New US Navy Records and More!

New US Navy Records and More!

U.S. Naval correspondence letters top the list this week of new genealogy collections available online. Fold3 has two brand new collections of fascinating letters that could be a wonderful resource for anyone searching for their ancestors serving in the Navy. Also this week are two new Denmark Census Records collections and more new German vital records for you to explore. 

Naval Records at Fold3

Military records database Fold3 has added two new collections of naval records this month. The first collection is Letters Received by the Secretary of Navy (“Captains’ Letters”) dated 1805-1885. According to the collection, “The Captains’ Letters collection is organized by year and contains correspondence from captains at sea to the Secretary of the Navy related to a variety of issues, including shipboard discipline, repairs of vessels, and conflicts with foreign governments.” The letters are all in original manuscript form.

“This letter is from Captain Stephen Decatur. He was the youngest man to reach the rank of captain in the US Navy. In January 1812 he wrote to Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton requesting a court-martial for seaman Daniel Dailey. Dailey had strangled his fellow seaman, William Brown.” This image is from


The second collection is Letters Received by the Secretary of the Navy from Commanding Officers of Squadrons between 1841-1886. This collection “contains correspondence from commanding officers of squadrons. This collection is organized by squadron location; date; and finally alphabetized by the author of the letter.”

Denmark Census Records has added new nordic census collections. The first is 1787 Denmark Census, with over 800,000 records. The second is the 1801 Denmark Census, with nearly 1 million records in the collection. They cover only the kingdom of Denmark and does not include the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein.

A helpful research tip from MyHeritage when searching both of these collections: “Individuals often had multiple given names. However, in the census you may find individuals only listed with one of their given names—usually the one the individual most often went by—or even listed by their nickname. If at first an individual cannot be found under a particular given name, trying searching for the individual under one of their other given names, or by all of them together. Also, until the early 20th century, women were usually listed with their maiden name.”

German Vital Records

Last but certainly not least this week are two new collections of German vital records The Nienburg, Germany, Births, 1874-1905 collection. These civil registry records may include a child’s name, birth date and time, as well as parents’ names, occupations, residences, and denominations.

The Nienburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1974 collection will have records containing similiar information about the person’s name, age, occupation, denomination, and location and time of death. It may also include details about the informant. According to the collection, “beginning in 1938, the records may also include a Cause of Death and cross references to corresponding birth and/or marriage registers.”

More resources and insight on Naval records

The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #163 featured military expert Michael Strauss, as he helped a listener discover naval photos. Have a listen and be sure to check out the show notes for a large collection of additional resources for navy records! It’s available now to all Premium eLearning members. Not a member? Sign up today!

Lacey Cooke

Lacey Cooke

Lacey has been working with Genealogy Gems since the company’s inception in 2007. Now, as the full-time manager of Genealogy Gems, she creates the free weekly newsletter, writes blogs, coordinates live events, and collaborates on new product development. No stranger to working with dead people, Lacey holds a degree in Forensic Anthropology, and is passionate about criminal justice and investigative techniques. She is the proud dog mom of Renly the corgi.

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!

7 Steps for Preserving Old Photo Albums and Scrapbooks

7 Steps for Preserving Old Photo Albums and Scrapbooks

Preserving old albums means figuring out what to do with everything inside. What if items are dirty or mildewed? How can you safely store related memorabilia? The Archive Lady Melissa Barker tackles these common and important questions.

Recently Donna wrote in to tell us about a fantastic trove of family heirlooms she’s recently acquired—and to ask us how to take care of them. Here’s what she wants to know: “I’ve recently been given a huge amount of letters (WWII), photos, medals, etc. from my grandparent’s estate. I have two question/subjects that I’m asking about:

I’ve read a lot of things concerning preservation and have started doing that. But, I’ve never read what to do with items…specifically pictures in old fold out ‘albums’ where the album itself appears to have possible mold mildew or dirt. Do I slide out the pictures and while scanning them, [then] take some kind of bleach or other solution to the things on it? Do I just take pictures of the original and toss it? (I’d hate to do that.) I don’t want to compromise the collection because of one bad item, but I also want to preserve these things for the next generations.

Also, when putting things (letters, for example) into buffered folders and then placing them in archival boxes, can you put other media into the same archival box? For example: pictures, letters, and the dreaded newspaper clipping—all in their own folder, but in the same archival box? Or should each “type” of item have a dedicated box? Since V-Mail letters, airmail, and regular letters might be typed, written in ink or pencil, and/or images (v-mail) printed out, can they go into separate folders but in the same archival box?”

Donna concludes, “I’m trying hard to find these answers. I am assuming that since things are divided out, they will be okay in the same box. I am treating my grandfather’s ribbons and some coins this way…putting them in divided/sectioned clamshell boxes where each divided area has a different medium or item. Basically, I guess I’m worried about whether items physically separated but in the same container will still affect each other.”

7 Steps for Preserving Old Photo Albums and Scrapbooks

Donna asks some great questions about records preservation. It sounds like she has some true treasures in her collection and it is understandable that she would want to use the proper methods to keep them protected for generations to come.

Here are 7 steps you can take to preserve your old, deteriorating photo albums and scrapbooks:

1. The molding photograph that Donna has in the fold out album is something that should be dealt with immediately. Remove the photograph from the album if possible.

2. Take the album and place it in outside in direct sunlight for about 30 minutes, which should kill the mold.

3. Then using a damp cloth, clean the album and let it dry. This should have removed any mold that was on the album. Never use any chemicals, like bleach, on any items you are trying to preserve.

4. Digitize the photograph and then place it back in the original album. It is important to keep the photo and the fold out album together for provenance.

5. Place the album with the photograph into an archival sleeve and then into an archival file folder.

6. The folder can then be placed into an archival box.

7. It is important to store all photographs in a cool, dark and dry place. Humidity and moisture will cause more mold and damage. The temperature should also be a consistent temperature. Fluctuating temperatures can damage photographs.

Donna asks about putting several different items into the same archival box. It is perfectly acceptable to put different items in the same archival box. Photographs, old letters, and newspaper clippings can be stored in the same box as long as they are not touching each other and are in their own file folder. It is also acceptable to place small artifacts in the same box as long as it does not fold or lay on the file folders where the other documents are located. Be sure to not overcrowd the box which could cause damage to what is stored inside the box.

Taking the steps needed to preserve our precious family papers and heirlooms is what we should all be doing. The next generation will be glad that we did!

archival sleeve preserving old albums

Images are courtesy of Melissa Barker and the Houston County, TN Archives.

Keep reading: How to archive family history documents

Keep up the good work preserving your own old albums and other family documents. If you found this helpful, I also recommend you read my article “How to archive family history documents,” in which I answer another Genealogy Gems fan’s question about safely preserving precious original family paperwork.


About the Author: Melissa Barker is a Certified Archives Records Manager, the Houston County, Tennessee Archivist and author of the popular blog A Genealogist in the Archives and an advice columnist. She has been researching her own family history for the past 27 years.

Millions of Obituaries from Around the World

Millions of Obituaries from Around the World

Obituaries and death indexes feature prominently in recently-updated collections at These collections take us around the world: from Australia to the U.S., Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, then to Germany and The Netherlands.

Featured: Obituaries and death indexes

Genealogy giant subscription website has updated 17 collections, several of which relate to obituaries and other death records. Many of these collections focus on recent deaths, which may not seem as valuable at first glance. But many obituaries contain genealogical clues back one or two or more generations, helping you link ancestors and descendants to each other in your family trees.

Furthermore, clues about a person’s death can lead you to all kinds of additional records: civil or church death records, tombstone inscriptions, cemetery and funeral records, wills and probate records, and even memorials in church or civic publications. So this is one must-have record type for every possible person on your tree for the past 100 years, or even more!

All the following collections come from, where you can go to Search > Catalog to find the individual collections named below. (Just enter the collection title in part or full.)

Australia/New Zealand obituaries

“Australia and New Zealand, Obituary Index, 2004-2018,” now has more than 377,000 records. This is a fairly recent collection, but we also reported last month on updates to a sister collection of Australian newspaper vital notices dating back to the 1830s.

British Isles obituaries and deaths

An offsite collection that’s indexed on Ancestry, “Web: UK, Coal Mining Accidents and Deaths Index, 1878-1935,” now has nearly 103,000 records. According to the collection landing page, “This data is published by The Coalmining History Resource Centre. You can often find additional information by visiting the source website, including references, publication information, comments, historical context, and even images.”

The “England and Wales, Death Index, 2007-2017” at now has more than 1.2 million records. The collection description says, “This collection is a compiled index that covers approximately 55% of the total deaths that occurred in this time period. This index provides death details for people in England and Wales, specifically their name, gender, date of birth or age at death, date of death, and residence place at death.”

“UK and Ireland, Obituary Index, 2004-2018” now claims more than 1.6 million records of recent deaths. “The collection contains obituaries from hundreds of newspapers. We work with partners to scour the Internet regularly to find new obituaries and extract the facts into our database. Where available we include the original URL link to the source information.”

The “Scotland and Northern Ireland, Death Index, 1989-2017” now includes over 525,000 records. It’s “a compiled index that covers approximately 45% of the total deaths that occurred in this time period. This index provides death details for people in Scotland and Northern Ireland, specifically their name, gender, date of birth or age at death, date of death, and residence place at time of death. However, they do not include the General Register Office (GRO) reference information. The index also contains a small number of records for people in Jersey and Isle of Man.”

Canada obituaries and notarial records

Ancestry’s collection of “Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1637-1935” now tops 16.5 million records! According to the site, “Notarial records are private agreements (contracts), written by notaries, who are considered legal professionals. This collection consists of notarial records for Quebec from the years 1637 to 1935. Each notary set up practice and kept sets of records for documents they created.”

Looking for Canadian obituaries? The “Canada, Obituary Collection, 1898-2018” now has more than 1.4 million entries. Its historical depth—more than 100 years—and its inclusion of recent deaths set it apart from some other obituary indexes reported here.

Germany vital records

The collection “Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875” now has nearly 900,000 records. The site offers excellent background for this database: “The current capital of the Rhine-Palatinate state in Germany, Mainz has a rich and storied history….Since the late 18th century, Mainz has been at times under French, Prussian, and German rule, and for a brief spell, it was a democratic free state.

“Initially, registrations of births, marriages, and deaths were kept by religious denominations, but with French occupation in the 1790s, a system of civil registration modeled on the French system was implemented in 1798. This collection includes civil registrations of births, marriages, and deaths beginning in 1798 and extending to 1875. In 1876, civil registration was implemented across unified Germany, and some of those records can be found in other Ancestry collections.”

Netherlands military Scandinavian genealogy obituaries

“Exercise Field Artillery Corps” album, image AKL092038, Netherlands Institute of Military History uploads at Flickr Creative Commons,

The Netherlands: Obituaries and more

The collection “Netherlands, Newspaper Announcements Index, 1795-1945” now has over 5 million records. “This collection consists of an index to announcements and advertisements from various newspapers. Approximately forty percent of the records are death (Overlijden) announcements. Just under one-quarter of the records are birth (Geboorte) announcements, and nearly as many are miscellaneous (Diversen) announcements or advertisements. The remaining records consist of marriage (Huwelijk) announcements. Details vary depending on the event….Also included is the name of the archive where the original record can be found, as well as a link to the record on the source website. In most cases, additional information about the original record will be available via that link. In some cases, images of the original records may be available via that link as well.”

United States obituary and death records

Two enormous collections of U.S. obituary and other death records have been updated at “U.S., Cemetery and Funeral Home Collection, 1847-2018” has passed 9 million records. The site describes the collection as one harvested from cemetery and funeral home records all over the Internet (to which individual entries link, wherever possible). A related collection, “U.S., Obituary Collection, 1930-2018,” now has nearly 40 million records, and is also described as a compilation of records gleaned from many resources online.

Got Oregon Trail ancestors? The “Willamette Valley, Oregon, Death Records, 1838-2006” collection now has more than 158,000 records. It “contains a collection of various death records for Willamette Valley, Oregon. Most are from Marion County. They include funeral home records, cemetery records, newspaper obituaries, and death certificates transcribed or compiled by members of the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society.”

Now topping 5 million records, the “New York, Death Index, 1852-1956” collection “consists of indices of deaths from the state of New York. Details vary, but may include the following information for the deceased: name, death date, death city, age at death, gender [and] certificate number.”

More to learn about obituaries

Not motivated enough yet to pursue obituaries for your relatives? Read our free article, 12 things you can learn in obituaries, and you’ll probably change your mind! An obituary isn’t just a record of a death: it’s often a window into a lifetime.

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!

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