March 27, 2017

The Oldest Veterans on YouTube

There is a time capsule of American military veterans on YouTube, and it is remarkable. As a follow-up to our recent post, The Faces of U.S. Military Veterans through the Centuries, we now bring you a line-up of amazing videos and photographs from the War of 1812 to World War II.

We begin this YouTube journey with the historical footage of the funeral procession of Hiram Cronk. Cronk was the last known surviving veteran of the War of 1812 when he died in 1905, at the age of 105. The clip found on YouTube shows row after row of marching men passing by on the screen. A YouTube comment identifies them as “Civil War veterans in their 60s [and] Mexican-American War veterans in their 80s.” Another comment identifies the last group of marching soldiers as re-enactors wearing War of 1812 soldier’s uniforms.

In fact, YouTube offers us many opportunities to see the faces and actions of earlier generations of soldiers. Have you seen the famous footage of the storming of the beaches at Normandy? It’s on YouTube!

After sharing our last post, The Faces of U.S. Military Veterans through the Centuries, I received a comment from Stephen, a Genealogy Gems reader. Stephen’s father served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was in the Aleutian Islands. That caught my eye because my father-in-law also served in the Aleutian Islands. It was a challenging landscape in which to serve, which is evident in the YouTube video I found online.

Aleutian Islands WWII Campaign: Combat runs over Kiska, Alaska

There are other military history gems found on YouTube you may never have expected to see. This next video is a collection of early combat photos beginning in 1863 with the U.S. Civil War. The creator of this video gave some background on combat photography. He said:

“The first war photography took place in the Mexican-American War by an anonymous photographer, but it wasn’t until the American Civil War that the first combat photos were taken…The limitations posed by the time and complexity it took to take a photo in the mid-to-late 1800’s made it difficult to obtain images during battles, but a few of naval actions did emerge. There was also not a tradition of journalists and artists putting their lives on the line for an image. The overall amount of combat photography before World War I was small, but a few images did emerge from a few courageous and pioneering people. By the time of World War I, governments saw the value in having large numbers of photographers to document conflicts for propaganda purposes and improved camera technology allowed combat photographers to routinely capture most iconic images of many conflicts.”

The earliest combat photos, 1863-1915

Google Drive and other tipsClick here for tips to find your family history on YouTube or read an entire chapter on the subject in my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.

Addition Resources:

WorldCat Gets a Major Addition: New Genealogy Records Online this Week

We think this week’s list of new and updated genealogical records is really the cat’s meow! WorldCat gets a major addition to their database that is going to help make strides in researching ancestors from Quebec. Search the Irish black sheep in the family and dive into records for Middlesex, European soldiers of WWI, and a helpful record collection for Iowa ancestors!Dig_Records_First_Image

 

World Cat Gets Major AdditionWorldCat

WorldCat is a catalog that itemizes the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories. If you have a book or publication that you are dying to get a hold of, you can use World Cat to track it down. Using a title or keywords you are interested in, World Cat will locate where the closest copy of a book, DVD, CD, or article, for you to view. Isn’t that wonderful?

Many genealogists use World Cat and we have some exciting news. 2.4 million new records have been added by Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) to the WorldCat database. This mega contribution is dedicated to those records from Quebec or those that relate to Quebec.

To learn more about and search WorldCat, click here. And then take a few minutes to watch Lisa’s interview with Jay Jordan, President & CEO of OCLC about the collaboration between OCLC and FamilySearch to bring better acess to records and resources to everyone.

Ireland – Outrage Reports

What’s an outrage report? This new collection at Findmypast consists of thousands of reports created by the Royal Irish Constabulary between 1836 and 1840. Outrage reports were created by chief constables who were responsible for writing a short summary of all incidents, crimes, or disturbances that occurred within their county.

The original records are held at the National Archives in London. These historic Irish reports include descriptions of thefts, assaults, suicides, rescues, cases of infanticide, arson, and more. Each record includes both a transcript and digital image of the original document. Images of the original documents contain a short description of the event or offence reported or the details of the crime committed, so reader beware. If you have a black sheep in the family, you might want to take a look at this special collection.

United Kingdom – Middlesex – Court Records

Another new collection at Findmypast is titled “Middlesex, London, Old Bailey Court records, 1674-1913.” This collection holds over 782,000 court records from London’s Old Bailey. Old Bailey was the central criminal court of England and Wales. Within this collection, you will find both transcripts and links to images of the original documents. Criminal proceedings and biographies of executed criminals is just the tip of the iceberg, so you’ll want to start digging today!

United Kingdom – WWI War Diaries

Fold3.com announced their new database collection “UK WWI War Diaries.” These diaries are unit diaries. They cover operations and movements for the British and colonial united who served between 1914 and 1920 in France, Belgium, and Germany, as well as in Gallipoli/Dardanelles Campaign.

The diaries are separated into two titles: UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium, and Germany) and UK, WWI Diaries (Gallipoli-Dardanelles.) These diaries are a daily record of events and some diaries contain more information than you might expect. You may even be able to find supplemental documents too. This collection is organized by regiment, division, and then sub-unit. Remember, these are typically handwritten records. You may want to browse the records one-by-one to make sure your search is not in vain.

Though these are not personal diaries, you may find your ancestor listed by name. It is always more meaningful to learn of our ancestors in these ways. To learn of the conditions, their movements, their gains and their losses, can paint a more realistic story of their time in WWI.

United States – Iowa – State Census

Iowa_1905_Census

State censuses are unique. They were usually taken on the 5’s, like in 1885, 1895, or 1905, etc. Iowa is one of my favorite states to research in because of their state census records. If you have Iowa ancestors, you will love the 1905 Iowa State Census now available to search for free at FamilySearch.org.

The 1905 census asked similar questions to those asked in many of the U.S. Federal Censuses, such as name, age, and place of birth. This census also asked how long they had lived in the U.S. and how long they had lived in Iowa. This is particularly helpful when determining if an immigrant ancestor came “straight to Iowa,” or may have resided in another area for a time.

This census also includes signatures of those enumerated which is a neat piece of memorabilia to have for one of your kindred dead.

Learn More about Using WorldCat for Genealogy

WorldCat for Genealogy: 40 Million Records and Digital Gateway

WorldCat + FHL Catalog = True Genealogical Love!

New Record Collections Offer a Royal Treat

dig these new record collections

New record collections for the United Kingdom offer a royal treat for your week! You will find new collections for monumental inscriptions, British newspapers, and baptisms. And for the cherry on top, see the new and updated collections for the U.S. Military and the great state of Texas!

 

UNITED KINGDOM – WORCESTERSHIRE & OTHER COUNTY TOWNS

A new record collection at Findmypast entitled Worcestershire Monumental Inscriptions is now available. A monumental inscription is an etching carved into stone, wood, or on a plaque as a memorial to a person buried there. Monumental inscriptions are an important source for genealogical data. Many will include more than one name and help trace further family connections. Name, year of death, and a location are some of the things often carved into these monumental inscriptions. What is even better is if you find an ancestor in these Worcestershire Monumental Inscriptions, you can pop over and look for a baptismal record in the Worcestershire Baptisms collection.

Another new monumental inscription collection at Findmypast is entitled Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, & Kincardineshire Monumental Inscriptions. These records are going to include more data than the Worcestershire inscriptions. Name, date of death, denomination, graveyard name, special inscriptions, and even some notes may be included in these transcribed records. Many of these records will also hold multiple names.

UNITED KINGDOM – NEWSPAPERS

Findmypast has updated their British Newspapers 1710-1953 collection this week, too. There are literally thousands of local and regional publications across England, Wales, and Scotland. Each page has been digitized and indexed, which makes it super simple to find what you are looking for!

UNITED STATES – MILITARY

Fold3 now has WWI Draft Registration Cards as a searchable online database. In 1917 and 1918, about 24 million men living in the U.S. filled out a World War I draft registration card. These draft cards will contain a name, date of birth (if known), birthplace, citizenship status, and information on a relative or close associate. Even though this record collection is only about 14% complete, you may find the person you have been wondering about. Don’t forget to check back often as more records are made available.

UNITED STATES – TEXAS

FamilySearch helps the Lonestar State researchers with the Texas, Tax Rolls, 1837-1910 records. This collection has indexed records for only 231 out of the 254 counties in Texas, but you can still find records that have not been indexed by using the browse only feature. [Tip: Read step-by-step instructions for how to access the browse only databases here.]

Texas tax roll records include the first year for each county included prior to 1845, as well as 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1890, 1895, and 1905. There are some gaps in several years of some counties. Ellis County, 1886, images 114, 116, 118, 120, 122, 124, 126, 128, 130, 132, and 134 are cut off on the left side, so some of the beginning letters of the surnames are missing.

Information in Texas tax records include:

  • Name of owner
  • Assessment number
  • Original grantee
  • Number of acres of land
  • Value
  • Town plot description
  • Name of city or town
  • Kind, number, and value of livestock
  • Kind, quantity, and value of farm commodities
  • Amount of state taxes
  • Amount of county taxes

MORE GEMS ON NEWSPAPER RESEARCH FOR GENEALOGY

How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers

Are you looking for some tips and tricks to find and research newspaper articles for your family history? Lisa shares all her valuable know-how and years of experience in her book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. Available in both a printed copy and digital version, this book provides you with a fool-proof research process and is stuffed with everything you need for genealogical success in newspaper research!

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsEvery week, we post about exciting new genealogy records online. Scan this week’s list for anything you should search (or share with a friend): a colonial North American digital archive; Revolutionary War-era residents of Alabama; U.S. military burials; Freedmen’s Bureau records; California naturalizations and British WWI databases.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN RECORDS. Over 130,000 indexed images were added to the United States Freedmen’s Bureau Hospital and Medical Records 1865-1872 collection, searchable for free on FamilySearch. The index includes “patient registers, registers of sick and wounded, prescription books, and other medical records from freedmen hospitals and dispensaries….Records include letters and endorsements sent and received, account books, applications for rations, applications for relief, court records, labor contracts, registers of bounty claimants, registers of complaints, registers of contracts, registers of disbursements, registers of freedmen issued rations, registers of patients, reports, rosters of officers and employees, special and general orders and circulars received, special orders and circulars issued, records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads.”

ALABAMA REVOLUTIONARY WAR. A new database of indexed images at Ancestry “contains biographies, news clippings, and cards in paragraph form detailing persons who were residents in Alabama during the Revolutionary War in America.”

BRITISH WWI RECORDS. Findmypast has released new databases relating to World War I service: Surrey, Military Tribunals, 1915-1918 (military exemptions for the county of Surrey); and two British Army memorial rolls for employees of Lloyds of London and the London Stock Exchange who died in service.

CALIFORNIA NATURALIZATIONS. A database with indexed images of over a century’s worth of California naturalization records (1887-1991) has been updated at Ancestry.com.

COLONIAL NORTH AMERICA. A new digital archive has been launched: The Colonial North American Project at Harvard University. Its goal is to post digitized versions of “all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th and 18th century North America.” According to the site, its “documents reveal a great deal about topics such as social life, education, trade, finance, politics, revolution, war, women, Native American life, slavery, science, medicine, and religion. In addition to reflecting the origins of the United States, the digitized materials also document aspects of life and work in Great Britain, France, Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico.” (Click here to read our blog post about the project’s announcement in 2013.)

U.S. MILITARY BURIALS. BillionGraves.com recently added over 8 million U.S. military veterans’ burial records to the Special Collections that can be accessed by BG+ subscribers. These records include burial and cemetery records from the Veterans Affairs office, as well as military headstones from civilian headstones around the world.

thank you for sharingThanks for sharing these new genealogy records online with friends and fellow genealogists and through your genealogical society social media channels. It’s fun to spread good news!

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsHere’s our weekly list of new genealogy records online. It’s PACKED with European military records from WWII back to the War of 1812. Do any collections below relate to your family history? Please share with your genealogy buddies or with societies that might be interested!

BRITISH POWs IN JAPAN. Over 56,000 records pertaining to the 37,583 British and Commonwealth soldiers released from Japanese captivity in 1945 are now available on Forces War Records. ‘This collection…lists the soldiers, along with the occasional civilian, who endured these conditions. Prisoners were only obliged to provide their name, rank and number so the amount of military information is limited, however the records do include the date of capture, the camp in which they were held and the date of liberation, be that through release, escape or death.”

BRITISH JEWS IN WWI. Findmypast’s new British Jewry Book of Honour 1914-1920 “contains nearly 57,000 color images and transcripts of [an original] two-volume book published in 1922 to record and honor” contributions of more than 50,000 Jews to the British and colonial forces during World War I. “It describes Jewish enlistment, casualties, military honors, Jewish units and the work of Jewish hospitals and other Jewish institutions and agencies. Importantly, it contains alphabetical lists of those killed in action, those who were awarded military honors and the nominal rolls of Jews who served, listed by service and by regiment.”

BRITISH WAR OF 1812. The British Army Casualty Index War of 1812 now at Findmypast “contains the details of over 12,000 soldiers in the British Army who died, deserted, or were imprisoned during the War of 1812 (or the Anglo American War)….Each record consists of a transcript of the original source material that will reveal the soldiers name, birth place, former occupation, rank, regiment or unit, place or action, company officer, company number, removal date and manner of removal – this may include information on how a soldier died or whether he deserted or was a prisoner of war.”

SCOTTISH CHURCH RECORDS. A new Findmypast collection, Scottish Covenanters 1679-1688 contains over 81,000 records of The Covenanters, a “Scottish Presbyterian movement that played an important part in the history of Scotland, England and Ireland, during the 17th century….The records list the individuals who signed the Covenant…[and] a transcript created using sources held by The National Archives and the National Library of Scotland…[with] the Covenanter’s name, county, a description (often their occupation or relatives) and place.”

WWII in EUROPE. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has launched a new online database of British, Irish, and Commonwealth WWII casualties. It will now be possible for the first time “to see the original records of all 1.7 million individuals the Commission commemorates.” According to a press release, “The digitized records cover British, Irish and Commonwealth casualties from the Second World War, together with records for most other nationals commemorated at CWGC sites: this includes the records for German soldiers.”

We love seeing all these new genealogy records online every week! The trick is to get the word out about them. Will you help us by sharing this post with others?

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.”

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064

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.

 

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 gems new genealogy records onlineEvery Friday, we highlight new genealogy records online. Scan these posts for content that may include your ancestors. Use these records to inspire your search for similar records elsewhere. Always check our Google tips at the end of each list: they are custom-crafted each week to give YOU one more tool in your genealogy toolbox.

This week: British POWs in World War I, North Carolina marriages, and church records for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and various denominations in Scotland.

BRITISH POWs IN WWI. Prisoners Of War 1914-1920, with over 43,000 records with images at FindMyPast, consists of “10 series of British Foreign Office documents relating to prisoners held by the Ottomans during World War One. They not only include the names of military personnel taken prisoner–both allied and foreign–but also the names of civilians, merchant seamen, fishermen, diplomatic employees and more.” Some documents “contain the names, ranks and locations of PoWs and provide insights into life in the Ottoman camps. They contain details of requests made by inmates for items including footballs and biscuits, details of visits by foreign diplomats and reports on camp conditions.”

NORTH CAROLINA MARRIAGE RECORDS. Ancestry has a new collection of North Carolina “marriage bonds, licenses, certificates, and registers, as well as indexes and abstracts to the various records from 87 North Carolina counties….Of special interest to African American researchers are records of cohabitation, which were required to be recorded in 1866 in order for the marriages of recently emancipated slaves to be legally recognized.” The records span 1741-2011.

SCOTLAND CHURCH RECORDS. Births, baptisms, banns and marriages, deaths and burials are among a slew of newer records searchable on MyHeritage.com. According to the site, “The records in this collection were taken from Kirk Session material of the Church of Scotland, other Presbyterian churches, and also the registers of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). These parish registers cover a wide range of dates (from 17th to 19th century) and many of them are not to be found in any other record source.” Information listed in these records may include names, family relationships, dates and places of events and details of the parish.

U.S. LUTHERAN CHURCH RECORDS. Baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial records from more than 2000 congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (1875-1940) are now on Ancestry. These have been available on Archives.com but have migrated to its parent site. “The information…varies from congregation to congregation (and sometimes from minister to minister). In some ethnic congregations, you may run into records in German, Danish, or some other language….Within the collection you may also find membership records, with some listing the names and dates of admission, communion records, and how they were received into the church.”
check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064 new genealogy records online

Google tip of the week: If you see a record collection online but don’t have a subscription to the website that hosts it, Google the name of the database. See whether a free site (like FamilySearch) or another site to which you do have access also hosts the same data set or a similar one. Can’t find it? Click on the description of the record collection (you can generally read the description even if you can’t search the records themselves) and read its source. It may come from a book or a resource that’s been microfilmed–something you can search for on WorldCat and borrow to a library near you. This tip is brought to you by The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition–fully revised and updated in 2015!

Share World War I Family History

flagTo commemorate the centennial of the First World War, and to mark the last full month of the exhibition Myth and Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture, the Wolfsonian at Florida International University (FIU) created a special Tumblr for sharing family stories, WWI memorabilia, and genealogy research tips called #GreatWarStories.

I first crossed paths with FIU’s Digital Outreach Strategist Jeffery K. Guin in 2009 when he interviewed me for his Voices of the Past website and show. Jeff was an early innovator in the world of online history, and he’s now brought those talents to the Wolfsonian, a museum, library and research center in Miami that uses its collection to illustrate the persuasive power of art and design.

The Wolfsonian team of historical sleuths is inviting the public at large to help them unearth the forgotten impact of the Great War by posting family facts, anecdotes, documents, and photographs. They were inspired by their current art exhibition Myth and Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture which focuses on artists’ responses to the war. They hope that #GreatWarStories project at Tumblr will be a “living, breathing digital collection of personal WWI stories, photos, documents and letters compiled in remembrance of the transformational war on the occasion of its centennial.”

Great war
Jeff asked me to join in on this history crowd-sourcing effort, and it was easy to comply. Several years ago  in going through the last of my Grandmother’s boxes, I found a booklet she had crafted herself called The World War.As a high school student, and daughter of German immigrant parents she set about gathering and clipping images from magazines and newspapers, depicting this turning point in history. I’ve been anxious to share it in some fashion, and this was my opportunity. Here is the result:

Do you have a piece of World War I history hiding in our closet? Why not join in this experiment in storytelling, sharing and curating, and share World War I family history?

Here are some ways you can contribute:

  • Sharing the story of your family’s WWI-related history through photos, documents, or anecdotes (possibilities include guest blogging, video/podcast interview, or photo essay)
  • Using your expertise and unique perspective as a launching pad for discussing the war’s impact in a different or surprising way
  • Alerting the museum to related resources or materials that would dovetail with the mission of the project

To see the living, digital collection, visit http://greatwarstories.tumblr.comIf you would like to participate, send an email to greatwarstories@thewolf.fiu.edu and the Wolfsonian team will be in touch to discuss storytelling ideas.

Orphaned Heirloom WWI Medal Comes Home via Facebook

WWI World War I medal returned to familyThanks to an appeal on Facebook, an old World War I medal is back with its family!

According to the North Devon Journal in the U.K., the medal was found with the belongings of a man who died in 1980. His sister only recently realized there was a name on the medal, says a story in the North Devon Gazette. She asked a nearby museum to help her return it to a living descendant.

A Facebook appeal went out for a descendant of the soldier, Private Albert Earnest Stowell, who the Gazette says served in the Devonshire Regiment.

Within half an hour a great great grandson of Private Stowell was located. The medal was returned to him at a museum ceremony.

Inspired? Click here for tips for how YOU can help orphaned heirlooms return to their families. More interested in learning more about your own family’s participation in World War I? Click here to read about Europeana’s online archive for WWI.