November 22, 2017

Comparing Digitized Newspapers on Genealogy Websites: Why Findmypast.com Gets a Headline

When it comes to digitized newspapers on genealogy websites, Findmypast is a clear headliner. The site already hosts millions of U.S., British, and Irish newspaper pages–and their British collection is about to DOUBLE. Extra, extra, read all about it!

 

digitized newspapers on genealogy websites

Genealogy Giants quick reference guide cheat sheet Big 4Here at Genealogy Gems, we regularly compare features of leading genealogy websites, or as we refer to them, the “Genealogy Giants:” Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage. Today’s topic: digitized newspapers.

It may surprise you to hear that digitized historical newspapers aren’t a big part of the collections at all four giant genealogy websites. In fact, only one site–Findmypast–offers access to millions of exclusive British and Irish newspaper pages and a major U.S. newspaper database (which is usually just available at libraries).

Why mention it now? Because a good thing just got better: Findmypast plans to double its British newspaper content over the next two years.

Digitized Newspaper Treasures at Findmypast.com

Findmypast’s enormous genealogy collections focus on the countries of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Findmypast and The British Library have been working together for several years on The British Newspaper Archive, now home to more than 22.5 million newspaper pages dating from the 1700s. But what many people might not realize is that these same newspaper pages are also available to Findmypast subscribers.

You can search newspaper pages on Findmypast by name (first and last) and by other keywords, such as an occupation, street address, event or another word that might be associated with your family in newspaper articles. You can narrow the date range of papers searched and even target specific newspapers:

digitized newspapers on genealogy websites

digitized newspapers on genealogy websites

Original bound newspaper volumes at the British Library. Image from The British Newspaper Archive.

And it gets better. Findmypast just announced that over the next two years, it will nearly double its digitized newspaper collections! It is scanning over 12 million pages from the largest private newspaper collection in the UK: the Trinity Mirror archives. Over 150 local papers from across the U.K. are included. These pages have never been made available online, but will be on both The British Newspaper Archive and Findmypast. The project is already underway and moving along rapidly: up to 100,000 pages per week.

According to a press release, “The program builds on an existing partnership that has already resulted in the digitization and online publication of upwards of 160 Trinity Mirror titles, including significant coverage of both World Wars. Published online for the very first time, these war-time publications also included the Archive’s first national titles, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Herald.”

TIP: If you are interested in accessing British newspapers, but not needing the full range of genealogy resources offered at Findmypast, consider purchasing PayAsYouGo credits from Findmypast. You can purchase 60-900 at a time and “spend” them to view individual search results, including newspapers. You can also subscribe separately to The British Newspaper Archive.

More Digitized Newspapers on Genealogy Websites

The other giant genealogy websites do offer some newspaper content–indexed, imaged, or both. Here’s a short summary of what you’ll find on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage:

digitized newspapers on genealogy websites Ancestry.com subscription options

Ancestry.com’s subscription options.

Ancestry.com: This giant site does offer some digitized newspaper content, including images connected to indexed names in Historical [U.S.] Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003, Australia’s New South Wales Government Gazettes, 1853-1899 and Canada’s Ottawa Journal (Birth, Marriage and Death Notices), 1885-1980. But Ancestry.com’s biggest newspaper collections are mostly indexed obituaries (not images of the actual newspaper pages). Ancestry.com subscribers who want major access to digitized newspapers should consider upping their subscription to “All Access,” which includes Basic access to Newspapers.com. (Click here to learn more.)

FamilySearch: Millions of indexed obituaries are searchable by name on its free website, but it doesn’t generally offer any digitized newspaper pages. Of its billion+ historical record images, FamilySearch prioritizes more “core” genealogical records, such as vital records, censuses, and passenger lists.

MyHeritage.com: This site used to have access to NewspaperARCHIVE, the same U.S. newspaper database Findmypast currently offers, but it doesn’t now. It’s got new collections of Ohio (4.5 million pages from 88 sources) and New York (1.9 million pages from 56 sources) newspapers and access to the Jewish Chronicle [England]. But the bulk of its newspaper search results come from searching two other websites: Chronicling America and Trove, run by the national libraries of the United States and Australia, respectively. While it’s convenient to search them from MyHeritage if you are already using it, it’s not a reason to subscribe, as you can use those sites for free.

More Inside Tips on the Genealogy Giants

Genealogy Gems is your home for ongoing coverage and insight into the four ‘genealogy giants’ websites. Click here to learn more and to watch the RootsTech 2017 world premiere of my popular lecture that puts these big sites head-to-head. Genealogy Gems has published my ultimate quick reference guide, “Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites.” It distills that hour-long lecture (and I was talking fast!) into a concise, easy-to-read format that will help you know which websites are best for you to use right now.

Pay It Forward in Genealogy: 4 Ways to Give Back to the Community

During this giving season, why not give back to the community of global genealogy lovers who quietly and continually enrich our family history research? Here are 4 ways to pay it forward in genealogy from the comfort of wherever you are! One gem you may not have heard of: the British Library’s project to index old maps.

pay it forward in genealogy

4 Ways to Pay it Forward in Genealogy

1. Help with global gravestone research.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably discovered the final resting places of many an ancestor–perhaps along with important biographical data and even additional relatives–with the help of websites such as BillionGraves and Find A Grave.

BillionGraves says it’s “the world′s largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data, and is growing bigger and better every day.” Its volunteers take GPS-tagged pictures of headstones in cemeteries around the world and transcribe them for their free searchable database.

How you can help:

  • Image headstones: download the free app to your smartphone from the App Store or Google Play. Take images of headstones in cemeteries you visit, whether it’s your own ancestor’s burial place or a local graveyard.
  • Transcribe personal information found on gravestone images. You can transcribe the images you take or you can visit the site and transcribe images that someone else has uploaded. Click here to get started.
  • Upload additional source documentation to BillionGraves tombstone images, such as obituaries, cemetery records, and the like. You’ll make these virtual gravestone sites even more genealogically valuable! Click here to learn more.

Find A Grave has a slightly different model for collecting global gravestone data. Here you can create free memorial pages for ancestors, which “generally include birth, death, and burial information and may include pictures, biographies, family information, and more.” You can also upload your own headstone images and transcribe them (or someone else’s images), and you can even upload a spreadsheet of cemetery burials you may have already transcribed.

Who’s behind Find A Grave? It’s owned by subscription website Ancestry.com, but it’s a separate, free site powered by volunteers: “Thousands of contributors submit new listings, updates, corrections, photographs and virtual flowers every hour. The site simply wouldn’t exist without the million+ contributors.”

Find A Grave has recently updated its site to make it more secure, faster, easier to use, and accessible to new devices and other languages. More than 100 million graves from over half a million cemeteries worldwide are already searchable at the site. To get started, download the Find A Grave app at Google Play or the App Store, or just visit the website.

2. Transcribe old documents and maps.

Millions–even billions–of digital images of old documents contain genealogical clues, but those names, dates, and places need to be extracted from those image files before they become easily searchable. Transcribing that information is also known in genealogy circles as indexing (or creating indexes). Here are four places to contribute your indexing skills:

FamilySearch Indexing. Thousands of you have likely participated in this best-known volunteer record transcription project out there. (We blogged about it recently in honor of their worldwide weekend indexing event.) Their indexing platform recently became fully cloud-based, so you can index more easily on your computer or mobile device. Volunteers are especially needed right now who can read Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Polish, Swedish, and Dutch.

British Library Georeferencing Project. The British Library is recruiting volunteers to help geo-reference thousands of old maps that are already online. Geo-referencing, or geotagging, means assigning geographic reference points (longitude, latitude) to points on a map image. Doing this with old maps allows them to be linked to their modern-day locations, allowing us to compare the past and present (as Lisa teaches about in her free Google Earth video class). Over 8,000 maps have already been “placed” by participants (and subsequently checked for accuracy and approved by their panel of expert reviewers). The latest phase of the project includes 50,000 maps, mostly 19th-century maps from books published in Europe. The British Library says that “some places have changed significantly or disappeared completely,” increasing both the intriguing challenges for volunteers and the value to those who will benefit from their map sleuthing skills.

Ancestry World Archives Project. “The Ancestry World Archives Project is thousands of volunteers from around the world with a passion for genealogy and a desire to help others discover their roots,” says the project home page. “And all it takes is a computer, some basic software we provide and a little of your time.” Even though Ancestry.com itself is a subscription website, any records indexed through the Ancestry World Archives Project remain free to search on the site.

Here’s a screenshot of their current projects (click on it to visit the site):

National Archives Citizen Archivist Program. “A Citizen Archivist is a virtual volunteer that helps the U.S. National Archives increase the online access to their historical records,” reports Melissa Barker in a recent blog post. “This is done by crowdsourcing metadata about their records through tagging, transcribing, and adding comments to the U.S. National Archives catalog.”  Click here to read the full article and get started.

3. Reunite heirlooms with long-lost relatives.

Probably millions of “lost” family items are out there: in flea markets, second-hand shops, online auction listings, perhaps even your own closets or attics. Genealogy Gems has reported many times in the past about genealogy heroes who claim these “orphaned heirlooms” just long enough to research and contact living relatives who would love to find them.

Whether it’s a family bible, an old marriage certificate in a dusty frame, a fading photo album, or a pile of old letters, each “orphaned heirloom” is unique–and so is the experience of tracking down its family and reuniting them. Here are several stories to inspire your next visit to eBay or a secondhand shop:

4. Solve “unclaimed persons” mysteries.

Unclaimed Persons Project“Many people are aware that it can be a real challenge when a coroner obtains a John or Jane Doe, an unidentified person,” writes Lacey Cooke, Genealogy Gems service manager, who has a forensic anthropology degree. “It presents the difficult task of identifying the person. But few people know that in fact the even bigger problem consuming morgues today is unclaimed persons, rather than unidentified ones: individuals who have passed but with no trace of living relatives to come and claim them.”

Lacey is the one who introduced us to the Unclaimed Persons project earlier this year. With Unclaimed Persons, an online community of volunteer researchers joins forces with medical examiners, forensic investigators, and coroners to help reunite families and bring closure so that the dead can finally be laid to rest. Click here to read more about that effort.

How will you pay it forward in genealogy?

Click on one of the opportunities above–or tell us about one you’ve tried–to give back to your genealogy community this season. This largely-invisible community is all around us and enriches all our efforts, from late-night research sessions by ourselves (in records indexed by volunteers!) to local societies who host classes that inspire us or who answer our obituary inquiries and Facebook posts about their locales. If you are already one of those volunteers, THANK YOU. You are a gem and we here at Genealogy Gems are grateful for you.

P.S. You can also “pay it forward” by sharing free content like this from our website with your genealogy friends and society members. Why not link to this post on social media or in an email and challenge those you know to do good in the genealogy world?

 

 

The Hidden Clues US Passenger Lists Can Reveal about Immigrant Ancestors: Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 153

us passenger listsLearn about surprising clues US passenger lists may hold for your immigrant ancestors, from the places and people they left behind to their final destinations, future naturalization dates, physical descriptions and more. These must-listen tips come straight from Ellis Island experts, with additional gems from Lisa Louise Cooke.

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 153 is now available to Genealogy Gems Premium members, and it’s a must-listen for anyone with immigrant ancestors to the United States!

Secrets of US Passenger Lists Revealed

In this episode, I love host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke’s conversation with Jackie Schalk, Director of the American Family Immigration History Center at The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. The two met for a behind-the-scenes tour of Ellis Island and its passenger lists when Lisa was recently in New York City.

us passenger lists

Lisa Louise Cooke, left, with Jackie Schalk. Photo by Beth Forester of Animoto.

Jackie explains the many columns and squiggled notations that may reveal details of your immigrant ancestor’s journey–and even clues to their later lives. For example:

  • What were their origins? You may learn where they came from–and who they left behind in the “old country.”
  • How did they travel: in steerage or perhaps second class or first class? The difference it would have made to the immigrant travel experience was enormous.
  • What was their final destination? You may learn exactly where the immigrant was heading within the United States.
  • Did they later naturalize? You might find visa number and other notations that may tell you about an ancestor’s path to citizenship.

Lisa herself learned something new about an immigrant ancestor whose record she had already found, and shares a great takeaway message for all of us. Then she adds more historical context with a Google Books discovery you’ll want to see: an old guide written for transatlantic travelers about what to expect on their journeys. Read descriptions of the ships, down to color schemes and the dining room decor, as well as fare prices and other need-to-know items for your immigrant ancestors.

Also in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 153

The rest of Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 153 brings you more of those family history “gems” Lisa is known for, such as:

  • How old family artifacts, such as a needlework exhibit now on display at a UK museum, can reveal the lives of those who created them.
  • Listeners write in with stories about staying or living in an old family home. One shares what it’s like to live in her own childhood residence and another talks about rushing to book a room when she discovered that her ancestor’s abode is now a luxury inn.
  • The Archive Lady Melissa Barker weighs in on the essential questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to keep family artifacts.

Give Yourself the Gift of Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

This year, why not put a special gift for yourself or a loved one on this season’s gift-giving list: Genealogy Gems Premium membership? This monthly, hour-long Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast with in-depth tips and inspiring “gems” is just one great benefit. Your annual membership also gives you 24/7 access to dozens of full-length video tutorials from Lisa Louise Cooke and her Genealogy Gems team, too! Essential topics range from online research skills to must-use tech tools to DNA and even how to start sharing your stories and discoveries. It’s like your own year-long, on-demand virtual genealogy conference–for a single low membership fee. Click here to discover the gift of Genealogy Gems Premium membership!

Applying to Lineage Societies: Why Hire a Pro to Help You

A professional genealogist can help you apply to lineage societies. Joining is a time-honored way to honor your heritage and document your family history research. But it’s not easy! Here’s why even experienced genealogists may want to hire a professional to help with the process.

Professional genealogist can help you apply to lineage societies

Thanks to Legacy Tree Genealogists for supplying this guest blog post.

Applying to lineage societies

Do you have an ancestor who lived in Colonial America when the Revolutionary War was fought, or perhaps earlier in Jamestown, Virginia? Does your ancestry extend back to New England when the Mayflower arrived? If so, there are various lineage societies you could consider joining:

family history video documents applying to lineage societiesWhile each organization has different requirements for their lineage society application, most have the same principles: prove a connection from yourself to the person of interest by use of vital records (where available). Where not available, other documentation that proves family connections can be used. (DAR now also accepts DNA evidence.)

You may not know that most societies allow you to “piggy-back” on applications they have previously accepted. Let’s say your second cousin Steve already joined a society based on your common patriot (or pioneer) ancestor, Alexander Smith. You would just need to provide documentation proving your connection to your parents, your relevant parent’s connection to his/her parents, and your relevant grandparent’s connection to your common great-grandparents, who were already mentioned in Steve’s application. You may then be able to reference Steve’s application for the remainder of the lineage going back to Alexander Smith.

Overall, this may sound like a simple process. But it often takes quite a bit of work because the records needed to prove each generational link are not always readily available–and sometimes they just don’t exist at all.

Why get help when applying to lineage societies

Below are five ways that a professional genealogist can help you apply to lineage societies:

1. Help you determine how to apply. As we mentioned, each lineage society has different requirements, so you’ll want to be sure you know what they expect in order to be as efficient as possible in gathering documentation. A professional can help you determine exactly what documentation is required and locate contact information for those with whom you need to work to submit your application.

2. Identify where your research should stop and start. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, as the saying goes. If your lineage ties into one that has already been acceptably documented by another member of the society, you should use it! A professional genealogist can help you identify any previous lineage society applications that have already been approved for your lineage. This single step can save you a lot of time and money.

3. Organize your information. A professional genealogist can work with you to determine what documentation you already have and what you will need to order. They can help you order copies of missing vital records or find acceptable substitutes in archives, libraries, and online.

weigh conflicting evidence applying to lineage societies4. Conduct in-depth research as needed. Many times, at least one ‘problem’ generation requires in-depth research, circumstantial evidence, and a proof summary in order to make the connection. A well-written proof summary explains how all the circumstantial evidence fits together to support the generational link, and often aids the applicant in obtaining membership when not enough concrete documentation is available (or when it conflicts). This often involves delving into land records, tax lists, probate records, and other more obscure sources to find any and all clues and pieces of information that can be used to tie two generations together. It can be a time-consuming task. A professional genealogist can do this efficiently and thoroughly.

5. Compile and present all records to the lineage society for admittance. You’ll be the one to present or submit your documentation, but professionals can help you get it all ready so that you’ll be as prepared and organized as possible.

Save time and money when applying to lineage societies

A well-prepared lineage society application often shortens the waiting period to be accepted into a society because it is easier to verify and follows the rules of the society. If an application is poorly prepared, it can take several submissions before acceptance into the society is granted. And of course, the lineage society determines what they will and will not accept as proof, so there’s never a guarantee. They may request additional information, and then you have to go back and keep digging! But since professional genealogists have experience working with the various societies and know what types of documentation are usually accepted, working with a pro can make the application process to a lineage easier, more efficient, and in the end, more rewarding.

If you have an ancestor in your lineage who may qualify you to join a lineage society, experts at Legacy Tree Genealogists can help you gather your documentation and prepare your application. They are the world’s highest client-rated genealogy research firm. Founded in 2004, the company provides full-service genealogical research for clients worldwide, helping them discover their roots and personal history through records, narratives, and DNA. Based near the world’s largest family history library in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, Legacy Tree has developed a network of professional researchers and archives around the globe.

Contact them today to discuss your options–and your ancestors. EXCLUSIVE OFFER for Genealogy Gems readers! Receive $100 off a 20-hour+ research project from Legacy Tree Genealogists with code GEMS100. Offer good through December 31, 2017.

New Records at the Genealogy Giants Websites

Enjoy millions of new records from the ‘Genealogy Giants’ websites this week: Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage! New collections are now available for England, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Also new are two collections of WWII Holocaust records. 

Genealogy Giants new records

England Records at Findmypast & Ancestry

A massive amount of new records at the ‘Genealogy Giants’ websites were published this week. First up are millions of new English records collections. We’ll start with Findmypast’s new databases:

Surrey, England

  • Lay Subsidies 1524-1645: early taxation records from the Tudor and Jacobean periods.
  • Court Cases 1391-1835: The records contain cases from four courts and will give you the necessary references for accessing the original records in The National Archives.
  • Wills & Probate Index, 1470-1856: The area covered includes the old county of Surrey in the southeast of England, which contains parts of South London.

British Army Records

Next, we head to Ancestry for even more new English record collections.

Lastly, FamilySearch has a new collection of Essex Parish Registers, 1538-1997. This collection contains christening, marriage, and burial entries.

Ireland – Findmypast

New at Findmypast for Ireland are British Army, Irish Regimental Enlistment Registers 1877-1924. This collection has enlistment registers from five Irish regiments serving in the British Army. The regiments included in these records are Connaught Rangers, Leinster Regiment, Royal Dunlin Fusiliers, Royal Irish Regiment, and Royal Munster Fusiliers.

A new Irish newspaper title has also been added at Findmypast: the Carrickfergus Advertiser 1884 – 1919. The collection currently contains over 1,300 issues and will be updated further in the future.

Netherlands Public Records at FamilySearch

New at FamilySearch: Netherlands Archival Indexes, Public Records. This collection contains nearly 3 million records that cover events like population registration, emigration and immigration, military enrollment and more.

Denmark – 1930 Census Free at FamilySearch

The Denmark Census, 1930 is now available for free at FamilySearch! “Commonly indexed fields include principle name, locality data, gender, marital status, and relationship to head of household.” The images and index were provided in partnership with MyHeritage.

World War II Holocaust Records and MyHeritage and Ancestry

New at MyHeritage are Auschwitz Death Certificates, 1941-1943. Information listed includes name, birth date, death date, birthplace, residence, and religion. The information originates from the Auschwitz Sterbebücher (Death Books).

Ancestry also has a new collection of Romania select Holocaust Records 1940-1945 (USHMM). This collection is primarily in Romanian, but may also be in Hungarian. It was indexed by World Memory Project contributors from the digitized holdings of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Get the most out of the top genealogy records websites

genealogy giants quick reference guide cheat sheet“Which genealogy records membership website should I use?” It’s one of the most-asked questions in genealogy. There are so many features on each site–and an apples-to-apples comparison is laden with challenges. But Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton has the answers for you in the jammed-packed Genealogy Giants cheat sheet. Use it to quickly and easily compare all of the most important features of the four biggest international genealogy records membership websites: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com. Then consult it every time your research budget, needs or goals change. Tables, bulleted lists, and graphics make this guide as easy to use as it is informative. Click here to learn more and grab your copy.

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 the free Genealogy Gems podcast and blog!

What Made You a Genealogist? Margaret Linford’s Story

To be the family historian in a clan is an honored role. But to fulfill it effectively, you must include all stories–including your own. So here’s a prompt and a story to get you started: What led you to become a genealogist?

What made you a genealogist

“Your stories are the family history of your descendants,” is something you’ve heard me say on the Genealogy Gems Podcast. In her first article here at Genealogy Gems, I’ve asked genealogist Margaret Linford to share one of her own stories with you: how she came to be a genealogist. I’m anxious for you to get to know Margaret because she has some wonderful gems in store for you in the months ahead. Grab your favorite cup of tea and enjoy!” -Lisa Louise Cooke

What Made Me a Genealogist?

Grandma Overbay 1974 with MargaretGrandma Overbay 1974 with Margaret

Grandma Overbay in 1974 with baby Margaret. Photos courtesy of Margaret Linford.

I can remember, as a little girl, walking in after school. The aroma of freshly baked biscuits or bread always filled the air and enveloped anyone who walked through the door. The house was spotless. The bed linens were crisp.

This was the home of my Grandma Overbay. She was completely devoted to her family. Her home was a refuge for many when they found themselves struggling through life. No one was turned away and she made sure that those who entered her house always felt welcome.

My answer to the question, “What made me a genealogist?” can be traced back to this one woman and my countless experiences with her.

The Greatest Gift

I can remember many lazy summer evenings on the porch, listening to stories of her childhood, accompanied by the rhythmic sound of crickets. Through Grandma’s stories, I was transported back in time. In my mind’s eye, I could see her as a little girl picking blackberries on a mountaintop and following the local doctor from house to house as he treated patients. She lived in a small community, where it was a common practice, in that time, for doctors to make house calls. She had an insatiable curiosity, which prompted these tag-along visits. I imagine it was on these “house calls” that she came to love hearing stories. I loved being able to envision her as a carefree young girl, being taught life lessons, as she served as an unofficial intern to this kind community doctor.

you live as long as you are remembered

A younger version of Grandma Overbay

She painted pictures on the canvas of my mind and introduced me to my ancestors. With each story she told, she was “downloading” some of her memories into the brains of her children and grandchildren. This was one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me: the gift of her time and her stories.

“With each story she told, she was ‘downloading’ some of her memories into the brains of her children and grandchildren. This was one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me: the gift of her time and her stories.”

I don’t think my grandma realized how important her stories would be to creating a strong family narrative. But her legacy lives on, thanks to the time she invested in a budding family genealogist.

The Master Storyteller

I feel fortunate to have been the granddaughter of this master storyteller.  She created characters and made my ancestors come to life.  They had traveled the path of life that I was just beginning, and had much wisdom to pass down to me. My grandma was deliberate in her attempts to transmit this wisdom.

Life lessons were always embedded within the stories. She often told a story that was related to her by her father. He had elected to disregard some of his mother’s wise counsel with regard to a person he wanted to date. He later learned that his mother truly knew what was best and he could have been spared an agonizing experience if he had chosen to heed her counsel. This theme of “honoring father and mother” was woven into many of her stories.

I learned from her that everyone has something to teach us–if we choose to take time and listen to the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis. Grandma believed in devoting her full attention to people. She would stop everything she was doing to lend an ear to someone who needed to talk. In these moments, she was offering her friendship and genuine concern. She was a listener, always sifting through the seemingly mundane to discover bits of wisdom and life lessons she otherwise may not have learned. She taught me, in word and by example, that life can be enriched as we take time to hear each other’s stories.

Pearls of Wisdom

Margaret Poston Overbay early 1970s

Margaret Poston Overbay in the early 1970s

Through the successes and disappointments of my ancestors, they left their children and grandchildren pearls of wisdom. These pearls are strung together, as we remember stories of the past. The greatest “heirloom” I ever inherited was this “string of pearls,” given to me one story at a time.

Six years ago, when I was asked to begin writing a bi-weekly column for my hometown newspaper, this heirloom is what prompted me to christen it “String of Pearls.” There is an even deeper meaning tucked into the name for me. I share the name “Margaret” with my grandmother and great-grandmother. I grew up often resenting being given such an “old” name. As I have matured, I have come to love it. To my delight, I have found that the name, which means “pearl,” has been used for many generations in my family. I am but one in a long string of “pearls.”

There are people like my grandma within each family. They are the keepers of the family stories. They seem to have a special calling to pass along the wisdom and knowledge of previous generations. There is an old proverb that says, “You live as long as you are remembered.” We are remembered as long as our stories are told, and it starts with you telling your story.

Questions Worth Asking

What is it that ignites the spark within someone’s heart to possess a love of family history, to take their rightful place as the “keeper” of the stories? What motivates certain individuals to be so dedicated to searching out their ancestors? What made my Grandma so intent on transmitting these family stories to future generations? I never had the opportunity to ask her that question. I had no way of knowing that her presence would be snatched away so soon. I often find myself repeating the phrase, “if I had only asked.”  Perhaps you have, upon occasion, had the same thought with regard to your own family members.

Though we may have some regrets about unanswered questions, it’s never too late for us, as family historians, to start answering these questions ourselves.  What inspired you to delve into your family’s history? Was it a grandparent, a photograph, or a family mystery that you wanted to solve? What prompted you to first seek out your ancestors?

As I answered these questions for myself, I was reminded of the emotional connection to my Grandma. A flood of memories came back to me, serving to remind me that these family ties last long after death. Our ancestors live on through us and through the stories they left behind. The image of my Grandma sharing her stories on the front porch will be the image that comes to mind the next time someone asks me what made me a genealogist.

Genealogy Origins

In recalling my own “genealogy origins,” I made a startling discovery. I realized that my children are well acquainted with stories of their grandparents and great-grandparents, but know little about the early life experiences of their own mother and father. I have become so focused on telling them stories from previous generations, that I have entirely neglected to tell them my own! After all, it as important to capture our own memories and experiences as it is to save our ancestors from being forgotten. Now I have a renewed commitment to preserve these stories and emotional connections for my own children and future grandchildren.

More to Come

I look forward to sharing more of my stories here with you at Genealogy Gems, as well as some good old tried and true research strategies to help you on your genealogical journey. In this first post, thank you for letting me share my genealogy origins story with you. I invite you to take some time to reflect on your own genealogy origins and go back in your mind to a place and time when you first felt the desire to search out your own ancestors. Who was it or what was it that ignited this spark within you? “What made you a genealogist?”

Share Your Story

Leave a comment below to share your own “genealogy origins” story. Or, if you’re ready to capture more of your life stories, consider purchasing the life-story writing guide, Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy by Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton. It’s packed with journaling prompts for every phase of life–from childhood to retirement–and opportunities to reflect on the relationships and experiences that have shaped you. Give future generations the gift of your life’s stories and lessons: the pearls you have to pass on.

How to Find Compiled Military Service Records for Your Ancestors

Compiled Military Service Records are core genealogical documents for your ancestors’ military service for the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Indian Wars, Mexican Wars, Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. Expert Michael Strauss tells us what’s in them and how to find them.

compiled military service records

What’s in Compiled Military Service Records

Compiled Military Service Records (often abbreviated as CMSR or CSR) are the records that may exist for your ancestors who served in the U.S. military from the Revolutionary War to the end of the Philippine Insurrection and Spanish-American War. This set of records represents the volunteer Army and doesn’t include regular Army enlistments. Except for limited records of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 for the Navy, the other branches of the military (including Navy, Marines, and Revenue Cutter Service) all have their equivalent set of records.

Information you may find in Compiled Military Service Records varies greatly from each of the war periods. They typically contain:

  • name, unit, and period of service of the veteran
  • muster in/out information
  • rank in/out details
  • details of the soldier’s career: promotions, prisoner of war memorandums, casualties, and a number of personnel papers which may include enlistment papers and other related documents
  • for several of the war periods, physical descriptions of the soldiers including name, age, nativity, occupation, height, hair, eyes, and complexion information
Compiled Military Service Records

John H Lemaster. Photo courtesy of Michael Strauss.

Your ancestor may have multiple entries in Compiled Military Service Records. This could occur if a soldier served in more than one unit, or in the case of John LeMaster, if he enlisted in two different armies during the Civil War! The Civil War divided our nation, testing the loyalty of all persons who lived during this time. Lemaster chose the Confederacy, at least initially, when he enlisted with the 2nd VA Infantry in 1861 in Charlestown, VA. He fought alongside his Brigade commander, Thomas J. Jackson, who later would be known as “Stonewall Jackson.”

After the Confederate loss at the battle of Gettysburg, he deserted and lived in Martinsburg in what was now West Virginia, where on his draft registration he was listed as a deserter from the Rebel Army. In 1864, he enlisted in the United States Army with the 3rd WV Cavalry, serving out the duration of the war until 1865. After the war, he was granted a federal pension, with no mention of his former service in the Confederacy.

Here are his military service records for both the Confederate and Union armies:

Compiled Military Service Records

Compiled Military Service Records

Compiled Military Service Records

Compiled Military Service Records

Where to Find Compiled Military Service Records

You may access various CMSR indexes and images online. Here are links to collections at subscription websites Fold3, Ancestry.com and even a couple at the free FamilySearch.org:

Compiled Military Service Records at fold3:

  • Revolutionary War. Compiled Military Service Record images for CT, DE, GA, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, and Continental Troops. Genealogists should also search the local state where their ancestors were from as some Militia isn’t included in these records. During the Revolutionary War additional Compiled Service Records were completed for the Navy, which was broken down to include Naval Personnel, Quartermaster General, and Commissary General Departments. One additional set of CMSR images covered Revolutionary War service along with Imprisonment Cards.
  • Old Wars (1784-1811). After the Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States government sought to maintain a regular Army. However, volunteer soldiers who served from 1784-1811 were recorded. (One of the reasons for volunteers to be called up would have included the Whiskey Rebellion of 1793.)  Their Compiled Military Service Record full images are available here.
  • War of 1812. Compiled Military Service Records Indexes for CT, DE, DC, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA and also the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Shawanoe Indians along with United States Volunteers. Full copies of CMSR are online for the Chickasaw and Creek Indians, along with the men from Lake Erie and Mississippi.
  • Indian Wars. Compiled Military Service Records Indexes for the various Indians wars from 1815-1858.
  • Mexican War. Compiled Military Service Record indexes for AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, DC, MA, MI, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, and the Mormon Battalion and the United States Volunteers. Full copies of the CMSR are online for AR, MS, PA, TN, TX, and the Mormon Battalion.
  • Civil War. Click here to search. Union: Indexes for AZ, CA, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI, United States Veteran Volunteers, and Veteran Reserve Corps. Full copies of CMSR for AL, AR, CA, CO, Dakota Territory, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OR, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, United States Colored Troops, United States Volunteers, and 1st NY Engineers. Confederate: indexes are online for AL, and VA. Full copies of CMSR are online for AL, AZ, AK, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, Miscellaneous, Volunteers, Indians, and Officers.
  • Spanish American War. Compiled Military Service Record indexes for AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, Dakota Territory, DE, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, and United States Volunteers. Full copies of CMSR are online for FL.

Compiled Military Service Records At Ancestry.com:

Free Compiled Military Service Records at FamilySearch.org:

FamilySearch has fewer Compiled Military Service Records that include images. One of the major collections includes the Revolutionary War CMSR’s that when searched here, the images provide a direct link to Fold3.

Most of the other major war periods are microfilmed and available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. With online access through both Fold3 and Ancestry provided on the computers in the library, though, accessing the film is less desirable. Click here to learn more about changes in microfilm lending at the Family History Library.

Michael Strauss contributes the Military Minutes segment on Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Podcast. In the recently-published Episode 211, he profiles the 20th-century replacement for Compiled Military Service Records: the Official Military Personnel File. Click here and listen for free!

 

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 the free Genealogy Gems podcast and blog!

RootsTech 2018 Pass Giveaway (and More Exciting RootsTech News)

Our RootsTech 2018 pass giveaway is underway! Enter by November 15, 2017 to win a chance to attend the world’s biggest genealogy event for FREE. Meanwhile, there’s more RootsTech news: the class schedule is posted and two keynote speakers have been announced. We think you’ll want to go! The real question is, will you get in for free?

Rootstech 2018 pass Giveaway

It’s time to give away a RootsTech 2018 pass to one lucky Genealogy Gems fan! This is a great prize: all-access admission to the world’s biggest genealogy event at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT, February 28 – March 3, 2018. It’s a $279 value! Keep reading to see how to enter. But first, a quick update on RootsTech 2018.

The Latest RootsTech 2018 News

RootsTech is:

  • A conference. Choose from more than 300 classes on traditional research skills, DNA, tech tools, photos, stories, and organizing.
  • A convention. The biggest names in the genealogy industry share a huge Expo Hall with hundreds of other vendors, societies, and services. All want to answer your questions and show you the latest and greatest tools and resources to help your research.
  • A party. There’s no denying the fun, festive atmosphere of RootsTech. There are world-class keynote speakers (Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton and “Humans of New York” Brandon Stanton) and dazzling evening entertainment (love the 1940s extravaganza this year!).

This short highlights video captures it all. Check it out:

RootsTech 2018 passThe RootsTech class schedule has been published. I’m super excited about classes being taught this year by the  Genealogy Gems team. Just one example: Google Earth guru Lisa Louise Cooke and Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard are teaming up to deliver a powerhouse talk about putting your DNA matches on the map. Click here to see the full Genealogy Gems lineup.

RootsTech 2018 Pass Giveaway

We have a RootsTech Full Registration Pass to give to one lucky winner! This pass includes* access to over 300 classes, keynote/general sessions, the Innovation Showcase, Expo Hall and evening events. (Click here for more info about RootsTech 2018.) All you have to do to enter is take our 5-question survey by midnight (CT) on November 15, 2017.

Can’t attend Rootstech? Enter anyway for a chance to win a 1-Year Genealogy Gems Premium Membership!** Everyone who completes the survey below will be automatically entered to win.

We want your input: We know many people are not able to attend RootsTech in person, and that’s why we hope to make several of our booth classes available on video. Tell us which topics you want to see, and help us continue to make Genealogy Gems the best it can be.

Rules: Must complete survey by 12:00 am CT on November 15, 2017 to be eligible. No purchase necessary. Winners announced and notified on November 16, 2017. *RootsTech 4-Day Pass only covers registration (does not include airfare, hotel, or other expenses). If the winner has already registered for RootsTech 2018, the original registration fee will be refunded. **Premium Membership prize eligible for both new members and renewals. Non-transferable and no cash refund.

Boston Catholic Records Now at Ancestry.com, and Other New Collections

New at Ancestry.com are Boston Catholic records, thanks to a partnership with the New England Historical Genealogical Society. Also new this week are big updates for the Big Apple with lots of new and updated collections for New York. Additional new collections for the United States, Australia, and New Zealand are highlighted this week. 

Boston Catholic Records

Boston Catholic Records Now at Ancestry.com

Ancestry and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have collaborated to make Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records now available on Ancestry.com. This unique collection includes approximately 10 million names from Massachusetts Catholic records from the late 1700s to the early 1900s.

“The detailed documents in this collection are a critical resource for researchers, historians, and genealogists, especially when secular records are spotty or lost,” said Brenton Simons, President and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The records within the bound volumes contain several sacraments of the Catholic Church, including baptism, confirmation, holy communion, marriage, holy orders, and the anointing of the sick.

The Boston collection adds to a growing list of global Catholic records available on Ancestry.com, including records from the United States, Mexico, Ireland, and Canada.

Big Updates for New York

You can search a free index of New York City marriages, 1908-1929, at Internet Archive, thanks to a “Reclaim the Records” initiative. This is an index to an important set of records originally kept by the New York City Clerk’s Office: “the 1908-1929 application, affidavit, and license for a marriage, a…three-page document that is generally dated a few weeks before the actual marriage took place.” MyHeritage has also just added the New York City Marriage License Index 1908-1929.

Boston Catholic Records

You’re likely to spot some famous folks like Humphrey Bogart in this NYC Marriage License Index at MyHeritage!

New York City Marriage Announcements, 1833-1836 are available at Findmypast, with notices from two newspapers: The Sun and the New York Transcript.

Also new at Findmypast is an Image Browse collection of New York State Religious Records 1716-1914. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society transcribed and published religious records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths from dozens of New York State churches of various denominations.

Back over at MyHeritage is a collection of New York Newspapers, 1806-2007 with nearly 2 million pages from various cities and towns throughout the state.

Lastly, the Troy Irish Genealogy Society has published Transcriptions from the St. Agnes Cemetery Tombstones in Menands, NY. From the description: “The inscriptions are overwhelmingly of Irish immigrants to the Capital District Region. While some inscriptions merely say “Ireland” a large number are more specific and identify the County in Ireland along with the name of the town and the name of the Parish.”

Additional United States Collections

Illinois. The State of Illinois has repaired and digitized 57 maps that the Illinois National Guard used during World War I. According to the description, “the maps feature the guard’s 33rd division, which was the only distinctly Illinois division that saw active service during the war in France.”

North Carolina. The State Archives of North Carolina has announced the launch of the Brimley Collection Online. Named for Herbert Hutchinson Brimley, the first leader of The North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, this collection of photographs from the late 19th and mid-20th century include people both common and renowned, scenes of cities and towns, rural landscapes and farms, agricultural activities and products, industrial concerns, and more.

Arkansas. More than 200 issues of the Commonwealth College Fortnightly are now searchable online. This newspaper ran from 1926 to 1938 and this digital collection provides a complete record of activity at Arkansas’ historic radical labor school.

Australia & New Zealand Databases

You have to love records that include photographs! Ancestry.com has a new collection for Queensland, Australia, World War I Soldier Portraits, 1914-1918. This unique collection comes from portraits taken at the soldier’s camp at Enoggera, Queensland and published in The Queenslander newspaper until the end of the war in 1918. 

A newly digitized archive for New South Wales is now available online. Prisoners in Pictures details the stories of nearly 50,000 prisoners incarcerated in New South Wales between 1870 and 1930. The prisoner stories are told through photography, text, an online catalog, and short films with interviews from archivists such as the one below:

In New Zealand, the Victoria University of Wellington has released a database of 12,000 imperial soldiers who fought in the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s. From the description: “The database provides searchable public access to the names, regiments, and dates of service of soldiers who fought in New Zealand. It is the first installment of what will grow into a larger publicly accessible resource.”

A Good Time to Get Access to these Records at Ancestry

If you’re looking to gift the gift of family history this holiday season,  check out Ancestry.com’s holiday sale. Get 20% off 6- or 12-month gift memberships, save 20% on AncestryDNA test kits, hire a professional genealogist, create custom photobooks or posters, and more with Ancestry’s gift guide. *Gift membership sale valid through 11/23/17. Gift subscriptions do not auto-renew, and valid only on new or lapsed accounts. See Ancestry.com for more details. 

Disclosure: This page 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 this free podcast and blog!

Episode 211

The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #211 with Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa and Barry by Beth Forester

Photo Credit: Beth Forester

In this episode, host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke talks with Barry Moreno, Historian at Ellis Island. Hear about the life cycle of this busy U.S. immigration station (1892-1954) and Barry’s research into thousands of Ellis Island employees?men and women?who worked there.

HelloFresh: Visit hellofresh.com and use promo code gems30 to save $30 off your first week of deliveries.

More episode highlights:

Archive Lady Melissa Barker tells us about the National Archives Citizen Archivist program?and Lisa profiles a volunteer effort coordinated by the British Library to geo-tag thousands of old maps that are already online.

A giant genealogy lost-and-found! Two listeners write in about rescuing old artifacts and returning them to those who might be interested.

Military Minutes contributor Michael Strauss talks about Official Military Personnel Files for 20th-century US servicemen and women?files that were unfortunately partially destroyed. Hear what he learned about his grandfather.

NEWS

National Archives Citizen Archivist Project, reported by The Archive Lady, Melissa Barker

The British Library Georeferencing Project

Flickr Commons collection of digitized maps from the British Library Collections?mostly 19th century maps from books published in Europe.

Use Google Earth for genealogy! Check out these resources:

FREE Google Earth for Genealogy video

The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition by Lisa Louise Cooke. This book has 7 full chapters on Google Earth! Available in print and e-book form.

Google Earth for Genealogy Video Training by Lisa Louise Cooke. Available now as a digital download.

 

 

NEW FOR GENEALOGY GEMS PREMIUM MEMBERS

“Share Your Life Stories More Meaningfully” Premium Video

Every life is fascinating when it’s well shared! Learn from the author of Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy what stories you have that are worth telling–and several inspiring reasons to write them. Review different kinds of memories, why some memories are more vivid that others, and how to flesh them out. Learn tips for researching gaps in your memories, how to turn a memory into a good story, what to leave out and several ways to share your stories.

 

BONUS CONTENT FOR GENEALOGY GEMS APP USERS

If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a preview of the new Premium video class, “Share Your Own Life Stories More Meaningfully” by Contributing Editor Sunny Morton. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users

 

MAILBOX: ROLAND’S HEIRLOOM RESCUE

MAILBOX: NEW LISTENER PHOTO RESCUE PROJECT

What can you do with a collection of unidentified photos?

Return them to a loving home. In this case, it was a local historical society. Linda wisely kept the collection together because often there’s power in what some of the photos may tell you about others.

Get them digitized and online so those who want them can find them. The historical society put images on Find A Grave memorials and Iowa GenWeb. They even plan to display them for locals to look at personally and try to identify!

Historical and genealogical societies can also share mystery photos on their websites (or their local library’s website if they don’t have their own) or on their blogs, Facebook pages or even in their regular newsletters. These are great conversation pieces, especially when you can later report that you have solved the mystery! (Click here for more tips aimed at supporting genealogy societies.)

Photo mystery SOLVED: Savvy tips to identify old photos

Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. RootsMagic is now fully integrated with Ancestry.com: you can sync your RootsMagic trees with your Ancestry.com trees and search records on the site.

 

Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at https://www.backblaze.com/Lisa.

MILITARY MINUTES: OFFICIAL MILITARY PERSONNEL FILES

The military service files for your ancestors who served during the twentieth century or later are located at the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis, MO as part of the National Archives. The files are called the Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) and are available for each of the military branches; namely; Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.

Researchers should be keenly aware of the devastating fire that occurred on July 12, 1973 at the research facility that destroyed or damaged between 16-18 million service files from the United States Army and the Air Force. Remember that the Air Force wasn’t officially organized until September 14, 1947. Before this date Air Force records were part of the United States Army Air Corps, then part of the U.S. Army.

National Archives at St. Louis. Overview of the holdings, media articles and PowerPoint presentations (download as PDFs)

The 1973 Fire at the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis, MO

Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) Non-Archival Holdings

Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) Archival Holdings

Archival Research Room at the National Personnel Record Center (Request an Appointment, Availability of Records, Copy Fees, Hours of Operation, Hiring a Researcher)

Request Military Service Records (Online request for Veterans, Standard Form 180, or For Burials and Emergency Requests)

Mail Order Request for Record from the National Personnel Record Center (SF 180)

 

Zerbe H. Howard

Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with Animoto.com. You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at Animoto.com.

Watch the video below for an example of a family history video made with Animoto:

 

MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.

 

INTERVIEW: BARRY MORENO, ELLIS ISLAND HISTORIAN

Photo Credit: Beth Forester

Barry Moreno is a leading authority on the history of Ellis Island, the famous receiving station for millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892-1954. He has worked in the Museum Services Division at Ellis Island for more than a decade. He is the author of several books, including Children of Ellis Island, Ellis Island’s Famous Immigrants (including Bob Hope, Bela Lugosi, and Max Factor) and Encyclopedia of Ellis Island (which includes information on displaced persons).

      

Ellis Island: Historical highlights

Prior to 1890, immigration was handled by the states (primarily New York, as most passed through the Port of New York).

1920-1921: New regulations cut down immigration dramatically. Each country had quotas that could not be exceeded. New regulations were passed requiring immigrants to

  • have a passport from their home country
  • have medical examinations
  • pay a tax to the American Consulate in their home country.

During the last 30 years, Ellis Island mostly handled immigrants who were “in trouble.”

Starting in the 1930s some immigrants arrived by air (Colonial Airways from Canada). After WWII, Air France started service, and German and Italian airlines came in the 1950s.

Ellis Island was closed in 1954 by President Eisenhower. Immigrants who were still detained when it closed were sent to jails.

After 1954, Ellis Island was still used by the Coast Guard for training and by the Public Health Services department.

Barry’s research on workers at Ellis Island:

Most employees were men. Interestingly, blue collar men tended to die before age 60, and better educated ones lived much longer.

Female employees were typically widows, unmarried or had husbands who did not support them. “Char woman” was a common role held by Irish, Swedish and German women. Char means “chores” (cleaning women). They worked often for about $400/ year with no pension, and lived to old ages.

A nursery was opened at Ellis Island; many Christian missionaries worked there. Ludmila Foxlee (1885-1971) was one of them, a social worker with the YWCA. Click here to read more immigrant aid workers at Ellis Island.

Three more great resources for discovering the stories of your immigrant ancestors:

What was it like to land on Ellis Island? Read this article and watch (for free) an award-winning, official documentary)

If your search at the Ellis Island website doesn’t retrieve your ancestors, head on over to Stephen P. Morse’s One Step Pages. There you will find dozens of links to search resources, including the Ellis Island Gold Form for arrivals between 1892 and 1924.  Even the folks at Ellis Island refer researchers to Morse’s site. Listen to Lisa’s interview with Stephen Morse in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #153.

In Lias’s free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast (episodes 29-31), genealogist Steve Danko covers immigration and naturalization records in depth and even offers up some little-known tips about deciphering some of the cryptic notes researchers often find on passenger lists.

 

PROFILE AMERICA: FIRST COMMERCIAL RADIO BROADCAST

 

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer

Sunny Morton, Editor

Diahan Southard, Contributor: Your DNA Guide

Melissa Barker, Contributor: The Archive Lady

Michael Strauss, Contributor: Military Minutes

Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant

Lacey Cooke, Service Manager

Disclosure: This page 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 this free podcast and blog!

Sign up for our FREE newsletter:

Enter your email & get my Google Research e-book
as a thank you gift!
Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
Check out this new episode!