New Records at US History Digital Archives Tell Amazing Stories

Record collections and digital archives of US history reveal fascinating stories from our collective past. Here we report on resources relating to the US Colored Troops in the Civil War, old Southern architecture, higher education in Virginia, Southern burial grounds, the south side of Chicago, the history of Illinois, and WWII Japanese internment camps. What might any of these reveal about your family history?

Coming soon: U.S. Colored Troops Database

Usually, we wait to report about new online record projects until they are actually online. But we can’t wait to share this good news about records of the U.S. Colored Troops (African American soldiers who served in the Civil War). According to an NYU news release, researchers are “transcribing the contents of thousands of personnel and pension records from the Civil War, which also include marriages, children, and residencies, among other data, that are gradually forming the African American Civil War Soldiers database.” That database will eventually be housed at the African American Civil War Museum website.

US history digital archives you should know about

Southern architecture: Surveying the South

The Library of Congress has created a new series called Story Maps, which “combine text, images, multimedia, and interactive maps [from their collections] to create engaging online narrative experiences,” according to a recent announcement.

One of the first Story Maps to be created is Surveying the South, based on about 7000 photographs taken in the 1930s of “exteriors and interiors of houses, mills, and churches as well as mansions, plantations, and outbuildings” in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and West Virginia. According to the site, “Domestic dwellings are the most frequently represented structures, ranging from farmhouses and slave quarters to elegant mansions and houses, including abandoned buildings and ruins.” But there are also “city halls, courthouses, schools, churches, and cemeteries…law offices, mills, stores, and taverns.” If locations associated with your family history are part of this Story Map, it could be an incredible resource for you.

Virginia yearbooks

The Archives at the Library of Virginia announced recently, “We have been able to digitize and provide access to 2,308 yearbooks [from around the state] published though 1977, the year that copyright law impacts use. So far, 35 local libraries have contributed their yearbooks, with more in process. There is no set end date for this project; it will continue as long as…funding supports it and there are willing participants.” Click here to explore The Library of Virginia’s digitized yearbook collection (sorted by the public libraries that have contributed their copies).

Southern burial grounds

This isn’t a new collection, but it’s been moved, so it’s a nice opportunity to make you aware of it. The Tennessee State Library and Archives announced the following on its Facebook page: “The Richard C. Finch Folk Graves Digital Photograph Collection is now on [The Tennessee Virtual Archive] TeVA (formerly on the Library and Archives’ Flickr). Dr. Finch has visited hundreds of cemeteries in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Texas photographing covered graves. His main focus has been on comb graves, so called because architecturally, the slabs of stone make a roof or comb over a grave. Click here to learn more about comb graves and the project.

Holocaust News in US Newspapers

We have reported in the past on History Unfolded, a project by the United States Holocaust Museum that collects local U.S. newspaper coverage in the 1930s and 1940s of Holocaust-related events in an effort to better understand what American readers knew about Nazi Germany. The Dallas News reports, “With the help of hundreds of students and dedicated volunteers, the museum built an extensive online archive of American newspaper coverage of key Holocaust events, including more than 12,000 articles from every U.S. state.” Click here to search the growing archive of newspaper stories or to help find more stories in local newspapers.

Home Movies and Oral Histories: Chicago’s South Side

The rich and famous aren’t the only ones who created home movies in the past. The University of Chicago has launched a new online digital archive chronicling everyday life on the South Side of Chicago in the 20th century. “The new South Side Home Movie Project Digital Archive is a globally accessible online portal to home movies shot by residents of Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods from 1929-1982,” says a university announcement.

The archive “showcases home movies organized into easily navigable categories: by the family that contributed their films; by subject matter, ranging across topics like fashion and birthdays to graduations, road trips, and the Bud Billiken Parade; year of production [and] filming location, including local landmarks like Buckingham Fountain….Oral histories recorded by family members describing their home movies are also available as companion works to the films. The archive continues to accept old home movies and encourages viewers to “to add tags and comments to help with identifying places, people, and events in the footage as participants in a collective historical project.” Click here to explore this digital archive.

Story of Illinois

The state of Illinois is celebrating its bicentennial soon, and has launched a new website to celebration. Story of Illinois is hosted by the Illinois State Museum and “features objects from the museum’s Illinois Legacy Collection as well as collections from other museums across the state that celebrate Illinois heritage,” reports the WAND 17 news website. Visitors to the free digital archive can explore the virtual exhibit by several time periods, from colonial to territorial times to early statehood, the Civil War, the industrializing age and history since 1917.

WWII Japanese internment camps

Another Story Map created by the Library of Congress is “Behind Barbed Wire,” an interactive exhibit offering “a unique glimpse into the daily lives of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII through the digitized collection of internment camp newspapers at the Library of Congress.” Here, you’ll follow the story of about 120,000 U.S. residents of Japanese descent who were forcibly removed from their homes and located first in temporary assembly centers and then in permanent internment camps.

At the heart of this collection are more than 4,600 English- and Japanese-language newspaper issues published in 13 camps by the residents themselves. According to the site, “Camp newspapers kept residents informed, relaying administrative announcements, orders, events, vital statistics, news from other camps, and other tidbits concerning daily camp life. They published not only straight news, but also editorials, opinions, human-interest stories, and entertainment pieces such as sports news, literary works, and comic strips. They recorded the daily activities of residents for whom, even in detention, life still continued on.”

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.

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.

5 Free Online Historical Maps for Genealogy

These free online historical maps may help you learn more about your ancestors’ daily lives and flesh out your family history. Find maps for Victorian and Edwardian England and Wales; indigenous people of Canada and the U.S.; European synagogues; the Soviet military during WWII and even shipwrecks in and around Ireland.

We’ve reported previously on fantastic interactive map tools to help you learn more about your ancestors’ worlds. The best interactive maps don’t just give you locations: they combine locales with statistics, historical timelines, images or stories to help you get a sense of that time and place. (One amazing site that comes to mind is Bomb Site, an interactive map of the London Blitz.)

Recently, several interactive map tools have come across my desk for consideration in our weekly Friday Records post, so here’s a nice roundup of them. Whether you have ancestors from these places or cultural communities, or whether you just love old maps as Lisa Louise Cooke and I do, we think you’ll enjoy these.

Featured Free Online Historical Map: Populations Past

Populations Past is a new interactive online atlas of Victorian and Edwardian populations in England and Wales. According to the site overview page, “The second half of the nineteenth century was a period of major change in the dynamics of the British population….[But] this transition was not uniform across England and Wales….This website allows users to create and view maps of different demographic measures and related socio-economic indicators every 10 years between 1851 and 1911. These include fertility, childhood mortality, marriage, migration status, household compositions, age-structure, occupational status and population density.” Brief explanations are included, and you can zoom in, compare maps and even download them. The atlas is hosted on the University of Cambridge website.

Map of Native Lands and People

Yes! Magazine has reported on the free Native Land website and app, which help you learn about the history of wherever you are (or wherever you want to learn about). According to the article, the site “seeks to map Indigenous languages, treaties, and territories across Turtle Island” (North America). As you can see from the screenshot below, though, other parts of the world are also included. When you enter any ZIP code, the map “will zoom in on your inquiry, color-code it, and pull up data on the area’s Indigenous history, original language, and tribal ties.”

The site’s About page stresses that the boundaries and names used are meant to come from the point of view of native people (rather than their conquerors) and that different perspectives exist. The site does actively solicit user feedback, though so much has been received that corrections are temporarily on hold. It’s certainly a fascinating lens through which to view the history of the land your ancestors lived on or settled—or perhaps even the property on which you yourself live now.

Map of European synagogues

Over 3000 synagogues have been mapped out at the free website, Historic Synagogues of Europe. The site aims “to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of the historic synagogues of Europe,” encompassing the 47 member states of the Council of Europe plus Belarus. Information about the various buildings, their historical and cultural significance, their current condition and their associated communities are included. Genealogists tracing Jewish ancestors might search extant synagogues located near an ancestor’s home, if known, to learn more about the building and at least to generally identify the communities that called it home. Sadly, though, according to this report on the site, only about 19% of European synagogues built before World War II are still standing.

4,000 Russian maps being digitized

A collection of about 4,000 topographical maps at Indiana University have traveled a long way (physically and culturally) since being produced by the Soviet military between 1883 and 1947. According to a press release, these maps of “the Eastern Bloc Borderlands project portray Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, and Western Russia – all areas greatly impacted by World War II and of strategic importance to Russia and the Soviet Union.”

These regions have changed greatly since the maps were created. In many cases, the maps identify villages and boundaries that no longer exist. The collection is being digitized because it contains such unique information that is of value to the international community. (What value may it have for your family history??)

About 1,000 of these maps have already been digitized and can be viewed at Indiana University’s Image Collections Online. The rest are forthcoming.

Shipwrecks around Ireland

Do you have relatives who may have been shipwrecked off the coast of Ireland? A new interactive map, the National Monuments Service Wreck Viewer, charts nearly 4,000 shipwrecks around the island. The data comes from the Wreck Inventory of Ireland Database, which catalogs thousands more wrecks that don’t have precisely known locations. In addition to a location, some wrecks report the name of the ship, the date of the wreck, the type of boat or ship and source of data (from Lloyd’s to a group of amateur divers). Many wrecks show very scant information but you may be able to use it in combination with other family history discoveries, such as newspaper articles or emigrant passenger lists, to add depth to your family history stories.

More Free Historical Maps Online!

Did I mention we love historical maps here at Genealogy Gems? Click on the articles below to read about more of our favorites. And for the ultimate historical maps education, join Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning, which gives you access to exclusive video classes by Lisa Louise Cooke on using historical maps and even Google Earth for genealogy! 

Vintage NYC Street Views on Google Earth

4 Must-Explore Ancestry.com Collections

Meyers Gazetteer Online for German Genealogy

New Digitized Historical Newspapers You’ll Want To Read

New digitized historical newspapers now online for Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Tennessee. Also the British Military Register, UK Suffragette Newspaper Collection, and papers for Nottingham, South London, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Leicestershire and North Yorkshire, England. We report two success stories from using these weekly Friday reports—what successes could YOU have?

I love this email that Lisa Louise Cooke received recently: “Hi Lisa, I just want to thank you for your weekly updates of new record sources. A couple of weeks ago you sent a link for the Illinois State University newspaper archive. Being my dad’s alma mater, I searched for him. A handful of stories came up about when my dad was almost kicked out of school and how his fellow students came to his rescue by staging a sit-in to prevent that. He’d had some minor infraction with a housing rule. I had forgotten that my dad had told me about it. I only wish he was still alive for me to share these articles with him. Thank you so much!”  – Sara

We love hearing about your discoveries in our weekly Friday record posts! Below, we’re reporting more historical newspapers that might be just what you need to read. I’ve included two news articles I found about my own family, too.

New digitized historical newspapers: Free collections

Colorado. The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection is a fantastic (and free) collection of digitized newspapers that you shouldn’t miss if your family lived in The Centennial State. I know this because I have discovered absolute gems here about my Felix great-grandparents during the few years they lived in Hugo, Colorado. Here are two of my favorite articles. The first is a fascinating glimpse into how novel and exciting it was to make a long-distance call. The second is a moving sale notice: a harbinger of change for the family, which was about to leave behind its horse-breeding business and move to the city of Pueblo.

The site recently reported a new addition to the site: The Altrurian, covering Piñon, a town in the Tabequache Park in southwestern Colorado. According to the site, “This title is especially unique not only because it began publication even before the community it represented even existed, but also because it further adds to the narrative of communal or ‘Utopian’ societies that gained a relatively significant following in the late 19th century in Colorado.”

Georgia. The Digital Library of Georgia’s blog recently announced “the availability of the Red and Black in the Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive….Since 1893, the Red and Black has provided a training ground for University of Georgia students interested in gaining experience in various aspects of newspaper publishing and to produce a high quality daily newspaper for the University of Georgia community.” The paper is published in Athens, GA, and is the state’s most widely-circulated college newspaper.

Now online at Newspapers.com

Newspapers.com has also updated dozens of newspaper collections across the U.S. and for England, Canada, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and more. Click here to explore their newspaper holdings for your ancestral hometown.

New at The British Newspaper Archive

Here’s some news from The British Newspaper Archive (remember, this is the same source for newspapers you find on Genealogy Giant Findmypast.com–no separate subscription required). In recent weeks, they’ve added:

Here’s hoping these new digitized historical newspapers lead you to some family history gems, too! If the times and places we’ve covered today don’t include your family, don’t despair. Instead, click here to browse more of our Friday record posts. You’ll likely find something worth exploring. (Will you post a comment if you do? We’d love to hear!)

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.

US Church Records for Genealogy and More Now Online

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

Featured: Swedish American church records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find your Swedish ancestors

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

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

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

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

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.

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