New Records on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and Findmypast

Search millions of new records on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch & Findmypast, three of the Genealogy Giants. Find your family history in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Sweden, the U.S., Wales and in PERSI, the Periodical Source Index.

Welcome to Genealogy Gems’ weekly roundup of new and updated genealogy records! Browse the lists below to see what’s become available recently at three of the Genealogy Giants, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org & Findmypast.com.

New records on Ancestry.com

Australia. About 7 million records total appear in Ancestry.com’s new Australian vital records indexes, Victoria, Australia, Marriage Index, 1837-1950 and Victoria, Australia, Death Index, 1836-1988. According to their collection descriptions, these records come from The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

England and Wales. The 1939 England and Wales Register is now on Ancestry.com! With nearly 46 million records, it’s a de facto national census conducted just before World War II. (The 1939 Register is also searchable at Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.)

Poland. In partnership with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Ancestry.com has published Poland, Modliborzyce Ghetto Register Books, 1939-1944. These records are part of the USHMM’s collections and are described by them as “Documents of the Jewish Council in Modliborzyce (administrative district of Janów Lubelski), including alphabetical name list for January through September 1942.”

New Zealand. More than 350,000 records appear in the new Ancestry.com collection, New Zealand, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920. According to the collection description, “This database contains New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) Personnel Files for all known New Zealanders who served in the First World War. The records contain information of interested to personal and professional researchers alike, including: transfers, promotions, punishments, medals and honors received, health status and medical history and other biological information. Military service files typically include several documents. The primary document which has been indexed and is searchable by name is the Attestation Sheet. The attestation sheet includes personal information about the individual who served….Additional documentation may be found in the files, including correspondence.”

North America. An even larger collection of church records relating to Swedes, or at least, Swedish emigrants, is Ancestry.com’s U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Swedish American Church Records, 1800-1946. Here’s a sample image:

This collection boasts 3.5 million records from the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augstana College in Rock Island, Illinois. From the collection description: “The records in this collection consist of administrative records from select affiliates of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. There are also select records from Canada. 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.”

Sweden. Close to 2 million indexed records appear in a new series of Swedish church record databases on Ancestry.com:

The indexes come from the free Genealogy Giant FamilySearch.org, where you may also find record images pertaining to these records.

United States, New York. Over a million records appear in the new collection, New York State, Death Index, 1957-1968. FYI, this database is also available to search on the New York state government website for free, but I find it much easier to search at Ancestry.com (and Ancestry’s powerful and flexible search technologies may help you find people’s names who may appear differently than you expect).

New records on FamilySearch.org

Brazil. Nearly 140,000 indexed names have been added to an existing collection on FamilySearch.org, the always-free Genealogy Giant: Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Civil Registration, 1829-2012. Among the records are “births, marriages, deaths and indexes created by various civil registration offices in the state of Rio de Janeiro.” This collection is partially-indexed: browse the records to see what’s available for your ancestor’s locale. (See below for instructions on how to do this.)

Denmark. About 12,000 indexed names have been added to Denmark, Copenhagen City, Civil Marriages, 1739-1964, Index 1877-1964. According to the site, the collection includes “marriage licenses and records for the city of Copenhagen for the years 1739 to 1964.” However, the detailed collection description in the FamilySearch wiki includes some conflicting information about the dates covered. Go ahead and search anyway—and follow the wiki tips for getting the most out of the collection.

Germany. Over 1.1 million indexed records have been added to Germany, Bavaria, Diocese of Augsburg, Catholic Church Records, 1615-1939. Among the records are baptisms, marriages and burial records from the diocesan archive. Accessibility alert: a notice on the collection description page 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 learn about image access restrictions on FamilySearch.org and click here to find a Family History Center near you (they’re free to use, but most have restricted hours).

Hungary. Nearly 60,000 indexed records have been added to the free collection, Hungary Civil Registration, 1895-1980. These are “images of births to 1920, marriages to 1950, and deaths to 1980 reported to and recorded by civil registrars. Coverage varies by locality. This collection is being published as images become available.”

Check current coverage by browsing the collection (from the bottom of the collection page, as shown here). As shown below, you can browse which regions have available records. Click a region to see which locales have records, and then click a locale to see which specific records are available. Click on individual record sets to page through them in your browser.

Panama. Nearly 150,000 indexed records have been added to Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973. Among these are “baptisms, confirmations, parish censuses, marriages, pre-marriage investigations, marriage dispensations, deaths, and indexes” created by parishes and dioceses. Again, use the browsing technique shown above to see what records are available for your ancestor’s locale.

New records on Findmypast

Featured global collection: The PERiodical Source Index of all known genealogical and historical periodicals (with especially strong coverage of the U.S.) has added over 10,000 new articles to its subject index (along with 35,148 new digital images of some of those articles). The publications indexed here include historical, genealogical and ethnic newsletters, journals, magazines and other kinds of periodicals.

Individual articles often include biographies, historical sketches, maps and transcripts of cemetery, census, church, court, land/property, institutional, military, naturalization, obituary, passenger, probate, school, tax, vital, voter and will records. You don’t need to have a subscription at Findmypast.com to search the index (and when you see interesting search results you can’t access in full, you have the option to purchase Pay-As-You-Go credits or sign up for a free trial).

Australia. Queensland, Justices of The Peace 1857-1957, with nearly 30,000 records from the Queensland State Archives, lists names of Justices of the Peace, along with oath year and number and archival reference information. Also for the same region, Queensland, Register of Land Sold 1842-1859, includes over 7,100 records of land transactions during Queensland’s colonization era, along with names, locations and property details.

England & Wales. Over 146,400 new images have recently been added to this Genealogy Giant’s unique and extensive Catholic Heritage Archive. Dating to 1575, the collection includes a range of Catholic Record Society publications and a list of Roman Catholics from York in 1604.

England. Findmypast has added parish records for the following locations (and according to the site, the Staffordshire and Shropshire online collections are exclusive to Findmypast):

  • Staffordshire Registers & Records. Over 119,500 images of 23 distinct publications of parish registers (which include baptisms, marriages and burials).
  • Lancashire Registers & Records. Over 171,000 images of parish registers, court rolls and local histories.
  • Shropshire Registers & Records. Over 23,000 images from an eclectic collection of publications date back to the 14th century.
  • Surrey Baptisms. Over 476,000 records! Explore transcripts of original parish records for baptisms, birth dates, names and residences of parents and occupations. The collection covers 180 parishes and spans 1538 to 1901. (Findmypast is now home to over two million Surrey records, including baptisms, marriages, monumental inscriptions, court records, probate records and more. Click here to see a list of all collections relating to Surrey.)

North America. Over 800 pages from 12 publications comprise Scots-Irish in North America Histories, a Findmypast collection that covers a variety of date ranges and regions on the Ulster Scots and their descendants in the United States and Canada.

Please help us spread the word!

Every Friday, we share new records on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com, MyHeritage.com, other websites and digital archives across the internet. We hear from you how these weekly posts help your genealogy. Maybe a specific collection has (finally!) come online. Or maybe you read about an interesting-sounding record type and decide to go searching for something similar for your own family. Will you please help spread the good news by sharing this article on your favorite social media site? And do let us know if any records we mention lead to any discoveries on your family tree. Thanks–you’re a gem!

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.

4 Must-Explore Ancestry.com Collections

Some Ancestry.com collections are super valuable but, for one reason or another, are easy to miss. You DON’T want to miss these four exclusive Ancestry.com collections that were hand-picked by an Ancestry staffer: landowner maps, iconic shopping catalog images, Prohibition-era identification cards and even WWII-era motion pictures.

4 Ancestry.com collections you don’t want to miss

Recently at RootsTech 2018, I compared historical record collections on the genealogy giants (Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com). An Ancestry.com staffer saw my lecture and emailed me with some of his favorite (and exclusive) Ancestry.com collections that don’t appear among your ‘shaky leaf’ hints, so they’re easy to miss. The descriptions below come from him or the site, and I’ve added some sample images–including a map showing the location of my great-great grandfather’s land.

Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalogs, 1896-1993

“Do you know what your great-grandparents would have worn? What would they have wanted for Christmas? Get an idea by looking at the Sears Catalog through the years. The original 1888 mailer carrying watches and jewelry expanded into a catalog in 1894 that kept growing offering an ever-widening range of products: sewing machines, sporting goods, musical instruments, saddles, firearms, buggies, bicycles, baby carriages, and clothing. In the late 1800s the catalog began carrying Christmas holiday items leading to its eventual status as the “Wish Book.”

Other interesting facts about the Sears and Roebuck Catalog include some of the people who were involved in the making of it. Big name 40s and 50s film stars Lauren Bacall and Susan Hayward model fashions in pages of the catalog. Also featured are Ted Williams, a major baseball player in the 40s; Al Unser, a race car driver; and Gene Autry, “The Singing Cowboy.”

If your ancestor was a member of a fraternal organization such as the Freemasons or the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, you may be able to find pictures of pins created for their organizations. Music history in America also credits Sears catalog with changing American lifestyle because of the inexpensive but quality musical instruments offered through mail order.”

Prohibition agent identification cards, 1920-1925

“With the enactment of the Volstead Act in 1920, Prohibition agents were called upon to do the often unpopular work of enforcing the law, which included shutting down speakeasies and stills and interrupting the trafficking of bootleg alcoholic beverages. This collection contains identification card files for prohibition agents, prohibition inspectors, prohibition directors, warehouse agents, narcotics agents, and narcotics inspectors in the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Prohibition Unit.”

County Land Ownership Maps (US), 1860-1918

“Land ownership maps are portrayals of land purchased, granted, or inherited. They range in complexity from rough outlines of the boundaries of one tract of land to detailed county atlases showing every landowner at the time of compilation.

These maps are valuable to genealogists because they often contain the names of landowners, they predate topographic maps, they show important historical township and county boundaries [and] can include photos of county officers, landholders, and some buildings and homes. This database contains approximately 1,200 U.S. county land ownership atlases from the Library of Congress’ Geography and Maps division, covering the years 1860-1918…These maps can be searched by state, county, year and owner’s name.”

Note from Sunny: This collection has proven valuable to me because it helped me locate my great-great grandfather’s property on a Pennsylvania map. Shown here!

WWII Newsreels, 1942-1946

“Newsreels averaged 10 minutes in length and consisted of U.S. military footage depicting allied military operations and other events from the home front. Much of the footage was taken by military combat photographers and is in excellent condition.

This database contains all 267 issues of the ‘United News’ newsreels. Some of the more well-known WWII events depicted in these newsreels includes: Marines Raise Flag Over Iwo Jima, D-Day, Japanese Sign Final Surrender, Invasion of Sicily, and MacArthur Returns to the Philippines.

Note from Sunny: Search this database using keywords relating to your family, such as places, military units or a descriptive term such as engineer. The sample footage shown here, “Yanks help repair French railroad” appears in this Ancestry.com collection. (For ease of display on our site, we’re showing you the same footage from YouTube.)

Learn more about the genealogy giants

Learn more about what’s on Ancestry.com and the other genealogy giants, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com). I specialize in comparing these sites to each other so you’ll know where to turn to meet your research needs. Click here to read more about the genealogy giants and to see my exclusive quick reference guide, Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites. It’s arguably the smartest investment you can make before investing time and subscription dollars in the major genealogy websites.

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.

African American Genealogy Records: New and Free!

Explore these African and African American genealogy records in celebration of your family history and Black History Month!

Also this week: see new records online for Southern Claims Commission, GA, NY and VA as well as African heritage sites, Liberia and South Africa. And check out a limited-time offer from Fold3 to view its Black History collection for free.

Black History Collection free this month at Findmypast.com

“In recognition of Black History Month, Fold3 is making the records in its Black History collection available for free through the end of February,” states a recent company announcement. “The Black History collection gives you access to more than a million documents, records, and photos that help to capture the African-American experience during five eras of American history: SlaveryThe Civil WarReconstruction & Jim Crow LawsWorld War I & II, and the Civil Rights Movement.

The Fold3 announcement lists several of its richest collections, and we think they’re worth noting individually:

African American genealogy records newly published online

U.S. Southern Claims Commission. The “genealogy giant” Ancestry.com has updated its collection of U.S. Southern Claims Commission, Disallowed and Barred Claims, 1871-1880. According to the collection description, “In 1871 the U.S. government created the Southern Claims Commission, an organization through which southerners could file claims for reimbursement of personal property losses due to the Civil War. Claims could only be filed by residents of AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA and WV.” Your African American ancestors may be among those listed therein: “Each claimant was required to provide witnesses. The witnesses had to answer the same 80+ questions that the claimant had to answer. Many of these witnesses were former slaves whose names rarely appear on any other legal document from the Civil War era. They also provided names and dates for family members who often lived on other plantations.”

Georgia. “The records of the Georgia Association of Educators (1921-2015)…are open for research,” reports the George State University Library. “The collection, comprised of unique documents and photographs, provides an in-depth look at the history of the organization that represents many of Georgia’s teachers. The collection includes convention proceedings, contracts and constitutions, meeting minutes, newspaper clippings, audio-visual materials, photographs, and periodicals.” Among the topics covered are the mergers of the previously-segregated black and white state teachers’ associations and integration of public schools about 1970. Click here to explore the finding aid to this collection.

New York. A first-of-its-kind free database documents those involved in the institution of slavery in New York from the earliest times. The New York Slavery Records Index “is a searchable compilation of records that identify individual enslaved persons and their owners, beginning as early as 1525 and ending during the Civil War,” reports the site. “Our data come from census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certifications, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents and many other sources. The index contains over 35,000 records and will continue to grow as our team of John Jay College professors and students locates and assembles data from additional sources.” A hat-tip to WGRZ.com for publishing this article that alerted us to this valuable new resource.

Virginia. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reports, “Students in an introduction to public history class at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, created a digital archive of newspaper and other clippings collected during the civil rights era by the Hill Street Baptist Church in Roanoke. The project documents efforts in the area to desegregate lunch counters, movie theaters, and public schools during the 1950s and 1960s.”

African Genealogy and History Resources Now Online

African world heritage sites. CNN.com recently reported on a new online resource that seeks to provide digital preservation and access to important archaeological sites across Africa. “The archaeological wonders of the world offer a rich window into the past,” states the article. “But many are crumbling, weed-laden and victim to vandalism and conflict….Concerned with the decay of African heritage sites, The Zamani Project, based at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, is seeking to immortalize historic spots in three-dimensional, virtual reality-ready models…. Presently, they’ve mapped around 16 sites including Lalibela in Ethiopia, Timbuktu in Mali and Kilwa in Tanzania.”

Liberia. The free “genealogy giant” FamilySearch.org has added over 24,000 new record images and nearly 27,000 newly-indexed names to its free collection of Liberia, Marriage Records, 1912-2015. Documents include “applications for marriage licenses, marriage licenses, marriage returns, documents certifying marriages from Liberia.”

South Africa. FamilySearch has also updated two of its existing South Africa records collections with more indexed names:  South Africa, Cape Province, Kimberley, Probate Records of the Supreme Court, 1871-1937 and South Africa, Cape Province, Probate Records of the Master of the High Court, 1834-1989.

Listen to more African American genealogy topics

The free Genealogy Gems Podcast and the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast have both featured inspiring interviews on African African genealogy research. We recommend these:

Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #201: Angela Walton-Raji joins Lisa Louise Cooke with tips for interviewing African American relatives, learning important history and getting past that 1870 brick wall into the era of American slavery. Listen for free!

Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #200: A university professor shares his discoveries about a mother and young daughter separated by slavery. Learn how he pieced together their story from a poignant family heirloom found at a flea market.

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #130: Oprah Book Club author Lalita Tademy talks about her book Citizen’s Creek, a novel about an African American and Creek Indian family. This special episode (and all Premium Podcast episodes) is something extra just for our Premium subscribers; click here to learn how to subscribe.

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.

Creating Free Online Memorials for Deceased Relatives: A New Option from Ancestry.com

Creating free online memorials for your deceased relatives and ancestors is a wonderful way to remember and honor them. Genealogy giant Ancestry.com has created a new portal for posting these free online obituaries. Here’s what Ancestry.com’s “We Remember” tool is all about, and how you can use it.

A need for free, lasting online memorials

For several years, I have been concerned that newspaper obituaries are quietly going away, along with the popularity of print newspapers themselves. Obituaries and death notices fill important purposes. They help a family and community say goodbye. They pay tribute to loved ones and to lives well-lived (or ended too soon). They quietly but effectively spread news of a death, removing some of that burden from a grieving family. And for years to come, newspaper obituaries help genealogists learn their family history.

Increasingly, we share news of a loved one’s passing directly via social media channels–sometimes instead of in newspapers. These social media messages are personal and powerful, often accompanied by images or video and supplemented with others’ comments. But they don’t entirely replace the obituary:

  • They only reach those within our social media reach.
  • They often don’t contain the same rich genealogical information an obituary may mention.
  • Some may not easily be searchable by those who want to find them.

As younger generations age into the role of decision-makers after a loved one passes, they will decide on behalf of a family how and where a loved one is formally memorialized. Print obituaries may not seem important or relevant to those who don’t rely so heavily on newspapers.

Online memorials posted by funeral homes and sites such as Legacy.com have somewhat filled this gap. They have brought obituaries into dedicated online spaces where loved ones can share biographical information, photos and memories. However, many online memorials are only published temporarily. Many require a fee either to create or to maintain—or both.

A new option for free online memorials

That’s why I’m pleased to see that Ancestry.com has launched We Remember, a free online space for posting and sharing public memorials for deceased loved ones and ancestors. According to the press release, “Rather than being a research page, the ‘We Remember’ page is designed to gather and showcase memories about your loved one. You can celebrate their life by bringing together those who knew them and collecting stories, and photos, to paint a rich picture of who they were.”

A ‘We Remember’ memorial has 3 parts:

  • Tribute: Shows their name, photo, and a headline about them and/or their obituary
  • Guestbook: Lists all who have signed the page and how they are connected to the deceased (family, friends, coworkers, schoolmates).
  • Memories: Shows memories people have added. So far, this photos and stories; Ancestry.com hopes to add audio and video options in the future.

The web-based platform doesn’t require an app and can be used from your computer, tablet or smart phone. The memorials are interactive and “intended for sharing and collaborating, gathering everyone’s memories together. There are multiple options for sharing on the site: email, Facebook, or just copying the link and sharing it directly with friends and family.” You can post questions for those who visit to answer.

Essentially, ‘We Remember’ brings the death notice announcement out of your everyday social media environment and creates a stand-alone place for anyone who is online to visit.

Questions about ‘We Remember’

Of course, questions immediately arise about how permanent and free this service will remain, and whether it will become searchable so others may discover their family history on it. Here at Genealogy Gems, we always advise not relying on any single online or offline ‘container’ for your memories, photos and other family history treasures. Genealogy technology expert Lisa Louise Cooke always advises sharing online in selected places, but keeping master files of everything offline and backed up.

Ancestry.com responded to these and other concerns about ‘We Remember’ with comments I want to share here:

  • Will it stay free? “We have created [We Remember] as a free product to capture and preserve memories. (If that ever changed – which we don’t expect at this point – any pages created before a change would stay free.)”
  • Can we save what people post to our own master files offline? “We also hope to create features in the future to allow you to save content from a We Remember memorial page to your computer, such as in a file that you could view or print.”
  • Can we link memorial pages to profiles on our Ancestry.com trees? “We haven’t built any features around that yet but have received suggestions to link between We Remember pages and profile pages of ancestors in your tree and that is something we’re actively looking at and considering.”
  • Will we be able to search We Remember memorial pages? “That is something that we have planned but haven’t built yet.”
  • Is it going to remain ad-free? “We Remember purposefully does not have ads on it, and we have no plans to include ads in the future.”
  • What about other questions concerning privacy and managing the memorial? The site has a frequently asked questions page that addresses whether you need an account, how to limit access and manage content posted by others and more.

Clearly, ‘We Remember’ is still a work-in-progress by genealogy giant Ancestry.com. But the portal is free, easy to use and beautifully-formatted. Check it out for yourself and consider using it as one way to share the news of a loved one’s death. If you do decide to use it, don’t forget to save a copy offline of the memories and photos posted by others: screenshot them if necessary!

Create a video memorial of a loved one

One of Lisa Louise Cooke’s many inspiring talents is creating short, powerful family history videos that help her celebrate the people and memories that matter most. She does a fabulous job of teaching step-by-step how we can do the same! Click here to follow her instructions on how to create a short video to spotlight a loved one.

Sunny Morton

Sunny Morton

Sunny Morton is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast. She’s especially 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 latest favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club. Sunny is also a Contributing Editor at Family Tree Magazine and the NGS-award-winning Co-Editor of Ohio Genealogy News.

New Records Include German and Holocaust Records Online

You can now find more Holocaust records online. Read here about the 1939 German Minority Census and Polish and Czech Holocaust records. Also featured this week: German vital records, new collections from Belgium and Estonia, and an update to the US War of 1812 pension files.

New Holocaust records online at MyHeritage

Among new Holocaust records online is the German Minority Census, 1939 at genealogy giant MyHeritage.com. The collection contains “the names of all individuals listed in the 1939 census of Germany who lived in a household where at least one person in the household had a Jewish grandparent.”

According to MyHeritage, “Many of these people were killed in the Holocaust and this census is the last written trace of them. These approximately 410,000 individuals come from the supplement census cards that recorded each person’s Jewish background. Information listed may include: name, maiden name, birth date, birthplace, residence, death date, death place, place of imprisonment, deportation or emigration, and whether they were a Holocaust victim. Some of this information comes from the original census cards, and some of this information was researched and annotated much later. This collection is provided in partnership with Tracing the Past.”

German vital records

Genealogy giant Ancestry.com has added or updated the following German collections

More Holocaust records online

Two free Holocaust-era databases at Ancestry.com are also worth mentioning, as one is new and one has just been updated. Note: these collections are free to search because the indexing was done by World Memory Project contributors from the digitized holdings of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Collection descriptions below come from the USHMM website:

  • Poland, Łódź Ghetto Transportation Lists, 1939-1944 (new) “consists predominantly of the records of Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski, the Eldest of the Jews in the ghetto in Łódź, Poland, and of his administration. Included are letters, announcements, circulars, charts, publications, reports, essays, name lists, and photographs.”
  • Prague, Czechoslovakia, Selected Holocaust Records, 1939-1945 (updated) consists of “records generated by German occupational institutions and Czech auxiliary agencies dealing with matters of internal security and racial policy, especially anti-Jewish measures. Includes reports regarding aryanization of Jewish businesses, questionnaires of Jewish properties, lists of Jewish workers, documents regarding situation in Theresienstadt (death statistics), Lety camp, and deportation of Jews to Theresienstadt. Also includes lists of art objects in Sbirow castle (including Jewish art), information regarding Jews, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), and Russians in Gdańsk, Poland, and various propaganda materials.”

More European genealogy records online

Belgium

Google Translate provides this translation of a January 17, 2018 announcement at internetgazet for Neerpelt, Limburg, Belgium: “The municipality has digitized all civil status documents and makes the documents that are more than 100 years old publicly available via dept. Neerpelt.be. That was announced today. Through this website you can view, save and print birth, marriage and death certificates from 1797 to 1917. Thanks to a search function, you can easily look up the birth, marriage and death certificates of residents of Neerpelt and SHLille.”

Estonia

Also new at Ancestry.com is Estonia, Census, Tax and House Lists, 1784-1944. This collection for this northern European country spans over 150 years’ worth of “various lists of residents of Estonian towns and rural municipalities,” according to its description. “These documents serve as population registers and contain personal and family information about inhabitants of each administrative unit, regardless of their social status or religion. The collection covers two historical eras: Estonia under the Russian Empire (the period until 1917, in which records were kept in German and Russian) and during the Estonian Republic (1918-1940, in which records were kept in Estonian language). The structure and format of the records vary between regions and over time. There are also gaps in certain periods and places, as some of the municipal archives have not been preserved.”

Update to free US War of 1812 Pension Files at Fold3

The growing collection of free War of 1812 Pension Files at Fold3 is now 2/3 complete, after a January 17, 2018 update. Because pension eligibility for veterans or their widows was extended decades after the war, you may find valuable family history information dating for many years after the conflict ended. Documents vary but among them, you may find declarations of pension/widow’s pension; Adjutant General statements of service; questionnaires completed by applicants; “Pension Dropped” cards; or marriage, death or discharge certificates. These may have information on the veteran’s age, residence, service details, and death, as well as identifying details about soldiers’ widows who applied.

A note from the site states, “Although digitization of the War of 1812 pension files was previously temporarily paused, Ancestry, the National Archives, and the Federation of Genealogical Societies are working in cooperation to resume digitization. The first of these newly digitized pension files are already available for free on Fold3, with more to be added to the site in installments throughout 2018 and beyond. So if you don’t see your ancestor’s pension file yet, keep checking back!”

Help put more Holocaust records online

Volunteers power millions of new online genealogy records every month–including Holocaust records. For example, you can help curate a growing collection of Holocaust-related newspaper articles from your local newspapers for the History Unfolded project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Do it on your own, or with your local genealogical or historical society! Click here to read more about how you can help.

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!

Sunny Morton

Sunny Morton

Sunny Morton is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast. She’s especially 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 latest favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club. Sunny is also a Contributing Editor at Family Tree Magazine and the NGS-award-winning Co-Editor of Ohio Genealogy News.

DNA Testing News: 2017 Year in Review

Plenty of DNA testing news crossed our desks in 2017! Advances in genetic genealogy include an AncestryDNA database that doubled in size, new options for participants, more health-related information and a new global genetic tree. Catch up on these developments before 2018 brings us even more DNA news!

dna testing year in review

DNA Testing News in 2017

The genetic genealogy industry is growing at a break-neck pace. Ancestry.com has amassed the largest DNA database by doubling its testing pool in 2017. Over 6 million people have now tested there. This is great news for those seeking genetic connections. As these databases grow larger, it’s also clear that genetic data–correlated with genealogical data–has tremendous ability to provide us with other answers about ourselves.

In November, MyHeritage announced an effort by their scientific team to “study the relationship between genetics and behavior, personal characteristics, and culture.” These studies are not new, as 23andMe is in open hot pursuit of the connections between genetics and our health, and always has been.

Increased options for your DNA testing experience

All of our genetic genealogy companies are involved in research on one level or another and every person who swabs or spits has the opportunity to participate in other research projects (click here to read up on the consent policies at each company). At the time of testing, you have the option to opt in or out of this research, and the ability to alter that decision at any time after you test, by accessing your settings. According to an article in Fast Company, it seems we as a community are very interested in helping with research: 23andMe reports an over 80% opt-in-to-research rate among their customers. And I’ve got some breaking news for you: Family Tree DNA recently ran a consumer awareness campaign to reinforce the message that they will never sell your genetic data.

DNA testing news

Health data and research

All our genetic genealogy companies realize that you might want to do more with your data than just look for your ancestors. This year Family Tree DNA has partnered with Vitagene in an effort to provide insight into your health via your genetic genealogy test results. Of course 23andMe is the leader in health testing when we look at our top genetic genealogy companies. This year 23andMe finally succeeded in passing several of their health tests through the FDA, a huge leap forward in their efforts to provide health testing directly to consumers.

While health testing has certainly seen an explosion of interest this year, it is not the only way that our companies are using the data they have amassed. AncestryDNA took the DNA and pedigree charts of two million customers who consented to research and, using some really fancy science, were able to provide amazing insight into our recent ancestral past with the creation of their genetic communities. These genetic communities enhance our understanding of our heritage by showing us where our ancestors may have been between 1750 and 1850, the genealogical “sweet spot” that most of us are trying to fill in.

A global genetic family tree

Living DNA, a relative newcomer to the genetic genealogy arena, announced in October of 2017 their intention to use their database to help create a One World Family Tree. To do so, they are collecting DNA samples from all over the world, specifically those who four grandparents lived in close proximity to each other. Along with this announcement, Living DNA is allowing individuals who have results from other companies and want to help with this project, to transfer into their database.

So it seems that with growing databases come growing options, whether to opt-in to research, to pursue health information from your DNA test results, or to help build global databases for health or genealogy purposes. Recognizing the growing appeal to non-genealogists as well, AncestryDNA added to their list of options the ability to opt-out of the match page, and there are rumors that Living DNA will soon be adding the option to opt-in to matching (they do not currently have a cousin-matching feature as part of their offering).

DNA testing news

Keep up with DNA testing news

It can be tricky to keep up with the seemingly relentless flood of DNA advances, so follow us here at Genealogy Gems, where I report on the most important DNA testing news for your genealogy research. You can stay up-to-date by following us on Facebooksubscribing to our free weekly e-mail newsletter and tuning in to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast.

The Author: Diahan Southard

The Author: Diahan Southard

Your DNA Guide

Diahan Southard is Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems! She has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of our DNA guides Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists, and Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists (click STORE in the menu above)

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