October 26, 2016

Local Histories Found in New and Updated Genealogical Records

Search through new and updated genealogical records and histories galore. We are covering the world this week, reaching places we haven’t touched on before. Search records from familiar collections in Canada and the U.S., then check out what’s new in Russia and Ghana.

dig these new record collections

Canada – World War I

We know many of our readers have ancestry from Canada and we want to point your attention to the holdings at the Library and Archive Canada. This repository has many digital collections online and even includes a portrait portal with over 4 million images!

genealogy for Canada

Today, we shine a light on just over 330,000 files now available online in the Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database.

The Soldiers of the First World War database is an index to the service files held by Library and Archives Canada for the soldiers, nurses, and chaplains who served with the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force.) Each box of service files holds approximately 50 files and envelopes. The individual’s name and service number or rank, if an officer, is written on each envelope. This database was organized by entering the name and number found on the outside of each of these file envelopes.

When the attestation papers and enlistment forms were digitized from the Attestation Registers (RG 9, II B8, volumes 1 to 654,) the images were linked to the database. Tip: When searching by name, be sure to look for alternate spellings as well.

The original paper documents can no longer be consulted, so your only option is to view these records digitally. For those items not yet digitized, you can order a copy from the Archives. As we mentioned, not all the documents have been digitized, but are are being done so regularly. Check back often!

United States – State and Local Histories

Findmypast has updated their United States, State & Local Histories collection and now holds 332 digitized books of state and local histories in PDF format. These histories come from Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

You can narrow your specific search by publication year, title, county, and state, or search by keywords. These books often add clues and hints to the lives of our ancestors. You may also come across a biographical sketch of your ancestor which may hold key information you have been looking for.

Additionally, a sister collection titled United States, Family Histories may also prove fruitful. This collection contains over 930,000 images taken from 3,926 family histories and genealogies from all 50 states and several locations overseas. These PDF records can be searched by publication year, title, county, and state, page number, and key words. The publications emphasize tracing the descendants of the early, colonial immigrants to the United States. If you have a targeted ancestor that falls into that category, you will want to check these histories thoroughly.

United States – New York – Histories

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record is the second oldest genealogical journal in the U.S. This week, Volume 27, Issue 2 (January 2016) of this publication is available at Findmypast. You can search or browse to find possible hints and clues to aid you in your research.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record is a quarterly publication, published since 1870. It publishes compiled genealogies that are documented, transcriptions of original records, and much more. To further learn about the NYG&B and their society, click here.

You might also be interested in the NYG&B’s quarterly review titled The New York Researcher. Formerly known as the NYG&B Newsletter, The New York Researcher has been published since 1970. Volume 147, Issue 2 (Summer 2016) of this publication is available now at Findmypast.

You will enjoy instructive articles on genealogical research techniques and New York resources, profiles of repositories, and profiles of genealogical societies across the State of New York.

Russia – Church Records

FamilySearch has digitized more than 2 million records in their collection titled Russia, Tatarstan Church Books, 1721-1939. Though these records are not indexed yet, you may find images of births and baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials performed by priests of the Russian Orthodox Church in the republic of Tatarstan. These records were acquired from the state archive in that province.

Places are identified by their historical name and jurisdiction when it was part of the Russian Empire. If you are unsure of the history of your targeted location, remember what our Google Guru Lisa says…”Just Google It!”

The collection covers records from 1721 to 1939. These records are written in Russian, but remember that FamilySearch offers a helpful cheat sheet of common words and their translations!

There may be some restrictions on viewing these records. Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, rights to view images on their website are granted by the record custodians. In this case, the Russia, Tatarstan Church Books, 1721-1939 images can be only be viewed online at a Family History Center near you, or the Family History Library.

Ghana – Census

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

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

The 1984 Ghana census may hold the following information:

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



Great Canadian Genealogy Summit: Mark Your Calendars

CANGen Great Canadian Genealogy SummitAn inaugural event: The Great Canadian Genealogy Summit (CANGEN), to be held October 21-23, 2016, at the Courtyard by Marriott, Brampton, Ontario.

The first-ever Great Canadian Genealogy Summit (CANGEN) will be held October 21-23, 2016. The conference even includes time at a regional archive–with a workshop held on how to research there.

“The Summit showcases Canadian genealogists who have an expertise in the record sets relating to the early settlers of Canada,” says an event press release. “On October 21, we have arranged a day at the Ontario Archives. And better still, for those with United Empire Loyalist ancestors who are mind boggled with the documentation required for your UEL application, former Dominion Genealogist Kathryn Lake Hogan will be offering a workshop with the at the Archives. She will share her expertise on what documentation is required and how to access the documents at the Archives.”

The opening event features a social time that will be kicked off by Jennifer Debruin, a writer and genealogist who will tell stories about Canadian ancestors. Saturday’s program offers five ethnic tracks: Irish, English, French Canadian, Canadian and Scottish ancestors. Sunday features methodology with Louise St. Denis (who is providing each registrant with a certificate for a FREE course at the NIGS). Lynn Palermo wraps things up with a session on writing up family history.

Registration for the full weekend is just $159 Canadian ($125 USD). Registration for Saturday-only is $119 ($93 USD). All registrations include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, free access to Findmypast and admission to the exhibition hall. Click here to register.

COMING UP IN JUNE 2016: Ontario Genealogical Society with Lisa Louise Cooke

More Canadian Genealogy Gems

Canadian genealogy passenger listsSearch Canadian Passenger Lists for FREE at Library Archives Canada

Canadiana Digital Archive

Google Earth for Canada and Genealogy

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records online

Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Do any of the collections below relate to your family history? Look below for early Australian settlers, Canadian military and vital records, the 1925 Iowa State Census and a fascinating collection of old New York City photographs.

AUSTRALIAN CONVICT RECORDS. Now Findmypast subscribers can access several collections on early settlers. Among them over 188,000 Australia Convict ships 1786-1849 records, which date to “the ships of First Fleet and include the details of some of the earliest convict settlers in New South Wales.” You’ll also find “nearly 27,000 records, the Australia Convict Conditional and Absolute Pardons 1791-1867 list the details of convicts pardoned by the governor of New South Wales and date back to the earliest days of the colony” and New South Wales Registers of Convicts’ Applications to Marry 1825-1851, with over 26,000 records.

CANADIAN WWI MILITARY RECORDS. As of June 15,  162,570 of 640,000 files are available online via the Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database on the Library and Archives Canada website. This is the first installment of an ongoing effort to digitize and place online records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force service files.

IOWA STATE CENSUS. About 5.5 million newly-added records from the 1925 state census of Iowa are now free to search at FamilySearch,org. Name, residence, gender, age and marital status are indexed. The linked images may also reveal parents’ birthplaces, owners of a home or farm and name of head of household.

NEW YORK CITY PHOTOGRAPHS. About 16,000 photos of old New York City from the New York Historical Society are free to view on Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York. According to the site, “The extensive photograph collections at the New-York Historical Society are particularly strong in portraits and documentary images of New York-area buildings and street scenes from 1839 to 1945, although contemporary photography continues to be collected.”

ONTARIO, CANADA VITAL RECORDS. Nearly a half million birth record images (1869-1912), nearly a million death record images (1939-1947) and over a million marriage record images (1869-1927) have been added to online, indexed collections at FamilySearch.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Today’s list of new records has a LOT of Canadian material! If you’re researching Canadian roots, here’s a FREE video for you to watch on our YouTube channel: Lisa Louise Cooke’s interview with Canadian research expert Dave Obee, who shares 10 tips in his effort to help one RootsTech attendee break through her brick wall. This post and tip and brought to you by The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke, newly-revised and completely updated for 2015 with everything you need to find your ancestors with Google’s powerful, free online tools.

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records online

Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Do any of the collections below relate to your family history? This week we cover burials in Cleveland, Ohio; an Oakland, CA newspaper; travelers to the U.S. via Canada, early Vermont pioneers and a register of WWI soldiers’ mothers and widows.

CLEVELAND (OH) BURIALS. The Cleveland Catholic Diocese has posted an index to burials. According to the site, “The following cemeteries have been uploaded into the centralized database: All Saints, Northfield; All Souls, Chardon; Resurrection, Valley City; Holy Cross, Akron; Holy Cross, Brook Park; and St. Joseph, Avon. Work is ongoing on the following cemeteries: Calvary, Cleveland; and Calvary, Lorain.” Registration is required but it is free.

OAKLAND (CA) NEWSPAPER. Nearly 400,00 pages of the Oakland Tribune spanning a full century (1874-1975) is now online at Newspapers.com. Oakland is in Alameda County and became an early terminus for the Transcontinental Railroad.

TRAVELERS TO U.S. VIA CANADA. Nearly 100,000 records appear in a new Ancestry database, U.S., Passenger and Crew Lists for U.S.-Bound Vessels Arriving in Canada, 1912-1939 and 1953-1962. “This collection contains forms, or passenger lists, submitted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) by airline captains and shipmasters,” according to the collection description. Records are included for the ports of Montreal, Quebec; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Vancouver, British Columbia; Victoria, British Columbia; Toronto, Ontario and Quebec Ports.

VERMONT PIONEERS. The New England Historic Genealogical Society has a new index online of Early Vermont Settlers to 1784. The collection description states, “This database contains modified Register-style genealogical sketches of every identifiable head of household who has been proven to reside in the present-day borders of Vermont by the year 1784. A list of children, their spouse(s), and all their vital records will accompany each sketch. We have noticed that the head of household occasionally dies outside of Vermont and many of the children live west of Vermont in New York, Ohio, and states westward. This database currently contains 34 sketches, 5,700 names and 2,700 records.”

WWI U.S. MOTHER’S PILGRIMAGE. Ancestry has updated its database of mothers and widows of U.S. soldiers killed in World War I and buried overseas, and were invited by the War Department to visit their loved one’s burial place. “Each record provides the name of widow or mother, city and state of residence, and relationship to the deceased. Additionally, information regarding the decedent’s name, rank, unit, and cemetery is provided.”


We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records online

Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Might these collections include your ancestors? And does the Google search tip we’ve added at the bottom help you out?

This week: Kansas newspapers, WWI records for the U.S. and Canada and a unique collection of mid-1800s Shaker photographs.

KANSAS NEWSPAPERS. Subscribers to Newspapers.com can search a newly enlarged database of Kansas newspapers. It “currently has more than 190 papers from almost 90 Kansas cities for a total of 4.3 million pages.” One paper dates to 1840, 20 years before statehood.

SHAKER PHOTOGRAPHS. The Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon (New York) “has launched a newly digitized online catalog of historic photography as a part of its ongoing effort to make available online a full catalog of its collections,” says this press report. Photos include “scenes of Shaker villages from the mid-late 19th Century, as well as a collection of stereograph images from this early period.”

CANADA WWI MILITARY RECORDS. Ancestry recently posted a new collection ofmore than 17,000 historical military records (featuring more than 470,000 images) revealing the First World War military experiences of many Canadian soldiers. The Canada, Imperial War Service Gratuities, 1919-1921  collection contains records of Canadians who fought and served in the British Imperial services.” Note: the above link goes to Ancestry.com but the database is also available on Ancestry.ca.

U.S. WWI PHOTOGRAPHS. The National Archives (U.S.) has a newly digitized collection online: American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-1918. According to the site, “This series contains photographs obtained from the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Federal and State government agencies, as well as private sources, such as the American Red Cross and the Central News and Photo Service. The photos depict the unity of the nation and how overwhelming the war effort was, including pictures of public gatherings, peace demonstrations, parades, and activities of libraries, hospitals and first aid stations.”


Google tip of the week: Some databases are hosted on multiple genealogy websites.  For example, The New England Historical and Genealogical Society has been receiving a lot of new databases from FamilySearch. Ancestry has recently posted several databases from JewishGen, which also hosts them on their site. One site may have the search tools you prefer;  another may be more convenient because you can attach records to your tree on that site. Use Google’s site search tool to see if the database is on a particular site. Enter the keywords in quotes, then the word “site:” immediately followed by the URL without the www. (There is no space between site: and the website address.) A search for the Canadian database above in Ancestry.ca looks like this: “Imperial War Service Gratuities” site:Ancestry.ca. This tip is brought to you by the newly-revised 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke, which has an entire chapter on site searching and resurrecting old websites.


Canadiana: Canadian Digital Archive and Portal to the Past

CanadianaDo you have Canadian roots? Then Canadiana should be on your list of online resources searched regularly for family history information.

Recently Newswire.ca described Canadiana as “a digital initiative of extraordinary scale,…a joint effort of 25 leading research institutions, libraries and archives working together with the goal of creating Canada’s multi-million page, comprehensive online archive.” Its digital collections chronicle Canada’s past since the 1600s and most of its content is free.

What we especially noticed in a recent peek at this enormous Canadian digital archive:

  • The Héritage Project. This FREE resource “aims to digitize, preserve and make accessible Canada’s archival materials for Canadians and the world. Héritage is also a pathfinder project to determine the best ways to organize and fund ongoing efforts to make all of Canada’s remaining documentary heritage accessible online.” Their large collection of genealogy materials so far includes immigration records, church records, land records, family histories, voters’ lists and more. Military history, government documents and aboriginal records are also well-represented. Tip: check back often! More is coming, like local and regional newspaper digitization and records of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.
  • The Canadiana Discovery Portal. This gateway to digital collections from 40 repositories points to 65 million pages! Sample subjects include  Ontario genealogy and War of 1812 campaigns. This portal is also free to use.
  • Early Canadiana Online, with 5 million images already and expected to grow to 16 million. This part of the website requires a subscription ($10/month or a year for $100) This is “a full-text collection of published documentary material, including monographs, government documents, and specialized or mass-market periodicals from the 16th to 20th centuries. Law, literature, religion, education, women’s history and aboriginal history are particular areas of strength.” The site describes itself as “the most complete set of full-text historical content about Canada, including books, magazines and government documents.” Tip: scroll down on the home page to click the Genealogy and Local History portal, but don’t ignore the rest of the site!

how to start a genealogy blogLike this post? Here’s a few more posts you may enjoy:

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Amazing Family History Find in a Basement!

treasure chestA recent email from listener Helen reminds us to search our basements and attics for unique and amazing family history finds. There’s no substitute for being able to tell family members’ stories through their own words and photographs.

genealogy gems podcast mailbox“I just had to tell you about my recent find. My late father-in-law served in the Canadian Navy for 39 years, entering Naval College when he was only 14. Most of my knowledge about his life came from talking with him before he died. Of course, then I did not know the questions to ask.

“About a month ago, I was preparing for a lecture on his life for a local World War I Seminar. I starting looking around in our basement as I knew we had some material from when we cleared out his house when he died, but I had no idea of just what exciting material I would find.

“I found his personal diaries, with the earliest from 1916! The journals give an amazing first-person record of naval service from a person who devoted his life to the service of his country. I was able to weave his actual words into the somewhat dry official record of his long time service [ending with] his being presented with a Commander of the British Empire medal shortly before his retirement.

“I am so grateful that the family saved these invaluable documents through the myriad of moves that a naval officer’s career entails. In a different box, I found his photographs from the same era—some even earlier than the journals. I am now seriously considering publishing the journals along with the photographs, as they deserved to be shared.”

how to start a genealogy blogGot a living relative whose story you want to capture? Click here to read our blog post about the free StoryCorps app that can help you!

Genealogy Gems Premium members can click here to access Premium podcast episode 116 to hear a discussion between two authors of books on life-story writing, and here to access a Premium podcast AND video on how to make a family history video.

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsWe learn about great new genealogy records online every week! On Fridays we round up a few for you. Watch for databases and documents that your ancestors might appear in–and get inspired by the types of records that may be out there for your family, waiting for you to discover. This week: a photo archives for Canadian Mennonites, a Georgia state newspaper collection, a genealogy index for a northeast Ohio archive and WWII Cadet Nursing Corps membership cards (US).

CANADIAN MENNONITE PHOTO ARCHIVE: A new database is now online with over 80,000 images of Mennonite life from across Canada and dating back to 1860s. A press release says that the archive “is a project of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada  and includes Mennonite archival partners in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.” An online ordering system allows visitors to order image copies for noncommercial use.

GEORGIA NEWSPAPERS: The Digital Library of Georgia has launched an archive of north Georgia historical newspapers. “The North Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive provides online access to six newspaper titles published in three north Georgia cities (Dalton, Gainesville, and Rome) from 1850 to 1922. Consisting of over 33,000 newspaper pages, the archive provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date. The site is compatible with all current browsers and the newspaper page images can be viewed without the use of plug-ins or additional software downloads. The archive includes the following north Georgia newspaper titles: Gainesville News (1902-1922), Georgia Cracker (Gainesville) (1894-1902), North Georgia Citizen (Dalton) (1868-1921), Rome Courier (1850-1855), Rome Tri-Weekly Courier (1860-1880), Rome Weekly Courier (1860-1878). The Digital Library of Georgia will add additional titles from the region over time.

OHIO GENEALOGY INDEX. The Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, OH has created an online Genealogy Index to some of its most valuable and unique genealogical records, including original funeral home and Bible records. Also in the index are Jewish marriages and death notices, an index of names in a significant African-American manuscript collection, a 1907 Cleveland voter registration index, a photo database of Cleveland military personnel from WWII and the Korean War and a biographical sketch name index. Currently, there are about 320,000 records in the index; more are being added on an ongoing basis. The Society primarily archives records relating to Cleveland and northeast Ohio. Soon to be added are indexes to the 1870 mortality census for Ashtabula, Ohio and indexes to several church records collections.

WWII CADET NURSING CORPS (US): The WWII Cadet Nursing Corps Card Files, new on Fold3, contain membership cards of women who joined. According to Fold3, the cards “are organized by state, nursing school, and cadet name. Some cards include the date of admission to the school, date of admission to the corps, and date of graduation (or date of other reason for termination from the school). Others contain details like the woman’s marital status, father’s/husband’s name and profession, years of college completed, place of residence, and how they heard about the corps. Still others also record the woman’s age in addition to the previously mentioned information.”

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064To search for images you can use without violating copyright, do a keyword search in Google Images (or just do a keyword search from Google’s home page and then click “Images” above your search results). Click Search Tools. Another toolbar will pop up. Click “Usage rights.” You can sort search results by those that are labeled for reuse in different ways. You won’t capture every copyright-free image, but hopefully you’ll get a decent selection of options! This tip comes to you courtesy of the book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition by Lisa Louise Cooke–the fully-revised 2015 edition that’s packed with strategies that will dramatically improve your ability to find your family history online.

Find a Grave Canada: Now Search by Province!

badge_button_canadian_flag_400_wht_1996Genealogy Gems Premium member Ken Lange recently wrote us about a GEM of his own he’d like to share with everyone. If you’ve got Canadian ancestors, check this out!

Mailbox question from Beginning Genealogist“Dear Lisa,

I just renewed my Premium membership (thanks so much for all you do there, BTW), which reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to pass on to you with respect to Find-A-Grave.

Now, for the most part, we all love Find A Grave, and I’m sure everyone has benefited from information gleaned from the site at some point in time.  However, as a Canadian, I have long been frustrated by the fact that when searching for memorials in Canada, you can’t narrow the search down even to a province… Canada is a big country, and while not at populous as the US, this still leads to unnecessary sifting through records, especially for common surnames.

I don’t know if there are existing tools out there to address this problem, and I’m hoping that Ancestry will fix this sometime soon. But out of frustration a while back I took matters into my own hands and modified the Find a Grave search page for Canadian searches so that you can at least specify a province. Here is a public link to the file:

Find a Grave Search Page for Canadian Searches

I don’t know if it will work with all browsers in all environments, but I’ve had it working in IE, Firefox, and Chrome.”

WOW! This is cool. I recently discovered a Canadian great-aunt on my dad’s side of the family. All I’ve learned so far is that her last name was Maier or O’Maier (depending on how you read the record), that she was born in Canada, and that her parents were born in Germany. She married my great-uncle in Idaho, so I’m guessing she came down through British Columbia or Alberta. A quick search using this interface tells me there are no O’Maiers in Findagrave in either province, but sorts several possible Maiers neatly into both those provinces. I’m still a long way from answers, but I can see how helpful this will be to those with Canadian roots!

Voices of the Past: Canadian Oral History Project

reading_to_children_anim_300_clr_10048The Victoria Genealogical Society has started a new memory project called “Voices of the Past.” They are recording the stories of senior members of their community and posting them to their website. You can listen to any given story or click on one of the themes they’ve organized the material into, then listen to stories relating to that theme.

I heard about it from Merv Scott, a Project Director at the Victoria Genealogical Society. Merv sees this project as a win-win experience for those telling stories and those receiving them. “I’m sure you have seen how uplifting it is for seniors to tell stories about their family history,” he writes. “Research has shown it boosts their self-esteem reduces stress and anxieties….I think it’s an amazing legacy to leave your children and grandchildren with stories about their family as told by the person who was there. ” You can contact Merv (Projects@victoriags.org) for more information.

I’ve heard about lots of oral history projects, from the national in scope to the most local. Browse some of these (and find tools and resources for doing your own) at Cyndi’s List.