British Isles Descendants Will Love these New Records Online

Millions of British Isles descendants—whether still living in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales or dispersed to the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, may find their ancestors in these new online records that include medieval maps, BMD and immigration records, name changes and even medical records for British troops in WWI.

British Isles descendants: Time to explore!

New collections for across Britain

Britain name changes. TheGenealogist.co.uk has published a new database that will help researchers identify official name changes by their ancestors in Britain. According to Family Tree (UK), “The Change of Names Database covers information gathered from a number of sources including Private Acts of Parliament; Royal Licences published in the London and Dublin Gazettes; notices of changes of name published in The Times after 1861 with a few notices from other newspapers; registers of the Lord Lyon [King of Arms] where Scottish changes of name were commonly recorded; records in the office of the Ulster King at Arms and also some private information.” Click here to learn more about name change records and subscription options.

Try Findmypast.com for 50% off

British Isles descendants should all explore Findmypast.com. This month only, Genealogy Gems fans can get 50% off the 1-month Ultimate Package at Findmypast–only $9.98 USD (instead of $19.95), where you’ll access to everything Findmypast has to offer. This offer is good through July 31, 2018 and only available through our exclusive link: GET THE DEAL HERE. You can accomplish a lot of research in one month, so keep reading to learn more about their fabulous new and updated collections.

British WWI records. British Isles subscription-based Genealogy Giant Findmypast.com has added nearly 700,000 records to its collection of British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers’ Medical Records. According to the site, “These records may allow you to discover when and where your ancestor was wounded, where they were treated how long they were held at the medical facility for treatment. Images may provide a variety of additional details such as their service history and a description of the wound.”

British Isles descendants FMP British WWI medical record

Sample image from Findmypast.com. Crown Copyright Images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England.

Battle artifacts. You can now browse or search a new database of more than 2000 archaeological artifacts that have been recovered from Anzac Cove and the Gallipoli Penninsula, in the area where thousands of Turkish, Australian, New Zealander, British, French, Indian and Newfoundlander troops died as part of a campaign over control of Istanbul. According to News Australia, this artifact collection results from “the world’s most extensive battlefield archaeological study uncovered items which gave a glimpse of life on the frontline for Turkish and Anzac troops, uncovered the trenches where men fought, lived and died, and unearthed everyday items such as bottles of beer and belt buckles.”

Medieval maps. Those who can trace their family history back to medieval times (even just to a particular region) will be excited to hear that the British Library has published a collection of free online maps. According to this announcement, “The Virtual Mappa Project has been officially released as an open access publication, with an incredible collection of digitised medieval world maps from the British Library and beyond, all online, annotated and waiting to be explored.” This collection is published “in a visually navigable, text-searchable, translated format that makes their intricacies much more accessible to modern minds.” Click here to read more instructions and to start exploring this collection!

Australia

Obituaries. Subscription-based Genealogy Giant Ancestry.com has updated its databaseAustralia and New Zealand, Obituary Index, 2004-2018, which now has more than 370,000 records. According to the collection description, this recent collection is curated through online research: “The collection contains recent obituaries from hundreds of newspapers. We work with partners to scour the Internet regularly to find new obituaries and extract the facts into our database. Where available we include the original URL link to the source information. As the internet is a changing medium, links may stop working over time.”

Queensland immigration. The tech-savvy subscription-based Genealogy Giant MyHeritage.com has published a new collection with more than 100,000 records in it: Queensland, Australia Passenger and Crew Lists, 1852-1885. According to the site, “This collection is an index to inwards passenger and crew lists arriving in Brisbane and Moreton Bay between 1852 and 1885, sourced from the Collector of Customs (Brisbane) records, held at the National Archives of Australia, Brisbane (Shipping Inwards Series J715). Many of the ships have two lists–one prepared at the time of departure (classified in this index as a “Departure” list), and another prepared upon arrival (classified in this list as an “Arrival” list). The index covers over 100,000 individuals from 485 different voyages. A few outwards lists are also included. Information provided may include name of passenger or crew member, age, marital status, occupation, name of ship, departure date and place, and arrival date and place.”

South Australia immigration. The free Genealogy Giant, FamilySearch.org, has added more than 25,000 records to Australia, South Australia, Immigrants Ship Papers, 1849-1940. According to the site, this update includes “a record of births and deaths aboard, 1849-1867 and 1873-1885. Indexed records in collection include passenger lists arriving and departing from South Australia. Information on images varies but may include ship’s name, master’s name, tonnage, where bound, date, port of embarkation, names of passengers, ages, occupation, nationality, and port at which passengers have contracted to land.”

Canada

New Brunswick births. FamilySearch has also added nearly 24,000 names to its collection, New Brunswick Late Registration of Births, 1810-1899. “These records include indexes and images of provincial returns of births, 1869-1906 and late registrations, 1810-1906. The late registrations from 1810 to 1899 are arranged by birth year and then surname. Although the index is complete, images are being added to this collection as they become available. The returns of births, 1870-1906, and the late registration documents which were original certificates and some returns, 1810-1899, are arranged alphabetically within each year.”

England

Kent births. This collection isn’t huge, but it’s new and as the record of a male midwife, it’s fairly unusual: Kent, Lydd Midwife’s Birth Register 1757-1815. The site states, “The collection contains over 2,400 records transcribed from the original register of William Waylett (1729-1815), a male midwife who practiced in Lydd and the surrounding parishes on Romney Marsh in Kent….Transcripts span the years 1757 to 1815 and will reveal a combination of your ancestor’s birth date, birth place, parent’s names and any additional notes. Notes may include details of the pregnancy, delivery, mother, or payment for services.” If you find your ancestor in these records, we hope you’ll let us know about it!

Liverpool church records. Ancestry.com has added to several separate collections of Liverpool Anglican church records so that they now total more than 4 million records. You may want to search first the multi-record type Liverpool, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1659-1812, and follow up by searching within these individual collections of Liverpool, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1917, Liverpool, England, Church of England Confirmations, 1887-1921, Liverpool, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932 and Liverpool, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1975.

Northumberland and Durham burials. Findmypast.com has added over 14,000 new records to Northumberland and Durham Memorial Inscriptions. According to the site, “The new additions cover churchyards in Birtley, Blyth, Boldon, Eighton Banks, Gosforth, Great Lumley, Penshaw, Ryhope, South Shields, Whitley Bay and Woodhorn. Each result includes a transcription of an original inscription. The amount of information listed may vary although most transcripts will include a combination of your ancestor’s burial year, birth date, death date, age at death, denomination, inscription, location, plot, stone type and any additional notes.”

Yorkshire burials. Findmypast.com has added more than 38,000 new records to its database, Yorkshire Burials. According to the site, the collection “now contains over 5.1 million records spanning more than 400 years of the county’s rich history.”

New Zealand

Nearly a half million records already appear in New Zealand, Cemetery Transcriptions, 1840-1981, a brand new free collection you can search at FamilySearch.org. Containing indexed names and images from various places across New Zealand, the records may include the cemetery name, name of deceased, death date, age at death and names of family members.

Scotland

Ancestry.com subscribers may now search a new collection with more than 3.2 million records: Aberdeen City and Former Counties of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Electoral Registers, 1832-1976. “This database contains yearly registers listing names and residences of people in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who were eligible to vote in elections. These year-by-year registers can help place your ancestors in a particular place and possibly also reveal some information about property they owned. Coverage for the area and timeframe is not complete, so it may be helpful to check the browse menu on the right [of the database’s search page, linked to above] for details of which volumes are included.”

British Isles descendants Aberdeen voters Ancestrycom

Sample image from electoral roll of Aberdeenshire County, 1862, images 25-26 on Ancestry.com.

United States

Deceased physicians. Findmypast.com has published more than 700,000 biographical card files of deceased doctors from the American Medical Association. The Deceased Physician File (AMA), 1864-1968 is a browse-only collection. The site explains, “Each record consists of a transcript that may reveal when your ancestor died, where they practiced, where they attended school, where they were living at the time of their death, details relating to their career and their cause of death.”

Indiana marriages. Findmypast.com has added nearly 80,000 records of Indiana marriages (1818-1920) to its growing (and already enormous) collection of United States Marriage records. According to the site, “The collection includes both transcripts and images of original documents that will list a combination of your ancestor’s marriage date, location, the names of both the bride and groom, their birthplaces, birth dates, ages, residence and the names of both their parents.”

Massachusetts. The Boston Public Library has curated a collection of thousands of high school yearbooks from across the state of Massachusetts and published them online for free viewing at the Internet Archive. The collection page appears to comprise 4440 volumes dating back to 1892. (We read about this new collection in this online article at CBS Boston.)

Native American census. New and free to explore on FamilySearch.org is United States, Native American, Census of the Ute Tribe, 1944. Though a small collection (only about 2500 records), it may be key to helping you trace Ute ancestors and tribal membership. According to the site, these records come from an “index and images of Indian Census Roll taken on the Uintah and Ouray reservation in northeastern Utah during the month of January 1944 by the Office of Indian Affairs….Additional records for this tribe, reservation and agency will be found at the National Archives at Denver in Record Group 75 Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.”

North Carolina. A new collection of nearly 20,000 records at FamilySearch is North Carolina, County Divorce Records, 1926-1975. The collection description states, “This collection contains an index and images to the ‘index to former husbands and maiden names of divorced women’ covering the years 1926 to 1975. The documents included are affidavits, which are titled “Notice of Intention to Resume Use of Maiden Name.”

Also new for North Carolina is the online availability of some issues of the Charlotte Post, an African American weekly newspaper founded in 1878 and now available on DigitalNC. According to this article, “The first issues that we are making available online on DigitalNC cover 1988-1990, 1993, and 1996.” However, the landing page shows online issues back to 1971.

Ohio. Nearly 168,000 records have been added to the free FamilySearch collection, Ohio, Crawford County Obituaries, 1860-2004. These records come from the obituary file at the Crawford County Genealogical Society in Galion, Ohio. (We love societies and the work they do to compile and preserve local records!)

Tennessee. More than 150,000 records have been added to the free FamilySearch collection, Tennessee Death Records, 1914-1963. This collection includes indexed images of statewide death certificates.

Washington, D.C. FamilySearch.org has added nearly 100,000 record entries to District of Columbia, Glenwood Cemetery Records, 1854-2013. According to the site, “This collection includes images of cemetery records from 1854-2013 from the Glenwood Cemetery, a historic cemetery located on Lincoln Road NE in Washington, D.C.” This collection continues to grow as more images are added.

Try Findmypast.com for 50% off

If you’ve got British Isles ancestors, then you’ll definitely want to explore Findmypast.com. They’re also home to an incredible collection of unique and growing records for the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. And there’s no better time to get your all-access pass than right now! This month only, Genealogy Gems fans can get 50% off the 1-month Ultimate Package–only $9.98 USD (instead of $19.95). This offer is good through July 31, 2018 and only available through our exclusive link: GET THE DEAL HERE.

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Scandinavian Genealogy Records and More

It’s a Scandinavian genealogy dream come true: over 135 million new free records at FamilySearch! Also new (and free): church records for England, France, Germany; Italian and Mexican civil registration; archival indexes for The Netherlands; South African court records; Kentucky death records; Michigan births and Utah delayed birth records.

Featured: Free Scandinavian genealogy records

The free Genealogy Giant FamilySearch recently announced the addition of 135.4 million free digital historical records from Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. “These new collections were digitized in partnership with MyHeritage and the National Archives of Denmark and Finland and can now be accessed at FamilySearch.”

Denmark: over 55 million new records added. These include census records (1834-1930); browse-only church record images (1686–1941); browse-only land record images of deeds and mortgages; browse-only estate record images (1436–1964) and estate record indexes (1674–1851); civil marriages (1851–1961) and another collection of Copenhagen civil marriages (1739–1964; indexed 1877–1964). Search all Denmark records at FamilySearch for free.

Finland: over 34 million new records added. These include nearly 300 years of church census and preconfirmation books (1657–1915) and 100 years of tax lists of Suomi-Henkikirjara (1819–1915). Search all Finland records at FamilySearch for free.

Sweden: nearly 47 million new records added. These include Sweden household examination books (1880–1920) and church books (Kyrkoböcker) from Kopparberg (1604–1860), Örebro (until 1860), and Östergötland (1555–1911). Search all Sweden records at FamilySearch for free.

More free records at FamilySearch

England. There are more than 2.5 million indexed records in a new collection, England, Leicestershire Parish Registers, 1533-1991. According to the description. “The records found in this collection span over 400 years and include: Banns, 1637-1931; Baptisms, 1533-1916; Burials, 1533-1991; and Marriages, 1533-1931. While the vast majority of the records include images of the original parish registers, there are transcripts that do not include images. The images captured by FamilySearch were provided by the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland. The indexes were provided by Findmypast.”

France. Nearly 30,000 records have been added to the collection, France, Haute-Garonne, Toulouse, Church Records, 1539-1793. “Church records (registres paroissiaux) of baptisms, marriages, and burials within the custody of the Municipal Archives of Toulouse (Archives municipales de Toulouse). Includes marriage banns (bans de mariages). Most records are for Catholics, although there are a small quantity of available records for Protestants. Availability of records is largely dependent on time period and locality.”

Germany. More than 1.3 million indexed records have been added to Germany, Bavaria, Diocese of Augsburg, Catholic Church Records, 1615-1939. These include baptisms, marriages and burials. Another 43,000+ indexed records have been added to Germany, Rhineland, Diocese of Trier, Catholic Church Records, 1704-1957, as well.

Italy. FamilySearch continues to add to its Italian civil records collections. More than 20,000 records each have been added to the free collections, Italy, Brescia, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1797-1943 and Italy, Pescara, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1929.

Mexico. There a new browse-only collection with more than 1.4 million images! It’s Mexico, Sinaloa, Civil Registration, 1861-1929. The records include “births, marriages, deaths, indexes and other records created by civil registration offices” in Sinaloa.

Netherlands. More than 5.4 million indexed records have been added to the collection, Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Public Records. “Archives around the Netherlands have contributed indexes which cover many record sources, such as civil registration, church records, emigration lists, military registers, and land and tax records. This collection will cover events like notarial records, emigration and immigration, military enrollment and more. These indexes were originally collected, combined and published by OpenArchives.”

South Africa. More than a million indexed records have been added to South Africa, Cape Province, Probate Records of the Master of the High Court. These come from the original records kept at the Cape Archives Depot in Cape Town, South Africa.

United States. Two new collections have been added and one has received significant updates:

Genealogy Giants partnerships benefit everyone

The Genealogy GiantsAncestry.com, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage-participate in partnerships now and then that lead to more online records for us. In this report, you see collaboration between the free site FamilySearch and subscription sites Findmypast and MyHeritage. We {heart} these win-win situations! Learn how these sites compare (and cooperate and compete) on our dedicated Genealogy Giants webpage.

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

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.

How to Use the FamilySearch Catalog: Your Ultimate Portal to Free Genealogy Records

Every genealogist should know how to search the FamilySearch Catalog, a portal to nearly 750 million FREE historical record images you won’t find anywhere else on the site! These digitized records are being updated DAILY by camera teams who are digitizing records around the world–and digitizing microfilmed collections at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Recently, the free genealogy giant FamilySearch.org announced that its browse-only digital record collections have topped 2 BILLION! About 750 million of these are only searchable from the FamilySearch Catalog. The Catalog is where they put all new images collected DAILY from digitized microfilms or from their digital camera operators around the world. These images may still need some organizing and fine-tuning, but they’re an up-to-the-minute asset you will appreciate when you need them to take the next step in your research.

The Catalog also shows you information about books, maps, compiled family histories and other valuable genealogical resources that aren’t online but are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah or perhaps through Inter-library loan from another library. Yet another reason to search the Catalog! So here’s how to do it….

How to use the FamilySearch Catalog

To use the FamilySearch Catalog, go to www.familysearch.org and log in. (Creating a free login is optional, but you’ll get much better access to records on the site–click here to learn more.)

Under the main Search tab, select Catalog:

Now, search for the family history resources you want. Let’s say I’d like to find birth records for my ancestors who were living in the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I enter that location. FamilySearch automatically gives me options for standard place names (which include the county). I choose “United States, Pennsylvania, Cambria, Johnstown” from the list shown below and click Search:

The FamilySearch Catalog gives me a list of all subject categories relating to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I see “Vital Records.” This includes birth records, so I click where the red arrow points in the screen shot below to open another list of entries, the first of which is shown in the box below:

Click on that boxed item to see its Catalog entry, shown in part below. Scroll down to the list of Film/Digital Notes, and you’ll see information about available formats for each item. That little camera icon on the right means digital images are available for those items (the round icon that looks like an old film reel means it’s still just available on microfilm). Click on camera images to view digitized records.

For any records that aren’t yet digitized, use the Catalog entry link shown below to go to WorldCat.org, a free multi-library catalog with millions of entries. This catalog may lead you to other copies available at libraries near you, or at available through libraries that participate in inter-library loan. (Click here to read an article about using WorldCat for genealogy.)

KEEP UP WITH FAMILYSEARCH AND THE OTHER GENEALOGY GIANTS

Genealogy Gems is your home for learning how to get the most out of the giant genealogy websites: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.comClick here to see unique, side-by-side comparisons of these fantastic resources. You may be missing out on resources you need simply because you aren’t aware of them yet!

Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning members can check out my in-depth tour of the hinting tools used at all four genealogy giants in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #152. Not a member yet? Click here to learn about becoming one.

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.

French Genealogy Records and More—Now Free Online!

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

Free French genealogy records

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

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

Chile civil registrations

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

German church records

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

Netherlands civil registration

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

3 free digital archives for researching U.S. ancestors

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

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

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

Access French genealogy records and others on FamilySearch.org

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

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

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.

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