November 24, 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.


Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 129

GG Premium 129Get inspired in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 129! You’ll hear about church records and YouTube for genealogy, locating hard-to-find records and–even better–locating ancestors’ parents.

How many ways can you think of to find family history? Lisa Louise Cooke can think of a lot–and she packs as many of them as possible into the newly-published Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #129.

In this members-only podcast, Lisa starts off with a rundown of some great new genealogy records online. I particularly enjoyed the back story she shares on the 1939 Register recently released by Findmypast for England and Wales.

Then Lisa tackles a tough two-part question that a listener sent in. We follow along with this listener’s progress in trying to track down an elusive record type. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t pan out. (Sound familiar?) So then it’s back to the drawing board with some follow-up Genealogy Gems advice and great feedback from yet another listener! I love how this show segment shows the inside process of multi-step research problems.

Family History and Genealogy on YouTubeA segment on YouTube for family history follows. Lisa is so great at figuring out how to use everyday technologies and online resources for family history, and YouTube is no exception. I admit I was a bit skeptical the first time I read about searching YouTube for ancestors in Lisa’s book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, but I have since found some amazing things on YouTube. Don’t miss these tips!

sabrina Riley Genealogy Gems Podcast Church RecordsTwo guests join the show today. First is an exclusive Gems interview with Sabrina Riley, a Library Director at Union College. Sabrina oversees an archive of Seventh-Day Adventist church records and gives us great tips on using these (and other denominational records) for genealogy.

Then Diahan Southard chimes in with an insightful DNA commentary on when our DNA circles don’t necessarily result in family connections.

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastWhat a great lineup! If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium website member, sign in and then click here and start listening. If you’re not, click here to learn more about the benefits of Genealogy Gems Premium membership. Listening to this exclusive podcast episode is just ONE of MANY benefits you’ll receive for an entire year!

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems  Our review of new genealogy records online this week includes the 1939 Register for England and Wales; church records for Illinois and Kyiv, Ukraine; New York naturalizations and Mexican vital and church records. Which of these may name your family members?  

ENGLAND AND WALES POPULATION REGISTER. The 1939 Register is now online at Findmypast, as we blogged about earlier this week. Click here to learn more about this crucial record set for those researching English and Welsh families.

FLASH SALE! Receive a 10% discount off 300 credits on Findmypast now through Friday 13thNovember 2015 at 11.59pm GMT using the code 1939REG10. Click the graphic below to have the discount automatically set up for you.

(When you use our links and graphics you are helping to support the free Genealogy Gems Podcast – thank you!!)


ILLINOIS CHURCH RECORDS. Ancestry has updated its collection of United Methodist Church records for 87 counties in central and southern Illinois. The collection now spans 1824-2009, bridging record gaps like the lack of government vital records in the past and privacy restrictions for more recent records. Click here to search for baptisms, marriages, deaths, family migrations and more. These records are for congregations that are no longer in existence.

MEXICO. For October, Ancestry announced the addition of “more than 250 million Mexican birth, marriage, death, and church records—plus U.S. census, border crossing, and naturalization records.” click here to search Mexican records on Ancestry–through Monday, October 9, access to these collections is free.

NEW YORK NATURALIZATIONS. Ancestry’s collection of naturalization records for New York (1882-1944) have been updated. click here to search for immigrant ancestors who may have naturalized in New York, which welcomed millions of immigrants who may have done this paperwork during that time.

UKRAINE CHURCH RECORDS. You can new browse a new collection of Orthodox church records for the Diocese of Kyiv, Ukraine (1734-1920) on FamilySearch. These include duplicate records of baptisms/births, marriages, and burials/deaths created by church officials for civil authorities. Click here to view these records for free (sign-in may be required).

Please help spread the great news! Thank you for sharing these new genealogy records online with your genealogy societies, fellow researchers and family.

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NEW!! Access the 1939 Register Online at Findmypast

1939 RegisterThe 1939 Register–the most comprehensive population survey EVER of England and Wales known–is finally searchable online!

Today FindMyPast, in association with the U.K.’s National Archive, has launched a digitized, searchable version of the 1939 Register. This major record set fills a major gap at a pivotal time in history.

“Anyone can now discover their family, their home and their community on the eve of WWII,” states a FindMyPast release. “Until now, the most recent information available was the 1911 census. Owing to the 100 year rule, the 1921 census will not be released until 2022, while the 1931 census was destroyed in the war and the 1941 census was never taken. The 1939 Register therefore bridges an important 30-year gap in history.”

“In September 1939, WWII had just broken out,” explains Findmypast. “65,000 enumerators were employed to visit every house in England and Wales to take stock of the civil population. The information that they recorded was used to issue Identity Cards, plan mass evacuations, establish rationing and co-ordinate other war-time provisions….

“Each record includes the names of inhabitants at each address, their date of birth, marital status and occupation….Comprising 1.2 million pages in 7,000 volumes and documenting the lives of 41 million people, the 1939 Register opens a window to a world on the brink of cataclysmic change.” Some of the records even include changes made clear up to 1991.

Additionally, Findmypast has added unique period photographs, infographics, regional newspaper articles and maps “personally tailored to each record.” They are promoting a “rich and unique user experience unrivaled by any other family history research tool to date.”

What about privacy concerns? This is a relatively recent record set: more recent than national censuses that DO have privacy restrictions on them. About 28 million records have been cleared of privacy restrictions. The remainder will remain temporary closed, “either because the individual recorded is still living and less than 100 years old or proof of death has not been verified….The Register will be updated weekly….Records will also be opened as people reach the age of 100 years+1 day.”

Interestingly, it appears individuals may have the ability to show proof of death to have records released: “Findmypast, working with The National Archives, will have an ongoing process to identify records which can be opened on proof of death provided either by matching against robust data sets or supplied by users.”

The Register is free to search on Findmypast. Charges apply to view the records, with discounts for subscribers and pay-per-view packages starting at £6.95.

More Research Gems for English Genealogy

bombing of London the blitz 4WWII Documents at the National Archive (U.K.)

The Bombing of London: Check Out this Interactive Map of the Blitz

Findmypast Library Edition: Request it at Your Public Library!


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!

Search Canadian Passenger Lists for FREE at Library Archives Canada

Canadian passenger listsLibrary and Archives Canada, the Canadian national archive, holds original passenger arrival records. You can search a massive index to them on their website–for free.

There’s good news and bad news for those searching for Canadian passenger arrival lists. Bad news: You won’t find a lot before 1865 because those lists didn’t generally survive. Good news: You WILL find a lot AFTER 1865–and you’ll find it easily online.

“The passenger lists are the sole surviving official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada,” says a Library Archives Canada webpage. “The passenger list is a list of immigrants arriving at an official port of entry on a particular ship on a given date. Generally speaking, each manifest gives the name of the ship, its port(s) and date(s) of departure [and arrival in Canada, and] the name, age, sex, profession or occupation, nationality and destination of each passenger aboard.”

The earlier lists aren’t always so detailed. But in some cases, other lists have information about travelers’ health, religion, previous travels to Canada, family members and how much they carried in their wallets.

Start your search in Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 at the Library and Archives Canada website (it’s free!). The city of Quebec, the major arrival port for many years, is covered for nearly that entire time span. If you find it easier to search for these records in genealogy websites (so you can attach them to individuals in your tree), or if you’re specifically looking for passengers whose final destination was the U.S., check out these databases:

More Great Canada Genealogy Resources from Genealogy Gems:

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.

Here’s Why Quebec Church Records are a Great Place to Look for Ancestors (Image right)

Canadiana: Canadian Digital Archive and Portal to the Past

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? With whom should you share this good news? New this week: electoral registers for England, Wales and Ireland; British Columbia marriages and deaths; WWI-era absent voter lists for England; Dutch Christian Reformed Church records (US); Iowa prison records and over 46 million Swedish household records!

We dig these gems

ENGLAND, WALES AND IRELAND ELECTORAL REGISTERS. A century’s worth of electoral registers for England and Wales (1832-1932) are now searchable for Findmypast subscribers, as are Irish registers for 1885-1886. According to a press release, the England and Wales database is the “largest single collection released on Findmypast to date with over 5.4 million images and approximately 220 million names.” These annual registers fill the gaps between censuses and can help you “discover where your family lived, when they could vote and details of the property your family owned in the 19th & 20th centuries.”

BRITAIN ABSENT VOTERS. The new Britain, Absent Voters Lists 1918-1921 at Findmypast “contains over 20,000 pages listing over 100,000 names of service men, women serving with the auxiliary forces, merchant seamen, diplomats and others…absent from their homes.” Because of the timing of the lists, they include “men who were killed, missing or taken prisoner in the period of time between the compiling of lists and the publication of the register. Records can reveal your ancestors name, a description of their service and their qualifying premises, allowing you to uncover details of the home they left behind and the part they played in one of history’s bloodiest conflicts.”

BRITISH COLUMBIA VITAL RECORDS. FamilySearch has updated its free collections of marriage and death records for British Columbia. Over 300,000 additional deaths are reported for 1872-1932 and 1937. Over 18,000 marriages have been added for the years 1859-1932 and 1937.

DUTCH CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH RECORDS. Vital and membership records ((1856-1970) of the Dutch Christian Reformed Church are now searchable on Ancestry. This church split from the historic Dutch Reformed Church in 1858 in Michigan. Vital records include baptisms, marriages and deaths, and often include dates, places and the names and relationships of family members. Membership records include registers of entire families; information about transfers (moves) to different congregations, addresses, birth and baptismal dates.

IOWA CONVICTS. Convict registers from three Iowa state penitentiaries (1867-1970) are now on Ancestry: the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison, established in 1839; the Anamosa State Penitentiary in Anamosa; and the Iowa State Reformatory for Women in Rockwell City.

SWEDISH HOUSEHOLD RECORDS. Over 46 million household records dating 1880-1920 are now searchable at MyHeritage. According to the collection description, “The Household Examination Books are the primary source for researching the lives of individuals and families throughout the Parishes of Sweden, from the late 1600’s until modern times. The books were created and kept by the Swedish Lutheran Church which was tasked with keeping the official records of the Swedish population until 1991.”

share celebrate balloonsThank you for sharing this list of great new resources with your genealogy buddies and for posting them on your society pages. Let’s spread the news!


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!