Archdiocese of Boston and American Ancestors Expand Historic Project

A project that began in 2017 to digitize important sacramental records in the history of Boston’s Catholic Church has just been expanded. Here’s the latest on this important project from American Ancestors and the Archdiocese of Boston. 
  
 
catholic church records
 

Historic Catholic Records Online Project Expansion
Announced by
American Ancestors and the Archdiocese of Boston

20 Additional Years of Records—from 1901 through 1920—and more than 60 Additional Greater Boston Catholic Parishes Are To Be Added to the Historic Digital Genealogy Project at AmericanAncestors.org
 
August 7, 2019—Boston, Massachusetts—American Ancestors and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) today announced an expansion of its ongoing program to digitize important sacramental records in the history of Boston’s Catholic Church. This expansion of a project collaboration announced in early 2017 will effectively double the original 11 million names of parishioners to be included when the project is completed to encompass a total of approximately 21 million names—a treasure in research terms for historians, genealogists, scholars, and the public at large. Images are available to browse now. Name-searchable records will be available in an expanded database from American Ancestors on their award-winning website AmericanAncestors.org

These historic records document several sacraments of the Catholic Church in Boston and surrounding towns including baptism, confirmation, holy communion, marriage, and the anointing of the sick. They are valued for research because they contain detailed information about the Catholic parishioners of greater Boston, their relationships with each other, the church, and often the community.

When announced in January 2017, the Historic Catholic Records Online Project—the first of its type in the U.S. to digitize a significant number of sacramental records from any U.S.-based Catholic archdiocese—encompassed 154 parishes in 84 towns within the Boston Archdiocese, covering the years 1789 to 1900. 

Today’s announcement extends the project’s reach to cover records through the year 1920—adding 20 additional years of sacramental records to the project and eventually bringing more than 60 new parishes within it—all formed within the Boston Archdiocese after 1900.

Catholic parishes in the towns of

  • Billerica,
  • Danvers,
  • Dracut,
  • Forest Hills,
  • Groton,
  • Mattapan,
  • Methuen,
  • North Andover,
  • Saugus,
  • Sharon,
  • Shirley,
  • Swampscott,
  • Wakefield,
  • Wilmington,
  • and Winthrop

will now be included—covering important phases of greater Boston’s early 20th-century history and stories of immigration, social, and cultural change.

Boston

Boston

Brenton Simons, President and CEO of American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society, celebrated the amplification of the project, noting “Throughout our 175-year history, New England Historic Genealogical Society has collected and shared countless manuscripts, artifacts, data, and other resources that tell the inspiring story of the American family. The expansion  of this historic collaboration between the Boston Archdiocese and American Ancestors will enrich the research of family historians in America and beyond and be especially informative in Irish, Italian, and French Canadian genealogy. Newer parishes from the 1900s add Lithuanian, Polish, and Portuguese genealogical data of interest.

“I offer our deep gratitude to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for recognizing the historical value of this data—especially Thomas Lester, the Archivist and Records Manager of the Archdiocese, whose forward-thinking vision toward preservation and collaboration inspired this important project and its expansion we are announcing today,” Simons said.

Lester, as the Boston Archdiocese’s leading advocate for records preservation, stated “We recognize the value of this collection to many groups, foremost among them historians and genealogists. This second, expanded phase of our project with American Ancestors, is a result of the overwhelming positive feedback received during the initial phase announced with them in January 2017.

“Use of the records by researchers around the world has exceeded our original expectations and we are excited to offer additional content, with more insights, and deeper glimpses into the history of the Roman Catholic people and parishes in greater Boston.  Of equal importance is that we are continuing to create a digital backup to help preserve these irreplaceable records.”   

“The completion of the expanded project, covering all records through the year 1920 is now anticipated to be by the year 2029,” stated Molly Rogers, Database Coordinator for American Ancestors, “with all browsable (non-indexed) and indexed names from all parish archives expected to be online by that time.” 

The project is enormous in scope, with a large amount of data to be digitized and then laboriously, manually indexed, transcribed, and, in most cases, translated to English for name-searching capabilities. 

Some of the first records from this expanded time period—browsable images of pages from parish archives—are available and may be viewed at AmericanAncestors.org/image-example by members of American Ancestors and by non-members alike, with a free online registration as a Guest Member at AmericanAncestors.org/membership/guest-users. Searchable records (indexed by name) are available only to subscribing members of American Ancestors—visit AmericanAncestors.org/Join. 

Volunteers coordinated by the staff of American Ancestors undertake the greater portion of the work of scanning and indexing the Historic Catholic Records Online Project documents.

 
Much of this effort is carried out at the American Ancestors headquarters in Boston’s Back Bay. In 2017, American Ancestors launched a Historic Catholic Records Fund to enable philanthropy to support the project. Information about contributing to this fund can be found at AmericanAncestors.org/catholic-records-fund.
 
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About American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society
American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), with its national headquarters located in Boston’s Back Bay, is the oldest and largest genealogical organization in America. It serves more than 260,000 members and millions of online users engaged in family history nationally and around the world. It is home to a world-class research library and archive, and an expert staff.
 
American Ancestors offers an award-winning genealogical research website at AmericanAncestors.org with more than 1.4 billion records and maintains a publishing division which produces original genealogical research, scholarship, and educational materials, including Mayflower Descendant, a quarterly journal of Pilgrim genealogy and history. 
 

Resources for Using Church Records for Genealogy

Former Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Jane Morton’s new book, along with Harold A. Henderson, CG is How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide. It includes hundreds of links to church research resources, as well as chapters devoted to specific resource for the major Christian denominations before 1900. 
church records book cover
 
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!

5 Dutch Genealogy Tips: Family History in the Netherlands

A Dutch genealogy researcher writes in with tips and encouragement for finding your family history in The Netherlands.

Niek in Arnhem, The Netherlands recently wrote in with 5 excellent and enthusiastic tips for exploring your Dutch family history. Here’s what he had to say about the civil registry, surnames, church records, land records and royal lineages:

“About three years ago my father got diagnosed with skin cancer and to help him get his mind of things I opened up an account on MyHeritage for us, so we could start working on our family tree together. Maybe I have some tips that could be of some value for your listeners with roots in The Netherlands:

1. Civil registry. In 1811, the civil registry was introduced by the French, who ruled the country. This meant that municipalities were obliged to keep the records (marriage, death and birth) of their citizens. That system hasn’t changed much since 1811 and most of the information can be found online on websites like www.wiewaswie.nl and www.geneaknowhow.net (the latter has some English translations as well). It’s very easy to find your Dutch ancestors [back] to 1811. For example, I know the names and most of the date of births and deaths of 60 of my 64 four-times great-grandfather who lived during the introduction of the civil registry.

For me, the most exciting thing about these post-1811 documents is that they were often signed by the father of the newborn or by the bride and groom. To see the 200 year-old signature of your ancestor can really send shivers down the spine! [Click here to read more about Dutch civil registration on the FamilySearch wiki.]

2. Surnames. The introduction of the civil registry also meant that citizens had to have a last name. Up to then last names were used, but not mandatory. It could be that last names would change after a generation. For example, my last name, Lucassen means Son of Lucas, my oldest paternal ancestor I could find was named Lucas Jans, which means Lucas, son of Jan. And his son was called Jan Lucassen, and this last name was passed down the generations (although some of his children had Janssen, son of Jan, as a last name).

3. Catholic church records. I am from the province of Brabant, which was a Catholic province. Before 1811, records were kept by the church. The Catholic church was particularly skilled at keeping records and information. Although they unfortunately don’t have dates of birth and dates of death, they used to register the dates of baptism and burial. (A baptism date isn’t the same as a a date of birth, although, in the civil registry marriage certificates, the date of birth is the same as the date of baptism.) [Click here for a FamilySearch wiki article on Dutch church records.]

4. Land records. Apart from the church the municipalities kept records of sales of land and property, which is a great way to find out more about the family relations of your ancestors, and about the houses they may have owned. For many parts of the country, these records can easily go back to the 17th century. [This FamilySearch wiki article tells you more about Dutch land and property records.]

5. Royal lineages. If you’re lucky you’re able to connect one of the branches of your family tree to nobility, as many parts of The Netherlands and the rest of Europe were ruled by knights and viscounts. If this is the case in your family, you can easily climb up in your family tree for several centuries because the family relationships of nobility is very well documented and an important part of their heritage (like the story you told about your visit to Windsor Castle) because of the possession of land over which they ruled. Sometimes you do hit a dead-end when a parent of one of your ancestors isn’t known, or isn’t known for certain. But some of the lines travel back really, really far! [Click here for a FamilySearch Wiki article with more on researching noble lines.]

More Dutch Genealogy Gems

"Exercise Field Artillery Corps" album, image AKL092038, Netherlands Institute of Military History uploads at Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/nimhimages/16026248719/.

“Exercise Field Artillery Corps” album, image AKL092038, Netherlands Institute of Military History uploads at Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/nimhimages/16026248719/.

Dutch Reformed Church Records (U.S.) on Ancestry.com

Europeana Digital Archive: World War I Collection

Netherlands Military Institute of History has Flickr Photostream

 

A Blizzard of New and Updated Genealogical Records

It’s snowing like crazy in some parts of the U.S. this week and it’s blown up a blizzard of great new and updated genealogical record collections! Take a look at this week’s round-up  for Bishop’s Transcripts in England, Veteran Memorials in New Zealand, and records for Peru, United States, and Canada.

dig these new record collections

England – Devon – Bishop’s Transcripts

England, Devon Bishop’s Transcripts, 1558-1887 is a collection found at FamilySearch. Though a rather small collection, these Bishop’s transcripts contain an index from the county of Devon and cover the years of 1558-1887. Availability of records will vary by year and locality.

Starting in 1598, parish priests were to make a copy of their parish register and send it to the archdeacon or bishop each year. Many priests stopped producing bishop’s transcripts with the beginning of civil registration in 1837, but they did not fully disappear until after 1870.

As bishop’s transcripts generally contain more or less the same information as parish registers, they are particularly valuable when parish records have been damaged, destroyed, or lost. However, because bishop’s transcripts are copies of the original records, they are more likely to contain errors than parish registers might be.

This collection refers to baptism, marriage, and burial records. Baptism record entries are the most common in the index, followed by burial records, with marriage records being the smallest portion.

England – Worcestershire – Probate Records

The Worcestershire Probate Index 1660-1858 at Findmypast contains over 51,000 records taken from four types of probate documents. Each record includes a transcript only, however the transcript may include some or all of the following information:

  • First and last name(s)
  • Sex
  • Date
  • Occupation
  • Place
  • County
  • Country
  • Document type

England – Buckinghamshire – Marriages

The Findmypast collection titled Buckinghamshire Marriages contains over 49,000 records. The collection consists of transcripts covering 26 parishes within the English county of Buckinghamshire. These transcripts will cover the years between 1538 and 1838. Here is the list of parishes and years covered within this collection:

16decpost_2

  • Amersham 1561-1812
  • Aston Clinton 1560-1812
  • Bradenham 1627-1810
  • Chalfont St Giles 1584-1812
  • Chalfont St Peter 1538-1812
  • Cheddington 1552-1812
  • Chenies 1593-1836
  • Chesham 1637-1838
  • Cholesbury 1576-1810
  • Edlesborough 1568-1812
  • Fingest 1607-1812
  • Hawridge 1600-1812
  • Hedgerley 1540-1811
  • High Wycombe 1600-1812
  • Hormead 1575-1813
  • Instone 1665-1812
  • Iver 1605-1812
  • Ivinghoe 1559-1812
  • Masworth 1591-1812
  • Mentmore 1575-1812
  • Pitstone 1576-1812
  • Slapton 1653-1812
  • Soulbury 1575-1812
  • Stoke Poges 1563-1812
  • Turville 1582-1812
  • Wendover 1576-1812

New Zealand – Church Records, Veteran Memorials, and Civil Service Examinations

Three new databases for New Zealand are available at Findmypast. The first, New Zealand Officiating Ministers 1882 is an index containing over 600 records and covering 13 religious denominations. Each record includes a transcript that will reveal the officiator’s official title and the church they served.

The second collection titled, New Zealand Waikaraka Cemetery Memorial 1902-1940 will help you find out if you have military ancestors who were memorialized as veterans who fought for the Empire and died at the Auckland Veterans’ Home between 1902 and 1940. Each record includes a transcript that will list their birth year, death year, age at death and force or regiment.

Lastly, the final collection at Findmypast is the New Zealand Civil Service Examinations 1906-1907. More than 700 records are available to explore and uncover the details of those who sat for the annual examinations for admission to, or promotion in, the Civil Service in mid-December 1906 and mid-January 1907. This collection is of transcripts only, but may contain the following information:

  • First and last name(s)
  • Examination location
  • Notes

Peru – Puno – Civil Registration

Also at FamilySearch this week, Peru, Puno, Civil Registration, 1890-2005 has been updated. This collection includes births, marriages, deaths, and indexes. Some of these records have been indexed and are available for search. It should be noted that these records are written in Spanish.

Civil registration for new and updated collections

Civil registration record for a birth in Peru via FamilySearch.org.

Within these records you may find any of the following helpful information:

Birth records:

  • Date and place of registration
  • Name and gender of child
  • Date, time, and place of birth
  • Legitimacy
  • Religious affiliation
  • Parents’ names, ages, origin, and residence
  • Presenter’s name, age, civil status, occupation, origin, and residence
  • Witnesses’ name, age, civil status, and residence
  • Sometimes, grandparents’ names

Marriage records may include the following:

  • Date and place of registration
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Groom’s age, civil status, nationality, race and occupation
  • Names of groom’s parents, origin, and residence
  • Bride’s age, civil status, nationality, race, and occupation
  • Names of bride’s parents, origin, and residence
  • Bride and groom’s religious affiliation
  • Names, residence, and ages of witnesses

Death records may include:

  • Time, date, and place of registration
  • Name, gender, and age of the deceased
  • Cause of death
  • Date, place, and time of death
  • Civil status, and occupation of deceased
  • Nationality, origin, and residence of deceased
  • Parents’ names of deceased if a minor
  • Presenter’s name, age , and occupation
  • Presenter’s origin, nationality, and residence
  • Names of witnesses

United States – California – Cemetery Transcriptions

California Cemetery Transcriptions, 1850-1960 is a small collection at FamilySearch, but keep an eye on it as it will likely be added too. The collection consists of abstracts from cemeteries for 1850-1960 in the following counties:

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You can do a search for your targeted ancestor, or you can browse through the collection. To browse through any of the FamilySearch collections, you can read our article here and follow the step-by-step instructions.

Cemetery abstracts are actually quite useful to genealogists, especially if there has been a loss of death records in the targeted area.

Cemetery abstracts may contain the following information:

  • Name of Cemetery
  • Location (Town, County, State)
  • Full name of deceased
  • Lot number
  • Age
  • Date of Death
  • Place of Death
  • Names of Parents, Husband or Wife
  • Other Important Facts
  • Place of Birth
  • Date of Birth

WWII Veterans – Interviews

We have found a free collection of oral histories and interviews of WWII veterans from around the world. Chronicles of Courage: Stories of Wartime and Innovation is an online video archive of in-depth interviews put together by the Flying Heritage Collection. The project, which took 15 years to complete, went live Wednesday on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. All 335 video interviews — some of which are two hours long — will be available on the Flying Heritage Collection’s website at www.flyingheritage.com/chronicles.
Another free collection includes eyewitness accounts by U.S. military personnel and family members in Pearl Harbor at the time of Japan’s 1941 attack. You can now access this site online. The Pearl Harbor Archive (http://1941.mapping.jp/), also carries photos of U.S. warships ablaze and sinking. The interactive website material was gathered by Katrina Luksovsky, 49, an American living on Ford Island in the center of the harbor. The website was created by Hidenori Watanabe, 42, an associate professor of network design at Tokyo Metropolitan University.
The website works similar to Google Earth and is really quite remarkable. If you are a WWII buff, this is right up your alley!

Canada

The Canadian Museum of History and Library and Archives Canada collaborate on new exhibition gallery. This gallery is named Treasures from LAC and will showcase some of Canada’s most historically significant documents, making them more accessible to Canadians and enhancing public understanding of Canada’s history and heritage. Many of the documents showcased in the gallery will be referenced in the Canadian History Hall, a new permanent exhibition opening July 1, 2017 at the Canadian Museum of History. The LAC documents will complement the Hall and add greatly to the visitor experience.

Hire a Professional at LegacyTree

If you don’t have time to scour these records yourself, why not hire a professionLegacy Tree Genealogistsal? The team of expert genealogists at Legacy Tree Genealogists can help bust through your brick walls! They do the research and you enjoy the discoveries!

 

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

Here’s our weekly roundup of new genealogy records online. Should you search for your ancestors in any of these databases?

BRITAIN, MERCHANT SEAMAN. Findmypast.com has added nearly a quarter million records to its 1918-1941 database of British Merchant Seaman.

IDAHO VITAL RECORDS. New indexes of Idaho births (1861-1911) and deaths (1938-1961) are now searchable for free at FamilySearch.org.

ILLINOIS DEATHS. Over 3.7 million records have been added to a free index of Cook County, Illinois deaths at FamilySearch.org. Cook County is home to the city of Chicago.

INDIANA CHURCH RECORDS. A new database of Indiana United Methodist Church Records(1837-1970) is available at Ancestry.com. According to the collection description, “The registers may contain baptisms, marriages, burials, memberships, and lists of clergy.”

IRISH BIRTHS, BAPTISMS AND MARRIAGES. Complementing recent online Irish parish records collections are two databases of Non-conformist church records (meaning those not in alliance with the Church of Ireland) now at Findmypast: births/baptisms and marriages.

ONTARIO BIRTHS. FamilySearch has added over 125,000 indexed records to its collection of Ontario, Canada birth records.

UNITED STATES and NEW ZEALAND ARTICLES. Findmypast.com has updated its PERSI database with over 45,000 new indexed entries and images. Ten publications spanning 1883-1984 include articles covering several New Zealand and several U.S. states, including Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

VARIOUS MARRIAGE RECORDS. FamilySearch.org has published or updated several new free marriage records collections. Click here to see the full list, which includes British Columbia, Durham (England), Indiana, Kansas, Liberia, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah.

Try These Two Powerful Tools for Finding Genealogy Records OnlineDon’t see the records you hoped to among these new genealogy records online? Click here to read a blog post on two powerful tools to help you search for elusive records.

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