Newest Genealogy Records
Below is a listing of the newest genealogy records that have become available on the internet.
Canada – Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has begun the process of digitizing the personnel service files of some 640,000 Canadians who served in the army during the First World War. Known officially as the Canadian Expeditionary Force [CEF] (since it was under the control of the British), a total of 424,589 Canadian soldiers served in Europe during the war. The initial contingent of 25,000 soldiers was sent overseas soon after the declaration of war in August 1914. By September 1915, the CEF had grown to the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions and the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. The CEF continued to grow until the end of the war in November 1918.
The service files in this collection contain up to three dozen different kinds of forms. It includes such things as enlistment records (attestation papers are already online), training records, medical and dental history, hospitalizations, disciplines (if any), pay records, medal entitlements and discharge papers or notifications of death. It also lists what regiment the soldier was located in, but not necessarily where the regiment fought (for that, it is necessary to consult the unit war diaries).
In total, there are some 32 million pages of records to be digitized from 640,000 personnel files. This means the average file per soldier is some 50 pages of records, making this a considerable resource. The first 76,000 files have already been digitized and put online. Regular uploads of about 5,000 new files are expected every two weeks. At the current run rate, this means it will take about 4.3 years for all the files to go online (or unfortunately about as long as it actually took to fight the First World War).
The digitized records are searchable by name, regiment and rank. Access is free. [Canada World War I Army Personnel Files]
Ireland – The Irish Genealogical Research Society has added an additional 2,500 entries to the society’s early Irish marriage index. This brings the total number of records in this collection to some 58,000 marriages listing approximately 127,500 brides, grooms and parents. The index can be searched for free. [Early Irish Marriage Index]
Ireland – The Ireland Genealogy Project continues to add more records to their growing collection. The October updates include Irish constabulary records from Tipperary and more cemetery records from Dublin and Fermanagh. Access is free. [Ireland Genealogy Project]
US – 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]
UK – TheGenealogist has added some 1.3 million records of First World War casualty lists of British soldiers. The collection includes both soldiers who died from their wounds and those who recovered and returned to the front. A typical record lists the name of the soldier, regiment, rank and the date the casualty was registered. Many servicemen were wounded on more than one occasion. Access is by subscription. [World War I Wounded Collection]
Australia – Ancestry.co.uk has put online some 273,000 records of seamen from New South Wales. These are registers and indexes of seamen from the State Records Authority of New South Wales. This collection spans the years from 1859 to 1936. The information in each record varies. Typical information includes such things as name, age, date of birth, place of birth, vessel, vessel owner, engagement and discharge date. The collection can be searched by name, year of birth, place of birth and keyword. Access is by subscription. [Historic New South Wales Seamen Records]
Australia – Ancestry.co.uk has put online a collection of land grants from New South Wales. The collection consists of some 190,000 records spanning the years from 1788 to 1963. The records come from various land record offices in the state. The format of each record varies by time and place but usually include the date, location of the grant, description of the land, name of the person the land was granted to, the amount paid for the grant and names of witnesses to the document. The granting of free land in New South Wales ceased in 1831. After that time, land grants were sold by public auction. This collection can be searched by name, location and keyword. Access is by subscription. [Historic New South Wales Land Grants]
UK – FindMyPast has released some 500,000 records of London apprenticeship abstracts. These are lists of apprentices and their masters and parents. The records cover the years from 1442 to 1850. A typical record lists the apprentice’s first and last name, year, trade, father’s occupation and county of birth. One thing to note is that over 70% of apprentices in London actually came from somewhere outside of London. This collection can be searched by first and last name, year, trade and county of birth. Access is by subscription. [London Apprenticeship Records]
UK – Ancestry.co.uk has added a collection of Liverpool crew lists. This collection consists of over 1 million records spanning the years from 1861 to 1919. A typical record lists information on crew members for those ships whose home port was registered as Liverpool, England. Information includes name, age or year of birth, place of birth, nationality, residence and dates and details of engagement. The collection can be searched by name, year and place of birth and keyword. Access is by subscription. [Liverpool England Ship Crew Lists]
New Zealand – FamilySearch.org has added some 71,000 images to its collection of New Zealand probate records. This collection spans the years from 1843 to 1998 (although records issued during the past 50 years are not available for online viewing). This collection lists wills and other associated legal documents used to transfer property and possessions of a deceased person. The collection can be searched by first name, last name, place and year. Access is free. [New Zealand Probate Records]
Colombia – FamilySearch.org has added close to 1 million new images to its collection of Catholic Church records from Colombia. These records cover a wide period from 1600 to 2012. The collection consists of some 8.6 million images in total. Included are the usual baptism, confirmation, marriage and death records. Much of the collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Historic Columbia Catholic Church Records]
US – 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]
Belgium – FamilySearch.org has put online an additional 188,000 images of civil registration files from Liège. These are birth, marriage, marriage proclamations and death records that span the years from 1621 to 1910. Liège is the easternmost province of Belgium. It borders Germany and Luxembourg. In total, there are some 3.5 million images in the collection. Most of the collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Liège Civil Registration Records]
Canada – The Canada Genweb website celebrates 10 years this month. Congratulations! The website has indexed some 1 million names. It also has more than 600,000 photographs and provides a directory to 20,000 known cemeteries in Canada. It is a great resource for anyone with Canadian ancestors. Access is free. [Canada Genweb]
The records on Canada Genweb are fully searchable using the Genealogy Search Engine [use the phrase site:canadagenweb.org in your search query]
US – 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]
US – 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.
Canada – FamilySearch.org has put online a new image collection of Nova Scotia birth records. The first tranche of some 29,000 images dates from 1864 to 1877. These are the registration of births, not birth certificates. A typical birth register lists the following information: name of the child; gender; date and place of birth; father’s name; occupation; dwelling place (residence); mother’s maiden name; when and where the parents were married, and the name of an informant to the birth. Below is an image of a typical page from the birth register. This collection is organized by county and then by year. Access is free. [Historic Nova Scotia Birth Registers]
Italy – FamilySearch.org has put online a new browsable image collection of civil registration records from the State Archive of Caltanissetta. The records span the years from 1820 to 1935 and consist of birth, marriage and death records. Also included are marriage banns and some residency records depending on the time period and the locality. There are some 470,000 images in this collection, which are organized by commune (or Frazione), followed by event type and year. Access is free. [Caltanissetta Birth Records]
Netherlands – FamilySearch.org has increased their collection of civil registration records from Limburg Province. These are birth, marriage and death records (as well as some marriage proclamations and divorce records) that span the years from 1792 to 1963. The records vary somewhat by time and locality. Most of the records start in the 1880s.
Limburg is the southernmost province of the Netherlands and currently borders Germany, Belgium and France. Some of the records in this collection were once under the domain of France and/or Belgium (see example below) due to the wide date range of the collection and the various wars that have occurred in the region over the years. You might want to check this collection if you had ancestors living in the region and if you think they were either French or Belgium. Access is free. [Limburg Birth Marriage Death Records]
Portugal – FamilySearch has put online an interesting collection of priest application files from the district of Braga. These files span the years from 1596 to 1911 and consist of some 970,000 images. What is interesting about this collection is the amount of information that was collected by the Catholic Church to determine the eligibility of an applicant to the priesthood. Many applications include genealogies and pedigrees of the applicant’s family. Given that it was not uncommon to have at least one priest in the family, this could be a gold mine if you can manage to find an ancestor in this collection. Access is free. [Braga Priest Applications]
UK – FindMyPast has put online 4 million parish records from Yorkshire. These are searchable records dating from 1538 to 1989. The records cover much of Yorkshire, including West Yorkshire. FindMyPast has been working with the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium (North Yorkshire County Record Office, Doncaster Archives, East Riding Archives, Teesside Archives and the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York) to digitize Yorkshire records. This release represents the first tranche. Further records will be released in 2015. Records can be searched by name, event (birth/death/other) and place. Access is by subscription. [Yorkshire Parish Records]
Ireland – The Church of Ireland has put online the 1914 editions of the Church of Ireland Gazette. Previously, the 1913 editions were also put online. This weekly publication published details on funerals, obituaries, school activities and community activities in addition to church activities. This is a nice publication to look through if you had family members active in the church during 1913 or 1914. The Gazette can be searched by keyword. Access is free. [Historic Church of Ireland Gazette]
Ireland – A new website has launched that will be of interest to anyone with ancestors from the Londonderry region. Called the Plantation and Penal Laws website, it is designed to explore the history of the city “from the beginning of the Plantation of Ulster to the implementation of strict Penal Laws against Catholics and Dissenters in the late seventeenth century”. This covers the period from 1534 to the late 1600s. The Archive part of the website contains the records from the First Derry Presbyterian Church in the 1800s and 1900s. In addition to baptism, marriage and (some) death records, there are also communicant rolls, Sunday school records and Sunday collection lists. The collection can be searched by keyword. Access is free. [Derry Church Records]
Ghana – FamilySearch.org has put online an image collection of the 1984 population census of Ghana. The census was conducted on 11 March 1984 (even though the form says 1982). The records are organized by “localities”, which can include everything from a city to a town to a village to a hamlet or even a single house. This was Ghana’s third census after independence (the two prior censuses were conducted in 1960 and 1970). Please be advised that some records have been lost from this census and therefore not all localities are represented. This collection can be searched by name, gender and place. The information in this census, however is somewhat limited (see sample image below), listing only the names of each member of the household, sex and (if you are lucky) the relationship to the head of the household. Access is free. [Ghana 1984 Census Records]
India – The UK National Archives has put online 171 World War I unit war diaries of Indian Infantry units deployed to the Western Front. These particular diaries cover the Lahore and Meerut Divisions and the Secunderbad Cavalry Brigade. For those unfamiliar with unit war diaries, they document the daily activities of specific military units. Unit war diaries can be a rich source of information on specific individuals. In addition to the usual daily information, these particular diaries document the long sea voyage from India to Europe and how religious requirements were accommodated on sea vessels and on land. The diaries are available on the Operation War Diary website. [India WWI Unit War Diaries]
UK – Deceased Online has added nearly 350,000 burial records from South Lancashire. This collection is from the Blackburn and Darwen area. It consists of individual cremation and burial records. A typical record has a digital scan of the original burial register, details of the interment for each grave and a map showing the location of the grave within the cemetery. Access is by subscription. [South Lancashire Burial Records]
Ireland – FindMyPast has put online a collection of burial records from County Fermanagh and a small number of cemetery records from Donegal, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Wicklow. The parish records feature transcripts of baptism, marriage and burial records dating from 1796 to 1875. The cemetery records go back as far as 1669 and contain transcripts and photographs of some 12,000 gravestones from the area. Access is by subscription. [Fermanagh Baptism Records]
Ireland – The Irish Archives Resource portal has significantly expanded the number of collections that can be searched on the website from 360 to over 500 different collections. It covers 34 archives in Ireland. Although this website does not provide ancestral records, it does provide index searches to many of Ireland’s key repositories. By searching keywords such as an ancestor’s name, it is possible to find out what archives hold what records. This is an important resource for anyone wanting to trace their Irish ancestors. This latest expansion makes the website much more powerful. Access is free. [Irish Archives Portal]
Canada – The website Canadiana has put online the militia lists of each unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force as of August 1914 (the beginning of World War I). Each record lists the name of each member of the unit, rank, country of birth and date and place of enlistment. Some records also list next of kin and address.
Canada was unprepared at the start of World War I. It had only 3,100 men under arms. As volunteers were quickly recruited and organized in Canada, members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were sent to Europe to help reinforce these newly formed units. Therefore, when looking for ancestors in this collection, be aware that they most likely left Canada under one unit and then were reassigned to a different unit as soon as they arrived in Britain. This collection can be searched by keyword (such as name) and date range. Access is free. [Canadian Expeditionary Force Records]
Ireland – A new website has been launched that contains historic Irish street directories and some historic maps of the country. The website also contains a townland database. According to Irish Genealogy News, the website is run by Joe Buggy and Shane Wilson. It is definitely worth checking out. Access is free. [Irish Street Directories]
We have three resources that will help you read/decipher listings in old street directories. These are City Directory Abbreviations, List of First Name Abbreviations and List of Occupation Abbreviations.
Ireland – Ireland Genealogy Projects has put online a national list of school teachers for the 1873-1874 school year. The list is organized by region and then alphabetically by the name of the teacher. The list also includes monitors, who were senior students aged 12 to 18 that assisted the teacher. Many monitors later went on to become teachers. Access is free. [1873 Irish Teacher List]
Ireland – The Clare County Library has added more school rolls to their collection. The latest addition involves the roll books and school register for Lacken National School, which was located east of Kilmihil village. The records for boys cover the years from 1865 to 1922 and the records for girls cover the years from 1889 to 1922. You can search the registers by either school year or surname. Each record lists the student’s name, year of birth, year entered school, home town and parent’s occupation. Access is free. [Clare County School Records]
Europe – The International Center of Photography in New York and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. have created an online database containing some 9,000 images of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe prior to World War II. The images are from photographer Roman Vishniac, who documented in pictures the rise of Nazi power and its impact on Jewish life. Most of these images (see example below) have never been published before. The collection can be searched by date, location and keyword. Access is free. [Pre-World War II Jewish Life Images]
UK – FindMyPast has put online an additional 200,000 marriage records from Surrey. With this new addition to the collection, FindMyPast has some 497,000 marriage records from 167 parishes throughout Surrey. The records span the years from 1540 to 1841. The index was made available from the West Surrey Family History Society. Access is by subscription. [Surrey Marriage Records]
US – 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]
Australia – FindMyPast has added ship passenger lists for the State of Victoria, which includes Melbourne. The inbound passenger lists span the years from 1839 to 1923 (some 2.1 million records in total) and the outbound passenger lists cover the years from 1852 to 1915 (some 1.8 million records in total). These records come from the Public Record Office in Victoria and cover the gold rush period of the 1850s when thousands of English immigrants flocked to the area. A typical record lists the ship name, passenger name, estimated year of birth, nationality, original point of departure, departure port, destination port and month and year of arrival. Access is by subscription. [State of Victoria Historic Passenger Lists]
Germany – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 288,000 census records from the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. The census was conducted in 1867 and consists of names of all household members, dates of birth, religion, marital status, occupation and nationality. FamilySearch also has records from the 1890 and 1900 census from the same region. This collection can be searched by first and last name, gender, marital status, place of residence and occupation. Access is free. [Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census Records]
Ireland – Ancestry.co.uk has added an index to Irish marriages that were announced in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine. There are some 30,000 records in this collection and the marriage announcements are cross-referenced by both the husband and wife’s surnames. The collection spans the years from 1771 to 1812. Access is by subscription. For those who don’t have a subscription to Ancestry, this book is also available for free on the Internet Archive. [Irish Marriage Collection]
Jamaica – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 1.7 million civil registration records from Jamaica. These are birth, marriage and death records than span the years from 1880 to 1999. The records can be searched by first and last name. This is a great collection for anyone with Jamaican ancestors. Access is free. [Historic Jamaican Birth Records]
Argentina – FamilySearch.org has added an additional 400,000 indexed records to their existing collection of parish records from Tucumán, Argentina. These are Catholic Church records that date from 1727 to 1955 and include baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths. The collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Tucumán Parish Records]
UK – Ancestry.co.uk has started a new collection of UK naval officers and ratings (non-commissioned seaman) service records for the period from 1802 to 1919. This encompasses the World War I time period. This collection of some 89,000 records consists primarily of pension applications and supporting service records. Officers and ratings were awarded pensions after 20 years of service in the Royal Navy. Typical information includes the name of the sailor, rank or rating, a list of ships and service dates and remarks. Some records also include muster and pay registers. Please note: no service records are listed past 1912. That means you can’t use this collection to find out what ships your ancestors served on in World War I. Access to this collection is by subscription. [Historic Royal Navy Service Records]
Canada – Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has made a major upgrade to their 1861 census of Canada collection. In particular, they have corrected over 133,000 entries. The largest correction involves records from Hamilton, Kingston, London, Ottawa and Toronto. These records were previously miscategorised. Several other major corrections to the database have also been made, primarily involving missing records and misplaced images. If you had previously tried to search this database, you should give serious consideration to rerunning your searches.
The 1861 Canada census covered Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The database can be searched by last name, first name, age, province and keyword. Access to this collection is free. [Canada 1861 Census Records]
Canada – FamilySearch.org has indexed 3.4 million records from the Canada 1911 census. This is close to half the 7.2 million individuals who were enumerated in 1911. A typical record from the Canada 1911 census lists the name of each person in the household, place of residence, relationship to the head of the household, marital status, date and place of birth, year of immigration, year of naturalization, nationality, religion and occupation. In many instances, the image of the original census record is not available (see the Library and Archives Canada website to view the original images from the 1911 census). Access is free. [Canada 1911 Census Records]
Scotland – The website Hebrides People has added Loch Parish to their online database. The records for both Loch and Stornoway parishes (basically, the eastern side of Lewis) are now online and comprise some 63,000 entries. Most of the people who emigrated from Lewis ended up in Canada, either the Eastern Townships of Quebec (1838 to 1863) or Bruce County, Ontario (in the 1850s). The collection can be searched by last name, year of birth and parish. Access to the records is by purchasing credits. [Hebrides People]
US – 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]
US – 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]
New Zealand – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 145,000 probate records from various probate courts throughout New Zealand. This collection spans the years from 1848 to 1991. It can be searched by first and last name and the place and year of probate. Access is free. [Historic New Zealand Probate Records]
US – 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]
US – 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]
Czech Republic – The Czech Archives has put online the first batch of records of Familianten Bucher – Jewish families primarily in Prague from 1811 to 1848. This is a rare and valuable collection for anyone trying to trace Jewish families in what is now the Czech Republic. The books are organized by region and then content. Below is a sample record, which is written in Czech. Access is free. [Historic Jewish Records from Prague]
New Zealand – Archives New Zealand and the National Library have put online the World War I service files of some 141,000 individuals. This collection constitutes essentially of all of the WWI service records in the government’s possession. Many of the service records are several pages long and contain detailed information on each soldier (see examples below). This collection is part of the government’s WW100 centenary program. The service records can be searched by name or service number. [New Zealand WWI Service Records]
Peru – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 51,000 civil registration records from Cusco, Peru. Cusco is the ancestral capital of the Incan empire and the modern-day launching point for trips to Machu Picchu (see image below). The records in this collection span the years from 1889 to 1997 and consist primarily of births, marriages and deaths. Also included in the collection are some baptism records. The collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Historic Cusco Birth Records]
Scotland – Deceased Online has now completed the digitization of all burial records from Aberdeenshire. The collection comprises some 200+ burial sites and around 600,000 records. The records are scans of registers and grave details that go back as far as 1615. Access is by subscription. [Aberdeenshire Burial Records]
UK – TheGenealogist has put online a unique collection of some 117,000 World War I military medal records. These are records of medals that were awarded to soldiers for “acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire” starting in March 1916. Many of the medals were also awarded to women who were ‘stretcher bearers’ – men and women who had to go out into the field and rescue injured soldiers. A typical record in the collections lists the following information; full name of the recipient, their rank and regiment, date of medal citation and details of their heroism in battle. This collection can be searched by first name, last name and year. Access is by subscription. [World War I Military Medal Records]
UK – FamilySearch.org has created a new browsable image collection of Durham wills, probate bonds and probate commissions. The wills form the bulk of the collection, numbering some 149,000 images. The collection spans the years from 1650 to 1857. A couple of things to note before looking at this collection: many of the earlier wills are difficult to read (see examples below). Also, this collection is not yet indexed by name, making it a slow process to go through the wills. Access is free. [Historic Durham Wills]
UK – FamilySearch.org has indexed an additional 13,900 records from their collection of Isle of Man parish registers. The collection was created as part of the development of Manx National Heritage. It includes baptisms, marriages and deaths spanning the years from 1598 to 2009. Most of the records are recorded in English, with a few recorded in Manx, the historical language of the island. The collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Historic Isle of Man Baptism Records]
South Africa – FamilySearch.org has added to their collection of South Africa Cape Province death records. These are civilian deaths that span the years from 1895 to 1972 (the compulsory registration of births and deaths in South Africa was enacted in 1894 and took effect starting in 1895). Some 92,000 indexed records have been added to the collection. The collection can be searched by first and last name. A typical death record lists the full name of the deceased, sex, place of residence, age, race, marital status, occupation, date and place of death, intended place of burial, and cause of death (see example below). Access is free. [Cape Province Death Records]
US – FamilySearch has created an interesting new browsable image collection of Freedmen’s records. These records date from 1872 to 1878. A bit of background: the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created near the end of the American Civil War. It supervised relief efforts. This included a host of things, such as health care, education, refugee camps, food and clothing, etc. It also helped with the legalization of marriages, employment, labor contracts and pensions. This collection is very diverse and includes account books, applications for rations and relief, labor contracts, bounty claims, roster lists, court trials, property restorations and so on. The images are organized by state office and type of record. Access is free. [Freedmen’s Bureau Records]
US – 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.
US – 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]
Ireland – The General Register Office (GRO) of Ireland has put online enhanced indexes to Ireland’s civil registration records. The indexes have been uploaded to the IrishGenealogy.ie website. These include birth, marriage and death indexes. Getting these indexes online has been a primary aim of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organizations for a number of years.
The birth index spans the years from 1864 to 2013. After about 1900, the index seems to generally include the actual date of birth, as well as the mother’s maiden name (with some gaps).
The marriage index spans the years from 1845 to 2013 for non-Catholic marriages and from 1864 to 2013 for Catholic marriages. Marriages after 1912 are indexed by couple.
The death index is from 1864 to 2013.
In terms of geographic coverage, the indexes up to 1922 cover all of Ireland and from 1922 to 2013 cover the Republic of Ireland.
The details in these indexes have been enhanced with such things as date of birth. They are generally better than similar indexes found at FamilySearch, Ancestry and FindMyPast (which are based on microfilms FamilySearch prepared back in 1959). In other words, when looking at birth, marriage and death indexes for Ireland, you are better off going to the IrishGenealogy.ie website.
The indexes can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. Please note, when making a search you have to tick a box saying that you are making an application to search the index. This is here simply to satisfy the government’s legal requirement to allow the indexes to be put online. Also, when searching for Mc/Mac and O’ surnames, try searching with and without the prefix and with and without the space. Finally, some compound first names (like ‘Mary Anne’) sometimes seem to be missing the second part of the name (in this case filed under just ‘Mary’) [Ireland Civil Registration Records Index] ***Please note these indexes have been taken off line. Apparently, the indexes contained information that should have been redacted (blocked out), such as the date of birth of living individuals. Publishing such information is a violation of Irish privacy laws. It is not known when the indexes will be going back online (with the appropriate information redacted).***
There is also some speculation the full records may come online within a year, but no details have been provided.
Ireland – The Irish website dúchas.ie, a website dedicated to digitizing Ireland’s national folklore collection, has put online a school collection. These are approximately 740,000 handwritten pages of folklore and local tradition compiled by pupils in Ireland between 1937 and 1939 (see image below). This collection will be of interest to family historians who want to provide context to their family tree. The collection is composed of images organized by district and school. It is currently not searchable by keyword. Access is free. [Ireland Folklore Collection]
UK – FindMyPast has put online 2.8 million Anglican parish records from Staffordshire. The website eventually expects to have 6 million parish records online from the region. These records span the years from 1538 to 1900 and cover primarily baptisms, banns, marriages and burials. The records come from the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service. Access is by subscription. [Staffordshire Parish Records]
US – 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]
Scotland – The National Library of Scotland has put online Rolls of Honour from World War I. These are lists of casualties and those who died while on active service. The collection includes rolls from schools, universities, clans, businesses, churches and towns. Some of the Rolls of Honour contain detailed biographies of the soldiers, as shown below. The collection can be searched by keyword, such as name. Access is free. [Scottish WWI Rolls of Honour]
Canada – FamilySearch has added some 334,000 indexed records to their collection of Ontario birth records. This collection spans the years from 1869 to 1912. Effective 1 July 1869, the province of Ontario began to register births, marriages and deaths. Each county kept a district registrar, which was then sent to the provincial registrar. The birth records in the FamilySearch collection can be searched by name, gender, year and place of birth. Please note that if you search by year, not all the records in the collection have the year listed. Access is free. [Historic Ontario Birth Records]
Costa Rica – FamilySearch has indexed some 2.6 million civil registration records from Costa Rica. These consist primarily of birth, marriage and death records from 1860 to 1975. The collection can be searched by first and last name. This is the largest collection of genealogy records from Costa Rica that we have ever seen. Access is free. [Historic Costa Rica Birth Records]
Wales – The National Library of Wales has digitized an additional 100,000 historic newspaper pages in the month of June for their website Welsh Newspapers Online. The website now consists of some 725,000 pages and 7.6 million articles from over 100 newspapers up to 1910. The website can be searched by keyword and category (such as family notices). Alternatively, the historic newspapers can be browsed by title and date. Access is free. [Welsh Newspapers Online]
US – 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.
UK – Origins.net, the UK genealogy website, was purchased this week by FindMyPast. The records from Origins.net will be incorporated into FindMyPast over the next several months. Ian Galbraith, the founder of Origins.net will join FindMyPast and continue to work on collection development.
Origins.net was the first company to set up a pay-as-you-go model in the genealogy industry. The website specialized in more unusual record sets, such as UK marriage indexes, apprentice records, poor law records and the National Wills index. The website currently has some 156 million records. By comparison, most of the major genealogy websites have at least a couple of billion records. Our own Genealogy Search Engine covers 3.2 billion records.
Traffic at Origins.net does not seem to have grown over the last couple of years. If anything, traffic had slipped. The website was not even close to making the list for the Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2014. It was just beyond the top 100 list in 2013. The last time Origins.net made the list was in 2012, where they ranked #93.
We view this purchase by FindMyPast as further evidence of consolidation within the genealogy industry. This topic was discussed at some length in the Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2014 article. The Origins.net website will continue to remain available for the time being. [Origins.net]
US – 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]
UK – The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has put online an index of their books, pamphlets, periodicals, and committee meeting records. Some of the information goes backs to the 1600s. The archive can be searched by keywords, such as name. You still need to visit the library in London to view the underlying document. The search is free. [Quaker Online Archive]
Ireland – The Irish Genealogical Research Society’s early Irish marriage index continues to grow. It has now surpassed 50,000 entries and contains over 113,000 names (brides, grooms and parents). The index is free to search. The website has also put online a very valuable geographic index of all townlands in Ireland.
Townlands are Ireland’s most basic (and ancient) land division. Knowing the townland of your ancestors is the key to finding many early genealogical records. In total, there are some 64,000 townlands in Ireland. Townlands were bundled together to form District Electoral Divisions (DEDs). The DEDs form the basis for civil registrations, census enumeration, electoral rolls, land registration, tax collection and several other functions. Townlands can be searched for free. [Irish Townlands Search]
Chile – FamilySearch.org has indexed another 318,000 records in their collection of Chilean civil registration records. This record set spans the years from 1885 to 1903 and consists of birth, marriage and death records. These records can be searched by first and last name. Alternatively, users can browse through the some 1.6 million images that comprise the collection. The information contained in each record varies depending on the year of the record. Access is free. [Historic Chilean Birth Records]
Netherlands – FamilySearch.org has indexed another 139,000 civil registration records from Zuld-Holland province. These records span the years from 1811 to 1942. In addition to the usual birth, marriage and death records, there are also additional marriage records (marriage intentions, marriage proclamations and marriage supplements) and divorce records. Records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Dutch Civil Registration Records]
Spain – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 444,000 municipal records from the Province of Cádiz. These records cover the years from 1784 to 1956. They consist of a broad collection of civil registration records, census records, military records and various other records. The records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Cádiz Birth Records]
Portugal – FamilySearch.org has added some 540,000 images to a collection of civil registration records from the region of Beja, Portugal. These images span the years from 1609 to 1950. In total, there are some 820,000 images in the collection. Records are organized by municipality, region, parish and type of record. Access is free. [Beja Portugal Genealogy Records]
US – 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]
US – 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]
UK – FindMyPast has digitized and put online most of the Church of England parish records held by the Devon Heritage Centre. In total, the Devon parish record collection comprises approximately 2.2 million searchable transcripts. The records span the years from 1538 to 1915. Access is by subscription. [Devon Parish Records]
US – 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]
UK – The UK National Archives have released a third tranche of World War I military unit war diaries. A unit war diary is essentially a daily account of all the activity of a military unit. They contain an incredible amount of detail of interest to genealogists. Some of the highlights of this release include the unit war diaries of the 36th Ulster division and of the 66th (2nd East Lancashire) division. These records have been posted to the National Archives First World War portal. With this latest addition TNA has digitized some 1.5 million pages of unit war diaries. Access to these records is by pay-per-view. [WWI Unit War Diaries]
Belgium – FamilySearch.org has made a huge increase in their collection of civil registration records from East Flanders. An additional 2.5 million images have been added to this collection, which spans the period from1541 to 1910. This brings the total in this collection to some 2.7 million images. Although some of these records can be searched by first and last name, not all the images have been indexed. It is best to browse through the images, which are organized by place, type of record and year. Access is free. [East Flanders Civil Registration Records]
Ukraine – FamilySearch.org has created a new browsable image collection of church parish records from the current Donetsk region. These are birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial records that date from 1809 to 1926. The collection currently consists of some 400,000 images organized by province, district, parish and year/type of record. The records come from the Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine. Digitized records from Ukraine are rare. Access is free, but it appears the images cannot be viewed from home. They must be viewed at a family history center. [Historic Donetsk Parish Records]
Ireland – RootsIreland has added another 54,000 Church of Ireland baptismal records for 12 churches in County Down and County Antrim. Depending on the church, the records go back as far as 1720. The records can be searched by first name, last name and year.
RootsIreland maintains Ireland’s largest family records database, with over 20 million records online. There are currently 9.1 million baptismal/birth records, 4.5 million marriage records, 2.8 million census records and 1.7 million burial/death records. The website also has gravestone inscriptions, Griffith’s Valuation records, passenger lists and census substitutes. It is run by the Irish Family History Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. You can perform 100 free searches if you register. [RootsIreland]
UK – FindMyPast has re-indexed 4.2 million British World War I service records and pension records. Apparently, the re-indexing has revealed close to 600,000 new names that were not previously captured (many of the new names were tucked away in the details of individual service records). These service records can be fairly extensive, listing everything from physical descriptions of ancestors to details on battles and campaigns along with remarks on conduct and character. Access to these records is by subscription. [British WWI Service Records]
UK – Deceased Online has added burial records from Bunhill Fields Burial Ground. Bunhill (apparently a corruption of the word ‘Bone Hill’) Fields is located near the Barbican Centre, just north of the City of London. It is a very old burial ground, with written records spanning the years from 1713 to 1854.
The burial ground covers an area of approximately 10 acres, although at one time it was thought to be much larger. It was formally closed in 1854 with a total of about 12,000 interments. Bunhill Fields was a popular burial ground for Nonconformists. Several prominent citizens were also buried there (see image below). Access to these records is by subscription. [Bunhill Fields Burial Records]
UK – Origins.net has re-indexed their collection of 1881 census records. This census covers almost 26 million individuals. Normally, a re-indexing exercise brings forward many previously missed details. These records can be searched by name, age, parish and county. Origins.net also has the 1841, 1861, 1871, 1891 and 1901 UK censuses. Access is by subscription. [UK 1881 Census]
UK – FamilySearch.org has created a new collection of London electoral registers. This dataset spans the years from 1847 to 1913. It lists the names and addresses of individuals who were qualified to vote in national elections (which at the time would have been adult males). A typical register record from 1897 is shown below. Access is free. [London Electoral Registers]
UK – FamilySearch.org has indexed another 251,000 parish records from Sussex. These records span the years from 1538 to 1910. They can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Sussex Parish Records]
UK – British Pathé has put online their entire collection of historical videos. Some 85,000 videos have been uploaded to YouTube. For those with a sense of history, Pathé invented the newsreel format in 1908. They produced short documentaries that were shown prior to feature films in movie theatres. Some of the most dramatic newsreels from World War I and II were produced by the firm.
They also produced many newsreels of everyday life concerning current events, culture, sports and celebrities. Many of the newsreels are extremely rare and would be of interest to genealogists. We are showing three below. The first newsreel provides footage from Hyde Park Corner in 1896. The second newsreel shows mainly London traffic scenes in the 1890s. The third is from the Battle of the Somme in 1916. [British Pathé]
World – 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.
Netherlands – The Dutch genealogy website WieWasWie (Who Was Who) is now available in English. A large number of Dutch archive organizations have made their records available to WieWasWie. The website also contains a significant amount of user-generated content. The website is currently free with plans to accept subscriptions in the future. [WieWasWie]
UK – A new website has launched this week in the UK called Children’s Homes. It is dedicated to providing historical information on the various institutions that provided homes for children in Britain. This includes orphanages, reformatories, workhouses, poor homes, etc. The website is run by Peter Higginbotham. At the moment, there does not appear to be any records uploaded to the website. However, if it is like Peter’s other website The Workhouse, it will likely have some records in the near future. Access is free. [Children’s Homes]
UK – The website Lives of the First World War is scheduled to formally launch on Monday 12 May 2014. The objective of the website (as the name would suggest) is to bring material from various sources (museums, archives, personal family collections, etc.) together on one interactive website. It will cover people’s stories from both the warfront and the home front in the UK. The website is run by DC Thomson Family History, better known for their FindMyPast websites. [Lives of the First World War]
Australia – The National Library of Australia has made another massive addition to their newspaper collection on Trove. This latest addition covers 35 historic newspapers from around the country. The greatest concentration of newspapers in this latest update is from New South Wales. Most of the new additions cover the date range from about 1875 to 1960, with many in the 1910 to 1945 era. Most of the additions appear to be from small towns. Access is free. [Trove Historic Newspapers] Trove can also be searched using the free Genealogy Search Engine.
Ireland – The website From Ireland continues to add more free genealogy records. Most of the latest additions are graveyard records. The latest include records from Kilcavan & Cleriestown County Wexford, Ballyknockan Church in Oldleighlin County Carlow and various churches in County Clare. The website specializes in photographs and transcriptions of gravestones. Access is free. [From Ireland]
Northern Ireland – The General Register Office (GRONI) has created a new web portal to make it easier to search and find genealogy records at GRONI. The website provides information and advice (including hints and tips) as well as an explanation of GRONI search fees. Access for search is done on a credit basis but you do not need to register or log in to use the free name search. [Northern Ireland General Register Office]
UK – FamilySearch.org has added a new collection of Essex parish records. These records date from 1538 to 1900. These are about 485,000 birth, marriage and death records in the collection. The records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Essex Parish Records]
UK – Origins.net has added a new collection of hearth tax abstracts for Northamptonshire for the years 1673 and 1674. For those not familiar with hearth taxes (sometimes called chimney taxes), they were essentially a tax on fireplaces. The more fireplaces a house had, the more it paid in taxes. Hearth taxes were an early form of property tax. The concept was deeply unpopular when it was first introduced to cover the cost of recovering from England’s civil war. Hearth taxes were also invasive because it allowed local officials to enter a property to count the number of hearths in a house (see the image below for a typical hearth).
For genealogists, hearth tax rolls can be immensely valuable because they predate census records. This collection from Origins.net has over 22,500 names listed on it. It can be searched by first and last name. If you happen to find an ancestor on the list, you can determine their relative wealth by how much they paid in hearth taxes. In general, the more they paid, they bigger their house. Access is by subscription. [Northamptonshire Hearth Tax Rolls]
Ireland – Ireland Genealogy Projects has added some hearth tax rolls for Derry. Included in the new update are hearth tax rolls from Londonderry, the parish of Comber, the parish of Clandermoyt and Faughanvale. All of these records date from 1663. Access is free. [Derry Hearth Tax Rolls]
Ireland – Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery in Limerick has launched a new website. The website is designed to hold photographs of each tombstone, transcriptions of the tombstones and an interactive map to show the exact location of each grave. Several thousand transcriptions are already available online. The plan is to eventually put the entire cemetery on the website.
Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery is one of Ireland’s largest cemeteries. It has been the primary burial place in Limerick for much of its history. Over 70,000 individuals have been interred at the cemetery. Burial records date from 1855 to the present. Records can be searched by name and date. This is a very well organized website. Access is free. [Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery]
Ireland – The National Archives of Ireland has put online census fragments and substitutes covering the period from 1821 to 1851. These records can be searched by first name, last name, county, parish and street. When searching these records, a couple of things to remember. First, the 1841 and 1851 censuses do list family members who were absent on census night as well as family members who had died since the 1831/1841 census. As well, when looking at a family record, make sure you click through to all the following pages to get the full record. Finally, remember these are census fragments. The complete censuses were destroyed long ago and these segments are whatever remained. It will be hit or miss as to whether you find anything. Still, this can be immensely helpful to genealogists. Happy hunting! Access is free. [Ireland 1841 and 1851 Censuses]
Italy – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 250,000 civil registration records from Modena. These records date from 1806 to 1942 and come from the State Archive of Modena. In addition to birth, marriage and death records, there are also some marriage banns in this collection. These records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Modena Birth Records]
Ireland – The National Archives of Ireland is expected to release online their collection of Irish census fragments on Monday 28 April. We are not quite sure of the scope and depth of this release, but it certainly has the potential to be big news for anyone with Irish ancestors. Access will be free. [Irish Census Records]
US – 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]
US – 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]
US – 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]
Finland – The Genealogical Society of Finland’s HisKi Project continues to expand their record collection. The collection consists of information gleaned from historical sources on christenings, marriages, burials and movements. The HisKi Project has been running since 1996. The collection currently covers 526 parishes, about 5.1 million christenings, 1.1 million marriages, 3.4 million burials and 200,000 moves. The database can be searched by region and then by type of record. Access is free. Make sure you read the instructions before attempting a search. [HisKi Project]
Italy – FamilySearch.org has added a number of civil registration images from Italy. Included are 1.6 million images from Napoli (1809 to 1865). A new image collection from Lucca has also been created, consisting of 90,000 images spanning the years 1807 to 1814. As well, a new image collection from Genova consisting of 445,000 images has also been created. This collection spans the years from 1796 to 1812, 1838 to 1859 and 1866 to 1899. Access to all the collections is free. [Napoli Historic Civil Registration Records] [Lucca Historic Civil Registration Records] [Genova Historic Civil Registration Records]
Bahamas – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 231,000 civil registrations from the Bahamas. The records span the years from 1850 to 1959 and consist of births, marriages and deaths from different districts of the Bahamas. Public registration of records in the Bahamas dates back to 1764, but it was only in 1862 with the creation of the Registry of Records that public registration of major life events became commonplace. Below is an example of Bahamas birth records from 1870. This collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Historic Bahamas Birth Marriage Death Records]
New Zealand – FamilySearch.org has added an additional 3.7million indexed records of New Zealand passenger records to their existing collection. These passenger lists cover the years from 1839 to 1973. This collection includes both inbound and outbound passengers at various ports in New Zealand and covers the peak migration period of the 1870s. A form of identification was required by all passengers before they were allowed to embark on the ship so these records tend to be fairly accurate (notwithstanding the usual spelling errors and typos of the ship officers who were responsible for handwriting the names into the registers). These records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [New Zealand Ship Passenger Records]
UK – TheGenealogist.co.uk has added an additional 500,000 parish records to their collection. The latest additions come primarily from the counties of Essex and Kent, with small additions from Leicestershire, Monmouthshire and Worcestershire. These are baptisms, marriages and burials from the 1500s to the late 1800s. With this latest addition of parish records, TheGenealogist now has over 2 million parish records in total. Access is by subscription. [Essex Parish Records]
UK – FindMyPast.co.uk recently transitioned to a new database system and the transition did not go well. The first video below is an interview with Who Do You Think You Are discussing the issue. In an attempt to resolve some of these issues, FindMyPast released the second video below showing why the website has changed and highlighting some new features that allow people to do new things. These videos are a good case study in how not to migrate to a new database system, such as lost functionality, screen freezes and a general lack of communication from the company on the issues. Worth watching even if you are not a current FindMyPast user.
Ireland – The Irish Genealogical Research Society had uploaded a Roman Catholic index from Ennis parish (also known as Drumcliff) in County Clare, which is in southwest Ireland. Included in this index are baptisms (1841 to 1900) and marriages (1837 to 1900). For the baptisms, each entry lists the date of baptism, the parent’s names and the mother’s maiden name. For the marriages, the index lists the date of marriage and the names of the bride and groom. There are some 15,000 names in this index. Access is by subscription. [Ennis Parish Records]
US – 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]
Ireland – The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IRGS) has started to put online a collection known as the Captain Clanchy Marriage Index. This is an index of Irish marriages prepared during the 1950s by Captain Henry Clanchy, an early member of the society. The marriage index was built from the society’s manuscript collection and pedigree files. Most of the marriages date from the 1600s to the 1800s. In total, the index contains some 6,000 entries, with the card entries for the letters A to C already online (see the example below). The collection is available to members of the society. [Captain Clanchy Marriage Index]
Canada – The Drouin Institute has put online 1.3 million free Quebec obituaries dating from 1999 to the present. These obituaries have been collected from 250 different internet sources. The records can be searched by name and date of death. Access is free. [Recent Quebec Obituaries]
US – 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]
US – 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]
UK – FamilySearch.org has added 2.9 million indexed records to their collection of Kent registers of electors. The collection spans the years from 1570 to 1907 and lists eligible voters. The collection also contains a few military muster rolls. If you are not familiar with electoral rolls, read the article Searching Electoral Rolls for Ancestors. This collection can be searched by name. Access is free. [Historic Kent Electoral Rolls]
UK – This is a preannouncement. FindMyPast and the National Archives have announced a joint project to put online the 1939 National Identity Register. This was basically a mini-census that was taken on the night of Friday 29 September 1939 (at the start of World War II). The British Government conducted the survey because it wanted updated statistics on the population so that identity cards could be issued. It was also required in case a draft was needed, in case of mobilisation and mass evacuation of the general population and in case rationing was required (which was introduced a few months later in January 1940). For genealogists, the 1939 National Identity Register makes up for the regularly-scheduled 1941 census, which did not take place due to the war.
The details recorded in the 1939 National Identity Register include name, residence, sex, date of birth, marital status, occupation and whether the person was a member of the armed forces or reserves. The process for the enumeration worked as follows. On the night of Friday 29 September 1939, some 65,000 enumerators delivered forms to each household. Each household was responsible for filling out their own form. Two days later on the Sunday and Monday, the enumerators returned to collect the forms. The enumerators checked the forms and (if there were no problems) issued a complete identity card on the spot to each member of the household.
There was a strong incentive for everyone to register correctly. Other than societal pressure given that war had just broken out, it was widely broadcast that anyone who “neglected” to register would not be eligible in the future for ration books. The 1939 register covers some 40 million individuals. Given the absence of a 1931 census (the records were destroyed in a fire in December 1942) and a 1941 census (never taken due to the war), this record set will be very valuable to family historians. No date has been given as to when the records will be available online.
If you want to be kept informed about the project, you can register at www.1939register.co.uk One thing to note is that due to privacy issues, information on individuals still alive today will not be included in the database. If you really can’t wait for the 1939 register to go online, you can actually put a request into the government today to see the information (after paying a hefty charge of something like £42). Just click on the link. [1939 National Register]
Ireland – The free website Bandon Genealogy continues to add free genealogy records from the town and surrounding area of Bandon, County Cork Ireland. The list of records is extensive and includes everything from Griffiths Valuations to local directories, to leases and tenancies to military records to census records and much more. This is a great website to check out if you think you may have ancestors from the region. Access is free. [Bandon Genealogy]
Barbados – FamilySearch.org has added some 253,000 Anglican Church parish records from Barbados. These are primarily baptism, marriage and death records spanning the years from 1637 to 1887. Some church records from other denominations are also in the collection spanning the years 1660 to 1887. This record collection can be searched by name. The records can also be browsed by parish. Civil registration only began in Barbados in 1890 for births and marriages and 1925 for deaths, so parish records are very important for anyone wanting to trace their Barbados ancestors. Access is free. [Historic Barbados Parish Records]
US – 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]
France – Stanford University in California has launched a new digital archive on the French Revolution. Included are the day-to-day French parliamentary records from 1789 to 1794 and a vast visual collection of 14,000+ prints from the French national library. The parliamentary records consist of letters, reports, speeches and first-hand accounts from a variety of sources. Many famous and not-so-famous people are mentioned in the reports. The database can be searched by keyword, person, timeline and document type. This database is likely to be useful for anyone who may have had a French aristocratic connection in their family tree. Access is free. [French Revolution Archive]
Australia/New Zealand – The National Archives of Australia and the New Zealand Archives have joined forces to create a new website called Discovering Anzacs. The objective is to create a profile of every Anzac who enlisted in World War I complete with their service record. People can also contribute their own personal family stories and photographs as well as help transcribe war diaries and service records. The brief video below describes the process. Access is free. [Discovering Anzacs]
South Africa – The Genealogical Society of South Africa has been steadily adding to their online record collection. The latest additions include Cape Town Baptisms (1713 to 1742), Cape Town Marriages (1713 to 1756), Drakenstein baptism register (1694 to 1713) and indexes to civilian deaths in Cape Province (1895 to 1972). The link provides a complete list of all the records that have currently been transcribed and put online by the society. The society is also looking for volunteers to help with transcribing additional documents. Access is free. [South Africa Genealogy Records]
Ireland – The Irish Department of Defense has launched a collection of military service pension records that span the years from 1916 to 1923. The first tranche contains some 10,000 files on members of the Irish Volunteers, Citizen Army, Hibernian Rifles, the Irish Republican Army, Cumann na mBan and the National Army. This collection is part of a wider program by the Irish Department of Defense to catalogue and eventually put online some 300,000 military service pension files. Most of the files are expected to be online by 1916. The collection is fairly diverse and includes everything from letters applying for a pension to various organizational and membership files to basic administration files. The pension files are particularly detailed and list the full name of the individual, address, date of birth, date of death, civilian occupations, military record, military awards, etc. The entire collection can be searched by keyword. The website has a detailed guide to the collection. Access is free. [Republic of Ireland Military Pension Records]
US – 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]
US – 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]
US – 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]
US – 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]
India – The 1947 Partition Archive is an oral history archive dedicated to preserving the stories of individuals who were affected by the partition of India at independence. An estimated 15 million people were thought to have been made homeless by the partition. Initially started by a former University of California postdoctoral student as a personal project, the archive has quickly grown to over 1,000 stories. The target is to gather at least an additional 3,000 more stories in 2014. The video below describes how the archive works. Access is free. [1947 Partition Archive]
US – 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]
UK – TheGenealogist has added over 1.6 million parish records from the following counties: Essex; Kent, Lincolnshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. The link below provides a detailed list of parish records held on the website by county, district and date. Access is by subscription. [UK Parish Records]
UK – Origins.net has put online the 1891 England and Wales census. This record collection contains details on some 29 million individuals. The census was taken on 5 April 1891 and lists the names, age, address, occupation, place of birth and relationship to the head of the household. This collection can be searched by name, county, district, place of birth and age. Origins.net also hosts the 1841, 1861, 1871 and 1901 censuses. Access is by subscription. [1891 England and Wales Census]
Australia – FindMyPast.com.au has added a collection of some 640,000 convict records. The collection consists of two parts: 515,000 New South Wales and Tasmania settler and convict records (1787 to 1859) and 125,000 convict transportation registers (1787 to 1870). The NSW record set consists of transcripts, indexes and original handwritten records relating to convicts, former convicts and settlers. A typical record lists a person’s year of birth, ship and year of arrival to the colony, occupation and place of residence. The convict transportation registers lists ship and year of arrival, details on sentencing and the term of the sentence (typically 7 years, 14 years or life). An estimated 20% of Australians are thought to have a convict ancestry, suggesting this record set will be of interest to many people. Access is by subscription. [Australian Convict Records]
Australia – FamilySearch.org has indexed 1 million records from their State of Victoria probate register collection. The collection covers the years from 1841 to 1989 and generally involves wills. A typical record lists the name of person, date of death, address, occupation, date of testament and a declaration. Most wills list names of children, names of heirs, name of the spouse and name of the administrator of the will. Access is free. [State of Victoria Probate Records]
New Zealand – Ancestry.co.uk has put online a new collection of some 113,000 names from the registers of medical practitioners and nurses from New Zealand. This collection covers the years from 1882 to 1933. The collection can be searched by name and location. A typical listing gives the name of the individual, their qualifications and their location. This list covers physicians, surgeons, nurses and midwives. Access is by subscription. [Historic New Zealand Medical Practitioners]
Norway – Arkivverket Digitalarkivet (part of the national archives of Norway) has posted online the 1910 Norwegian census. The collection is fully searchable by name and residence. Some of the information that can be found in this census includes name, gender, marital status, occupation, date and place of birth, address, religion and father’s ethnicity. This is big news for anyone with Norwegian ancestors. Access is free. The link takes you to the English-language version of the website. [Norway 1910 Census]
Scotland – ScotlandsPeople has put online the 1885 Valuation Rolls. These are essentially property assessments and cover every kind of property. A typical Valuation Roll lists the address, the name and occupation of the owner or tenant and the yearly rent or value. The 1885 Valuation Roll covers 1,441,484 people. Valuation rolls were produced yearly from 1855 to 1955. The 1885 Valuation Roll is the earliest one to go online (other years that are available at ScotlandsPeople includes 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920). Access is by subscription. [Scotland 1885 Valuation Roll]
US – 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]
UK – Deceased Online has completed digitizing the records from Kensal Green cemetery in London. Kensal Green was opened in 1833. It became the first of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ – seven grand garden-style cemeteries that ringed what were at the time the outer suburbs of London. The cemetery received its first funeral in January 1833 and it is still in operation today. The cemetery contains both Anglican and ‘dissenter’ (non-Anglican) sections. Deceased Online has put online some 330,000 records for all burials and cremations up to December 2010. Each record consists of a digital scan of the original burial book and details of who is buried in the grave. Later this year, maps of the cemetery will also be added. Access is by subscription. [Kensal Green Burial Records]
Wales – Welsh Newspapers Online has added 27 new publications to their growing database of historic newspapers. The collection now consists of some 100 historic newspapers, 630,000 pages and 6.8 million articles. The newspapers span the years from 1804 to 1919. The records can be searched by news, family notices and advertisements. The collection can also be browsed by date and newspaper title. Access is free. [Historic Welsh Newspapers]
US – 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 more 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 around the world. It is the most powerful free ancestral search engine available on the internet. [Genealogy Search Engine]
Read the article A Guide to Performing Online Genealogy Searches to learn how to use the search engine.
UK/India – FindMyPast in partnership with the British Library has released 2.5 million records detailing the lives of the British in India. The records span the years from 1698 to 1947 and consist of birth and baptism records, deaths and burials, wills and probates, pension records, cadet papers and applications for the civil service. The video below provides more details on the collection. Access is by subscription. However, for those who are interested, FindMyPast is currently offering a free 14 day trial. [British India Records]
UK – MyHeritage.com has added 118 million records to their UK collection. MyHeritage, which has traditionally been known for family trees, is now building up databases of historic records. Most of the additions to their UK collection are birth and christening records. The records cover the years from 1538 to 1975 (birth records of living individuals are presumably not in the collection). The collection can be searched by a variety of means, including first and last name, year, place, etc. If the search finds records for related individuals, it will show those as well. Access is by subscription. [UK Birth Records]
Europe – Europeana 1914-1918 has relaunched their website to better cover the First World War. One of the changes involves collecting from the public previously unpublished letters, photographs and keepsakes from the war. The website has already added 90,000 items and more than 7,000 stories and the collection continues to grow. The website also contains a substantial collection of over 400,000 pieces of material and 660 hours of film from eight different national libraries. Most of the material focuses on the human and cultural aspects of the war. New material is added on a regular basis. There are many things here that would be of interest to genealogists. The video below provides a glimpse of the scope of the collection. Access is free. [Europeana 1914-1918]
UK - The Wellcome Library has launched a new website called Wellcome Images. It contains over 100,000 historic images for viewing. Everything from manuscripts, paintings, early photographs and historic advertisements are included in this collection. The collection can be searched by keyword.
Although it is not likely that you will find your ancestors, this website does provide excellent reference images of various peoples and cultures from around the world. The old historical images in the collection can be downloaded for free (see the example below). Please note the website is running a bit slow. [Wellcome Images]
UK – The National Archives has launched a rare collection of First World War military service tribunals. These are 11,000 case files from Middlesex, where people applied to the local tribunal for exemption from compulsory military service (which was introduced in 1916, some two years after the start of the war). Most of the applications for exemptions fall into four categories: moral (conscientious objectors); medical (disability); family (looking after dependents) and economic (preserving a business).
As the First War dragged on, fatalities and casualties climbed far beyond anyone’s expectations. News about the horrible conditions on the front line slowly filtered back home. Much of it contradicted the official propaganda. This created a significant amount of tension on the home front. Still, only an estimated 10% of the applications for exemptions were based on moral grounds.
Only a very small number of these military tribunal papers survive. After the war, the UK government issued explicit instructions to local tribunals to destroy all these types of records due to their sensitive nature and the risk to the government.
The Middlesex collection was specifically held back from destruction and retained to be used as a possible benchmark in case military conscription was ever required in the future. It is a rare dataset. The collection can be searched by name, occupation and location. Access is free after registration. [WWI Military Tribunal Papers]
UK – Origins.net has added the fully indexed 1901 census for England and Wales to their collection. The 1841, 1861 and 1871 censuses are already available on the website. The 1851, 1881 and 1891 are expected to be added within the next six months. Origins.net currently has over 100 million British and Irish genealogy records. Access is by subscription. [Origins.net]
UK – Ancestry.co.uk has added some 1.4 million parish records from Plymouth and West Devon. The baptism, marriage and death records date from 1538 to 1912. Also included in the collection are some tombstone inscriptions, obituaries and tax lists. Access is by subscription. [Devonshire Parish Records]
Scotland – Ancestry.co.uk has added a collection of some 26.8 million birth and baptism records. The collection spans the years from 1564 to 1950. These appear to be records from FamilySearch, but (as usual) Ancestry is not clear on the source. The records can be searched by name, date of birth and location. Access is by subscription. [Historic Scottish Birth Records]
Australia – The website Claim a Convict is being relaunched on Australia Day. The new website is curated by Michelle Nichols and Jonathan Auld, who took over when Lesley Uebel fell ill. [Claim a Convict]
US – 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]
US – 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]
US – 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.
US – 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]
Peru – FamilySearch.org has added an additional 900,000 records to its civil registration collection from Lima, Peru. This collection spans the years from 1874 to 1996 and covers births, marriages and deaths that were recorded by civil registration offices in Lima. The collection can be searched by first and last name. Access to this collection is free. [Historic Lima Birth Records]
World – Want to know what indexing projects FamilySearch.org is currently working on? There is now a map of the world that you can consult to determine all the active indexing projects. If you are keen, you can even sign up as an indexer. [FamilySearch Indexing Projects]
Australia – The National Library of Australia has started 2014 off with a bang by announcing the addition of 53 more historic newspapers to Trove. The largest additions are from New South Wales and Victoria. Access is free. [Trove Newspaper Collection]
The Genealogy Search Engine can also be used to search Trove (in addition to over one thousand other websites containing ancestral records). When using the search engine, simply append site: trove.nla.gov.au to your search query if you want to limit your search to Trove.
UK/Ireland – FindMyPast has published the enlistment records of over 88,000 soldiers who served in the Royal Tank Corps from 1919 to 1934. According to FindMyPast, thousands of Irishmen are also featured in this record set. The collection contains details on previous military service, useful biographical information and the date of discharge. Access is by subscription. [Royal Tank Corps Enlistment Records]
UK – FamilySearch.org has created a massive new collection of indexes for births, marriages and deaths that cover England and Wales from 1837 to 1920. In total, there are 65.6 million births listed, 35.1 million marriages, and 40.6 million deaths. Note these are indexes and not complete records. These indexes will, however, point you to the exact location of the record, as shown in the image below. Access is free. [UK Birth Index] [UK Marriage Index] [UK Death Index]
UK – FindMyPast has published a unique collection of 19 million British rate book records. The records come from Manchester (1706 to 1900), Plymouth & West Devon (1598 to 1933), Southwark, and Westminster (1634 to 1900). If you are not familiar with rate books, they require some description. As mentioned in the article A Date Guide to English Genealogy, the passing of the Poor Law Act in 1601 compelled households to pay rates to help maintain the poor in their area. The rate paid was calculated based on the value of the property. This information was recorded in a rate book. Over time, the rates system evolved and the funds collected were used to pay for things other than welfare, such as local improvements to roads and canals.
Early rate books usually just list the householder’s name and the amount paid for their property. Beginning in the 1830s, however, rate books started to contain more detailed information. Rate books became more organized and were generally laid out in a logical geographic fashion. Houses were listed on a street by street basis. Each house listed the householder’s name, the value of the property and the rate paid.
Rate books in this collection can be searched by both address and householder’s name. They can serve as a useful proxy in the absence of census records. The easiest way to trace someone is usually to start with the most recent rate book and work backwards. Access to this collection is by subscription. [Historic British Rate Books]
UK – Ancestry.co.uk has added a collection of pre-1858 wills. The collection contains about 1 million records. The wills in this collection were managed by the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England (wills prior to 12 January 1858 were managed by the church). Wills provide a good means of understanding family members and family relationships. A typical will lists spouses, children, and sometimes even parents.
Most early English and Welsh wills from this period were written by people who had to transfer land and significant property. This collection will likely appeal to people who had wealthy ancestors. There are a couple of other things to note before looking at this collection. First, married women were not allowed to own property, so there are few women in the collection. Second, wills were sometimes recorded in the courts years after the person died, so search a wide range of dates after the expected year of death. Access is by subscription. [UK Ecclesiastical Wills]
Portugal – FamilySearch.org has significantly increased their collection of Catholic Church records from the district of Santarém, Portugal. The collection now consists of some 650,000 images of baptism, marriage and death records spanning the years from 1544 to 1911. The images can be searched by municipality, parish, type of record and year. Access is free. [Santarém Baptism Records]
Denmark – FamilySearch.org has a new collection of approximately 100,000 civil marriages from Denmark that span the years from 1851 to 1961. These records can be searched by first and last name. The records cover the small percentage of people who did not get married in the state church (Lutheran Church of Denmark). Since most Danes were members of the church, this collection likely includes many foreign nationals living in the country at the time. Access to this collection is free. [Danish Civil Marriage Records]
US – 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]
US – 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]
US – 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]
New Zealand – New Zealand has launched their commemorative website devoted to remembering the events of World War One. It is full of excellent information concerning New Zealand’s involvement in the war, including the incredible fact that 10% of the country’s population at the time was serving overseas. If you have New Zealand ancestors, this is a website that you will want to bookmark and return to on a regular basis. Access is free. [New Zealand World War One Website]