November 25, 2015

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsEvery week, we post about exciting new genealogy records online. Scan this week’s list for anything you should search (or share with a friend): a colonial North American digital archive; Revolutionary War-era residents of Alabama; U.S. military burials; Freedmen’s Bureau records; California naturalizations and British WWI databases.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN RECORDS. Over 130,000 indexed images were added to the United States Freedmen’s Bureau Hospital and Medical Records 1865-1872 collection, searchable for free on FamilySearch. The index includes “patient registers, registers of sick and wounded, prescription books, and other medical records from freedmen hospitals and dispensaries….Records include letters and endorsements sent and received, account books, applications for rations, applications for relief, court records, labor contracts, registers of bounty claimants, registers of complaints, registers of contracts, registers of disbursements, registers of freedmen issued rations, registers of patients, reports, rosters of officers and employees, special and general orders and circulars received, special orders and circulars issued, records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads.”

ALABAMA REVOLUTIONARY WAR. A new database of indexed images at Ancestry “contains biographies, news clippings, and cards in paragraph form detailing persons who were residents in Alabama during the Revolutionary War in America.”

BRITISH WWI RECORDS. Findmypast has released new databases relating to World War I service: Surrey, Military Tribunals, 1915-1918 (military exemptions for the county of Surrey); and two British Army memorial rolls for employees of Lloyds of London and the London Stock Exchange who died in service.

CALIFORNIA NATURALIZATIONS. A database with indexed images of over a century’s worth of California naturalization records (1887-1991) has been updated at

COLONIAL NORTH AMERICA. A new digital archive has been launched: The Colonial North American Project at Harvard University. Its goal is to post digitized versions of “all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th and 18th century North America.” According to the site, its “documents reveal a great deal about topics such as social life, education, trade, finance, politics, revolution, war, women, Native American life, slavery, science, medicine, and religion. In addition to reflecting the origins of the United States, the digitized materials also document aspects of life and work in Great Britain, France, Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico.” (Click here to read our blog post about the project’s announcement in 2013.)

U.S. MILITARY BURIALS. recently added over 8 million U.S. military veterans’ burial records to the Special Collections that can be accessed by BG+ subscribers. These records include burial and cemetery records from the Veterans Affairs office, as well as military headstones from civilian headstones around the world.

thank you for sharingThanks for sharing these new genealogy records online with friends and fellow genealogists and through your genealogical society social media channels. It’s fun to spread good news!

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsNew genealogy records online this week includes civil registrations for Italy and the Philippines, Irish vital records indexes, Pennsylvania veterans’ files and even 20th-century U.S. merchant marines databases. Which may include your relatives?  

ITALY CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. Digitized (not yet indexed) civil registration records for Forlì-Cesena Forlì (1800-1815, 1866-1930) and Imperia Ventimiglia (1806-1913) are now free to view on FamilySearch. Records for each locale may vary, but in addition to civil registrations may include marriage banns, memorandums and marriage supplemental documents; annotations to death records and other miscellaneous records.

IRELAND VITAL RECORDS. Indexes to birth records (1864-1914), marriage records (1845-1939, but begins 1864 for Roman Catholic marriages) and death records (1864-1964) are now available to search at

PENNSYLVANIA MILITARY. Ancestry has posted a new database of Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 and updated its Pennsylvania, Veteran Compensation Application Files, WWII, 1950-1966 database.

PHILIPPINES CIVIL REGISTRATION. About 1.8 million indexed images of Manila civil registrations (1899-1984) are now free to search on FamilySearch. This represents a partial index (just the births for 1900-1980).

U.S. MERCHANT MARINES. Ancestry recently posted two new 20th-century databases on merchant marines: the WWI-era U.S., Lists of Merchant Seamen Lost in WWI, 1914-1919  and the longer-spanning U.S., Merchant Marine Applications for License of Officers, 1914-1949.

share celebrate balloonsThank you for sharing these new genealogy records online with fellow genies and society members! We appreciate you helping us spread the good news. Didn’t find the records you’ve been pining for? Click here for a Google-based strategy on searching online for genealogy records.


We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online This Week

 Take a look at our review of new genealogy records online this week for Arkansas, Indiana and Montana, along with Scotland deaths at sea and a Revolutionary War index. For which of your ancestors should you search in these?  

We dig these gems

ARKANSAS PROBATE. Ancestry’s collection of Arkansas Wills and Probate (1818-1998) has been updated. The collection now includes images for about 96% of Arkansas counties.

INDIANA RECORDS. A new Ancestry web index to Indiana deaths (1812-2011), hosted by the Marion Public Library, pointed us to more online resources on the library website. These are strongest for Grant County but may extend to other Indiana counties: the Indiana History and Genealogy Database of records in the library’s Indiana Room (marriage, cemetery, obituary, birth, death, funeral home, orphan’s home records and more) and browsable images of The Grant County Medical Society Book.

MONTANA VITAL RECORDS. Nearly a half million births and deaths from the U.S. state of Montana have been added to a free FamilySearch collection. So far, the counties included are Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Powell and Silver Bow.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR SOLDIERS AND SAILORS (U.S.). A browsable group of rosters of Revolutionary War soldiers and sailors (1775-1783) is newly viewable on FamilySearch. State rosters for Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts (partial), New Jersey, Vermont and Virginia are included. These materials appear to be sourced from the Museum of the American Revolution.

SCOTLAND DEATHS AT SEA. A new database, Returns of Deaths at Sea, 1902-1905, is now online at Scotland’s People. This data is now complete for Scotland for 1855-1905. The registers list “Scottish seamen and passengers who were reported to the Registrar General for Scotland as having died. When ships sank there were often fatalities, but most of the deaths in British waters were of fishermen who drowned.”

thank you for sharingThank you for sharing the great news about these new genealogy records online with your friends and genealogy societies! You’re a gem!

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

Millions of marriage and divorce records in the U.S. lead the pack for new genealogy records online this week. Alabama Civil War and post-Civil War records, along with British and U.S. newspapers, round out the list. Take a look! Which of your ancestors may be newly-mentioned online?  

We dig these gems

ALABAMA CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS. A Civil War-era database of soldiers (including those exempted from service, those who served in the militia or home guide and soldiers from other states who have Alabama connections) is now on Ancestry. Data was extracted from the state archives’ card file that was created throughout the 1900s. (Not an Ancestry subscriber? Click here to get started.)

ALABAMA VOTER REGISTRATIONS. Now available on Ancestry is an 1867 Alabama voter registration that was one of the first statewide records to name African-American adult male residents. Some counties’ records are missing and others did not fully include all qualified residents, but this is still a valuable record collection, with name, race, county of residence, precinct, length of residence, loyalty oath reference information and sometimes other remarks.

BRITISH NEWSPAPERS. Over 3.5 million new articles from 22 newspaper titles from England, Scotland and Wales are newly available on Findmypast.

US MARRIAGES AND DIVORCES–ANCESTRY. Ancestry has added new marriage indexes for West Virginia (1931-1970), Maine (1892-1985) and Jackson Co, Missouri (1840-1895), updated its Idaho divorce collection (1947-1964) and added a new collection of Oregon divorce records (1961-1985).

U.S. MARRIAGES–FAMILYSEARCH. FamilySearch has added hundreds of thousands of indexed county marriage records to free collections for Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington. Louisiana’s collection alone contains over a million entries, and Pennsylvania’s dates to the 1600s.

U.S. NEWSPAPERS. Nearly half a million digitized newspaper pages from the Oakland Tribune (1874-1975) are among the newly listed or updated collections at So are nearly 200,000 pages each from The Des Moines Register and DeKalb, Illinois’ The Daily Chronicle.

share celebrate balloonsThank you for sharing these new and updated records collections on your society Facebook pages and with your genealogy-loving friends and relatives. You’re a GEM for helping us spread the good news!

Cite Your Sources on FamilySearch with the Evernote Web Clipper: Evernote for Genealogy

add evernote web clippings to familysearch evernote for genealogyHere’s how can you add family history documents you’ve grabbed with the Evernote web clipper to your tree on FamilySearch!

Recently Zooey wrote in with this question: “I’ve clipped numerous things for my ancestors [with the Evernote web clipper] that I want to put in FamilySearch. How do I do it under Documents?”

Good for Zooey for having her genealogy sources organized in Evernote–and for wanting to cite her sources on her FamilySearch family tree. Here’s how to do it:

FamilySearch Documents support the following file types: .pdf, .jpg, .tif, .bmp, and .png. Since it doesn’t currently have an “import from Evernote” feature, you’ll need to export the web clippings from Evernote and then upload them to FamilySearch.

Earlier this year I wrote an article on our blog entitled “Here’s a Cool Way to Export a Web Clipping from Evernote.” The article will walk you through exporting your Evernote web clippings as pdf files, which FamilySearch Documents can then accept as uploads.

More Evernote for Genealogy Tips on the Genealogy Gems Website:

You can find all our past articles on using Evernote for genealogy (including the one I mentioned) at the home page of our website. On the left, just under the main red menu, you will see a drop down menu called “Select Content by Topic.” Click the down arrow and select “Evernote” from the list. This will display all our past Evernote articles on your screen starting with the most recent. Or get started with these great how-tos:

Evernote for genealogy YouTubeHow to Use Evernote for Genealogy: The Ultimate Education

Evernote for Genealogy: What It Is, and Why You Would Use It (FREE VIDEO!)

How to Use Evernote for Genealogy and Family History: Handwriting, OCR, Video and Upload Answers (FREE VIDEO!)

thank you for sharingThank you for sharing this post with others. We would all love our online trees to be better sourced–and for others’ trees to be better sourced, too.


We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

Every week we blog about new genealogy records online. Which ones might help you find your family history? With whom should you share this good news? New this week: Arizona birth records, Brazil immigration cards, Colorado divorces, Illinois marriages, Kentucky pensions, New Zealand probate records, Scotland valuations and WWII draft registrations.

We dig these gems

ARIZONA BIRTHS. A new database of Arizona birth records at Ancestry covers 1835-1915. “When available, each record contains the full name of the individual, the full names of their parents, birth date, death date, county of birth, as well as an image of the original birth certificate.”

BRAZIL IMMIGRATION CARDS. Nearly a million indexed records and images have been added to a free FamilySearch collection of 20th century immigration cards for São Paulo, Brazil.

COLORADO DIVORCES. A new index to divorce records in Colorado (1851-1985) is available to Ancestry subscribers. “When available, each record contains the full names of both individuals, their date and location of divorce, as well as the certificate number.”

ILLINOIS MARRIAGES. A new index to Illinois marriages (1860-1920) is now searchable at Ancestry. It is still incomplete; records will continue to be added. Look for names of bride and groom, marriage date and place in these records indexed by the state genealogical society in partnership with the state archive.

KENTUCKY PENSIONS. More than 25,000 records have been indexed in a free FamilySearch collection of Confederate pension applications for Kentucky. The records were “filed by surviving former Confederate soldiers or their widows who lived in Kentucky” after the state legislature authorized the pensions, so they are dated relatively late: from 1912-1950.

NEW ZEALAND PROBATE. Nearly three-quarters of a million images have been added to a free FamilySearch collection of probate records from New Zealand. According to the description, “The records were created by various courts throughout New Zealand. Although the index will contain entries up through 1998 when all images have been captured, the images for probates issued during the past 50 years are unavailable for viewing.”

SCOTLAND VALUATION ROLLS. The 1855 valuation rolls for Scotland are now searchable at ScotlandPeople (you’ll have to register/login to search). According to the site, “The rolls contain the category and location or address of the property, the names of the owner, tenant and occupier, and details of the assessed rental value of all properties over the value of £4. Occupants of very humble dwellings may therefore not be included in the rolls.” THESE RECORDS ARE FREE TO SEARCH THROUGH OCTOBER 13 (click here).

U.S. WWII DRAFT REGISTRATIONS. Over a million indexed WWII draft registration cards from 1942 have been added to a free FamilySearch collection. Commonly known as the “old man’s draft,” these records pertain to men ages 45-62 who weren’t already in the military. A comparable collection is already searchable at Ancestry.

share celebrate balloonsThank you for sharing the news about these new genealogy records online with your friends and genealogy buddies. Just copy and paste the URL into an email or share it on your favorite social media platform. You’re a gem!


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

If you have ancestors who lived in the earlier days of Quebec, Catholic church records may prove some of your most consistently helpful resources. 

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Basse-Ville (Lower Town). Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Basse-Ville (Lower Town). Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

Those tracing their ancestors in Quebec can encounter serious frustrations! The same 50 given names appear for 70% of the people before 1800 (and many share the same surnames, too). Almost all passenger lists are missing before 1865. Several early censuses are not easily searchable online.

Thankfully, in Quebec church records are often available back to the 1600s. There are LOTS of them online, and they often contain the distinguishing details–those exact dates, names, relationships and locations–that can help identify an ancestor with greater certainty.

The Catholic church was the dominant religion in Quebec. “Between 1679 and 1993, priests were required to make two copies of all baptisms, marriages, and burials,” explains FamilySearch. “The second copy was sent to civil authorities, and these are found in civil archives. In 1796, churches were required to index their registers.” Records duplication means more chances to find an ancestor. And “while the form and content of the entries vary somewhat, the general quality of the records is excellent.”

Catholic baptisms were performed for newborn babies, often within a day or a few days of birth. It’s often possible to glean the birth date from the baptismal date. This one, for example, states the child was born the day before:

Unnamed image (2)

Baptism of William James Beard, 9 Feb 1856, St. Patrick’s Church parish register, Quebec. Image from “Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979.” Online at FamilySearch; click to view.

As you can see, in this baptismal record, the parents are identified as lawfully married. The father’s military regiment is named. Two witnesses are named, one who signed the register himself and the other who declared herself illiterate. Catholic marriage and death records can also be rich in genealogical data. Though most Quebec church records are in French, this one happened to be in English.

I learned recently about an interactive map of Quebec’s Catholic parishes (and other churches) up to 1912. Click below to check it out:

Quebec catholic parishes

Once you’ve identified the nearest parish, you will more confidently identify your ancestors in databases of church records, or pursue their listings in offline resources. Start looking in databases like these:

I also recommend exploring this excellent website for Quebec genealogy:
Quebec Records: The Genealogical Website of French America

More Canadian Genealogy Gems Right Here on Genealogy Gems

Canadiana: Digital Archive and Portal to the Past

Amazing Family History Find in a Basement: Canadian Navy WWI Memories

Google Earth for Canada and Genealogy



We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

Every week we blog about new genealogy records online. Which ones might help you find your family history? New this week: Delaware land records, French censuses, British directories, Irish newspapers, Spanish municipal records (to the 1300s!), and U.S. passport applications. With whom should you share the great news?

We dig these gems

DELAWARE LAND RECORDS. Ancestry has added a new database of Delaware land records, 1677-1947. According to the database description, “Delaware is a state-land state, meaning that following the Revolutionary War, it continued to grant property within its boundaries, as it had in its Colonial days. This collection includes the recorded transfers of property by grant or by deed. Most Delaware land had been granted by the time of statehood, so in the years following the Revolutionary War, you will find deeds recording the transfer of lands between private parties as they were transcribed into the registers of the county recorder of deeds.”

FRANCE CENSUSES. Find half a million indexed entries and associated images for the Dordogne Census of 1876 and about 30,000 names from the Haute-Garonne Toulouse Censuses (1830-31) in new free collections at Records may include names, age, occupation, nationality, household position and, in the second, address.

GREAT BRITAIN DIRECTORIES. Findmypast has added 122 British almanacs and directories that include “trade directories, county guides, almanacs and general directories. Inside you will find the names of prominent people, tradesmen, people who held office, business owners and local civil servants.”

IRISH NEWSPAPERS. Over 724,000 new, fully searchable newspaper articles have been added to Findmypast. According to the site, new additions span 1836-172 and include a national publication, The Evening Freeman. “Five newspapers have also been added to with supplementary articles. They include substantial updates to Belfast Commerical Chronicle (135,813 new articles), Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser (61,194 new articles) and The Pilot (17,721 new articles).”

SPAIN MUNICIPAL RECORDS. Over 400,000 indexed records and digital images have been added to a free database of Barcelona civil registrations, censuses, military records, and other miscellaneous records (1387-1950) at FamilySearch. Additional browse-only records are also available.

US PASSPORTS. Over a million indexed names have been added to a free image collection of 200 years’ worth of U.S. passport applications (1795-1925) at This dataset is still being indexed; browsable images are available at that link, too. This collection overlaps with content already available (by subscription) at

New Videos Can Help You Find African-American Family History in Freedmen’s Bureau Records

FamilySearch has posted a series of new videos aimed at helping people trace their African-American family history with Freedmen’s Bureau records.

Marriage records created by the Freedmens' Bureau. Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

Marriage records created by the Freedmens’ Bureau. Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

FamilySearch’s YouTube channel has published several new videos to help researchers better understand how to trace African-American ancestors with the Freedmen’s Bureau records. As we explain more fully in this article, the Freedmen’s Bureau was organized after the Civil War to aid newly-freed slaves in 15 states and Washington, DC. For several years it gathered “handwritten, personal information on freed men, women and children, including marriage and family information, military service, banking, school, hospital and property records,” according to FamilySearch.

Freedmen’s Bureau records are finally being fully indexed and posted online for free at FamilySearch and at (Read the article we refer to above to see how you can help.) Now it’s time to teach everyone how to USE these records and to begin to share success stories. That’s the purpose behind these videos:

Telling a Story with the Freedmen’s Bureau with the Reverend Dr. Cecil L. Murray:

Research the Records of African-American Ancestors with the Freedmen’s Bureau with Kimberly Freeman:

Uncover Information about your African American Heritage wih the Freedmen’s Bureau with Judy Matthews:

Discover Stories from Your Ancestry with Insights from the Freedmen’s Bureau Project with John Huffman:

Use Freedmen’s Bureau Records to Demystify Your Family History with George O. Davis

Enrich Your Family History with Information from the Freedmen’s Bureau with Ambassador Diane Watson

Additional Resources

Free Database on Civil War Soldiers and Sailors  (African-American sailors)

Missing Birth Record? Here’s How to Track It Down (Special tip for African-American births)

DNA Helps Scientists Identify Homeland of Caribbean Slaves

New! Map for Freedmen’s Bureau Resources

thank you for sharingWho do you know that will want to learn more about the Freedmen’s Bureau and African-American family history resources? Thank you for sharing this article with them.

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

Every week we blog about new genealogy records online. Which ones might help you find your family history? New this week: more Italian civil registrations, Ohio and Pennsylvania marriage records, thousands of New York genealogical resources, Illinois state censuses and school records for England, Wales, Ireland and Australia.

We dig these gems

SCHOOL RECORDS. Nearly 2.9 million School Admission Register records from England and Wales, Ireland and NSW, Australia are now searchable on Findmypast. Record content varies, but according to Findmypast, “These fascinating new records can allow you a glimpse into your ancestors’ early life, pinpoint the area they grew up in, reveal if they had a perfect attendance or occasionally played truant and can even determine whether they worked in a school as an adult.”

ILLINOIS STATE CENSUSES. Ancestry has updated its collection of Illinois state censuses, which now include 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855 and 1865, along with 1865 agricultural schedules for several counties and nonpopulation schedules of the federal censuses for 1850-1880. (Learn more about U.S. state censuses here.)

ITALY CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. FamilySearch continues to upload Italy’s civil registration records. This week, they added browse-only records (not yet indexed) for Potenza, Rieti and Trapani.

NEW YORK GENEALOGY MATERIAL. Thousands of pages of materials from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society are now searchable on Findmypast. Among these are all back issues of the NYG&B Record, the second-oldest genealogical journal in the U.S. (in print since 1870). Findmypast’s Joshua Taylor calls it “the single most important scholarly resource that exists for people researching New York families.” Other collections include unique census fragments, vital records abstracts, baptismal registers and old diaries. Click here to see and search the full list.

OHIO MARRIAGES. More than a quarter million indexed records and thousands of images have been added to FamilySearch’s collection of Ohio marriage records for 1789-2013.

PENNSYLVANIA MARRIAGES. Over a million digitized images of Pennsylvania civil marriage records (1677-1950) are now free to browse at FamilySearch. The collection description says it’s an “index and images of various city and county marriage records, many from Philadelphia.”

www.geneaogygems.comDid you find anything worth sharing here? Please do! We love getting the word out about new genealogy records online.