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US Church Records for Genealogy and More Now Online

US Church Records for Genealogy and More Now Online

Using US church records for genealogy can help you solve brick walls in your family history research. Now online: Swedish-American, Presbyterian, Catholic and Methodist! Also: Connecticut newspapers, NY passenger lists, and vital records from Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey  and Tennessee.

Featured: Swedish American church records

New on Genealogy Giant Ancestry.com is a collection you’ll want to search if you have Swedish roots: U.S., Evangelical Covenant Church, Swedish American Church Records, 1868-1970. According to the site, “The records in this collection consist of administrative records from select affiliates of the Evangelical Covenant Church in America. Indexes have been provided for baptisms, marriages, burials, and membership records (arrivals, dismissals, and member lists), as well as congregational histories and biographical files of church leaders.”

“The member lists in particular have a wealth of information, including vital dates and emigration information. Some member lists may include the location in Sweden an individual or family was originally from. Records are written in either English or Swedish.” Although Swedish immigrants most famously settled the farmlands of the Midwest, this collection includes records from all over the country. States include CA, CO, CT, FL, ID, IL, IA, KS, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NJ, NH, NY, PA, RI, SD, TX, VT, WA, WI and WY. A smaller, related collection is also new at Ancestry.com is U.S., Evangelical Free Church of America, Swedish American Church Records, 1800-1946.

Ancestry.com has also been adding to another U.S. church record collection on the site: U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970. “This collection currently includes baptism, marriage, death, burial, and other records from Presbyterian churches” in 48 states and Washington, D.C., states the collection description. “Records from additional churches will be added in future updates to this collection.” This collection now contains more than 4.5 million records and is sourced from original church registers at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More US church records, vital records and more…by state

Connecticut. The Genealogy Giant MyHeritage.com has published a new collection with more than 2.3 million records: Connecticut Newspapers, 1791-2009. Among titles included in this list are The Catholic Press, Meriden Record, Meridan (Daily) Journal, Record-Journal, The Norwalk Hour, Meriden Daily/Weekly Republican, Hartford Weekly Times, The Ridgefield Press, The Wilton Bulletin, The Journal, Bridgeport Morning News, Bridgeport Herald, The Redding Pilot, The Evening Hour, The Bristol Herald and The Branford Opinion.

Massachusetts. The New England Historic Genealogical Society continues to update its collections of Massachusetts: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records, 1789-1900 on subscription site AmericanAncestors.org. Recent additions (with thousands of names) include the parishes of St. Bernard (Newton), St. Ann (Dorchester), St. Anthony of Padua (Allston) St. Jean Baptiste (Lowell), St. Augustine (South Boston) and Immaculate Conception (Marlborough).

For your information, Ancestry.com hosts a related database that has also recently been updated: Massachusetts, Boston Archdiocese Roman Catholic Sacramental Records, 1789-1900.

Michigan. Ancestry.com has updated Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950, now with over 8.3 million records! According to the site, “this collection contains death registers (1867-1897) as well as certificates (1897-1941)…. Due to privacy laws, images are only available for records that are more than 75 years old.”

Montana. Ancestry.com has updated Montana, County Marriage Records, 1865-1993, with “county marriage records from various counties in Montana. Details vary, but may include the following information for both the bride and groom: name, age at marriage, marriage date, marriage place [and] parents’ names.

New Hampshire. Now on Findmypast.com is a browse-only collection, New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records 1636-1947, with more than 400,000 vital and town records acquired from the offices of local town clerks in New Hampshire. According to the site, “The collection includes records of births, marriages, and deaths; vital registers; indexes; minutes of meetings; and records of other civic activities.” (This collection comes from FamilySearch; you can search their free index and images here.)

Also for New Hampshire: Ancestry.com has updated its collection, New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947.

New Jersey. After a recent update, Ancestry.com now boasts nearly three-quarters of a million records in its collection New Jersey, United Methodist Church Records, 1800-1970. These are sourced from the Greater New Jersey United Methodist Church Commission on Archives and History in Madison, New Jersey, and includes baptism, marriage, burial, and membership records from mostly-closed churches within that region.

Also for New Jersey: the nonprofit activist group Reclaim the Records has published New Jersey Marriage Index, 1901-2016 and New Jersey Birth, Marriage, and Death Indices, 1901-1903 and 1901-1914 on the Internet Archive, making them “totally digital, and totally free—forever.” Subscribers of Genealogy Giant Findmypast.com may find it more convenient to search part of these records on Findmypast in New Jersey Death Index 1901-1903 and New Jersey Marriage Index 1901-1914.

New York. The collection New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 has recently been updated at Ancestry.com, now with nearly 9.5 million records. The collection description includes this explanation: “Contained in this database are passenger arrival and departure lists, and crew arrival and departure lists for vessels that were filed at various ports in New York. The captain or master of each vessel was required to submit these lists to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) upon arrival if they had departed from a Canadian or other foreign port, or whose last scheduled U.S. port of arrival was in New York.”

Tennessee. Ancestry.com has updated its collection Tennessee, Death Records, 1908-1958, so that it now boasts nearly 3.9 records. According to the collection description, “This collection contains information regarding: name of the deceased, age at time of death, death place, death date, gender, birth date, birthplace, parents’ names [and] parents’ birthplace. Additional information, such as occupation, cause of death, and date and place of burial, may be available on the original record and can be obtained by viewing the image. The name of the informant providing this information is also given, and may be useful in evaluating the reliability of the data.” A related Tennessee collection at Ancestry.com has also been updated recently: Tennessee, City Death Records, 1872-1923.

Find your Swedish ancestors

Are you intrigued by those new Swedish American church records but you’re not sure how to find your Swedish ancestors in them–or what the records say if you DO find their names? Beginning Swedish genealogy can be daunting. But don’t let language barriers or unfamiliar naming traditions deter you! Check out these getting-started tips for Swedish research from an expert at Legacy Tree Genealogists.

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!

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.

Old Scrapbooks for Genealogy

Old Scrapbooks for Genealogy

Old scrapbooks are a great resource for discovering your family history, whether you find them in your family’s attic or you stumble across an obituary scrapbook in a local archive. Check out The Archive Lady’s tips for finding these one-of-a kind resources.

Scrapbooks are one of my favorite record sources to do genealogy research in and to also process in the archives. There are all kinds of scrapbooks; each and every one is unique and one-of-a-kind. They were put together with love and the hope that what was saved and pasted onto those pages will be remembered.

The origins of scrapbooking is said to go back to the 15th century in England and it is still a hobby enjoyed by many today. Most archives, libraries, historical and genealogical societies have scrapbooks in their collections. They will most likely be found in the Manuscript Collection as part of a specifically named collection.

What’s in old scrapbooks

Scrapbooks contain all kinds of wonderful genealogical records, photographs, and ephemera. There is even a scrapbook in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives that has candy bar wrappers pasted in it!

That particular scrapbook is one of my absolute favorites. It was compiled and owned by Evelyn Ellis and dates to the 1930s and 1940s. Among the normal newspaper clippings and event programs are interesting pieces such as a Baby Ruth candy bar wrapper with a handwritten note by Evelyn that reads, “Always remember June 11, 1938 at Beach Grove at the Ice Cream Supper:” 

There is also an original ticket pasted into the scrapbook from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee where Evelyn Ellis visited and recorded her comments on April 1, 1939:

There are scrapbooks for just about any subject. Aside from personal scrapbooks, you can find war scrapbooks, obituary clipping scrapbooks, and scrapbooks that collected and recorded local or national events. The obituaries found in scrapbooks could be a real find because sometimes they are the only pieces of the newspaper that survive and can be a treasure trove for any genealogist. Many scrapbooks contain one-of-a-kind documents, photographs, and ephemera.

To find scrapbooks in an archive, ask the archivist if they have any scrapbooks in their records collections. Many times scrapbooks are housed with a particular manuscript collection and will be listed in the finding aid. Some archives have a collection of just scrapbooks that have been donated to them and can be easily accessed. Most scrapbooks will not be on research shelves, but rather will be stored in back rooms at the archives and will have to be requested. You should also check the archives online catalog for any listings of scrapbooks before you jump in the car and drive to the archives.

I encourage all genealogists to check with the archive in the area where your ancestors were from and see if they have any scrapbooks in their archived records collections. Scrapbooks are like time capsules; you don’t know what will be found in them until you open them up.

“Remember: It’s not all online; contact or visit an archive today!” That’s Melissa’s signature line. Even though we here at Genealogy Gems love teaching you how to find everything online–whether via Google or your favorite Genealogy Giants websites–it’s important to know how to find original documents and manuscripts that aren’t online. Click here to read more from Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady.

French Genealogy Records and More—Now Free Online!

French Genealogy Records and More—Now Free Online!

Nearly 2.5 million French genealogy records are among the free collections now available online at FamilySearch.org. Also: German church records, Dutch civil registrations and 3 free digital archives for researching U.S. ancestors in CT, GA and NJ.

Free French genealogy records

France, Brittany, Church and Civil Records, 1521-1896 is a new collection of more than 2.4 million birth, marriage, and death records from Ille-et-Vilaine and Côtes-d’Armor. It’s now free to search on the Genealogy Giant FamilySearch.org. In addition to knowing the name of the person you’re searching for, the site also recommends you have a good idea of at least one additional piece of information about them, such as a birthplace, birth date or parents’ names, so you can more confidently distinguish your relatives from others with similar names.

Click here for links to resources on reading French-language records—and keep reading for a link to learn more about getting and using your free guest account at FamilySearch.org.

Chile civil registrations

Nearly 360,000 indexed names have been added to Chile, Civil Registration, 1885-1932, a collection of indexed and imaged birth, marriage, death and other records created by civil registration offices in Chile. Some of the 1.6 million record images have been indexed, so you can search for ancestors by name. More names are being added on an ongoing basis, so keep checking back—or browse the records yourself if you know the approximate time and place to find your family’s names in them.

German church records

Another new (and free, as always on FamilySearch.org) collection is 250 years’ worth of German Catholic birth, marriage and death records: Germany, Rhineland, Diocese of Trier, Catholic Church Records, 1704-1957. Important note: the collection description states that “These images are available to view at Family History Centers…If possible, visit your nearest Family History Center to view the images.” Click here to find a Family History Center near you—and contact them to confirm their hours and access to the records you want.

Netherlands civil registration

More than 200,000 free records have been added to an existing FamilySearch collection of over 6 million records, Netherlands, Noord-Holland, Civil Registration, 1811-1950. In addition to births, marriages, and deaths, you’ll also find 10-year indexes, marriage intentions, marriage proclamations, and marriage supplements! According to the collection description, that date range isn’t comprehensive: “The collection covers the years 1811 to 1950, but the exact years vary within each municipality and record type.”

3 free digital archives for researching U.S. ancestors

Connecticut. Connecticut State Library Announces 25 Historic Newspaper Titles to be Digitized. “The Connecticut State Library is pleased to announce that with a third grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 25 newspaper titles have been selected to be digitized for the Connecticut Digital Newspaper Project (CDNP), and made freely available online. “

Georgia. The Digital Library of Georgia has announced new digital collections from Spelman College and Morehouse College. Among the digitized resources for these historically black colleges are the Spelman Messenger (1885-2016), “featuring school news, articles by students, creative writings, book reviews, alumni notes and obituaries;” Spelman Catalogs and Bulletins since 1881, Spelman yearbooks (1951-2007) and Morehouse College yearbooks back to 1923. College yearbooks, newspapers and even the annual administrative documents about the degree programs, faculty and campus life, and tuition can give a unique insight into your college-attending forebears.

New Jersey. The Newark Public Library has announced the new Newark Public Library Digital Archive with “over 50 collections and 23,000 items related to African American, Latino, and Newark history.” Documents include genealogically-rich sources such as photographs, city directories, newspapers, and maps. According to the announcement, “Highlights include thousands of photos of Newark Public Schools, the Samuel Berg collection of Newark Street photos, Newark maps and atlases, Newark area newspapers (including the Newark Herald, City News, and La Tribuna!) & so much more!”

Access French genealogy records and others on FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch is the Genealogy Giant that’s always free to use—so everyone should! Our best tip is to create a free guest login on the site so you can maximize your access to all its resources. Click here to read more about how to use that guest login on FamilySearch.org–and more about what kinds of resources you’ll find at your fingertips there. And did we mention that it’s FREE?

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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