US Church Records for Genealogy and More Now Online

Using US church records for genealogy can help you solve brick walls in your family history research. Now online: Swedish-American, Presbyterian, Catholic and Methodist! Also: Connecticut newspapers, NY passenger lists, and vital records from Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey  and Tennessee.

Featured: Swedish American church records

New on Genealogy Giant Ancestry.com is a collection you’ll want to search if you have Swedish roots: U.S., Evangelical Covenant Church, Swedish American Church Records, 1868-1970. According to the site, “The records in this collection consist of administrative records from select affiliates of the Evangelical Covenant Church in America. Indexes have been provided for baptisms, marriages, burials, and membership records (arrivals, dismissals, and member lists), as well as congregational histories and biographical files of church leaders.”

“The member lists in particular have a wealth of information, including vital dates and emigration information. Some member lists may include the location in Sweden an individual or family was originally from. Records are written in either English or Swedish.” Although Swedish immigrants most famously settled the farmlands of the Midwest, this collection includes records from all over the country. States include CA, CO, CT, FL, ID, IL, IA, KS, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NJ, NH, NY, PA, RI, SD, TX, VT, WA, WI and WY. A smaller, related collection is also new at Ancestry.com is U.S., Evangelical Free Church of America, Swedish American Church Records, 1800-1946.

Ancestry.com has also been adding to another U.S. church record collection on the site: U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970. “This collection currently includes baptism, marriage, death, burial, and other records from Presbyterian churches” in 48 states and Washington, D.C., states the collection description. “Records from additional churches will be added in future updates to this collection.” This collection now contains more than 4.5 million records and is sourced from original church registers at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More US church records, vital records and more…by state

Connecticut. The Genealogy Giant MyHeritage.com has published a new collection with more than 2.3 million records: Connecticut Newspapers, 1791-2009. Among titles included in this list are The Catholic Press, Meriden Record, Meridan (Daily) Journal, Record-Journal, The Norwalk Hour, Meriden Daily/Weekly Republican, Hartford Weekly Times, The Ridgefield Press, The Wilton Bulletin, The Journal, Bridgeport Morning News, Bridgeport Herald, The Redding Pilot, The Evening Hour, The Bristol Herald and The Branford Opinion.

Massachusetts. The New England Historic Genealogical Society continues to update its collections of Massachusetts: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records, 1789-1900 on subscription site AmericanAncestors.org. Recent additions (with thousands of names) include the parishes of St. Bernard (Newton), St. Ann (Dorchester), St. Anthony of Padua (Allston) St. Jean Baptiste (Lowell), St. Augustine (South Boston) and Immaculate Conception (Marlborough).

For your information, Ancestry.com hosts a related database that has also recently been updated: Massachusetts, Boston Archdiocese Roman Catholic Sacramental Records, 1789-1900.

Michigan. Ancestry.com has updated Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950, now with over 8.3 million records! According to the site, “this collection contains death registers (1867-1897) as well as certificates (1897-1941)…. Due to privacy laws, images are only available for records that are more than 75 years old.”

Montana. Ancestry.com has updated Montana, County Marriage Records, 1865-1993, with “county marriage records from various counties in Montana. Details vary, but may include the following information for both the bride and groom: name, age at marriage, marriage date, marriage place [and] parents’ names.

New Hampshire. Now on Findmypast.com is a browse-only collection, New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records 1636-1947, with more than 400,000 vital and town records acquired from the offices of local town clerks in New Hampshire. According to the site, “The collection includes records of births, marriages, and deaths; vital registers; indexes; minutes of meetings; and records of other civic activities.” (This collection comes from FamilySearch; you can search their free index and images here.)

Also for New Hampshire: Ancestry.com has updated its collection, New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947.

New Jersey. After a recent update, Ancestry.com now boasts nearly three quarters of a million records in its collection New Jersey, United Methodist Church Records, 1800-1970. These are sourced from the Greater New Jersey United Methodist Church Commission on Archives and History in Madison, New Jersey, and includes baptism, marriage, burial, and membership records from mostly-closed churches within that region.

Also for New Jersey: the nonprofit activist group Reclaim the Records has published New Jersey Marriage Index, 1901-2016 and New Jersey Birth, Marriage, and Death Indices, 1901-1903 and 1901-1914 on the Internet Archive, making them “totally digital, and totally free—forever.” Subscribers of Genealogy Giant Findmypast.com may find it more convenient to search part of these records on Findmypast in New Jersey Death Index 1901-1903 and New Jersey Marriage Index 1901-1914.

New York. The collection New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 has recently been updated at Ancestry.com, now with nearly 9.5 million records. The collection description includes this explanation: “Contained in this database are passenger arrival and departure lists, and crew arrival and departure lists for vessels that were filed at various ports in New York. The captain or master of each vessel was required to submit these lists to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) upon arrival if they had departed from a Canadian or other foreign port, or whose last scheduled U.S. port of arrival was in New York.”

Tennessee. Ancestry.com has updated its collection Tennessee, Death Records, 1908-1958, so that it now boasts nearly 3.9 records. According to the collection description, “This collection contains information regarding: name of the deceased, age at time of death, death place, death date, gender, birth date, birthplace, parents’ names [and] parents’ birthplace. Additional information, such as occupation, cause of death, and date and place of burial, may be available on the original record and can be obtained by viewing the image. The name of the informant providing this information is also given, and may be useful in evaluating the reliability of the data.” A related Tennessee collection at Ancestry.com has also been updated recently: Tennessee, City Death Records, 1872-1923.

Find your Swedish ancestors

Are you intrigued by those new Swedish American church records but you’re not sure how to find your Swedish ancestors in them–or what the records say if you DO find their names? Beginning Swedish genealogy can be daunting. But don’t let language barriers or unfamiliar naming traditions deter you! Check out these getting-started tips for Swedish research from an expert at Legacy Tree Genealogists.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

French Genealogy Records and More—Now Free Online!

Nearly 2.5 million French genealogy records are among the free collections now available online at FamilySearch.org. Also: German church records, Dutch civil registrations and 3 free digital archives for researching U.S. ancestors in CT, GA and NJ.

Free French genealogy records

France, Brittany, Church and Civil Records, 1521-1896 is a new collection of more than 2.4 million birth, marriage, and death records from Ille-et-Vilaine and Côtes-d’Armor. It’s now free to search on the Genealogy Giant FamilySearch.org. In addition to knowing the name of the person you’re searching for, the site also recommends you have a good idea of at least one additional piece of information about them, such as a birthplace, birth date or parents’ names, so you can more confidently distinguish your relatives from others with similar names.

Click here for links to resources on reading French-language records—and keep reading for a link to learn more about getting and using your free guest account at FamilySearch.org.

Chile civil registrations

Nearly 360,000 indexed names have been added to Chile, Civil Registration, 1885-1932, a collection of indexed and imaged birth, marriage, death and other records created by civil registration offices in Chile. Some of the 1.6 million record images have been indexed, so you can search for ancestors by name. More names are being added on an ongoing basis, so keep checking back—or browse the records yourself if you know the approximate time and place to find your family’s names in them.

German church records

Another new (and free, as always on FamilySearch.org) collection is 250 years’ worth of German Catholic birth, marriage and death records: Germany, Rhineland, Diocese of Trier, Catholic Church Records, 1704-1957. Important note: the collection description states that “These images are available to view at Family History Centers…If possible, visit your nearest Family History Center to view the images.” Click here to find a Family History Center near you—and contact them to confirm their hours and access to the records you want.

Netherlands civil registration

More than 200,000 free records have been added to an existing FamilySearch collection of over 6 million records, Netherlands, Noord-Holland, Civil Registration, 1811-1950. In addition to births, marriages, and deaths, you’ll also find 10-year indexes, marriage intentions, marriage proclamations, and marriage supplements! According to the collection description, that date range isn’t comprehensive: “The collection covers the years 1811 to 1950, but the exact years vary within each municipality and record type.”

3 free digital archives for researching U.S. ancestors

Connecticut. Connecticut State Library Announces 25 Historic Newspaper Titles to be Digitized. “The Connecticut State Library is pleased to announce that with a third grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 25 newspaper titles have been selected to be digitized for the Connecticut Digital Newspaper Project (CDNP), and made freely available online. “

Georgia. The Digital Library of Georgia has announced new digital collections from Spelman College and Morehouse College. Among the digitized resources for these historically black colleges are the Spelman Messenger (1885-2016), “featuring school news, articles by students, creative writings, book reviews, alumni notes and obituaries;” Spelman Catalogs and Bulletins since 1881, Spelman yearbooks (1951-2007) and Morehouse College yearbooks back to 1923. College yearbooks, newspapers and even the annual administrative documents about the degree programs, faculty and campus life, and tuition can give a unique insight into your college-attending forebears.

New Jersey. The Newark Public Library has announced the new Newark Public Library Digital Archive with “over 50 collections and 23,000 items related to African American, Latino, and Newark history.” Documents include genealogically-rich sources such as photographs, city directories, newspapers, and maps. According to the announcement, “Highlights include thousands of photos of Newark Public Schools, the Samuel Berg collection of Newark Street photos, Newark maps and atlases, Newark area newspapers (including the Newark Herald, City News, and La Tribuna!) & so much more!”

Access French genealogy records and others on FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch is the Genealogy Giant that’s always free to use—so everyone should! Our best tip is to create a free guest login on the site so you can maximize your access to all its resources. Click here to read more about how to use that guest login on FamilySearch.org–and more about what kinds of resources you’ll find at your fingertips there. And did we mention that it’s FREE?

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

Denmark Church Records and More Now Online

New online! Denmark church records, Yorkshire parish records, English and Irish estate records, French church and civil registration records, German vital records, Irish townland indexes, and U.S. collections for Georgia, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. They’re all new at the Genealogy Giants: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.

Featured: Denmark church records

Genealogy Giant MyHeritage.com has published an exclusive new collection, Denmark Church Records, 1813-1919. According to the site, these are “records of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, burials, and other records kept by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. Church records are extremely important for Danish research as vital events of virtually every individual who lived in Denmark during the time period covered by this collection were recorded in these parish registers or church books (kirkebøger).”

The records include the typical birth or baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths and burials but also may include the following, as described on the site:

  • “Vaccinations (Vaccinerede) – The vaccination mandate began in 1810 required everyone to receive the smallpox vaccine, unless the person at already had the pox. Vaccinations typically occurred when children were quite young. These records usually list the name of the person receiving the vaccine, date of vaccination, their father’s name, and their age or birth date. A person’s vaccination date could also be recorded in their confirmation record, and if they ever moved, could be noted in their moving in or moving out record.
  • Moving In (Tilgangsliste) and Moving Out (Afgangsliste) Records – Began in 1812 and list individuals moving in or moving out of a parish. These records may contain name, age or birth date, occupation, residence, vaccination date, moving date, and where moving to/from.”

England parish records

Subscription giant Ancestry.com has published a new collection of indexed images, Yorkshire, England: Church of England Parish Records, 1538-1873. According to its description, “Parish records–primarily baptisms, marriages, and burials–provide the best sources of vital record information in the centuries before civil registration. Baptismal records generally list the date of the baptism, the name of the child being baptized, and the name of the father. Marriage records generally include the date of the marriage and the names of the bride and groom. Burial records generally list the date of the burial and the name of the deceased individual. Occasionally burial records will include other bits of information, such as where the individual was from or if he/she was a widow. Records from various parishes throughout Yorkshire will continually be added to this database for the next couple of months.”

UK subscription site Findmypast.com has published Prerogative Court Of Canterbury Administrations 1660-1700. Subscribers may “search over 88,000 transcripts and images of Index slips and related documentation created from original Prerogative Court of Canterbury administrations held by The National Archives at Kew. This collection includes a high volume of mariners; approximately a third of these records refer to a mariner. Each record will reveal the date of your ancestor’s will, the value of their will, the archive reference number and any additional notes.”

England and Wales electoral registers

Findmypast.com has released an exclusive new collection, England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1920. According to the site, “Electoral Registers are lists created annually of people who are eligible to vote and include their reason for eligibility, such as their residence or ownership of a property. These records from 1920 will include the men and women who first gained the right to vote in 1918….These newly indexed records can be searched by name, year, constituency, polling district and keyword.”

France church and civil records

Nearly 8 million records comprise a new, free collection at FamilySearch.org: France, Dordogne, Church and Civil Registration, 1540-1896. Among the documents included are baptism, birth, marriage and death records. According to the site, these can be an incredibly rich resource for identifying your French ancestors:

  • Birth records often include the child’s name, gender, birthdate, birthplace, parents’ names (including mother’s maiden) and marital status, father’s age, father’s occupation and residence and the names of witnesses or godparents, along with their ages, occupations, and residences.
  • Marriage registers may include the names, ages, birthplaces, occupations and residences of the bride and groom; marriage date and place; marriage certificate and banns date; names of the bride’s and groom’s parents (including mother’s maiden); and the witnesses’ names, occupations, and ages.
  • Death records may include the deceased’s name, age at death, cause of death, gender, marital status, death and burial date and place, birth date and place, name of spouse, and father’s name and occupation.

For help reading these French-language records, click here.

Germany vital records

Ancestry.com has recently published or updated several new collections of German vital records:

Ireland wills and townland indexes

Ancestry.com has published a new collection spanning nearly 300 years: Ireland, Index to the Prerogative Wills, 1536-1810. The source of this collection is a previously-published volume by the same name (ed. Sir Arthur Vicars; originally published in 1897, Dublin, Ireland; Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989). The collection description explains the historical process of proving wills in Ireland. This particular collection relates to a specific type of estate: “The Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Armagh, latterly established at Henrietta Street, in Dublin, proved the wills of testators dying with assets of value greater than £5 (“bona notabilia”) in at least two Irish dioceses. This court was also abolished by the Court of Probate Act 1857.”

Findmypast.com also has new Irish records: Ireland, Alphabetical Indexes To The Townlands and Parishes 1851-1911. Browse “2,900 records taken from indexes of townlands and parishes in Ireland spanning the years 1851 to 1911. In addition to townlands and parishes, discover details of baronies and electoral divisions in Ireland for a given year.”

U.S. genealogy record collections by state

Georgia. A new, free collection, Georgia, Houston County, Marriage Records, 1832-2015 is available at FamilySearch.org. According to the site, “Marriage records usually include: the name of the groom, the maiden name of the bride, the names of the officiator and witnesses, the marriage date [and] the marriage place.” The collection link above goes just to the index, but you can also click here to see a full list of the various digitized volumes in this collection in the FamilySearch Catalog (with links to the digital images).

The site also offers an important tip: “Many marriages recorded in the South are separated by race in volumes, books, or registers. Be sure to check to determine if you have the right set of marriage records.” For example, there is a volume dedicated to “Marriage certificates (colored), 1891-1951,” which you’ll find in the above-named list of volumes in the FamilySearch Catalog.

United States genealogy records by state

New York. Subscription-access giant MyHeritage.com has added over 6 million records to its collection of New York City Marriage License Index 1908-1972, bringing the index to nearly 10 million names. According to the site, This collection is an index to marriage licenses filed at the New York City Clerk Offices from the five boroughs from 1908 to 1972. The index contains the given names and surnames of both the bride and the groom, the date of the license application, and the license number. Images provided by Reclaim the Records.”

Ohio. FamilySearch has added over 150,000 free indexed records to Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977. The collection includes images of naturalization records from county courthouses in Ohio and a growing number of indexed names. According to the site, “The record content and available years vary by county, though most content falls between 1818 and 1954.” You can either search indexed names on the collection page or scroll down and select the option to browse through over a million images that may not have been indexed yet. (These images are grouped by county, then by record type, year range and volume, making it relatively easy to find the records you want. Click here for a tutorial on browsing records on FamilySearch.org.)

Pennsylvania. Over 200,000 records have been added to the free FamilySearch.org collection, Pennsylvania, Eastern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1795-1931Again, this images-and-indexed names collection is not yet completely indexed, and you may search it by browsing. Petitions are arranged by year and petition number.

Millions of records on the Genealogy Giants

Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, MyHeritage.com, and FamilySearch.org publish millions of new historical records online every month. Keep up with the new collections of these Genealogy Giants with me here at Genealogy Gems. Bring focus to your research: click here to learn what sets apart each of the Genealogy Giants, and learn strategies for getting the most out of them.  

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

Passport Applications for Genealogy: A Birth Mom’s Life

Using passport applications in genealogy can lead to family history discoveries! See how this intrepid researcher tracked down passport applications that weren’t online. And then see what he learned about the life of a birth mother after she gave up her child in the 1920s.

A longtime Genealogy Gems Podcast listener named Tom wrote in a while back, asking about finding U.S. passport applications for the 1930s. He was trying to learn more about the life of his wife’s biological grandmother. What happened after she surrendered her child? Tom could tell from other sources that she traveled the world. But big databases of passport applications online only go through 1925. He wanted to find any passport applications she filed in later years.

We directed him to the US State Department webpage for ordering copies of passport records issued after 1925, for which you need to do a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Tom recently reported back to us with the full story….

Using passport applications for genealogy: Finally—success!

“Finally got copies of the passport application request I made to the Department of State in April of 2016. Took all this time plus a nudge from my Congressional office to make it happen!

My wife’s mother, Bonnie Jean Head, was adopted into the Frank Mathews family in 1927 when Bonnie was about 19 months old. We have the court adoption papers from the White Pine County Superior Court issued in 1927. The court documents included an affidavit signed by Kathleen Head affirming she was the biological mother and that she relinquishes any and all parental rights to Bonnie Jean. And that the father was unknown.

Doing an Ancestry.com search on Kathleen Head resulted in many documents including ship manifests that seem to show Kathleen (who never married) and her roommate (who never married) were crew members on a number of ocean liners in the early 1930s. They also traveled together to South America and we found their passport photos [from before the 1930s] on Ancestry.com.

I sent a FOIA request to the Dept of State for copies of their original passport applications according to the State Department’s on-line instructions (I had their passport numbers from [earlier applications]). That was in April 2016. Hearing nothing by September-ish 2016, I stopped into my Congressional Representative’s local office and asked them if they may have a better contact source than was posted on the website. They, in turn, sent an official Congressional inquiry to the State Department, which resulted in a contact from them and a note saying they had boxes of applications to search, which might take up to six weeks.

Twelve months later, October 2017, I got the copies of Kathleen Head’s passport applications. The records were very informative and included physical, mental and family information as well as a current photo. She was a single, white woman about 41 years old traveling from Yokohama, Japan to the US on a Japanese-flagged ocean liner in 1935. (Brave or very lucky woman at that time just before Japan’s invasion of China and start of WWII.) She died at age 83 in Long Beach, CA. She and her roommate of forty plus years were school teachers in the Long Beach area.”

I admire Tom’s tenacity! It’s a good reminder that a lack of response doesn’t necessarily mean “no”, and it also doesn’t mean there isn’t another avenue that can be taken. It’s brilliant that he turned to his Congressional office for help. It’s a strategy the rest of us can keep in mind when making difficult Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. (Click here to learn more about the FOIA.)

Click through the images below to take a closer look at the copy of Kathleen’s passport applications and renewal from the State Department, which Tom kindly sent in. These documents are bursting with valuable genealogical information. They even include an affidavit attesting to Kathleen’s birth information, signed by a cousin, who provided her own name and address. The passport applications themselves, along with the other documents themselves, sketch a story of her lifelong companionship and work that took her around the world during the years before World War II. Many thanks to Tom for allowing us to share your story.

Learn even more about passport applications for genealogy

Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning members can learn even more about U.S. passport applications in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #124. Phil Goldfarb, author of A Page of History: Passport Applicationsshares the history of passports, why you should look for renewal applications periodically and strategies for using them. (Guess what? Premium eLearning membership recently got even better! Click here to learn more.)

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, an international keynote speaker, and producer of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Find US Ancestors In These New Online Resources

See if you can find U.S. ancestors using these new online resources (many of them free!): U.S. Supreme Court cases; an African American research guide; newspapers serving Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina and Texas; orphan train riders and Rhode Island burials since 1647. Also, your help is requested to help build an important database of African American soldiers in the Civil War.

Featured collection: U.S. Supreme Court cases

“More than 225 years of Supreme Court decisions acquired by the Library of Congress are now publicly available online – free to access in a page image format for the first time,” reported a recent Library of Congress press release. “The Library has made available more than 35,000 cases that were published in the printed bound editions of United States Reports (U.S. Reports).”

This collection is comprised of “official reports of decisions for the United States Supreme Court dating to the court’s first decision in 1791 and to earlier courts that preceded the Supreme Court in the colonial era,” or in other words, cases originally published in bound volumes 1-542. “This collection of Supreme Court cases is fully searchable. Filters allow users to narrow their searches by date, name of the justice authoring the opinion, subject and by the main legal concepts at issue in each case. PDF versions of individual cases can be viewed and downloaded.” We noticed this in a tweet from The Legal Genealogist Judy Russell, who makes a case for the genealogical value of Supreme Court cases in this article on her blog.

Find US ancestors in more new online resources

A new African American research guide

The Maryland State Archives has published a new guide, Researching African American Families at the Maryland State Archives. (Clicking on the link will take you directly to a PDF version of the guide). The introduction states, “A strong tradition of record keeping from the earliest days of settlement has resulted in the preservation of a vast amount of material relevant to African American history. This material can be found primarily at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, where the permanent public records of state, county, and local agencies are conveniently centralized. Records concerning African Americans, once neglected by professional historians and genealogists alike, provide new insights into the Maryland experience for people of color.”

Even if your African American roots are not in Maryland (or if your Maryland roots are not African American), you can still likely learn about important record types and research tips!

African American Civil War Soldiers Database

The African American Civil War Soldiers project recently launched an effort to build “a comprehensive database of the estimated 200,000 soldiers who formed the United States Colored Troops” during the Civil War. According to the website, this project aims “to improve our knowledge of the African Americans who fought for freedom in the American Civil War, to provide descendants of the soldiers with access to information on their ancestors, and to present students of history with primary documents from a pivotal moment in African American history.”

Volunteers are requested to help transcribe “images of the soldiers’ military service records, which have been photographed and scanned by the National Archives and Records Administration and Fold3. From these, we are collecting detailed individual information such as name, age, height, place of birth and enlistment, as well as evidence of battles fought, injuries and causalities sustained, and honors and promotions won.”

It’s easy to start transcribing: there’s no software to download or learn, and you don’t even need to register. If you click “Get started,” you’ll be taken directly to an image to transcribe (a quick series of pop-up screens will give you a quick orientation about the type of document you’ll be transcribing and how to do it). The example shown below comes from a “Company Descriptive Book, the first card in each soldier’s file. This card contains information on the soldier’s origins and enlistment.”

As an aside, we also noticed that the web host of the African-American Civil War Soldiers Database, Zooniverse.org, also has another volunteer project to transcribe the handwritten conference notes of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Newspapers across the U.S.

Illinois and Iowa. Subscription site Newspapers.com has published issues of the Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) dating from 1855-2014. This paper covers southeast Iowa and northwest Illinois. According to an email news release, “Newspapers.com also has a host of papers from the Quad-City Times family tree, including the Daily Leader, the Davenport Weekly Leader, the Davenport Weekly Democrat and LeaderWeekly Davenport Democrat, the Democrat and Times, the Daily Times, the Davenport Weekly Gazette, and the Democratic Banner. Some of these papers go all the way back to the 1850s, giving you more than 160 years of Iowa and Illinois history!

North Carolina. Digital NC continues to post new, free newspaper content on its site. Recent additions include the weekly The Hertford County Herald (Ahoskie, NC) for 1914-1923;  More issues of the Watauga Democrat (Boone, NC, serving the western part of the state; coverage now spans 1923-1963); and the Cherokee Scout (Cherokee County)—now with nearly 2,500 issues from 1923-1971.

Texas. The Portal of Texas History website is adding more free newspaper content: the Cleveland Advocate and its sister publications, Dayton News and Eastex Advocate, and two other defunct newspapers – Illustrated Paperboy and Cleveland Journal.  A news report describes the Portal of Texas History as “a gateway to Texas’s earliest history with newspapers dating back to 1829, seven years before Texas became a republic,” with 5.7 million individual newspaper pages, and “the largest single-state free digital repository in the nation for newspapers.”

Orphan Train riders

A new collection at subscription giant Ancestry.com, New York, Orphans Placed in the New York Foundling Hospital and Children’s Aid Society, 1855-1925, gathers the names of nearly 18,000 poor, abandoned or orphaned children who were placed under the care of New York City orphanages and eventually shipped to families in the western United States to be adopted. These children are popularly known as “orphan train” riders. According to the collection description, “Information as to the identities of a large number of these children has been preserved in federal and state censuses taken between 1855 and 1925, as well as in the 1890 New York City police census, and represents a potential boon to the descendants of these foundlings. This collection contains a two-volume work that encompasses the “Orphan Train Riders” from NYFH.” Tip: Have fun learning the stories of some of these children in Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, a NYT best-selling novel and a Genealogy Gems Book Club pick.

Rhode Island burials

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has announced a new database on its subscription website, AmericanAncestors.org. Rhode Island: Historical Cemeteries, 1647-2000 “includes 450,000 individuals buried in Rhode Island,” states a company email. “More than 900,000 names transcribed from tombstones are included. This database provides tombstone transcriptions, and birth and death records. Some entries include tombstone images and GPS coordinates.” The project is part of a volunteer-driven collaboration with the Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project.

Find US ancestors in more new online collections

Did you miss these recent announcements about US records that are new online? Check them out!

New genealogy record collections from 15 U.S. states

New North American collections include military, passenger lists, yearbooks and more

Totally free US genealogy records from 8 states

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

New Irish genealogy records and more

New Irish genealogy records top this week’s list of noteworthy new family history collections online from around the globe. Also, find records for Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Guatemala, Spain, Wales and the U.S. (FBI criminal files and collections for CO, ID, IL, KY, MA, TX, WV. All these collections come from the Genealogy Giants: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.

Featured:  New Irish genealogy records online

The fabled luck of the Irish—or at least that of their descendants—continues throughout March, with significant new Irish genealogy records coming online. Subscription site Findmypast.com has updated its indexes of the Irish civil birth and marriage register images hosted online at IrishGenealogy.ie:

  • The updated Irish Births Index consists of over 2.7 million indexed entries. “As well as listing the date and location of your ancestor’s birth, these new transcripts provide a variety of additional details including the names of both parents (including mother’s maiden name), father’s occupation and full dates of birth.”
  • The updated Irish Civil Marriages now boasts over 2.6 million records. “These new transcripts…also provide a variety of additional details including the names of the couple’s parents, their fathers’ occupations, their residence and marital status.

Findmypast.com also posted more new Irish genealogy records:

  • Antrim Histories & Reference Guides. Search George Benn’s authoritative work, A History of the Town of Belfast from the Earlier Times to the Close of the Eighteenth Century (1877). “It contains historic maps and illustrations as well as a chapter on noted inhabitants mentioned in seventeenth-century records including names such as Captain George Theaker, Arthur Chichester, Hugh Doak, Thoams Waring, George McCartney, and more.”
  • Armagh Records & Registers. Browse 600 pages of Historical Memoirs of the City of Armagh (1819) to learn more about the history of Northern Ireland. “It contains biographical accounts of both Protestant and Roman Catholic archbishops, a narrative of important events, an account of the establishment of the Presbyterian congregations and the history of various customs and manners.”
  • Church of Ireland Histories & Reference Guides. This collection has two PDF publications: The National Churches: The Church of Ireland (originally published in 1892) and Some Worthies of the Irish Church (published in 1900). Learn more about the history and practices of the Church of Ireland.
  • Dublin Registers & Records. Over 2,000 records have been added to this collection of PDF images of “parish records (baptisms, marriages, and burials) from the Church of Ireland, census indexes, school registers, monumental inscriptions and printed histories. The records span from the 1600s up to 1800.”
  • Irish Tontines Annuitants 1766-1789. “Over 153,000 annuity statements, accounts of deaths, death certificates, and marriage certificates relating to the subscribers and nominees of the Irish Tontine….The records in this collection have been released in association with the National Archives and cover the English tontine of 1789; the Irish tontines of 1773, 1775, and 1777; and the life annuities of 1766 to 1779.”
  • Ireland, American Fenian Brotherhood 1864-1897. “Over 125,000 records from British Foreign Office correspondence regarding the American Fenian Brotherhood during the years from 1864 to 1897. Records include newspaper cuttings, letters, telegrams, lists of prisoners, and a number of photographs…. The collection includes accounts of the Brotherhood’s incursions into Canadian territory during the years 1866 to 1871.” Subscribers may also browse American Fenian Brotherhood records from 15,000 volumes of British Foreign Office papers.
  • Royal Irish Constabulary History and Directories. This collection has been updated. It contains “an assortment of pay records, lists, directories, commendation records, treasury books, Constabulary Code books and training manuals.”

Ancestry.com has updated a few of its own Irish genealogy records collections (original data for the Irish Catholic registers comes from Celtic Catholic Registers, digitized images):

More new genealogy collections worldwide

Austria. Nearly 34,000 indexed records are part of a new free collection at FamilySearch, Austria, Carinthia, Gurk Diocese, Catholic Church Records, 1527-1986. According to the site, this is a “collection of church books containing births, marriages, and deaths held at the Diocese of Gurk in Klagenfurt, Austria.”

Brazil. More than 100,000 records have been added to an existing free FamilySearch collection, Brazil, Santa Catarina, Catholic Church Records, 1714-1977. Also recently updated is its collection of Brazil, São Paulo, Immigration Cards, 1902-1980.

France. FamilySearch has added two new free census collections for France: upwards of 150,000 indexed names in France, Hautes-Alpes, Census, 1856 and over 66,000 names in France, Hautes-Alpes, Census, 1876. According to the collection descriptions, these are complete listings of the census for Hautes-Alpes in these years.

Germany. About 10,000 records each have been added to existing FamilySearch collectionsGermany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates, 1794-1874 and Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, Kreis Steinburg, Civil Registration, 1874-1983.

Guatemala. Over 687,000 names have been added to the free FamilySearch collection, Guatemala Civil Registration, 1877-2008. According to the site, documents report “births, marriages, deaths, indexes and other records created by civil registration offices in Guatemala. Some of these records have been indexed and are searchable as part of this collection. Additional indexed records will be published as they become available.”

Spain. Over 22,000 names have been added to the free FamilySearch collection, Spain, Diocese of Cartagena, Catholic Church Records, 1503-1969. “These records include: baptisms, confirmations, pre-marriage investigations, marriages, deaths, indexes, testaments, and parish financial and land records. Some of these records have been indexed and are searchable as part of this collection. Additional indexed records will be published as they become available.”

United States. Subscription giant Ancestry.com has posted a new collection of F.B.I. Deceased Criminal Identification Files, 1971-1994. According to the site, “This database contains details about deceased individuals extracted from criminal identification files from 1971-1994….Details vary widely by form, but details in this index may include the following: name, birthplace, birth date, gender, race, death date, eye color, hair color, height, and weight.”

Various U.S. state-level collections include:

Wales. Subscription site Findmypast.com has added over 43,000 new records to its collection of Monmouthshire Electoral Registers. According to the site, “The new additions consist of handwritten Gwent registers spanning the years 1832 to 1849 that will allow you to discover where your Welsh ancestor lived and the type of property they owned or rented. The early handwritten registers (1832-1839) are presented as images and transcripts and the later printed registers are presented as portable device formats (PDFs). The format of each register can vary depending on the constituency or the year of the register but most will reveal a combination of your ancestor’s abode, property type, property location, property name, year, constituency and district.”

Learn more about the Genealogy Giants

I keep my eye on the Genealogy Giants for you!  All four, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage, boast billions of historical records that can help you find your family history at home and abroad. But learning about each can be overwhelming! Click here for an introduction to these sites: what they have in common and what sets each apart. You’ll want to know so you can get the most out of them!

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

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