New! North American Genealogy Records Online

New North American genealogy records online this week! Featured are U.S. military, passenger and yearbook records (including WWII film footage); regional collections for New England and Great Lakes; Congressional statutes; and over 63 million Mexican genealogy records now free at FamilySearch.org.

North American genealogy records

New online recently are North American genealogy records from all four “genealogy giants,” plus tons of other websites, including the Library of Congress and the U.S. National Archives. For those with Mexican roots, you’ll also love the enormous new cache of Mexican civil registration records online, all free to search from a central portal listed below.

U.S. military collections

World War II film footage. The U.S. National Archives has uploaded over 16 minutes’ worth of silent film footage identified as outtakes from the 1944 documentary, “Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress.” The film images are from 1942 and 1943. The shot scenes include combat missions and tour scenes.

Veterans History Project adds Guadalcanal coverage. The Library of Congress blog recently announced,The Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project (VHP) today launched its new “Experiencing War” website feature, titled “Guadalcanal: 75 Years Later,” recognizing the anniversary of the end of the major World War II campaign known as the Battle of Guadalcanal. The feature highlights 12 digitized collections found in the VHP archive, each of which includes the first-person narrative of a veteran who fought in this epic, six-month offensive in the South Pacific during 1942 and 1943.”

Military service rolls and records: Revolutionary War through Indian Wars. The always-free genealogy giant, FamilySearch.org, has added significantly to its resources about Revolutionary War soldiers:

Genealogy giant and subscription website Ancestry.com has added a new database, “U.S. Army Indian Campaign Service Records Index, 1815-1858. According to the collection description, this database contains alphabetical card indexes to compiled service records of Volunteer soldiers who served 1836-1939 from units in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee or the Volunteer Field and Staff of the Army of the Cherokee Nation. Also included are others who “served in various Indian wars or participated in the quelling or solving of Indian disturbances or problems, 1815-1858.”

More historical statutes online

The Library of Congress has posted new materials that will enable you to more easily research the laws relating to your ancestors’ lives. According to the site, “The individual statutes for congresses 68 through 81 are now available on the Law Library of Congress website. This addition closes the gap for the years for which the Statutes at Large were not available on the Internet. As with the volumes for previous congresses, each of these statutes is tagged with tailored, descriptive metadata to help users search and browse by facets.” Click here to explore these online collections for free.

U.S. passenger lists: Virgin Islands arrivals

FamilySearch.org has published a small but significant new collection of indexed records,  United States, Virgin Islands Index to Passenger Arrivals, 1906-1947. According to the collection description, “This collection corresponds with NARA publications A3404 and A3407, both of which are passenger index lists. Publication roll A3404 serves as an index to the series “Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, July 16, 1907- May 12, 1923” NAID 2953525 and “Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, June 5, 1925 to-June 30, 1948” NAID 2953511. Publication roll A3407 consists of microfilmed index cards, which contain passenger list information for ships arriving at Honolulu 1900-1952 (ARC identifier 4493348).” Note that the title doesn’t reference Honolulu arrivals but the collection description does.

U.S. yearbooks

MyHeritage has published US Yearbooks, 1890-1979, a new collection claiming 36,207,173 digitized pages in 253,429 yearbooks, “one of the largest collections of digitized US yearbooks in existence,” states the collection description. “Yearbooks are excellent genealogical records that include personal portraits and group photographs. These books can give a researcher insight into students, faculty, and staff who attended or worked at a school. The yearbooks in this huge compendium are primarily from high schools, which in the United States normally comprise grades 9 to 12 or 10 to 12.”

New England

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has published new resources for those with New England heritage:

  • “Thanks to our volunteers, we’re announcing three improved databases this week. These databases are now indexed by first name, last name, parents’ names, spouse’s name, location, date, and record type. They also now include images scanned from our manuscript collection. The improved databases are Guilford, CT Deaths, 1883-1890, Lincoln County, ME: Commissioners Marriages Records, 1759-1777, and Westfield, MA: Deaths in the First Church, 1728-1836.”
  • “The Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS is pleased to announce the launch of our new website, JewishHeritageCenter.org. This enhanced website will be another resource for patrons to explore the history of Boston and New England’s Jewish communities, and provide the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS the opportunity to further tell the stories of families, organizations, and synagogues. The website offers subject guides, links to featured exhibits and events, collection finding aids, and a variety of other resources for those with an interest in Jewish history and genealogy. Make sure to bookmark our website, and check back often for updated content!”

Great Lakes rail history

The Lake States Railway Historical Association is working to build an online archive and expand awareness of its important historical collections. According to this article in the Baraboo News Republic, “The collections at the Lake States Railway Historical Association contain countless stories of early railroads and the people who worked on them, and the organization’s leaders want to share them with the world. The 5,000-square-foot historical archive on Lynn Street in Baraboo is home to thousands of books, negatives, photographs, blueprints, drawings and other historical documents that detail early railroads, with a principal focus on the Western Great Lakes Region from 1880 to 1916. Volunteers are in the process of cataloging the collections in an online database so railroad enthusiasts around the globe can see what resources the organization has to offer.” Click here to explore their online catalog to their collection.

More Mexico civil registration records now online

FamilySearch.org has recently added over 63 million Mexico civil registration records! Among them are records from Aguascalientes, Baja California (and Sur), Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Distrito Federal, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Michoacan, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatan and Zacatecas. Search them all from the main search portal for Mexican genealogy.

Please share these North American genealogy records

We scour the internet every week looking for the best new collections you’ll want to see, then group them to help you better find the ones you need. These Friday record roundups are some of our most popular posts. Please help us get the word out about these new North American genealogy records online! Share this post on your favorite social media site or email it to your genie friends and society buddies. Thank you for sharing! You’re a gem!

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.

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!

Gripping Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor: Honoring WWII Ancestors

Landscape

The bombing of Pearl Harbor unfolds from the horrified notes in deck logs of ships in this short video narrative. Learn more about these and other resources for researching WWII ancestors at Pearl Harbor.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and we pause to remember those who suffered in that attack. In honor of them, we share these unique resources for understanding what they went through that day.

Pearl Harbor Eyewitness Accounts

the National Archives (US) unfolds the terrifying action of the day from the point-of-view of sailors on ships at Pearl Harbor as they made ongoing entries in deck log books.

5 Ways to Learn about Pearl Harbor and Your WWII Ancestors There

Ship deck logs. According to this article in a National Archives magazine, deck logs of those ships docked at Pearl Harbor are part of the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Record Group 24, located at the College Park, Maryland facility in the Modern Military Branch. Click here to learn more about WWII-era deck logs at the National Archives, and here to learn more about naval deck logs and submarine deck logs in general.

National Archives guide. A new free guide can help you trace a person’s participation in World War II. The guide is “Finding Information on Personal Participation in World War II.” You’ll learn more about individual personnel files, military unit and ship records, merchant marine files, Army enlistment records, casualty records, and more.

Pearl Harbor casualty list. This free database lists all who died that day as a result of the attack. The dead and wounded included not only those who were on ships in the harbor, but civilians in Honolulu and military personnel in nearby locations.

National Archives programs. The National Archives is commemorating the 75th anniversary with programs and exhibits at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY, and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, TX. A series of book talks about Pearl Harbor’s history will be free and open to the public. We’ve listed the books below if you want to check them out.

Books. The authors of these acclaimed books are all speaking at The National Archives during the commemoration. Can’t get there to listen? Read them instead:

One more book we must recommend: Chris Cleave’s stunning novel Everyone Brave is Forgiven. As you follow the stories of its unlikely heroes through their unlikely wartime romance, you’ll feel like you were there. You will feel your heart pumping while reading about the ducking attacks on the island of Malta or imaging yourself driving through bombed-out London neighborhoods as fighter planes droned above you. We featured this book recently in the Genealogy Gems Book Club; listen to an interview clip with the author in the free Genealogy Gems podcast episode 195.

Find more fantastic books that family historians {heart} with the Genealogy Gems Book Club. Click here to see what else we recommend.

genealogy book club family history reading

Do You Need these WWII Documents at The National Archives [UK]?

Recently I heard about a slew of WWII documents at The National Archives [U.K.], some newly available online. Look closely at the descriptions: they have holdings of records of non-British forces, too!

Battle of Britain WWII documents at National Archives UK

Battle of Britain air observer. Wikipedia Commons image. Click to view.

Recently The National Archives [UK] promoted some of the WWII documents in its vaults, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Below are resources and collections they’ve highlighted.

The National Archives’ guide to researching WWII. This is an overview to researching British government and military records of WWII.

Guide to Royal Air Force Service Records. Use this overview to see what records are available at The National Archives, and learn about related records that have been digitized and indexed at Findmypast.

Royal Air Force combat reports. These are “official reports which pilots or air gunners filed after they had encountered enemy aircraft on operational flights,” says a description on the site. “The reports cover action seen by the squadrons, wings and groups serving with Fighter Command, Bomber Command, Coastal Command and the Fleet Air Arm. Now held at The National Archives in series AIR 50, they include Commonwealth, United States Army Air Force and Allied units based in the United Kingdom during the Second World War.”

Royal Air Force operations record books for squadrons. “Most of them date from the Second World War but there are some from the 1920s and 1930s and a few from the First World War,” says the site. “The ORBs, in series AIR 27, were created to provide a complete record of a unit from the time of its formation. Each book includes an accurate record of operations carried out by the unit. This online collection also includes some operations record books for dominion and Allied Air Force squadrons under British Command.” Part of the series is viewable online.

More Exciting WWII Resources from Genealogy Gems:

10 Maps for Family History at David Rumsey Map Collection

The Ghost Army of WWII Author Interview in the free Genealogy Gems podcast episode 182

The Bombing of London in WWII: Interactive Map of The Blitz

thank you for sharingI love it when people share! Thank you for passing this post along to others who will want to know about it.

Find Your Family History in World War II: WWII Yearbooks

Many of us are interested in learning about our relatives’ World War II military service. One important–but little-known–resource may be a military yearbook.

WWII yearbooks

Several years ago, my husband was given several mementos of his grandfather’s service in World War II. Among them was his 1942 yearbook of the 302nd Engineer’s Battalion at Fort Jackson, S.C.

WWII yearbook coverI had never seen anything like this. Its opening pages state, “This is a pictorial record of military engineers preparing for war. As such, it will be cherished by this command in the years to come.” Pages are filled with photos of military exercises, particularly building and blowing things up. There are pages with a brief history of the battalion, group photos with individual names by company, the unit fight song, and behind-the-scenes photographs of inspection, off-hours entertainment, eating and a mock battle.

“All branches of the [U.S.] military generate yearbooks, and have done so since before World War II,” writes military historian and genealogist Eric Johnson in a 2014 issue of Ohio Genealogy News (45:3, pages 20-21, quoted here with permission). “Types of yearbooks include: training centers (boot camps), service schools, academies (U.S. and private), ROTC summer camps, senior officers’ schools, overseas deployments to a war zone or for a naval cruise to foreign ports.”

Eric says the first step to locating WWII yearbooks relevant to an ancestor’s service is to learn the “dates of service, when and where a person attended boot camp and service schools, and where a person was stationed (land or sea).” You can learn this from their military discharge papers or (beginning in 1950) their DD Form 214.

Three places to look online for WWII yearbooks are:

1. Google. A search for “302nd Engineer Battalion” brings up several websites, organizations and lists that may point me to a yearbook and teach me more of the battalion’s history and activities.

2. WorldCat, an enormous multi-library card catalog, with the name of a battalion or regiment and the phrase “military yearbook.” If you don’t find anything, search the unit name a little differently or more broadly. If you find a yearbook at a library, see if you can borrow it through interlibrary loan or (more likely) get copies from its pages.

3. eBay. This huge online auction site specializes in rare items like military yearbooks. Set up an eBay alert so if the yearbook is posted in the future, you’ll find out about it. Learn more about eBay alerts in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 140.

Here are five more tips from Eric:

1. Look for military yearbooks in local, private and genealogy libraries, or from other veterans who served with an ancestor.

2. Military associations and reunion committees may have produced yearbooks, and they will likely know what yearbooks exist and perhaps where to find copies. Many of these have good websites.

3. Before purchasing a yearbook sight unseen (these can be pricy), compare a yearbook’s date to your ancestor’s service record. Make sure your ancestor was actually in that unit, boot camp, etc. during that time.

4. Check to see if your relative served on multiple ships or in more than one regiment, base, or posts. You may be looking for multiple yearbooks!

5. It’s possible you won’t find a relevant yearbook or cruise book. While searching, look for histories, living veterans or other resources to help you understand your relative’s military service experience.

More WWII Resources

The Bombing of London in WWII: Interactive Map of The Blitz

Find Your WWII Ancestors with These Military Gems

WWII Ghost Army Marches into Genealogy Gems Podcast

Here at Genealogy Gems, we {heart} veterans and honor their service. Veterans Day in the U.S. is coming up. How can you honor the veterans in your family or community? #CountdownToVeteransDay How many days until Veterans Day?

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