January 23, 2017

Missing Census or Missing Family: Legacy Tree Genealogists Answer

So, you think there might be a missing census page? Whether it’s a missing census or a missing family, my special guest, professional genealogist Kate Eackman from Legacy Tree Genealogists has strategies to help you figure it out. She has just the answers you need to find your ‘missing’ family.

missing census

A Genealogy Gems reader doing genealogy research in New Jersey has lost her family! Well not literally, but she can’t find them in the 1940 U.S. Census. Here’s the email I recently received from her:

I am having a problem finding my mother and grandparents in the 1940 census. My grandfather, William Charles Opfer, was born on October 15 1900. I can find him in the 1930 census living in  Glouescter Township, (Unincorporated Grenloch) Camden County, New Jersey. He is living with his wife Kathryn (Katharine) Opfer and three children: William C Jr, Robert, and Nancy (my mother).

When I search the 1940 census on Ancestry nothing shows up. So I went to the government web site and converted the 1930 Enumeration District to the 1940 Enumeration District. The 1940 Enumeration Districts were 4-57, 4-58, and 4-61. I then went through all of the pages for each of the districts looking for William C. Opfer. I did this on Ancestry, Family Search, and NARA.  No William C. Opfer.

I then went back to the 1930 census and looked at his neighbors. I searched for each of the 13 heads-of-household neighbors from the 1930 census. Two had moved 1940 and I found them. I could not find the other neighbors in the 1940 census. I am wondering if a page from the 1940 census did not get scanned? Is there somewhere else I could look?

Missing Census Answers from Kate Eakman, Legacy Tree Genealogists

First, let me say how impressed I am with this Gem’s research and her dedication to finding this census report. She has made some very thorough searches and performed a number of advanced genealogical techniques in her quest for the 1940 U.S. Census page. It hardly seems fair that all that work didn’t yield the success she surely earned.

The government website she referenced is the National Archives 1940 Census page. The use of the page “1930 Records Search” allowed her to simply locate her grandfather in the 1930 U.S. Census. Then, by clicking a few buttons, discover the corresponding enumeration districts (ED) for the 1930 ED in which he and his family lived: 4-57, 4-58, and 4-61.

missing census using ED

Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

I, too, have scrolled through page after page searching for that one elusive name and we know how tedious that task can be! Using three different sites was a good strategy and one that we employ ourselves here at Legacy Tree Genealogists. Different images might be easier or more difficult to read, although in the case of these three EDs, the copies seemed to be uniformly easy to read.

The first two EDs were for Blackwood, an unincorporated part of Camden County, New Jersey. The third one was for the Lakeland Tuberculosis Hospital, unlikely to have housed the entire family, but certainly worth looking through in case one Opfer was a patient there.

ED 4-58 had an interesting variation at the end of the report. The last two pages were not 15A and 15B, as would be expected, but were 61A and 61B. This indicates these households were enumerated at a later date than were their neighbors. Because federal law requires every household to be counted, and because not everyone was at home when the enumerator arrived, the enumerator had to return on a different day and attempt to gather the necessary information for those families. They were recorded separately, beginning with page 61A.

People living in hotels, trailer camps, and other places normally designed for single-night stays were enumerated a week after the initial enumeration and those pages are numbered beginning with 81A. Not every ED has a 61 or an 81 page, but if you see one, now you know why the page numbers suddenly changed so dramatically.

The writer’s use of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ FAN Club was an excellent idea, too. FAN, an acronym for Friends, Associates, and Neighbors, takes advantage of the fact that people, in general, tend to remain geographically close to the people they know. [Read more about this in our post, “The Genealogy FAN Club Principle Overcomes Genealogy Brick Walls“] If a portion of a community moves, they tend to move together and relocate in the same general area of their new location. Her instincts to use this tool were excellent, even if they did not produce the desired results. This falls under the heading of “reasonably exhaustive research” and should always be included when someone, or in this case something, can’t be found, but should be there.

The fact that the researcher was able to locate only two of those neighbors could be explained, in part, by the fact that so many were in their 60s, 70s, and even 90s in 1930. They simply may have passed away in the intervening ten years. Another explanation, particularly for the working families, is that the Great Depression caused many families to move in order to find employment.

This may have been true for the Opfers. We noticed in 1930, William was employed as a supervisor for Reading Transportation. While supervisors were important to the operation of any transportation company, it is possible William found himself unemployed, as was true for millions of other Americans. If that happened, he and his family could have moved anywhere in the United States in an effort to find work. Alternatively, William may have left to find work while Kathryn and the children lived by themselves in reduced circumstances, or with family or friends.

To this end, I searched for William and Kathryn, and then each of the three children individually, in the hope of locating one or more family members. Using the “less is more” strategy which is often an important part of genealogical research, I searched with and without the family members’ ages, places of birth, and other family member’s names. Because the surname “Opfer” might have been misheard by the enumerator or grossly misspelled, I even searched for the various members of the family with no surname. Since we did not know where the family may have lived between 1930 and 1944, we included all of New Jersey, Delaware (the home state of Kathryn), as well as neighboring Pennsylvania and New York in our searches. The lack of positive results meant we needed to expand our search to the Eastern seaboard, and then the entire United States.

We also identified the names of William’s and Kathryn’s parents, William and Sallie Opfer and Raymond and Corrine Mason, and searched their households and neighborhoods for William and Kathryn. They were not there. Walter, William’s younger brother, was not hosting the family, either.

The writer had asked if it was possible that a page from the 1940 U.S. Census did not get scanned. Since the 1940 census has only been available for four years, it is still possible, although not probable, that there are one or more pages missing unbeknownst to anyone. Our research revealed only a few pages from a couple EDs in Ohio and South Dakota that were missing from the FamilySearch collection. There is no indication anywhere that there are missing pages from New Jersey. In addition, the pages in the three possible EDs for the Opfers were all included and in the correct numerical order, with no indication of any missing pages at the end. Therefore, I think we must conclude that missing pages do not explain the Opfer family’s disappearance.

Other Databases to Help

There are two other databases which might provide some insight into the location of the Opfer family. The first is the set of 1942 World War II draft registration cards. All men between the ages of 18 and 65 were required to register for this draft. The draft registration cards would have included the address at which William lived in 1942; however, there was no card for a man named William Opfer (or with only the surname “Opfer”) born between 1895 and 1905.

The final search was the database of city directories. A poorly-indexed city directory reported the Opfers lived in Haddonfield, New Jersey in 1943, but there are two directories contained in the same book, and the listing was actually for 1947. It reported William and Katherine lived at 209 Washington Avenue with their children William and his wife, Robert, and Nancy. William’s brother, Walter, and his wife Edith lived nearby. Unfortunately, the search for them in 1940 revealed that 79-year-old widower William Pape lived at that address with his household servants who were not the Opfer’s.

missing census alternative

The William Opfer family in Haddonfield, New Jersey in 1947.Photo courtesy Ancestry.

Although the turmoil and upheaval of the Great Depression meant families were scattered, and it would have been easy to miss enumerating many households in the mid-1930s, by 1940 the U.S. was recovering from the effects of the Depression. Some agencies, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), were in place to provide work for men. Many war-related industries on both coasts were revived by the Allies’ efforts to stop Hitler.

In other words, there should have been work and stability for the Opfer family by 1940, and they ought to have appeared in a census report. The evidence of the 1930 census and the 1947 city directory strongly suggest they remained in or close to New Jersey, but all of the efforts to locate them have failed to yield positive results.

One Last Scenario

One possible scenario which would explain the Opfers apparent absence from the 1940 census is a simple one: perhaps the family was in the process of moving from one location to another in the month of April when the census was enumerated. Although the census was supposed to be enumerated on 1 April, the reality is that it was simply impossible to knock on every door and obtain the necessary information in one day. Some enumeration districts were fully counted by the 4th of the month. Other places were not completed until the 30th. This was true even in the same town.

If the Opfers had moved across the street from 206 Washington Avenue to 209 Washington Avenue in Haddonfield, for instance, between the 5th and the 14th of April, they would have moved from one enumeration district to another. Because the 209 Washington Avenue address had been enumerated on 4 April, they would not have been counted in that new location. And, because the 206 Washington Avenue address was not enumerated until the 15th of the month, they would not have been included in that EDs census report. We have seen this happen in the reverse and a family was enumerated twice because they moved during the enumeration, so it certainly could have happened the other way around. This is the only explanation we can find to explain the absence of the Opfers from the 1940 U.S. Census.

More About Kate Eakman at Legacy Tree Genealogists and SAVE $100!

Kate Eakman grew up hearing Civil War stories at her father’s knee and fell in love with history and genealogy at an early age. With a master’s degree in history and over 20 years experience as a genealogist, Kate has worked her magic on hundreds of family trees and narratives.

Areas of expertise:

-Native American Genealogy

-U.S. Civil War & Victorian America

-Narrative Biographies

-Irish Genealogy

The team of expert genealogists at Legacy Tree Genealogists can help bust through your brick walls. They do the research and you enjoy the discoveries! Genealogy Gems offers you a big, big savings. Use our exclusive coupon code GEMS100 and get $100 off any research package. (Hurry! Coupon expires 4/30/17.)

Extraordinary European Records in New and Updated Genealogical Collections

An extraordinary list of European record sets is included in this week’s new and updated genealogical collections. Starting in Ireland and moving across the country, places include: United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Netherlands, and more.

dig these new record collections

Ireland – Marriage Index

Over 250,000 names have been added to an online database of Irish births, marriages, and deaths. The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) first created a marriage database in 2014 when it put 40,000 marriage certificates online, and now is adding entries for births and deaths too.

The Early Irish Marriage Index is completely free to all who wish to use it, however, those wishing to browse the Early Irish Birth and Death Indexes are required to take out membership of the IGRS.

United Kingdom – Yorkshire and Derbyshire – Baptisms

Yorkshire & Derbyshire Methodist Baptisms at Findmypast contain over 42,000 for Methodist Churches between 1795 and 1997. The collection covers the densely populated Sheffield district. Sheffield is located in South Yorkshire, traditionally part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and many of its suburbs stretch into Derbyshire.

Each record will provide you with a transcript created from original church records. The details in each record will vary, but most will include name, birth year, baptism date, denomination, chapel, place, parent’s name, and county.

United Kingdom – Yorkshire & Derbyshire – Methodist Marriages

Also at Findmypast, the Yorkshire & Derbyshire Methodist Marriages collections contains over 22,000 records. These records also cover the Sheffield district. Within the collection, you will find records from eight branches of the Methodist Church: Free Methodist, Methodist, Methodist New Connection, Primitive Methodist, United Free Methodist, United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Reform Methodist.

Within the collection, you will find records from eight branches of the Methodist Church: Free Methodist, Methodist, Methodist New Connection, Primitive Methodist, United Free Methodist, United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Reform Methodist.

United Kingdom – Newspapers

Over 1.5 million new articles have been added to Findmypast’s collection of historic British Newspapers. Three brand new titles have also been added; the Cricket and Football Field, Lloyd’s List and the Homeward Mail from India, China and the East.

Lloyd’s List is one of the world’s oldest continuously running journals, having provided weekly shipping news in London as early as 1734. The Homeward Mail from India China and the East will be a huge help for those researching the history of empire, or for those with British or Irish ancestors who lived in India.

United Kingdom – Middlesex – Monumental Inscriptions

Findmypast offers over 12,000 records of Middlesex Monumental Inscriptions for 1485-2014. These monumental inscriptions are from St Nicholas Church, Chiswick.

The records cover the years 1485 to 2014 and include transcripts for each entry. While the amount of available information will vary from transcript to transcript, most will include a combination of name, birth year, death year, dedication, place, monument type, and inscription.

Inscriptions might include the names of others buried in that plot and more specific details regarding age, birth, and death dates. This can be helpful as it can provide you with the names and dates of your ancestor’s next of kin.

Belgium – Civil Registration

FamilySearch’s database titled, Belgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-1912 is one of the extraordinary European records collections this week. This collection contains primarily civil registration records of births, marriages, and deaths. A few other records are included are marriage proclamations and marriage supplements.

Among the details found in these civil registrations, you will likely find names, dates of vital events, residences, parents’ names, and residences, occupations, and much more.

France – Parish Records

The European records for genealogy continue in this new and updated collection at FamilySearch, the France, Finistère, Quimper et Léon Diocese, Catholic Parish Records, 1772-1894. Though the record set is rather small with only a little over 11, 000 records, this collection consists of name indexes and images of Catholic parish registers recording events of baptism, marriage and burial in the Diocese of Quimper et Léon. Parishes in this diocese lie within the department of Finistère and this collection only contains parishes that start with the letter “A” or “B”.

The following parishes are included:

  • Argol
  • Arzano
  • Audierne
  • Bannalec
  • Brest-paroisse-Notre-Dame-des-Carmes
  • Brest Hospice Civile
  • Brest-paroisse-Lambézellec
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Louis
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Martin
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Pierre

Further revisions to the collection will follow as other parishes are published in future.

Netherlands – Misc. Records

FamilySearch has added more European records in the Netherlands, Archival Indexes and they include such records as civil registration, church records, emigration lists, military registers, land records, and tax records. These records cover events like birth, marriage, death, burial, emigration and immigration, military enrollment and more.

The collection continues to grow as records become available, but as of now, the only indexes published on FamilySearch are the Amsterdam Christening Registers from 1564 to 1811 and the burial index from the Regional Archives Rijnlands Midden. For the entire index collection, visit OpenArchives.

Russia – Church Books

Also at FamilySearch, the Russia, Tver Church Books, 1722-1918 are now available. Though only a relatively small number of these records have been indexed, there are over 3 million that have been digitally scanned and are browse-able. Records include births and baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials performed by priests in the province of Tver (and surrounding provinces) from 1722-1918. These records were originally created at a local level, but were acquired from the state archive in Tver. An index of baptisms is also included.

United States – Maine – Brunswick

There is a unique story of a person who felt the call to serve the genealogy community. Mr. Richard Snow has collected and created an extensive index of articles, pictures, and obituaries from the Brunswick [Maine] Telegraph and the Brunswick Record — forerunners to today’s The Times Record. He then donated his work to the Curtis Memorial Library and it is accessible to you!

The Snow Index will give many a chance to delve into their family’s pasts by accessing the library’s website, a substantial shortcut over previous practices like coming into the library or browsing newspaper websites. This is an index to citations only and not index that leads to full online text. However, with this index as a help, you will likely be able to find the full content with the assistance of the Curtis Memorial Library. Isn’t it great to hear about genealogist’s doing great things? Thank you, Mr. Snow!

United States – Wisconsin – Vital Records

A recent change in state statutes will allow Wisconsin residents to more easily obtain public documents. All Wisconsin register of deeds offices can now issue birth, death, marriage, and divorce records regardless of the county in which the event occurred, as long as the event occurred in Wisconsin.

A statewide database has been created that will allow all offices to access the records. Not all records are available, but the following are:

  • Wisconsin births since 1907;
  • Deaths since Sept. 1, 2013
  • Marriages since June 21, 2015;
  • Divorces since Jan. 1, 2016

Be sure to contact the county register of deeds office you plan to visit to make sure they are offering the database at this time. It will likely take a while to get everything up and running!

Ghana – Census

FamilySearch has also added more indexed records to the Ghana Census, 1984. This population census for Ghana is a complete enumeration of the 12.3 million people residing in Ghana as of midnight March 11, 1984. The census is divided into 56,170 localities. According to the government of Ghana, a locality is defined as any “nucleated and physically distinct settlement.” Localities may include a single house, a hamlet, a village, town or city. In some areas of the Upper West and Upper East Regions, these localities are based on kinship groups. Only those individuals, including foreign visitors, who were present in Ghana on March 11, 1984, were included in this census.

There have been some records lost in Ghana and so not all localities are available. Important: Be aware that the printed date on the census enumeration form usually says 1982, but this census was formally conducted in 1984.

The 1984 Ghana census may hold the following information:

  • Detailed address of Ghana Census 1984the house
  • Name of town/village
  • Full name of members present on census night
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Gender, age, birthpla
    ce, and nationality of each individual
  • Level of education
  • Occupation
  • Employment status
  • Names of visitors on census night
  • Names of members absent on census night

More on Researching European Records for Genealogy

European records for genealogyChart your research course to find your European ancestors with the how-to instruction in this book. This one-of-a-kind collection provides invaluable information about more than 35 countries in a single source. Each of the 14 chapters is devoted to a specific country or region of Europe and includes all the essential records and resources for filling in your family tree.

Inside you’ll find:

– Specific online and print resources including 700 websites

– Contact information for more than 100 archives and libraries

– Help finding relevant records

– Traditions and historical events that may affect your family’s past

– Historical time lines and maps for each region and country

 

Resolving Three Common Conflicting Evidence Problems in Genealogy

Resolving conflicting evidence in genealogy research is sometimes difficult. Some types of conflicting evidence we come across are common. Here are some tips to resolving three of the most common conflicting records and why they exist.

weigh conflicting evidence

I joke about our recent “cookie incident” here at home. No one wanted to fess up to who ate all the cookies, but it didn’t take long to evaluate the evidence and come up with the culprit. The trail of crumbs, the height at which the cookies were stored, and who was home at the time, were just a few of the ways in which I came to a sound conclusion.

As genealogists, we have to weigh disagreeing or conflicting evidence all the time. Maybe you have two records giving two different birth dates for a great great grandmother. Whatever the conflict, here are some tips to resolving three of the most common conflicts and why they exist.

Item 1: Resolving a Birth Date Conflict

I have found numerous birth date conflicts in my personal family history. Some reasons may include:

  • Transcription errors
  • Delayed recording
  • Lying to protect the couple from embarrassment of a pre-marriage pregnancy
  • Engraving mistake on the tombstone
  • To avoid a military draft

These are just a few of the many reasons why you may find a conflicting birth date. Resolving a birth date conflict, or any genealogical data conflict, may be possible by remembering the following:

The record recorded nearest the time of the event, by those who have first-hand knowledge, is typically considered the most reliable source.

Here’s an example. Nancy Blevins Witt has two possible birth dates. Using her death record, we can only calculate a birth date based on her age-at-death given in years, months, and days. That calculated birth date would be 19 Nov 1890. However, the date of birth recorded on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census is October 1890, and we were never able to find a birth record. Which birth month is likely correct, October or November?

To make this determination, we will need to consider the following:

1. A death record has an informant. Who was the informant of Nancy’s death record? Did this person have first-hand knowledge of her birth, such as a parent? In this case, the informant was her uncle. There is no way to know if the uncle was present at the time of her birth, but he was alive at the time.

2. Who was the likely informant of the 1900 census? Was that a person with first-hand knowledge of Nancy’s date of birth? We can’t be absolutely sure, but we could suppose that Nancy’s mother was the one who gave the census taker that information. Since the mother was obviously present at the time of Nancy’s birth, we would consider her a reliable witness to the event of Nancy’s birth.

3. Do any of these informants have a reason to lie? Is there something, like money, to be gained by providing a certain birth date? The answer is no.

We can say that the likely accurate date of birth for Nancy is October 1890. Of course, we want to make note of both the records and the discrepancies in our personal database and remember that it is always possible a new piece of evidence will pop up that makes us re-evaluate this assumption.

Item 2: Resolving a Marriage Date Conflict

Marriage date conflicts can be found for a variety of reasons as well. Some of these reasons may include:

  • Transcription error
  • Delayed recording
  • Lying to avoid an embarrassing situation
  • Altering the date for the benefit of widows pension

conflicting evidence alternatives

Again, these are just a few of the reasons for a marriage date conflict.

In this next example, John and Eliza are said to have married about 1857. Unfortunately, no actual marriage record was ever found.

There are however, two sources for a marriage date. Both of these sources are found in the War of 1812 Pension Application Files which was viewed online at Fold3.com. A War of 1812 Pension Application is a great place to find marriage information. The widow would have needed to prove that she was indeed the widow of the veteran before being able to receive her pension. Widows sometimes supplied actual marriage certificates, or like Eliza, they may have included affidavits instead.

This pension file for Eliza contained two documents, the first of which was an affidavit given by Eliza herself stating that she and “Jackson Cole” were married in March 1857 in Harlan, Kentucky by Stephen Daniel. Sadly, throughout the application, Eliza changes dates, ages, and names making us wary of whether her information is accurate. She had also been denied pension once before, and this was her second attempt. Because this is a pension and dealt with money allocation, and because she had been denied before, there is a reason for her to lie or fudge dates and details of the facts to meet certain criteria. We will want to take this into consideration. The second document is an affidavit from Stephen Daniel who states he married the couple in 1854.

Now, we want to further evaluate the two sources.

  • Stephen has nothing to gain (i.e. money, land, etc.)
  • Both Eliza and Stephen had first-hand knowledge of the event.
  • They were both remembering this marriage event and testifying to it almost 45 years later.
  • Stephen was a minister who married perhaps hundreds of couples.
  • Eliza only ever married once.

Who do you think would most likely remember the date of marriage? If you said Eliza, I think you are right. Further, the fact that Eliza had her first child about 1857 is also a strong indication that a marriage had taken place fairly recently. Based on all these reasons, we could assume the most likely date of marriage was March 1857.

Item 3: Resolving a Death Date Conflict

Reasons for conflicting death dates may include:

  • Transcription error
  • Engraving mistake on the tombstone
  • Delayed recording
  • Misprint in a newspaper obituary or biographical sketch

An example of a conflicting death date might be that an obituary says the person died on 20 February 1899, but the death record and tombstone give the date as 19 Feb 1899. We all know that newspapers are notorious for misprints. Further, a death record indicating the death date of 20 February 1899 is a record typically made on or near the date of death. This is typically when information is most fresh in the minds of the informants. A newspaper article, however, could have been printed days or even weeks later.

More Gems on Conflicting Evidence in Genealogy and Using the Genealogical Proof Standard

Whatever the conflict, you can typically use these practices to come to a sound conclusion. Oh! And by the way, have you ever heard of using the “GPS?” We aren’t talking about the little device that tells you how to get to that really cool new restaurant. We are talking about the Genealogical Proof Standard. Resolving conflicting evidence is just one of the components of the GPS. To learn more about this high standard, listen to podcast episode #23: Using the Genealogical Proof Standard.

ARTICLE REFERENCES

[1] “1913: Statewide Flood,” article online, Ohio History Connection, accessed 27 Dec 2016.

 

Family Secrets, History and Love in the Great Depression: Genealogy Gems Book Club Pick

Our new Genealogy Gems Book Club pick takes you into the Great Depression with a young socialite’s WPA project to capture the history of a small West Virginia town. She finds drama, contradicting versions of the past and unexpected romance. Enjoy this novel by an internationally best-selling author!

It’s the summer of 1938. Wealthy young Layla Beck’s big problem is not the Great Depression: it’s her father’s orders to marry a man she despises. She rebels, and suddenly finds herself on the dole. A Works Progress Administration assignment lands her in Macedonia, West Virginia, where she’s to write its history. As she starts asking questions about the town’s past, she is drawn into the secrets of the family she’s staying with—and to a certain handsome member of that family. She and two of those family members take turns narrating the story from different points of view, exploring the theme that historical truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder.

That’s a nutshell version of our new Genealogy Gems Book Club featured title, The Truth According to Us by internationally best-selling author Annie Barrows. It’s available in print and on Kindle formats: click above to purchase. (Thanks for using this link: your purchase supports free content on the Genealogy Gems podcast and blog.)

Annie will join us in the March 2017 Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast for an exclusive interview. That’s a members-only podcast; everyone else can catch a meaty excerpt in the March episode of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast. Between now and then, watch our blog for related posts on The Truth According to Us and the Great Depression–including genealogical records produced by the WPA.

Once you’ve enjoyed The Truth According to Us, I heartily recommend you curl up with Annie’s previous novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Watch a trailer for that book here:

Her popular Ivy and Bean children’s book series is also an international best-selling series, and my daughter Seneca gives it two thumbs up!

genealogy book club family history readingClick here to see more Genealogy Gems Book Club selections and how you can listen to Lisa’s upcoming exclusive conversation with author Annie Barrows about The Truth According to Us.

 

Organize DNA Matches in Your DNA “Drawer”

Organize DNA matches with this innovative approach. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your DNA results, you are not alone. Learning to organize your DNA matches in an effective way will not only keep your head from spinning, but will help you hone in on possible matches that will break down brick walls. Here’s the scoop from Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard.

organize your DNA matches

I can tell whose turn it was to unload the dishwasher by the state of the silverware drawer. If either of the boys have done it (ages 13 and 11,) the forks are haphazardly in a jumble, the spoon stack has overflowed into the knife section, and the measuring spoons are nowhere to be found. If, on the other hand, it was my daughter (age 8,) everything is perfectly in order. Not only are all the forks where they belong, but the small forks and the large forks have been separated into their own piles and the measuring spoons are nestled neatly in size order.

Organize Your Imaginary DNA Drawer

Regardless of the state of your own silverware drawer, it is clear that most of us need some sort of direction to effective organize DNA matches. It entails more than just lining them up into nice categories like Mom’s side vs. Dad’s side, or known connections vs. unknown connections. To organize DNA matches, you really need to make a plan for their use. Good organization for your test results can help you reveal or refine your genealogical goals and help determine your next steps.

Step 1: Download your raw data. The very first step is to download your raw data from your testing company and store it somewhere on your own computer. See these instructions on my website if you need help.

Step 2: Identify and organize DNA matches. Now, we can get to the match list. One common situation for those of you who have several generations of ancestors in the United States, is that you may have ancestors that seem to have produced a lot of descendants. These descendants may have caught the DNA testing vision and this can be like your overflowing spoon stack! All these matches may be obscuring some valuable matches. Identifying and putting those known matches in their proper context can help you identify the valuable matches that may lead to clues about the descendant lines of your known ancestral couple.

In my Organizing Your DNA Matches quick sheet, I outline a process for identifying and drawing out the genetic and genealogical relationships of these known connections. Then, it is easier to verify your genetic connection is aligned with your genealogy paper trail and spot areas that might need more research.

This same idea of plotting the relationships of your matches to each other can also be employed as you are looking to break down brick walls in your family tree, or even in cases of adoption. The key to identifying unknowns is determining the relationships of your matches to each other.

Step 3: See the relationship between genetics, surnames, and locations. Another helpful tool is a trick I learned from our very own Lisa Louise Cooke–that is Google Earth. Have you ever tried to use Google Earth to help you in your genetic genealogy? Remember, the common ancestor between you and your match has three things that connect you to them: their genetics, surnames, and locations. We know the genetics is working because they show up on your match list. But often times you cannot see a shared surname among your matches. By plotting their locations in the free Google Earth, kind of like separating the big forks from the little forks, you might be able to recognize a shared location that would identify which line you should investigate for a shared connection.

So, what are you waiting for? Line up those spoons and separate the big forks from the little forks! Your organizing efforts may just reveal a family of measuring spoons, all lined up and waiting to be added to your family history.

More on Working with DNA Matches

How to Get Started with Using DNA for Family History

Confused by Your AncestryDNA Matches? Read This PostOrganize DNA matches quickguide

New AncestryDNA Common Matches Tool: Love It!

Start Your Canadian Genealogy Research: Library and Archives Canada

Jump start your Canadian genealogy research and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday! Here are tips for you to start your Canadian genealogy research. Already started? Take it to the next level with resources at Library and Archives Canada.

Canadian genealogy tips

Canadian genealogy researchCanada is celebrating 150 years of nationhood in 2017! To join the party, I invited Claire Banton from Library and Archives Canada to the Genealogy Gems podcast episode 199. We had a great chat about Canada’s history and its planned year-long celebration. And of course, our conversation quickly turned to tips for exploring your Canadian roots at Library and Archives Canada.

Quick Tips for Canadian Genealogy Research

You can listen to our entire conversation for free in episode 199, but here are some quick take-away tips:

research Canadian genealogy

Claire Banton obtained her Masters of Library and Information Studies degree in 2006. She has worked in Reference Services at Library and Archives Canada for 10 years, where she has enjoyed learning something new every day. She is currently Chief, Orientation Services, where she works with an awesome team who help people search for information. She loves being an information detective and helping people overcome their research challenges.

1. Library and Archives Canada is very different from the average library.
It is both a national library (search the library catalog here) and a national archive (search the archival catalog here). And you don’t even have to have an account to search.

2. Start with the LAC website genealogy resources page whether you plan to visit in person or not.
You’ll find loads of free databases and some digitized records that haven’t been indexed yet, but are ripe for browsing. The topics page will tell you more about what is available for Canadian genealogy.

3. Familiarize yourself with the history of border crossings.
There was no border control from the US to Canada prior to 1908, so that means there are no Canadian records of earlier crossings. However, there is a database containing an index of aliens and citizens crossing into the U.S. from Canada via various ports of entry along the U.S.-Canadian border between 1895 and 1956 at FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com.

4. Call LAC directly for quick Canadian genealogy answers.
Schedule a Skype call with a genealogy expert to get a more in depth answer. (This is awesome – well done LAC!) Set the expert up for success and get the most out of your call by providing background information ahead of time.

Click here to explore (and join) Canada’s 150th birthday celebration!

More Canadian Genealogy Tips

Search Canadian Passenger Lists for FREE at Library and Archives Canada

Here’s Why Quebec Church Records are a Great Place to Look for Ancestors 

Canadiana: Canadian Digital Archive and Portal to the Past

Finding Family History in WWII Newspapers: Narrowing the Results

Newspapers can fill in the gaps to the long-lost stories of your ancestors. These tips will help you narrow your search in digitized WWII newspapers for experiences directly relating to the war and to the lives of your ancestors.

wwii_newspaper2

In this previous post, I provided step-by-step tips for locating WWII-era newspapers. Those tips helped you locate the actual newspapers. In this post, I’ve got 7 tips for to help you focus on narrowing down a large list of results in search of war-related family stories.

Tip 1: Try Various Name Combinations in WWII Newpapers

If you are keyword searching in digitized newspapers, remember to try different name combinations. A man may be identified by just his first initial and last name. During the 1940s, a woman might be referred to as “Mrs. Ted Johnson” instead of Barbara Johnson.

Tip 2: Search for Addresses

You might find a family identified as “the Johnson’s of 132 Cherry Lane,” so try using street addresses in your searches, remembering that “Lane” might be spelled out or abbreviated. You may also find the family listed by their town or township. An example of this might be “the Johnson’s of Brown township,” or “the Johnson’s of Conover.”

Tip 3: Expand Your Search to Events and Organizations

Use any search terms you already know about for your family in World War II: a military unit, a battle or local service organization, or a war effort project that the folks back home may have helped out with. Do family stories mention rationing, air raid drills, bomb shelters, blackout rules, or one of the women getting a job at a certain factory? All these make excellent search terms.

Tip 4: Take Time to Browse

Browsing the pages will give you a sense of how the war affected everyday life at home. You may find recipes that make the most of ration allowances and reminders about blackout rules and curfews. You may even find tips on how to conserve gasoline or how to be fashionable without silk stockings!

Almost every news item on the front page of this Jan 8, 1943 issue of the Euclid News Journal (OH) has to do with the war. It's easy to see how the war affected everyday life of this small Ohio city on the shores of Lake Erie. Issues of this paper are searchable at the Euclid Public Library website (click image to view more issues).

Almost every news item on the front page of this Jan 8, 1943 issue of the Euclid News Journal (OH) has to do with the war. It’s easy to see how the war affected everyday life of this small Ohio city on the shores of Lake Erie. Issues of this paper are searchable at the Euclid Public Library website (click image to view more issues.)

Tip 5: Be Aware of Newspaper Stoppages

If your family lived in an area that came under attack or was occupied, the local newspapers may have stopped printing. In that case, search other papers to see if they reported what was going on in your ancestor’s town.

Tip 6: Keep an Eye on the Homefront

For relatives who served in the military, watch for updates in local papers about how they were faring on the fronts during the war. Watch for casualty lists of the wounded, dead, and missing. Here’s something cool: newspapers also printed maps showing the progress of the war on the various fronts.

Tip 7: History Provides Hints

If you’re looking for reports about soldiers’ bodies returning home and funeral services, it will help to know that according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the War Department didn’t start bringing back remains until the fall of 1947 because of the huge logistical challenges involved. Over 93,000 American soldiers who died in World War II are buried overseas in one of the American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries.

Making the Most of Newspapers for Family History

How to Find Your Family History in NewspapersFind more tips like these in my book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. You’ll find step-by-step instructions for my foolproof research process, along with everything you need for success: worksheets and checklists, tons of free online resources (and websites worth paying a few bucks for), a massive amount of location-specific websites (U.S. and international)–and a case study that puts it all to the test!

Sacramental Records Now Searchable Online in New and Updated Genealogical Records

Special thanks to the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Archdiocese of Boston for their effort to make Sacramental records for genealogy available online. These and other new and updated genealogical collections are mentioned in this weeks list from the United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Italy, and free record searches at Findmypast!

dig these new record collections

United States (New England area) & Canada – Sacramental Records for Genealogy

NEHGS has announced the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and Archdiocese of Boston have made millions of 18th and 19th century sacramental records searchable online.

The records, which document baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and other sacraments, cover more than 150 parishes from throughout eastern Massachusetts. They also hold records that were carried out in other locations in New England and parts of Canada.
These detailed documents are a critical resource for researchers, historians, and genealogists, especially when secular records are unavailable. They record important moments in the lives of the individuals, families, and communities.
Though the fully searchable data will not be available immediately, anyone can browse images of parish records as they are completed. Click here to learn how to browse records.

United States – Oklahoma- Vital Records

Ok2Explore is a free searchable index of births and deaths that occurred in the state of Oklahoma. Only limited information is available for births occurring more than 20 years ago and deaths occurring more than 5 years ago.

Visitors to the site may search the index using any combination of the subject’s name, date of event (birth or death,) county of event, and sex of the subject.

Remember this is only an index version of the record, but you can order certified copies for a fee.

Ireland – Petty Sessions

New and updated genealogical collections this week include the Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers at Findmypast.

With over 227,700 new records, the petty sessions handled the bulk of lesser criminal and civil legal proceedings in Ireland. Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers now contains over 22.8 million records and is the largest collection of Irish court & prison records available anywhere online. Each record includes a transcript and a scanned image of the original document. These documents will include details of victims, witnesses and the accused, such as an address, date in court, details of the offence, details of the verdict, and the sentence.

Cases range from merchants who had not paid duty on their goods, to workers suing for unpaid wages. Farmers were sometimes fined for letting their cattle wander or for allowing their cart to be driven without their name painted on the side. Public drunkenness was a common offence, as was assault and general rowdiness. Though these records are not considered typical for finding vital information, they can work as great clues to lead you to the information you need.

United Kingdom – Dorset – Memorial Inscriptions

The Dorset Memorial Inscriptions collection at Findmypast contains over 40,000 new records. The collection contains details of inscriptions found on gravestones, tombs, monuments and even stained glass windows throughout 266 parishes within English county.

Each record includes a transcript. The information contained varies, however, most will include a combination of birth year, death year, burial date and location, relative’s names, memorial type and notes on the inscription.

United Kingdom – Warwickshire – Burials

Also at Findmypast, over 175,000 new records have been added to the Warwickshire Burials. The entire collection now contains more 1 million records and includes monumental inscriptions from Clifton Road Cemetery in Rugby.

Each record includes a transcript of the original burial registry or details from the monumental inscription. While the information listed will vary depending on the records original source, most will include your ancestor’s name, age, birth year, death date, burial year, burial location and the name of the officiating minister. A number of records will also include parent’s names and residence. Inscriptions will include information recorded on the individual’s grave stone and will usually include the name of the individual’s spouse, children and/or parents. Also, some grave sites may have more than one person buried in the same plot.

United Kingdom – Northumberland & Durham – Monumental Inscriptions

Over 16,000 records for the Northumberland & Durham Monumental Inscriptions at Findmypast are now available. These include the full description found on a grave stone or monument which will often include additional family names and dates.

Each record includes a transcript of the original source material. The amount of information may vary due to the age and legibility of individual monuments, but most records will include birth date, burial year, burial place, death date, denomination, inscription, and even the type of stone their monument was made from.

Ireland – Quaker Congregational Records

Also at Findmypast, Ireland, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Congregational Records has been updated with an additional 5,000 congregational records. Congregational records include details of the meetings your ancestor’s attended and the activities they engaged in. This is a nice way to enrich your family story.

These records, dating back to the mid-1600s, include minutes from half-yearly Quaker meetings. Each entry includes an image of the original handwritten record. The information included will vary, but most will include the congregation date, address, meeting, archive and reference.

MyHeritage Year End Review

MyHeritage had some pretty exciting things going on in 2016. In their recent blog post, “A Look Back at 2016,” you will see the list including the MyHeritage mobile app, the introduction of Tribal Quest, the debut of the beautiful Sun Chart, and their recent announcement of MyHeritage DNA, just to name a few. Visit the blog post to see the MyHeritage year-in-review for yourself!

Venezuela – Australia – El Salvador – Philippines – Netherlands – Canada – Spain – Slovenia – U. S. – Italy

FamilySearch.org took a short break over the holidays from updating their collections, but with the start of the new year, they have added and updated over 20 collections from all over the world! Check out these great records:

Venezuela, Diocese of San Cristóbal, Catholic Church Records, 1601-1962 688,577  *09 Jan 2017
Australia, Queensland, Immigration indexes, 1864-1940 64,508  *09 Jan 2017
El Salvador Civil Registration, 1704-1990 832,749  *06 Jan 2017
Philippines, Manila, Civil Registration, 1899-1984 2,847,720  *06 Jan 2017
Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records 1,254,022  *06 Jan 2017
Canada Census, 1901 5,343,565  *06 Jan 2017
Spain, Soldier Personal Service Files, 1835-1940 1,687  *06 Jan 2017
BillionGraves Index 20,128,469  *06 Jan 2017
Slovenia, Ljubljana, Funeral Accounts, 1937-1970 5,664  *06 Jan 2017
Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001 2,608,950  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Rieti, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1840-1945 134,767  *05 Jan 2017
Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 3,311,060  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Enna, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-1944 131,581  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Reggio Calabria, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1784-1943 108,208  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Trapani, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1906-1928 105,264  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Pescara, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1929 385,939  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Cremona, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1744-1942 425,374  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Bergamo, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-1901 629,035  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Caltanissetta, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1820-1935 403,003  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Napoli, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1865 633,646  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Taranto, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1926 272,929  *05 Jan 2017
Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936 90,841  *04 Jan 2017

Free Record Searches at Findmypast

Findmypast is offering a free records search weekend from January 12 – 15th, 2017. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity!

For records in the United Kingdom, click here.

For records in the US, click here.

For records in Ireland, click here.

For records in Australia, click here.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 199

The Genealogy Gems Podcast
Episode 199
with Lisa Louise Cooke

In this episode, Lisa celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary with Claire Banton from Library and Archives Canada. You’ll also hear how Lisa will be marking another anniversary in 2017: the 10th year of this Genealogy Gems podcast.

More episode highlights:

An inspiring follow-up email from Gay, whose YouTube discovery Lisa shared in episode 198, and a great conference tip from Barbara just in time for RootsTech.

Genealogy Gems Book Club Guru Sunny Morton announces the new Book Club title.

Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shares thoughts about DNA testing with kids.

JOIN THE CELEBRATION! 10th ANNIVERSARY AND 200th EPISODE

You’re invited to send in well-wishes and win a chance at a prize!

Email Lisa by January 31, 2017 at genealogygemspodcast @ gmail.com OR call her voicemail line at 925-272-4021.

Share your first name and where you live.

Share a memory of listening to this podcast, such as: When did you start listening? What’s one of your favorite things you’ve learned from this show?

Lisa will randomly select one response to receive a free year of Genealogy Gems Premium membership. Thanks for helping all of us here at Genealogy Gems celebrate 10 years of doing something we love!

 

NEWS: ROOTSTECH 2017

RootsTech will be held on February 8-11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, UT: learn more and register.

Genealogy Gems events at RootsTech

Lisa will be live-streaming FREE sessions the marked session via the free Periscope app. Get it in Apple’s App Store or Google Play. Sign up for a free account and follow Lisa Louise Cooke to tune in. Sign up for notifications in Periscope, and your phone will “ping” whenever Lisa starts streaming! Broadcasts stay in the Periscope app for 24 hours. Like and follow the Genealogy Gems Facebook page to hear about more streaming sessions!

Rootstech Booth #1039 Schedule Free Classes

NEWS: FAMICITY KICK-STARTER

Famicity is a free, private website for families to share pictures, videos, memories, family activities and the family tree. The company has been very successful in France where it was launched, and the founder is working to bring the new English platform to the United States. He’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to support their U.S. launch. Click here to support it.

 

BONUS CONTENT FOR GENEALOGY GEMS APP USERS
If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a tutorial on Feedly, an easy way to consume just the online content you want. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users

Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search WebHints on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. Soon RootsMagic will also be able to search records and even sync your tree with Ancestry.com, too.

 

 

 

 

Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at http://www.backblaze.com/Lisa.

 

MAILBOX: YOUTUBE DISCOVERY FOLLOW-UP

Remember the YouTube success story from Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 198? Gay as a young woman attended a dedication ceremony for the saline water treatment in Freeport, Texas?and with Lisa’s tips she found video footage on YouTube.

 

Gay wrote back to send us more about that, including this page from her diary that day and this news clipping. Check out the news clipping to see why that plant was so important, Pres. John F. Kennedy gave the dedication speech. (See what newspapers can tell you?!)

Find your own family history on YouTube. Click here to learn how or read an entire chapter on YouTube in Lisa Louise Cooke’s book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd revised edition.

Click here to learn how to turn family stories and artifacts like these into videos to share with relatives.

Learn to find articles such as this one that can put your family’s story in context?locally and even nationally. Read How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers by Lisa Louise Cooke.

 

INTERVIEW: CLAIRE BANTON, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA (LAC)

Claire Banton obtained her Masters of Library and Information Studies degree in 2006. She has worked in Reference Services at LAC for 10 years, where she has enjoyed learning something new every day. She is currently Chief, Orientation Services, where she works with an awesome team who help people search for information. She loves being an information detective and helping people overcome their research challenges.

Claire’s tips for genealogy research with LAC:

LAC is very different from the average library. It is both a national library (search the library catalog here) and a a national archive (search the archival catalog here). You don’t have to have an account to search.

Start with the LAC website (genealogy resources page) whether you are visiting in person or not. There are loads of free databases and some unindexed digitized records. The Topics page will tell you what they do and don’t have.

There was no border control from the US to Canada prior to 1908, so there are no Canadian records of earlier crossings. [Tip: see border crossings to the US, 1895-1956 at FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com.]

Call LAC directly for quick answers. Schedule a Skype call with a genealogy expert to get more in depth answers: provide background information ahead of time.

Click here to explore (and join) Canada’s 150th birthday celebration.

 

GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB

The Truth According to Us by internationally best-selling author Annie Barrows (co-author, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and author, Ivy and Bean, children’s book series)

It’s the summer of 1938, and wealthy young socialite Miss Layla Beck is now on the dole as a WPA worker, assigned to write a history of the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia. As she starts asking questions about the town’s past, she is drawn into the secrets of the family she’s staying with?and drawn to a certain handsome member of that family. She and two of those family members take turns narrating the story from different points of view, exploring the theme that historical truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder.

Click here to read an introduction to using WPA records for genealogy.

Click here to see more Genealogy Gems Book Club selections and how you can listen to Lisa’s upcoming exclusive conversation with author Annie Barrows about The Truth According to Us.

 

DNA WITH DIAHAN: DNA TESTING FOR KIDS?!

I was talking with a fellow mom the other day about all the demands that are placed on kids’ time today. They have school and homework, many have after school sports and clubs, religious meetings, some have jobs or at least chores at home, not to mention all the time required to text, check social media, and hang out with friends. As parents and grandparents, we want our children to spend time on things that matter, things that will prepare them for their future lives and mold them into their future selves.

According to a 2010 study out of Emory University, if we want to encourage kids toward an activity that will positively impact them, we should steer them toward family history. The researchers reported that “children who know stories about relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being.”

Now, I know I don’t need to convince you of this. You are already sold on genealogy. But I share this in the hope that it will push you over the edge and this will erase any hesitancy you have about sharing this love with your children and grandchildren.

Now, since you know this is me, the genetic genealogist talking, you can probably guess what I’ll suggest for getting kids interested in family history. DNA testing is a great way to personally and physically involve them. First of all, there is the tangible process of taking the sample at home, and the marvel at how such a simple act can produce the amazing display of our ethnicity results.

Since each of us is unique, it will be fun for them to compare with you and other relatives to see who got what bit of where. This will naturally lead to questions about which ancestor provided that bit of Italian or Irish, and wham! You’ll be right there to tell them about how their 5th great grandfather crossed the ocean with only the clothes on his back, determined to make a new start in a new land.

If there are parts of the ethnicity report that you can’t explain, use that as a hook to encourage them to start digging and to find out why you have that smattering of eastern European or south east Asian. Taking them for a tour of the DNA match page you can show them how they share 50% of their DNA with their sister (whether they like it or not!) and how they share 25% with you, their grandparent!

DNA test results give kids a totally unique look at their personal identity with technology that is cutting edge. Looking at their DNA test results can turn into a math lesson, a science lesson, a geography lesson, a lesson on heredity or biology, a discussion on identity?wherever you want to go with it! DNA is the perfect introduction to the wonders that genealogy can hold, especially for children who are so good at wondering.

Click here to learn more about Diahan’s series of how-to videos, available to Gems fans for a special price. Or start your DNA journey with two guides that will help you get started with kids’ genetic genealogy:

Getting Started: Genetics for the Genealogist

Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist

 

PROFILE AMERICA: ELLIS ISLAND

Click here to watch the official, award-winning documentary shown at Ellis Island?free online at YouTube.

 

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer

Sunny Morton, Editor

Amie Tennant, Content Contributor

Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor

Lacey Cooke, Service Manager

Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer


Check out this new episode!

WWII Newspapers: Searching for Coverage

Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

What did your relatives experience during World War II? Look for answers with these step-by-step instructions for finding WWII newspaper content and tips for searching about the war progress in the 1940s.

We have covered so many gripping and inspiring World War II stories in recent months (such as this one), it makes me want to learn more about what happened to my own family. Newspapers are the first place I look for everyday news happenings. But for the 1940s, newspapers in the U.S. and some other places are still copyright-protected–meaning not so widely available online for free–and of course, millions of local newspaper pages are not digitized online yet.

Try these 3 steps for finding and accessing 1940s newspaper content:

casualties-wwii-example-from-trove1. Understand what WWII newspapers may be available online

The major U.S. site for free digitized newspaper content, Chronicling America, recently started allowing post-1922 news, but it will take a while for copyright-cleared issues to post to the site (read more here.) Various state or local collections may vary; for example, the free Colorado Historical Newspaper Collection does have some WWII-era coverage.

Outside the U.S., Australia’s site Trove (which is free) does have digitized newspapers that include articles, like the 1942 casualty list from The Daily News (Perth), shown here. So do the overlapping British Newspaper Archive site and Findmypast.com’s British newspapers collection.

2. Explore premium and institutional databases for WWII newspapers

Start with digital newspaper content at free sites and subscription sites to which you have access. Then follow up with a trip to your local library, which likely offers additional historical newspaper databases. For example, in the U.S., these may include Access NewspaperARCHIVE, America’s GenealogyBank, America’s Historical Newspapers, America’s News, Newspaper Source, and ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Sometimes, you can access these databases from home with your library card log-in; if not, you’ll have to go to the library. (Genealogy Gems Premium members: check out Premium Podcast episode #125 for more great genealogical resources at public libraries.)

In the U.S.,  even these databases may only have limited coverage, such as titles from major cities for the 1940s. ProQuest Historical Newspapers has the Atlanta Constitution, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Though these may not give you small-town details and perspectives on your own family, you will get a sense of the progress of the war from the perspective of those who were living through it, and how the public was responding.

3. Search for individual WWII newspapers

If you can’t find digitized content you want, widen your net. Search for titles of all active newspapers in your family’s city during the war. In the U.S., do that with the U.S. Newspaper Directory on Chronicling America. The same directory links to thousands of library holdings. WorldCat.org has even more; run a follow-up search here on any titles you don’t see holdings for on Chronicling America. If you’re local to where your family lived or can visit there, you may find copies at the public library. If you’re not local, you may have to try to order microfilmed copies through interlibrary loan. Ask your local Reference Librarian for assistance.

Google Drive and other tipsNext, Google search for individual newspaper titles online. Though no longer actively digitizing and indexing newspapers, Google News Archive can help you locate online content for specific newspapers. Click here to access its alphabetical listing of newspapers. You can also enter keyword-searches in the search box on that webpage for all the newspapers listed there.

As needed, run a follow-up Google search using the newspaper title, city, state, and date range; for the latter, use the format “1941..1945” with two periods between the dates and no spaces. This helps to filter your date range to these specific years.

Learn more about Googling your ancestors in newspapers, websites, books, photographs, and more in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.

What’s next?

How to Find Your Family History in NewspapersMy book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers is your ultimate guide to this topic, with tons of step-by-step instructions, online resources, and finding strategies. And, stay tuned for our up and coming post “Finding Family History in WWII Newspapers: Narrowing the Results” for more instructions on digitally searching WWII newspapers for war-related stories.

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