas death records. The collection spans some 7.25 million records and covers the years 1903 to 2000. This is a major new collection for anyone with Texas ancestors. Access is free. [Texas Death Records]
Texas – FamilySearch has added some 424,000 new birth certificates for the state of Texas. The records span the years 1903 to 1934. The entire collection now totals some 1 million records. The nice thing about Texas birth certificates is they usually list the birth place of the parents (see image below). Access is free. [Texas Birth Certificates]
Iowa – The Daily Iowan newspaper has launched an online archive of the newspaper. The archive goes back as far as 1868 and is complete with the exception of two brief periods (fall of 1918 and summer of 1984). Included in the archive are the Daily Iowan’s predecessor newspapers, such as the University Reporter (1868 to 1881), the Vidette (1879 to 1881), the Vidette Reporter (1881 to 1901) and the University Mirror (1881). The archive is housed under the University of Iowa library system. In total, the collection consists of some 750,000 scanned images. The collection is full text searchable. Access is free. [Historic Iowa Newspaper Archive]
National – Ancestry has added more than 50 million new birth, marriage and death records to its US vital records collection, which now numbers close to 500 million records in total. The new records come from 23 different states. Some of the highlights include Connecticut deaths and burials (1650 to 1934), Maryland births and christenings (1622 to 1911), New Hampshire death and burials (1654 to 1949), New Hampshire marriages (1637 to 1947) and New Jersey births and christenings (1660 to 1931). Access is by subscription. [US Vital Records]
Tennessee – The Tennessee State Library and Archives has come to an agreement with Ancestry.com to put online records held by the archive. The first batch to go online will be 1.2 million death records from 1908 to 1959. Access will be by subscription. No date has been set as to when these new records will be available on Ancestry, although the Ancestry website already contains some Tennessee death records. Alternatively, these records are already available free on the Tennessee Electronic website (click on the Genealogy link). [Free Tennessee Death Records] Note: you need to be a Tennessee resident to access this free database (or be prepared to provide a Tennessee zip code and telephone number). FamilySearch also has some Tennessee death records, which are available here.
Alabama – The Alabama Genealogical Society continues to add to its probate court record collection. Thanks to the efforts of Caroline Horton, another 1000 names from probate records have been added to the Loose Records Collection, which now can be searched for over 57,000 names. Access is free. [Historic Alabama Probate Records]
National – GenealogyBank has just added another 134 million newspaper articles to its collection to bring their total record collection to over 1 billion. In total, the collection spans more than 5,700 newspapers in all 50 states, including a rare collection of African American and Hispanic American newspapers from 1827 to 1999. Access is by subscription. [GenealogyBank]
Guam – FamilySearch has created a new collection of land records from the territory of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean. Guam is one of five territories controlled by the United States. It played a major role in the battle of the Pacific during World War II. This new collection consists of 289,000 browsable images dating from 1898 to 1964. Access is free. [Historic Guam Land Records]
North Carolina – FamilySearch has added about 281,000 images for 12,000 people related to estate files from North Carolina. These records cover the years 1663 to 1917 and are from the North Carolina Department of Archives. These are files related to the settlement of estates and include such documents as the distribution of funds, land, property and slaves upon the death of the owner. This would be a good collection to check if you have African American ancestors from North Carolina. Access is free. [Historic North Carolina Estate Files]
2011 July to September
National - GenealogyBank has significantly expanded their US newspaper collection with the addition of 134 million articles. The GenealogyBank newspaper collection now contains over 1 billion genealogy references in US newspapers dating from 1690 to the present. The collection also includes African American and Hispanic American newspapers. Access is by subscription. [Historic US Newspapers]
New York – FamilySearch has added about 2.6 million browsable images of New York City ship passenger arrival lists covering the period from 1925 to 1942. A typical record lists the name of the passenger, age, birthplace, marital status, nationality, occupation, date of arrival and port of departure. Access is free. [Historic Port of New York Ship Passenger Lists]
Illinois – FamilySearch has added about 1.5 million naturalization records from the state of Illinois (northern district). The records span the years 1840 to 1950. The records after 1906 are more complete and typically include the name of the petitioner, address, name of the court, country and date of birth, date and place of arrival in the United States, date of naturalization and name and address of witnesses. Access is free. [Historic Illinois Naturalization Records]
National – FamilySearch has increased their collection of World War II draft registration cards. The newest addition is about 814,000 records from the 1942 draft. This was the fourth draft the US conducted during the war and was done on April 27, 1942. It was specifically for men aged 45 to 64 at the time (born between 1877 and 1897). This is a good record set to check even if your ancestor did not fight in the Second World War as they may have been listed in this draft. Access is free. [World War II Draft Registration Records]
National – FamilySearch has added about 90,000 records to its collection of US pension applications for the War of 1812. A typical pension application lists the name of the solder, enlistment date, military action and discharge date as well as the address of the soldier, name of widow, date of marriage and (if applicable) date of death of the soldier. This collection can be searched by first and last name as well as place. Access is free. [US War of 1812 Pension Applications]
National – FamilySearch has posted online a variety of soldier service records from the US Civil War (1861 to 1865). By state, the records are as follows: Kentucky (over 1.5 million records, both Confederate and Union soldiers), Louisiana (779,000 records), Maryland (44,000 records), Mississippi (about 1.3 million records), Missouri (348,000 records), North Carolina (almost 2 million records) and Tennessee (about 1.1 million records). Access is free. [US Civil War Soldier Records]
Michigan/Canada – FamilySearch has put online a browsable collection of 851,000 images of manifests of arrivals at the port of Detroit. The records span the years 1906 to 1954. The Windsor/Detroit corridor was (and still is) the main crossing point between Ontario and the United States. This would be a good collection to check if you suspect you had ancestors that migrated from Ontario to the United States during the early 1900s. This record set is particularly valuable because it predates that creation of most custom records between Canada and the US since customs posts (and thus full customs records) between the two countries were not formalized until the 1930s. Access is free. [Historic Detroit Arrival Records]
Indiana – Indiana University has just completed digitizing 5,000 images of the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper, which covered Indianapolis’ black community for over 100 years. The online collection spans the years 1899 to 2005 (with 1917 - 1925 and parts of 1932 missing). The newspaper was originally established in 1897, meaning this is an almost complete collection. The university is searching for anyone who may have copies of the newspaper from the missing years. The digital collection can be searched by keyword. Access is free. [Historic Copies of Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper]
National – Archives.com announced this week they had indirectly purchased a copy of the entire US federal population census indexes (1790 to 1930) from FamilySearch. The collection consists of some 500 million records in total. The transfer was not an outright sale, but was done for a consideration of future payments of at least $5 million, which is to go towards digitizing new record sets at FamilySearch.
Archives.com bought the US census collection for a cost of about 1 cent per record. If memory serves us correctly, buried deep within the IPO documents of Ancestry (their main competitor) it said that it cost Ancestry an average of 5 cents to obtain and transcribe a record. This would suggest Archives.com got a real bargain.
The deal between FamilySearch and Archives.com was probably structured this way (future consideration of new records instead of an outright sale of a copy of the existing census records) to avoid alienating FamilySearch’s volunteer base, which is considerable. Volunteers might not be happy to know their work is going to support a for-profit enterprise like Archives.com. You can read the full press release here.
National – Ancestry.com has tripled the size of its online US schoolbook collection to a total of 35,000 yearbooks covering 155 million records. The collection covers high schools, junior highs, academies, colleges and universities. The yearbooks date from 1884 to as recent as 2009. Included in the expanded collection are 7 million images of people and events. It is very hard to get through high school without being put into a yearbook. In addition to checking out bad hairdos, you can see what your ancestor looked like and get some idea as to their academic capabilities. This would also be an excellent source to check for all those hard-to-find ancestors. [US School Yearbook Collection]
Michigan – FamilySearch has added some 380,000 new indexes to the Michigan state census of 1894. Access is free. [1894 Michigan State Census Records]
Michigan – The Delta County Genealogical Society of Delta, Michigan has been working for more than three and a half years transcribing Delta County death records going back as far as 1865. After much hard work on the part of many dedicated volunteers, these records are now online in an impressive database. Each record lists the name of the deceased, date of death, year of birth, mother’s name, father’s name, cemetery and funeral home. Records can be searched by any part of a name. This is a major new resource for anyone with ancestors from the region. The Delta County Genealogical Society has now begun work on the county’s marriage records, which will also eventually go online. Access is free. [Delta County Michigan Death Records]
National – FamilySearch has officially completed the 1930 US census. Access is free. [free US 1930 Census Records]
North Carolina – The State Archives and State Library of North Carolina is continuing to grow its online collection of family Bible records. Since 1967, the archives have been collecting Bible records from people in the 96 counties across North Carolina. Nearly 1,500 of the roughly 2,200 family Bible records are now available online. It is rare to see a collection of family Bible records online and they can provide a unique and valuable source of information. You can browse the collection by family name. Access is free. [North Carolina Family Bible Records]
National – JTA has launched a digital archive containing 250,000 articles going as far back as 1923. JTA is a not-for-profit organization that reports on current events and issues of interest to Jewish people. Highlights of the new digital archive include extensive reporting from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and the founding of the Jewish state after World War II. The archive is searchable by keyword and date. Access is free. [Historic JTA News Archive]
Illinois – Yearbooks from Shurtleff College in Illinois have now gone online. The yearbooks cover the period from 1911 to 1957 (with some missing years). Shurtleff College ceased to be an independent college in 1957, when it became part of the Southern Illinois University system. Access is free. [Shurtleff College Yearbooks]
National – Randy Majors has created a great interactive tool that allows you to trace US historical county boundaries on Google maps. Over the years, the boundaries of many counties often shifted several times. This means your ancestors homestead could be located within different counties at different points in the past. This can make it difficult to track down local genealogy records. For example, courthouse documents often reside in the lead town or city within each county. This free tool will allow you to track all these changes, making it much easier to correlate the location of your ancestors to the location of local records on your ancestors. [US Historical County Boundary Maps]
2011 April to June
Virginia – A new Virginia website allows you to trace your ancestor’s movements on civil war battlefields. Over two million soldiers fought in the US Civil War and Virginia saw more action than any other state. Now you can track the movements of your ancestor’s regiment with a new feature called Walk in Their Footsteps. This feature is brought to you by the Virginia Civil War Commission to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the war. The interactive website provides a database of various military regiments that served in Virginia during the war and ties it to genealogical information that allows you to directly connect your descendants to particular battles. This allows you to plot a customized “battle plan” for your ancestor. Be sure to watch the video tutorials to understand how the process works. Access is free. [Plotting Civil War Troop Movements in Virginia]
Iowa – FamilySearch has added about 132,000 county marriage records for Iowa. The records date from 1838 to 1934. Access is free. [Historic Iowa Marriage Records]
Montana – The Great Falls Genealogy Society of Cascade County, Montana has launched a new website that contains many online resources that would be of interest to anyone who had ancestors from the region. This well laid-out website has an online collection of birth records (through to 1933), marriage records (1910 to 1919), death records, cemetery records and various local histories. New records are being added all the time. Access is free. [Cascade County Montana Genealogy Records]
New Jersey – The government of New Jersey has put online an additional 2,000 historic photographs documenting New Jersey farming from the late 1800s through to the 1970s. The collection now comprises some 7,000 photographs of historic New Jersey farm scenes. The database can be searched by subject, date and location. It is free to search and high-resolution copies of the images may be purchased for a fee. [Historic New Jersey Farm Photographs]
Ohio – FamilySearch has added 640,000 Ohio tax records spanning the years 1800 to 1850. Access is free. [Historic Ohio Tax Records]
Vermont – FamilySearch has added about 260,000 new Vermont vital records spanning the years 1760 to 1954. Access is free. [Historic Vermont Vital Records]
National – Ancestry.com has put online the complete World War II Navy muster rolls. This collection of over 33 million records lists US navy enlisted personnel from 1938 to the end of 1949. A typical record contains name, service number, occupation, date of enlistment, name of ship and date reported for duty on the ship. Access is by subscription. [US Navy World War II Personnel Records]
National - On the same day that Google announced the demise of their newspaper archive (see The Death of Google News Archive), the Library of Congress Chronicling America newspaper website announced that an additional 230,000 pages have been added to their website. In addition, users are being asked to test drive a new beta site. [Chronicling America beta site] Of course, a more convenient approach is to just use our free genealogy search engine, which fully searches the Chronicling America website plus a few hundred other ancestral record websites all at the same time.
National – Yale University has decided to convert its vast collection of online images to “open access”. This means that Yale University has moved its cultural heritage collection of images (those that would be of interest to genealogists) into the public domain. These images are now openly and freely available to all. According to the university, “Yale is the first Ivy League university to make its collection accessible in this fashion”. Already, the open access collection numbers over 250,000 images and the collection is expected to grow into the millions. In addition to many images of historic Americans, the collection also has images of less famous Americans, historic maps, street scenes, etc. The site has a full search function. Access is free. [Historic Images from Yale University]
National – FamilySearch has released a massive collection of 10 million US Civil War records. The release marks the 150th anniversary of the war. The collection includes service records for both the Confederate and Union armies, pension records, probate records, widows’ certificates, US Army enlistments (1798-1914) and much more. In addition to the 10 million records that have already been indexed, FamilySearch has hundreds of millions more records associated with the Civil War that need to be indexed. They are looking for volunteers to assist with this multi-year project. Access is free. [Free US Civil War Records]
South Carolina – FamilySearch has launched a special South Carolina collection. Included in the collection are South Carolina probate records (1671-1977), death records (1915-1955) and Confederate service records (1861-1865). In total, this collection has millions of records. Access is free. [South Carolina Genealogy Records]
Kentucky – FamilySearch has started a new collection of Kentucky death records. The collection already contains some 1.4 million records and spans the years 1911 to 1955. Access is free. [Historic Kentucky Death Records]
National – A new website called Project Preserve and Honor documents American military personnel buried at Arlington National Cemetery. To many genealogists, this type of website will look familiar: images of tombstones and details on the deceased. What is remarkable about this website is that it was done by 17 year old Ricky Gilleland. His website documents Iraq and Afghanistan veterans laid to rest at Arlington, something that the US Army has not done. Access is free. [Arlington National Cemetery Gravesites]
New York – FamilySearch has added over 1 million new records from the 1892 New York state census. Access is free. [1892 New York Census Records]
National – A new website called the Immigrant Archive Project allows recent immigrants to the United States to tell their story online. The website specializes in Latino immigrants, but anyone can contribute. Access is free. [Immigrant Archive Project]
National – The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been expanding their free online databases. DAR is a group that focuses on patriots of the American Revolutionary War (1774 to 1783) and their descendants. About 4,500 names are added to the database daily and the total database now contains some 7.1 million names. The database is a good place to check for anyone with ancestors from across the American Colonies in the 1700s and 1800s. It contains more than just records on Revolutionary soldiers. Included in the database are such items as cemetery reports and bible records. Access is free. [Daughters of the American Revolution Historic Family Trees]
Pennsylvania – The Philadelphia Tribune has announced that they will digitally archive their entire photo collection of more than 250,000 images spanning 125 years. Most of the collection will showcase African American life in the Philadelphia region starting in 1884 when the newspaper was founded. The collection is expected to go online soon. This will likely become an important resource for anyone with African American ancestors from the Philadelphia region. You need to register to access the website. [Historic African American Photographs from Philadelphia]
Oklahoma – FamilySearch has added an additional 222,000 historic Oklahoma marriage records spanning the years 1891 to 1959. Access is free. [Historic Oklahoma Marriage Records]
National – Just in time for the 150 year anniversary of the Civil War, Ancestry has seriously beefed up their Civil War collection. The basis for the new collection are some 275,000 records from the National Archives known as the Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865. Ancestry has also included records from some 20+ historic military cemeteries as well as Union and Confederate soldier service records 1861-1865. Access is by subscription. [Historic Civil War Soldier Records]
National – Virginia Tech has launched a website called American Civil War Newspapers. So far, the site has just one newspaper: the Daily Telegraph (1860-1865) from Macon, Georgia. However, it looks as though more historic websites will be added over time. Access is free. [Free US Civil War Newspaper Archive]
Arkansas – The Arkansas Catholic, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock, has begun the process of digitizing historic copies of The Southern Guardian, a predecessor newspaper. The year 1911 has already been digitized and put online. The plan is to eventually digitize the years 1912 to 2001. Access is free. [The Southern Guardian Newspaper of Little Rock]
Maryland – The Baltimore Sun has begun digitizing its library of 2 million historic photographs. The intention is to sell prints of the online images. Approximately 200,000 photographs have already been digitized. The pictures can be searched by subject and last name of the people in the images. [Historic Baltimore Photographs]
2011 January to March
National – A new Irish American museum has just been launched in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the museum is to bring Irish-American history to life. The museum’s website has an online library, which at the moment is limited to biographical information about famous Irish Americans. Click on the link to learn more about the museum. [Irish American Museum]
Wisconsin – Sheboygan, Wisconsin has put online historic city and county directories. The directories cover the years 1875 to 1898 plus 1918. Included in the directory listings are residents, businesses, schools, churches and societies. Access is free. [Historic Sheboygan Directories]
Vermont – FamilySearch has added some 220,000 vital records from Vermont covering the period 1760 to 1954. These are index cards of town clerk transcriptions of births, marriages and deaths. Access is free. [Historic Vermont Vital Records]
Tennessee – The city of Memphis, Tennessee has rapidly expanded their online historic archive over the last several months. It now contains an extensive collection of civil rights photographs, historic Memphis streetscapes, historic school classroom photographs plus several other collections of interest to genealogists. There is even a small, but interesting Elvis collection (see image below). Access is free. [Memphis City Online Archive]
Texas – FamilySearch has added 440,000 Texas birth certificates for the years 1903-1909 and 1926-1934. A collection of Texan county tax rolls for the period 1846-1910 has also been added. Access is free. [Historic Texas Birth Certificates]
New Hampshire – FamilySearch has added over 300,000 New Hampshire marriage records spanning the years 1637 to 1947. Information includes the name of the bride and groom as well as the town and date of marriage. Many records also contain additional information. Access is free. [Historic New Hampshire Marriage Records]
Alabama – The Florence-Lauderdale Public Library in Alabama has digitized and put online a Lauderdale County Circuit Court record book covering the years 1843 to 1850 (see image below). This is part of a pilot project on the part of the library, which is seeking funds to help digitize about 100 volumes of historic courthouse records. The library’s current online digital collection consists primarily of photographs and oral histories. Access is free. The library is looking for donations to help cover further digitization efforts. [Historic Lauderdale County Court Records]
New Jersey – FamilySearch has added approximately 1.3 million records from the 1885 New Jersey State census. Access is free. [1885 New Jersey State Census]
Louisiana – The Archdiocese of New Orleans has put online the first release of historic records from the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. This first release are baptism records covering the time period from 1777 to 1801 (the city was under Spanish control at the time). Other records are expected to go online in the future, including marriage and death records. This is big news for anyone wanting to trace their ancestry in New Orleans and will be of particular interest to anyone wanting to trace their black ancestry.
New Orleans only became an American city in 1803. Prior to that, it was ruled by the French (1718-1763 and then again 1801-1803) and the Spanish (1763-1801). During this entire period, the Catholic Church provided several functions usually associated with governments, such as the keeping of vital (birth, marriage, death) records. Over the years, many of these Catholic Church records have been documented and indexed by family name. The information was primarily recorded in several large print volumes, which can be accessed at the New Orleans Public Library. However, slaves and free people of color were usually not recorded in the print volumes even though the information was available in the original Catholic Church records. Now that the original records have been put online, this barrier has been eliminated.
One thing to note about the online records though is that they are scans of the original documents. The records have not been transcribed from the original Spanish. As well, the handwriting is in an ornate Spanish cursive style. It will take some time for a person to wade through the records. To further complicate matters, the Spanish priests used Spanish spellings of French names, which were prevalent at the time. The website, however, provides suggestions to help people read the records. [Historic New Orleans Baptism Records]
National – Ancestry has added 250,000 new historical records to its extensive African American holdings. The new records come from five collections: US colored troop service records 1861-1867 (Civil War records comprising enlistment papers, casualty sheets, death reports and correspondence); Savannah, Georgia slave ship manifests 1789-1859; New Orleans slave ship manifests 1807-1860; Freedman’s Bureau records 1865-1878 (formed after the Civil War to aid reconstruction efforts for former slaves); slave narratives 1936-1938 (a small collection of life stories of former slaves). Access is by subscription. [Civil War Colored Troop Service Records]
Wisconsin – The city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin has put online cemetery records from the two city cemeteries of Forest Hill and Lakeview. The records can be searched by first and last name. The records include date of birth, date of death, date of internment (if known) and a map button that you can click to show you the location of the grave within the cemetery. You can also submit online obituaries, memories, a life history, military records, video and pictures of the deceased. Access is free. [Eau Claire Cemetery Records]
National – FamilySearch has added about 8 million records of border crossings from Canada (1895 to 1956) and Mexico (1903 to 1957). This data comes from Ancestry’s collection. A word of caution if you do not see your ancestor in this collection. The US did not formally have border guards at all crossing points until the mid-1930s. Before this time, it was possible for someone to cross at smaller uncontrolled border points with no records. Access is free to this collection. [Historic US Border Crossing Records]
Montana – FamilySearch has added 338,000 Montana marriage records from 1865 to 1950. Access is free. [Historic Montana Marriage Records]
Rhode Island – FamilySearch has put online the detailed individual information from the 1935 Rhode Island State census. Access is free. [Rhode Island 1935 Census Records]
California, Delaware, Illinois– FamilySearch has added 3 million new digital images of US naturalization records. The records are from California (1852-1989), Delaware (1855-1955) and Illinois (1840-1950). Access is free. [Historic US Naturalization Records]
Mississippi – The University of Mississippi has begun to put its Civil War archive online. The initial batch of items includes letters, diaries, wartime correspondence and field dispatches. The collection is searchable. Access is free. [Mississippi Civil War Archives]
New York – The Museum of the City of New York has put online over 50,000 historic images of New York City. This is their first step in putting more of their collection online. The site is a bit challenging to navigate. When you get to the Photo Collections page, you need to click on the word ‘Search’ in the upper right hand corner and then search the images by category. Access is free. [Historic New York City Photographs]
New York – The Northern New York Library Network has reached an important milestone of 2 million historic newspaper pages online. The newspapers are from the Upper New York State counties of Oswego, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton and Essex. The site is very easy to navigate and access is free. [Historic Newspapers from Upper New York State] Another good site for historic New York state newspapers is Fulton History. It has over 15 million pages online from various regions of the state. [Fulton History Newspapers] You can also search this site using our free Genealogy Search Engine.
Illinois – The Illinois State Genealogical Society has just launched a new website. The site is well designed and easy to manoeuvre around. It also has a small collection of free genealogy databases for Illinois ancestors. Included are Civil War certificates from the state as well as World Wars I and II certificates. [Illinois State Genealogical Society]
Ohio – Cemetery records for Cleveland Ohio have now gone online thanks to the diligent work of the East Cuyahoga County Genealogical Society. About 350,000 records from ten Cleveland cemeteries can be searched by cemetery and last name. Information includes date of internment, age, sex and sometimes name of parent. Access is free. [Cleveland Cemetery Records]
National – The John F. Kennedy Library has launched the first online presidential archive. The launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration (20 January 1961). The online archive includes 200,000 digitized pages, hundreds of hours of films, voice recordings and many photographs. Only a fraction of the archive has been digitized. It is expected to take several years to complete the process. However, already this is a great source for anyone looking for context for 1960s events in America such as civil rights, space flight, etc. Access is free. [John F. Kennedy Digital Archive]
Maine – Ancestry has launched a collection of Maine vital records. Birth records date from 1621 to 1922, marriage records from 1705 to 1922 and death records from 1617 to 1922. These records are transcriptions from the Maine State Archives. The records before 1892 are rather sparse. Although Ancestry doesn’t mention it on their website (and they should), before 1892 all births, marriages and deaths were not recorded at the state level in Maine. Individual towns and cities were responsible for keeping their own vital records. In the 1920s, the state made a formal request for copies of all the pre-1892 vital records from all the towns and cities in Maine in an attempt to reconstruct a more complete history for the state. Maine estimates that they were only able to collect about 20% of all the records. To put it another way, four out of five people are missing from the Maine State Archives (and thus the Ancestry collection) prior to 1892. Access to the Ancestry collection is by subscription. [Historic Maine Vital Records]
Missouri – The State Historical Society of Missouri has created an online database of thousands of historical articles, photographs and artwork (such as the example shown below) related to Missouri history. What will be particularly interesting to genealogists is that the society hopes to have 100,000 pages of historic newspapers online by the end of February. Included in the newspaper collection will be historic copies of the Kansas City Journal and the St. Louis Republic. Access is free. [Historic Missouri Newspapers]
2010 October to December
National – This is a preannouncement. The US National Archives (NARA) is about to launch a new search interface on their website. Part of the government’s Open Government initiative, the new NARA search interface promises to be more streamlined and make it easier to search across multiple databases. The results will also be grouped in a more logical format. [Announcement of the New NARA Search Interface]
New York – FamilySearch has completed indexing the 1905 New York State census. Images of the original census documents are available for viewing. Access is free. [1905 New York State Census]
Indiana – This is big news for anyone with ancestors from Indiana. The Indiana State Archives has upgraded and digitized some 2.7 million historic records and put them online for free. Much of the hard work was done by volunteers from The Friends of the Indiana State Archives. The records can be searched by first name/last name or keyword. The collection dates back to the Civil War era and contains such diverse record sets as naturalization records of immigrants who settled in Indiana; the “Negro Registries” – a list of citizens forced by a 19th century law to report their race; indexes of inmates in prisons and muster rolls of more than 200,000 soldiers who fought in the Civil War. [Indiana State Archives]
National – Ancestry has put online about 115,000 records from West Point Military Academy. The collection spans the years 1805 to 1866 and includes letters of application, letters of recommendations and letters of acceptance. Access is by subscription. [Historic West Point Military Academy Applications]
National – Ancestry has added a rare collection of 75,000 prison records from some of the most infamous US federal prisons. Included are records from several prisons such as Alcatraz, Leavenworth, McNeil Island and Atlanta. The records in this collection span the years 1875 to 1963. The index can be searched for free. [US Penitentiary Records 1875-1963]
National - The Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) has just launched a new and improved website. This is the official US federal land records site. It is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to trace American ancestors who were homesteaders. The new website contains many new and improved features, including access to more than five million federal land title records (up from three million records on the old site) issued between 1820 and the present. The new website (which is still in beta) also has a better layout for searching for land patents, survey plats & field notes as well as land status records. Finally, the new website now allows map-based searches. Access is free. [US Federal Land Records]
New York - The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has digitized and indexed all issues of the NYG&B Record going back as far as 1870. All 563 issues can now be searched by surname and keyword. There are more than one million names listed in total. NYG&B Record is the oldest and one of the most distinguished genealogical journals in the country. Published quarterly, it concentrates on people and places in New York city and the surrounding state. The journal contains many compiled genealogies. The Society has also been busy adding other useful information to their databases, including part of the 1855 New York State census. Membership is required to access the databases and is highly recommended for anyone with New York city ancestors. [New York Genealogical and Biographical Society]
Virginia – The city of Newport News, Virginia has put historic documents on the city’s website. Everything from land deeds to postcards to historic maps is included in the new database (see image below). The material covers the period from the 1700s to the 1920s. Access is free. [Newport News Historic City Collection]
National – EBSCO and Brown University have teamed up to release a new database called European Views of the Americas: 1493 – 1750. The database contains more than 32,000 bibliographic entries about printed information on American written in Europe before 1750. A wide range of subjects are covered: exploration; slavery; natural disasters and Native American tribes, for example. The search function on this database is very sophisticated. For example, searching for ‘Smith’ will automatically pull up name variations such as ‘Smythe’. This is a worthwhile database to check for anyone who can trace their American ancestors back as far as 1750 or earlier. Access is free. [European Views of the Americas: 1493-1750]
2010 July to September
National – The US National Archives (NARA) has put online a very interesting collection of some 3,000 so-called Escape and Evasion Reports from World War II. The reports document escape and evasion activities of US soldiers in Europe during the war. For anyone interested in WWII history, these personal reports make fascinating reading (see an example of one below). It is also a possible route to finding mention of a relative or ancestor. Access is free. [National Archives World War II Escape and Evasion Reports]
Pennsylvania – Penn State University has received additional grants to digitize more key historic Pennsylvanian newspapers for the Library of Congress Chronicling America website. Phase 1 of the project (already completed) encompassed the time period 1880 to 1922. The new Phase 2 will span a broader time period of 1836 to 1922, which includes the Civil War period. Access is free. [Chronicling America]. Penn State also maintains a separate Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspaper Collection, which spans the period 1831 to 1877. Access to this collection is also free. [Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspaper Collection]
National – Ancestry has added 58 million school yearbook records to their US School Yearbook collection. The collection spans the years 1875 to 1988 and almost every state is represented for military, public, parochial and private schools. [Historic US Yearbook Collection]
Pennsylvania – A group of genealogists from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania have developed a website of marriage, divorce and death indexes for newspapers from the Pittsburgh area. Over 63,000 records from 1806 to 1987 are available. Access is free. [Pittsburgh Newspaper Indexes]
Washington – The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which had the dubious distinction of being one of the first US major city newspapers to be forced to go 100% online (see Why Newspapers are Dying), has created an online archive of historic Seattle images. The photo galleries are organized by topic. Access is free. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer Historic Photo Galleries]
New England – Historic New England, a museum of New England heritage and culture that chronicles the domestic life of the region over the centuries, has created a website for its collection. The website contains 400,000 photographs and images of its 65,000 square feet of artefacts. The manuscripts section contains papers from some of the most prominent New England families. Access is free. [Historic New England Museum online collection]
US & Caribbean – The Library of Congress has digitized its historic piracy collection, with some of the documents going back to the 1600s. Many of the documents involve reports on the trials of various pirates, both famous and obscure (see image below for the infamous Captain Kidd). Most pirates lived short, brutal lives and thus often did not leave descendants. Nevertheless, piracy was a major influence on the early history of the Caribbean and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a fact that is often overlooked today. These documents provide unique insight into the lives of many who lived during the period. [Library of Congress Piracy Trial Collection]
National – ProQuest has updated their African American Heritage collection with a set of rare African American records that predate 1870 census records. Some of the records go back to the early 1800s and include cohabitation records (North Carolina), registers of slaves and free persons of color (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Louisiana) as well as US Colored Troop records (1861 to 1865). The new records are searchable by name. ProQuest is a library subscription service that is usually accessible through local libraries. [ProQuest African American Heritage Collection]
Tennessee – The Tennessee State Library and Archives has received a grant to digitize their considerable state newspaper collection, which is currently on microfilm. The collection will be put online as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America historic newspaper website. The process will start immediately and it is expected to take two years to complete. The first phase will involve 2,500 microfilm rolls covering the period from 1836 to 1922. The entire Tennessee state newspaper archive consists of some 20,000 microfilm rolls and dates back to the first Tennessee newspaper in 1791 (The Knoxville Gazette). Tennessee is the 16th state to put their newspaper collection on the Chronicling America website. Access is free. [Tennessee State Historic Newspaper Collection]
Maine – It seems that Maine has quietly added 13 more years to the Maine death database (records from 1960 to 2009) and the marriage database (records from 1892 to 1966 and 1977 to 2009). There is a fee to order a vital record. [Maine Vital Records]
National – The University of Vermont has begun the process of digitizing their historic newspaper collection. The collection consists of some 100,000 pages from various Vermont newspapers covering the years 1836 to 1922. The digitized images will be available free of charge as part of the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America digital newspaper collection. [Historic Vermont Newspapers 1836-1922]
National – Footnote has teamed up with Lowcountry Africana to launch a free collection of records on more than 30,000 slaves from South Carolina estates. The collection was put together from the historic records of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and spans the period 1732 to 1872. This collection is currently not indexed. Lowcountry Africana is looking for volunteers to assist with the indexing project. [Lowcountry Africana South Carolina Historic Slave Records 1732-1872]
Arizona – The Arizona Memory Project has put online historic documents to an iconic American event now referred to as The Gunfight at the OK Corral. More of an interest to history buffs than genealogists, these documents are mainly transcripts of eye witness testimony filed by the coroner following the incident. These transcripts were misplaced for a number of years before recently being rediscovered in a local archive. Access is free. [Arizona Memory Project Gunfight at OK Corral Documents]
2010 April to June
North Carolina – The University of North Carolina has digitized some 3,200 historic maps of North Carolina. Included are many Sanborn fire insurance maps as well as coast and geodetic survey maps from the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the maps also contain an interactive option allowing users to overlay the historic maps against current street maps and satellite images. Access is free. [Historic North Carolina Maps]
National – The US National Archives has now surpassed one million historic images available online through its Flickr collection. Many historic photos and Civil War photos are included in the collection. Access is free. [Historic US Civil War Photographs]
Illinois – The State of Illinois has changed the law allowing people adopted before 1946 to gain access to their birth certificate. The process involves filing a written request with the vital records division of the Illinois Department of Public Health. This will allow about 200,000 adoptees to learn the identity of their biological parents. After 15 November 2011, adoptees that are 21 or older and born after 1 January 1946 will be able to apply to access their birth records through the state’s adoption registry. Birth parents who do not want their name revealed will have the right to have their name redacted (black lined) from the birth certificate. [Illinois Adoption Records pre-1946]
Illinois – The Chicago Tribune has begun digitizing and selling photographs from their extensive archives. The Chicago Tribune is one of America’s great newspapers that first began publishing in 1847. Many of the images in their photographic library date back to the nineteenth century and some of the pictures have never before been published or seen by the public. Some of the images include such famous people as Al Capone, Bette Davis, Roy Rogers and Bing Crosby. This is your chance to load up on Americana and possibly even find an image of your ancestor. There is a fee to download the photographs. [Chicago Tribune Photo Archives]
Delaware – FamilySearch has added 120,000 Delaware State birth records (1861 to 1922) and 124,000 birth records (1873 to 1908) from Cook County, Illinois. Cook County is the second most populous county in the US (after Los Angeles County) and it is anchored by Chicago. This would be a good record set to search for Chicago-area ancestors. FamilySearch also added the 1875 Minnesota State Census this week. Access is free. [Historic Delaware Birth Records]
National – Yale University is celebrating the 150th anniversary as an official depository for documents from the US federal government. Until now, documents produced by the US government prior to 1976 were not catalogued online. However, now the entire collection from 1860 to 2010 is indexed and available online. Yale University also indexes collections from the Canadian federal government, European Union and the United Nations. Access to search the index is free but physical documents must still be ordered through the Yale library system. [Historic US Government Documents 1860-2010]
National – The David Rumsey Map Collection has added 764 new maps online to complement the some 20,000 maps and images already on the website. New maps are added online on a regular basis (the entire offline collection consists of over 150,000 maps). Most of the maps are of America. All the maps are high resolution and users can zoom in and out on various parts of the map. A great resource for genealogists. Access is free. Below is a sample image of part of a map of Philadelphia from 1860. [David Rumsey Map Collection]
New Jersey – Princeton University library has put online some 16,000 Sanborn maps of New Jersey towns and communities from 1884 to 1922. Sanborn maps were first created by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company. These detailed maps enabled insurance companies to determine the risk of fire to buildings based on the building size, shape, function and structural material. Sanborn maps are particularly valuable to genealogists because they show specific details on individual buildings as well as showing how buildings relate to one another and how neighbourhoods are constructed. They are an excellent source for identifying how neighbourhoods, towns and cities have evolved over decades. The collection can be searched by county and town. Access is free. Note: the index is stored on an Excel spreadsheet called sanborn-web.xls [Historic New Jersey Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps]
Virginia – The state of Virginia has put online chancery records from Culpeper County (1829 to 1913). Chancery cases are legal cases surrounding circumstances not specifically covered by the law of the time. They can be thought of as legal exception cases and were common in America’s early history. Many of the chancery cases involved land disputes, resolutions of wills, division of estates and the buying and selling of slaves. Such chancery cases can be fertile ground for genealogists. A total of 36 Virginia counties and cities now have chancery records online at the Library of Virginia website. The database contains 191,000 cases and can be searched by surname and date. Access is free. [Historic Virginia Chancery Cases]
National – GenealogyBank has recently added 32 million new birth, marriage and obituary notices from 51 US newspapers in 28 states. The new records cover the period from 1793 to the present. Access is by subscription. [Historic US Newspaper Birth, Marriage and Obituary Notices]
Georgia – The Digital Library of Georgia housed at the University of Georgia has added to their online newspaper collection with 14 Atlanta newspapers. The period covered is from 1847 to 1922, which includes the critical Civil War period. Consisting of 67,000 newspaper pages, the images are full-text searchable. Access is free but you need to download the free DjVu browser plug-in to see the images. This plug-in is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. [Historic Atlanta Newspaper Archive 1847-1922]
National – All the back issues of the now defunct Ancestry Magazine can be searched online through Google. This magazine targeted primarily a US genealogy audience. Access is free. [Old Copies of Ancestry Magazine]
2010 January to March
National – The US Census Bureau has put online the 1870 Statistical Atlas of the United States. It joins the 1880 and 1890 Statistical Atlases that were previously put online. These atlases contain a wealth of information to genealogists. For example, below is an image from the 1890 census showing African American population density across the nation.
Mississippi – The collected papers of Ulysses S. Grant has now gone online for the first time. The papers span some 350,000 items including thousands of letters. The collection of the former Civil War general and 18th President of the United States now resides at the Mississippi State University’s online archive. Access is free. [Ulysses S. Grant Papers]
National – The Internet Archive has placed the US 1930 census online for free. Most states have been put online with the remaining records to be added in the near future. There is no index however available for this free census. You have to know where your ancestors lived. [free US 1930 Census Records] If you know your ancestor's street name, but not the Enumeration District (ED), you can use Steve Morse’s website to find the ED. [US Ennumeration District Calculator]
North Carolina – The University of North Carolina has put online yearbooks from the university covering the period 1890 to 1966. Access is free. [University of North Carolina Historic Yearbooks 1890-1966]
New York – The New York Public Library launched a new historic map website this week. This free site takes online historical maps (mainly from New York State) and overlays it on top of Google maps. This is a very useful tool for genealogists that have ancestors from the New York area. The site does take a bit of time to understand though (it is still in beta), so it is worth looking at the video tutorial. [New York Historic Maps]
National – Footnote has partnered with the National Archives to release a collection of some 100,000 US Army photos taken during the Vietnam War. Each picture is captioned with the names of the soldiers featured in the photo. Access is by subscription. [Vietnam War Army Photographs]
Ohio – The Ohio Obituary Index is now available on Ancestry for those people who have an Ancestry subscription. You can still access this database for free by going to the Rutherford B. Hayes website. [free Historic Ohio Obituary Index]
National – Ancestry has released a substitute for the US 1950 census. The real 1950 census can not be released until April 2022, exactly 72 years after it was taken. Ancestry created their 1950 census substitute by aggregating information from more than 2,500 US city directories spanning the year 1950. City directories were the precursor to modern-day telephone books. A typical city directory from 1950 would list the name and address of each adult in a household along with their occupation and home address. Access is by subscription. If you already have a subscription, you can access the 1950 census substitute database directly from [US 1950 City Directories]
National – GenealogyBank has started an African-American newspaper collection. The first phase has already been rolled out and includes 61 US newspapers with an African-American focus covering the period from 1827 to 1999. The newspapers are searchable for births, obituaries, marriage announcements, etc. Eventually, GenealogyBank plans to have over 280 African-American newspapers on its website. Access is by subscription. [Historic African American Newspapers 1827-1999]
Minnesota – The Minnesota Official Marriage System (MOMS) has just gone online. This is a state-wide marriage index that covers 87 participating counties. About 80% of all of Minnesota’s marriage records have already been added to this system and more records are being added daily. The records go back well into the 1800s. You can search by last name, date range and (if necessary) county. The system has some interesting quirks. For example, you can only enter the first ten characters of a first or last name, but it seems to find all the records that match for longer names. It is free to search online although there is a fee to order copies of the marriage certificates. [Minnesota Official Marriage System]
Oregon: The Oregon State Archives has released a new searchable database of over 100,000 settlers who lived in Oregon prior to statehood. Most of the information in the database is from the period 1800 to 1860. The database was constructed backwards in time starting with information collected from the 1850 and 1860 federal censuses of the Oregon territory. This information was then supplemented with additional records including marriage records, death records, probate records and other official and semi-official records. Information was also incorporated from various publications and secondary sources. Access is free. [Early Oregon Settlers 1800-1860]
New York: The New York State Military Museum online more than 50,000 pages of New York National Guard reports dating between 1858 and 1955. This is a good source for biographical information on higher-ranking officers, many of whom were profiled in the various publications. Access is free. [Historic New York National Guard Reports 1858-1955]
North Carolina: The University of North Carolina has a new Digital Library on American Slavery. The online archive contains detailed personal information on slaves, slaveholders and free people of color. The searchable database spans records between 1775 and 1867 in all 15 slaveholding states. Access is free. [Digital Library on American Slavery]
Ohio: Hamilton County, Ohio (which covers the city of Cincinnati) has put online over 1 million probate court documents dating back as far as 1791. Included are birth records, death records, marriage records as well as estate records and naturalization records, etc.. Check out the actor Spencer Tracy’s marriage record here when he was first married at the age of 23. Access is free. [Historic Cincinnati Probate Court Documents]
2009 October to December
National: The University of Delaware library has increased its online digital collection of material from the American Civil War. Included in the new collections are lithographic prints and photographs from the Civil War. Access is free. [University of Delaware American Civil War Collection]
National: The US Army Heritage and Education Center has unveiled a digitized collection of some 23,000 Civil War photographs. This collection of Civil War photos is considered by historians to be the best and most extensive collection in the world. Known as the MOLLUS Massachusetts Photograph Collection, it contains many photographic portraits of individuals. Access is free. [US Army Civil War Photographs]
National: GenealogyBank has added an additional 100 million new newspaper articles in fully searchable form. The additions come from newspapers in New Orleans (1837-1942); Cleveland (1845-1955); Trenton, NJ (1883-1973); Seattle (1923-1939); Dallas (1885-1978) and Augusta, Georgia (1783-1977). Access is by subscription. [Historic US Newspapers]
Midwest: Footnote.com has launched a Native American records collection. The collection contains more than 1.8 million records. Included are Indian census rolls (which include name, age, place or residence and degree of Indian blood); ratified Indian treaties; Dawes packets (applications to establish Indian eligibility) and Dawes enrollment cards (1898 to 1914). The focus of much of the collection appears to be on Midwest Indian tribes. Access is by subscription. [Historic Native American Genealogy Records]
National: The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and the University of Virginia have put online 5,000 previously unpublished documents from the founders of America. Included are letters and papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson amongst others. It is interesting, for example, to spend some time reading online the diaries of George Washington. Access is free. [Historic Papers of American Founders]
2009 July to September
National: The Lowcountry Digital Library of Charleston, South Carolina has gone online and expects to have more than 50,000 items from public and private archives. The digital archives contains everything from family diaries to correspondence to slave passes. Access is free. [Lowcountry Digital Library]
2009 April to June
National: The US government plans to put online over 100,000 data sources as part of the government's plan to share it's vast databases with the public. The first large batch of data sources is expected to be online by the end of June. Currently only 100 'teaser' sources are available on the website. It is not clear how many of these data sources will be useful to genealogists, although there is a category for "Births, Deaths, Marriages and Divorces" which has not been populated yet. [US Open Government]
National: The US Immigration Service signed an agreement to transfer over 21 million files compiled under the Alien Registration Act of 1940. This will be a gold mine for genealogists as the searchable files contain many things including photos, visa applications, birth certificates, personal letters and transcripts of interogations of celebrities, refugees, war brides and other immigrants. Most of the files are from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. A fee-for-service applies. [Historic US Alien Registration Documents 1850-1950]
National: The National Archives have put together a special exhibit entitled The Influenza Epidemic of 1918. The exhibit highlights selected records and images from the flu pandemic of 1918. Included in the collection are images of policemen and mailmen wearing masks as well as notices of cancellations of public meetings. Access is free. [1918 Influenza Epidemic Exhibit]
National: Readex, a division of Newsbank and a provider of digital historical collections has launched its American Newspaper Archives. The archives will initially feature nine US newspapers in fully searchable format from New Orleans Louisiana, Cleveland Ohio, Portland Oregon, Mobile Alabama, Trenton New Jersey, Seattle Washington, Springfield Mass, Dallas Texas and Augusta Georgia. Access is by subscription. [American Newspaper Archives]
2009 January to March
National: Ancestry.com launched a new database containing 2,000 US city directories from the year 1940. These city directories contain the name, address and occupation for the head of each household and provide a reasonable substitute for the 1940 US census, which by law can not be released for several more years. Ancestry.com has also completed a project to improve the quality of the images from the 1880 US census. Access is by subscription. [1940 US City Directories]
Wyoming: The Wyoming Newspaper Project aims to put online all the newspapers printed in Wyoming betweeen 1849 and 1922 including small town and regional newspapers. This involves about 900,000 newspaper pages, about half of which have already been uploaded to the website in searchable format. The database includes news articles, news briefs, obituaries and other items of interest to genealogists. The index can be searched by date, city, county and newspaper name. Access is free. [free Archived Wyoming Newspapers 1849-1922]
Michigan: The Library of Michigan and Archives Michigan have joined forces to create a one-stop online resource for people wanting to trace their roots in the State of Michigan. The new web site called Seeking Michigan is already well into the process of digitizing 1 million Michigan death records from 1897 to 1920. The index is searchable by name, location and date of death. The web site also includes Civil War documents and over 10,000 photographs. More content will be added over time. Access is free. [free Michigan Death Records 1897-1920]
National: Ancestry.com has significantly upgraded its Civil War collection to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. Included (from the Library of Congress) are 20,000 letters to and from President Lincoln and drafts of speeches. Access is free to the Lincoln papers. Also recently included in the Civil War collection are New Orlean slave manifests 1807-1860, Confederate pension applications from Georgia, Confederate applications for Presidential pardons and 4.2 million records and profiles of almost every officer and soldier who fought in the Civil War (many with photographs of the individual). Access is by subscription. [US Civil War Collection]
National: Footnote.com is launching its African American Collection to coincide with Black History Month. In cooperation with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the collection includes military records from the US civil war and World War I & II as well as various letters, reports and petitions related to slavery. Access is free. [African American Collection]
California: SFGenealogy.com has completed indexing over 45,000 mortuary records from the San Francisco region for the years 1923 to 1960, with the results accessible online. Access is free. They are also looking for volunteers to help them index more records. [free San Francisco Death Records 1923-1960] These records can be searched using the free Genealogy Search Engine.
Oregon: The Jackson County Genealogy Library (JCGL) in Oregon has completed marriage indexes up to 1956. JCGL has the largest genealogical library in southern Oregon. Access is free to the indexes, although a fee is required to order copies of the original document. [Historic Marriage Records from Southern Oregon]
New England: The New England Historical Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the oldest non-profit genealogical society in the US, has added 5 million more records to its databases in 2008. This brings the total number of records to 120 million covering such items as birth records, marriage records and death records. The NEHGS databases are a key source for anyone looking for records in the New England states. Access is free to most of the databases. [free New England Genealogy Records]
National: GenealogyBank, a major provider of US historical newspaper articles, obituary, birth and marriage notices has added 170 more newspapers to its collection. GenealogyBank now has over 253 million searchable newspaper records. Access is by subscription. [GenealogyBank Newspaper Collection]
Florida: Ancestry.com has added Florida state censuses for the years 1867, 1875, 1935 and 1945. Florida was one of the last states to conduct their own census (all states now rely on the U.S. census conducted by the federal government). Access is by subscription. [Historic Florida Census Records]
Missouri: The Jefferson County, Missouri library has indexed 45 years of (mainly) newspaper death and marriage announcements for the county from 1866 to 1910. Access is free to the index but a fee applies to order copies of the originals. [Jefferson County, Missouri Historic Newspaper Announcements]
National: FamilySearch.org has now digitized its 25,000th book for its family history archive. The archive is a collection of published genealogy and family history books. Access is free. [FamilySearch]
National: A new database cataloging the trans-Atlantic slave trade documents two-thirds of all slave trade voyages (about 35,000 trips in total) originating from England between 1514 and 1816. Access is free. [Catalogue of TransAtlantic Slave Voyages 1514-1816]
Tennessee: Death records for the state of Tennessee for the period 1908-1924 are now available on the Tennessee State Library and Archives web site. Note: death records for 1913 were not kept by the government. Access is free. [free Historic Tennessee Death Records 1908-1924]
Florida: FamilySearch.org has digitized Florida state censuses for the years 1885, 1935 and 1945. Access is free. [Florida Census Records]
National: The American Genealogical Biographical Index (AGBI), a 226 volume genealogical index of early America (some records date back to the 1700s) will no longer be available on Ancestry.com. Instead, it will be available at the Godfrey Library web site. Access is by paid subscription. [American Genealogical Biographical Index]