November 27, 2015

Here’s how to get 75% off Findmypast Subscription through Nov. 30, 2015

findmypast subscription sale 75 offWe see a lot of genealogy website subscription deals. This one for a findmypast subscription is fantastic! Don’t miss it if you have UK roots. Keep reading for the special link and coupon code that you’ll need for the discount.

This weekend, findmypast is celebrating Thanksgiving with a highly tempting offer: a full 75% off a 12-month World subscription (usual cost: $199.50; your cost: about $50–for the entire year!).

  1. CLICK HERE  and set up a free trial account
  2. Then go click My Account
  3. Click Subscribe
  4. Enter the code THNKSGNG15 on the right hand side of the page in the Discount Code field by Monday, November 30, 2015.

If you have roots in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland, you should be using Findmypast to research them. For those readers in the US, Findmypast estimates that 35 million of us are descended from those first 51 Mayflower passengers (including these celebrities). And that’s just from those 51 people! That doesn’t hold a candle to the millions of other UK descendants who now live all over the world.

Findmypast is home to millions of records you will find only there, from British and Irish newspapers to the crucial 1939 Register. The site has strengthened its US, Canada and Australia collections to help descendants trace their families back to their British, Irish, Welsh or Scottish roots.

This weekend, findmypast is celebrating Thanksgiving with a highly tempting offer: a full 75% off a 12-month World subscription (usual cost: $199.50; your cost: about $50–for the entire year!). CLICK HERE  and use the coupon code THNKSGNG15 by Monday, November 30, 2015 to get the discount.

More UK Research Gems

1939 RegisterAccess the 1939 Register Online at Findmypast

The Bombing of London: Interactive Map of The Blitz

Irish Catholic Parish Registers from the National Library of Ireland




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!


Findmypast Library Edition: Request it At Your Public Library!

findmypast library editionfindmypast now has a Library Edition available within the United States. Patrons of subscribing libraries can now have access to their billions of records from England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Highlights of what you’ll find on findmypast Library Edition include:

  • Largest online collection of U.K. parish records;
  • Exclusive access to the new PERiodical Source Index (now with images);
  • Most comprehensive Irish family history records in the world.

Findmypast’s version of PERSI, the Periodical Source Index, includes more than 2.5 million indexed entries from thousands of genealogical and local history publications–AND a growing number of digitized articles! Click here to read more about PERSI, which we love.

Here’s How You Can Use FindMyPast for Free
We asked Josh Taylor at FMP how subscribers and non-subscribers can use the Library Edition:

1) “FMP subscribers can login to their own accounts while at the library.”

2) “Also, library users who are not paid subscribers can create a free account that allows them to create a tree, store, and attach records they view while at the library. The free account works like a standard Findmypast account so can be used at home to access their tree (and even get automatic hints).”

We’ve blogged about the Hints feature here at Genealogy Gems.

stick_figure_ride_mouse_400_wht_9283Ready to do some library research? We’ve got more tips for you, like:

Finally, here’s an important tip: let your voice be heard at your public library! They need to know how many people care about genealogy and family history. They need to know what databases you’re most interested in accessing. In an era of struggle for many public libraries, they have to prioritize their energies, so tell them what you want to learn!

Working-Class Roots? British Trade Union Records Now at FindMyPast

construction_tools_cross_icon_400_wht_15780Do you have ancestors who may have been part of a British Trade Union? They could have been carpenters, joiners, cabinetmakers, lithographic artists, engravers, printers, paper makers, railway servants, watermen, bargement, lightermen, woodworkers, newspaper proofreaders, school teachers, compositors, printers, boilermakers and even local government workers.  Explore these new British Trade Union records at findmypast:

British Trade Union Membership Registers are now available to browse–257 volumes of them! According to FindMyPast, “These consist of digitized images of original records books from nine different unions. The documents [like admission books, annual reports and membership lists] include details about individual members that can enrich your genealogical research such as payments made, benefits received, names of spouses, profiles of leading members, directories of secretaries and details of Union activities and proceedings.”

Britain, Trade Union Members, Service and Casualties is a new related dataset with over 61,000 entries. It contains the details of members from 18 different unions. The records are a collection of union documents from the war years and do not solely feature individuals who participated in the First World War. The records include daily trade union news and business and frequently acknowledge members who have left for war or joined the services. Many include pages of the union’s Roll of Honour and some include photographs of the members or feature short profiles about specific members. The most extraordinary of the records is the Workers’ Union Record, which regularly features full pages of photographs of service men.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Here’s a tip: Obituaries can be an excellent source of information about an ancestor’s working life. Click here to see an example of my own relative’s working life in his obituary. Click here to read more about finding recent obituaries, which are coming online in droves (by the million, in newly-indexed and/or digitized format). Learn more about finding obituaries (online or offline) in Lisa Louise Cooke’s book Find Your Family History in Newspapers, available in print or e-book editions.


New FindMyPast Hints Help Find Records

FindMyPast hintingFindMyPast, the genealogy website best known for its mega-collections of U.K. historical records, recently added a hinting feature to the family trees component of its website.

According to a press release, “Once you start to add to your family tree, Hints will sift through 755 million of our birth, baptism, marriage, divorce, death and burial records to identify matches between them and the people on your tree, providing you with historical records and potential new relatives from our collections.” Hints do not search other trees, as FindMyPast does not have publicly-searchable trees.

FindMyPast hinting 2Now when you look at your tree, you’ll see little numbers appear next to individual profiles when hints are available. You can review hints at your leisure and extract facts from them to add to ancestral profiles.

FindMyPast Hints are available to all users but are still in the beta testing stage. “You can expect a lot more from Hints in 2015, including Hints on census records and other collections. By reviewing all of your Hints, you’ll be helping us to ensure that our process continues to improve.”

stick_figure_ride_mouse_400_wht_9283Click here to learn about our favorite collection at FindMyPast: PERSI, the Periodical Source Index. It’s not just an index any more: FindMyPast has started adding digitized articles to the thousands of article titles indexed in this amazing database of genealogical and historical articles in journals and periodicals.

Which are the Best Genealogy Websites for YOU??

money_tree_PA_500_wht_3903Bill Johnson in Manassas, Virginia, USA, wrote to me with this question–and I know he’s not the only one asking it!

“It’s difficult to know what genealogical resources to spend your money on. I have been a subscriber to (world package) for years. But, there is FindMyPast, MyHeritage, etc. Your books identify dozens of other resources that all sound good — and cost money. Then there are some of the free resources like the National Archives and the LDS resources [FamilySearch].  Where should you spend your time and money?  While money is always a factor, I find that my time is a more precious resource.  If I have, would I gain anything by subscribing to FindMyPast? MyHeritage? FamilySearch? The National Archives or the BLM sites?  I am concerned about wasting money on redundancy.  Why visit a site that only offers a select subset of the data that I access through Ancestry?

Which paid sites do you regularly use?  Which free sites do you use?  Your books have a plethora of suggestions but the pool of resources is increasing by the day.  It is really getting rather confusing.”

What a great question!!! Here’s my answer:

“I agree, it’s gotten more complicated selecting the best genealogy websites for your own needs. I will take a look at covering this more in depth in a future podcast episode. I do have a few ideas for you right now.

It’s really about accessing the right website (or tool) for the task.

  • For general depth of records I turn first to (you only need the world edition if you need records outside of the U.S.), and then With, I make sure I use the card catalog and search by location tool (scroll down to the map) so I’m not missing all the record sets that don’t automatically jump to the top of the general search results. FamilySearch is free, so I check its online resources EVERY TIME I have a question. I check both browsable and indexed content (from the main screen, click Search, then Records, then scroll down and click Browse all Published Collections (or click to that screen here). You’ll be able to choose a location and see all content they have and whether it’s been indexed or you just have to browse through it (like reading microfilm, only online).
  • For me personally, I was slow to warm up to MyHeritage because I just wasn’t sure how it would best help me. Once I embraced it and posted my tree, its strength in my research became clear: for the first time ever I connected with a distant cousin in the “old country” (Germany)! The international user base of MyHeritage stands above other sites. And the fact that you can create your own family site on MyHeritage makes it a great ongoing resource for staying connected. (Disclosure: MyHeritage is a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems podcast. However, that is because of the value I came to experience in my own research as I just mentioned.)
  • When I am focused on my husband’s British roots I head to FindMyPast and pay as I go as needed.

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistOur mission here at Genealogy Gems is to reveal innovative ways of using the myriad of tech tools so you’ll know you can turn to them only when you need them. Think of it as a toolbelt. The right tool for the right job! But I also only bring tech tools and websites to the podcast and my website that I believe are worthwhile. Believe it or not, I weed a lot of them out!

I hope that helps, and I wish you great genealogical success!”  Lisa

Findmypast + = More British and Irish Records! announced recently that it has bought, an early pioneer of online records.

“ specializes in unusual and often hard to find British and Irish records,” says a Findmypast press release. “Its many early records include rare marriage indexes, apprentices and poor law records….Its National Wills Index, combined with collections currently on Findmypast and those in development, will provide the largest online resource for UK wills and probate material.”

What does this mean for users of both sites? “The extensive record sets from Origins will be brought into Findmypast over the next few months and the Origins website will continue to run as usual,” explains the press release.

Elaine Collins, Partnership Director of Findmypast said: “By joining together, we are able to offer customers the most comprehensive collection of British and Irish online records. This rich collection will help descendants of early North American settlers to bridge the gap to the old country, as well as anyone with UK ancestry looking to delve beyond 19th and 20th century records.”

Ian Galbraith, founder of Origins, said: “The partnership with Findmypast makes perfect sense for both companies and their customers. We have had a long association and together we can offer a broader family history experience and help people to fill in the blanks on the family tree and enrich their family story.”

Genealogy Game ‘Family House’ now an iPad / iPhone App

FamilyHouse_LoadingDo you play online games? Do members of your family? I’m guessing someone in your house does! Well, an online genealogy game, now available as an app, offers a “virtual alternative for creating a family tree by asking players to build up and restore their ‘family’ house.”

“Over 100,000 people have already moved into their own Family House on their PCs, and now Family House is available to play for the first time on iPhone and iPad,” says a recent press release from brightsolid. “Players are encouraged to explore their family history by moving in more and more family members as their house grows.

brightsolid’s Family House Project Manager Robbie Graham explains, “The game has been designed to encourage families to create a virtual family tree and the avatar editor is central to the proposition.  Users can recreate family member likenesses with a wide array of options.  We’ve even created a range of clothing that goes right back to the 17th Century.”

Robbie adds, “We wanted to create a fun app that’s rich in learning and sharing.  Family House has been created with interactivity in mind and allows on-line play with friends and family.  Users can assemble virtual streets and pop round to their friends’ and neighbors’ houses to meet their families.”

brightsolid CEO Richard Higgs says the game is playable for kids as young as four years old. It’s a free download from the iTunes App Store or you can play on Facebook.  This would be a fun online lead-up to a family reunion–or something to project on to the big screen and play while you’re at one!


13 Million Newly Published Genealogical Records from U.S., Australia and Ireland

Findmypast logo captureMore than 13 million new records recently appeared on, thanks to a new agreement between findmypast parent company DC Thomson Family History (formerly brightsolid online publishing) and FamilySearch International.

Among these millions of records are “major collections of births, marriages and deaths covering America, Australia, and Ireland,” according to a press release. Millions more records from about 600 additional collections are yet to be added. findmypast hopes these records will help current subscribers and allow the company to expand to non-English-speaking markets.

The FamilySearch press releases describes the overall purpose of the collaboration as delivering “a wide range of projects including digital preservation, records search, technological development and the means to allow family historians to share their discoveries.”


Family History Episode 7 – Best Genealogy Websites, Part 1

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy PodcastOriginally published Fall 2008

Republished November 19, 2013

by Lisa Louise Cooke

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 7: Best Subscription Websites for Genealogy Research, Part 1

In our first segment, my guest is Lisa Alzo, popular genealogy lecturer and writer (now the author of nine books and online genealogy instructor at Family Tree University and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies). We talk about her reasons for researching her family history and what she’s learned in her genealogical journeys (which include international travel in Eastern Europe).

In the second half of the show, we tackle an essential topic: the best subscription sites for family history records. This is a two-part topic: in this episode I talk about the best genealogy websites that require payment to access their core content. In Episode 8, we’ll talk about the fantastic free websites that are out there.

Keep in mind that this episode was recorded a few years ago. As I mention in the show, the online records landscape is constantly changing. Here are a few updates:

  • The biggest powerhouse paid subscription website is still Ancestry: it’s just bigger and better than what I originally described. As of fall 2013, they host 11 billion historical records. Member-contributed items include over 50 million family trees and 160 million uploads of photographs, stories and scanned documents. They still have a free 14-day trial membership and multiple subscription options: check out current ones here.
  • WorldVitalRecords is still a great website, though it’s grown more slowly. At our republishing date, it boasts over 158 million digitized images, (including US and UK censuses); 300 million names from vital records; 75 million names from military records, over 100 million pages of newspapers dating from 1739; 1.5 million historical maps; 8000 yearbooks and over 30 million tombstone photos. WorldVitalRecords is now part of the family of websites. Click here for a free 3-day trial membership.
  • Findmypast now has two web storefronts: (recommended for folks in the U.S.) and (which specializes in British and Irish roots and records). At last glance in fall 2013, findmypast hosts over 1.5 million family history records. It offers great search options and a budget-friendly pay-per-view model or a more traditional subscription.
  • RootsIreland is now home now to over 20 million Irish records.
  • for Swedish research is still online, though it’s part of now. It’s home to over 20 million church record images and more.
  • Scotland’s People is still your official home for online Scottish records, including an enormous collection of parish records with births and baptisms, banns and marriages and deaths and burials.
  • Many other sites support specific topics in genealogy research. An example on my side of the pond is Fold3 (formerly Footnote) for American military records. This site is home to over 400 million total records from the Revolutionary War era forward. Check with others who research families from the same location or ethnic background as your family to see what sites would be perfect for you.





My website mentioned in the podcast,, is now better known as The Genealogy Gems newsletter mentioned in the episode is now my blog, which you can find on my website.