We learn about great new genealogy records online every week! On Fridays we round up a few for you. Watch for databases and documents that your ancestors might appear in–and get inspired by the types of records that may be out there for your family, waiting for you to discover. This week: a photo archives for Canadian Mennonites, a Georgia state newspaper collection, a genealogy index for a northeast Ohio archive and WWII Cadet Nursing Corps membership cards (US).
CANADIAN MENNONITE PHOTO ARCHIVE: A new database is now online with over 80,000 images of Mennonite life from across Canada and dating back to 1860s. A press release says that the archive “is a project of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada and includes Mennonite archival partners in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.” An online ordering system allows visitors to order image copies for noncommercial use.
GEORGIA NEWSPAPERS: The Digital Library of Georgia has launched an archive of north Georgia historical newspapers. “The North Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive provides online access to six newspaper titles published in three north Georgia cities (Dalton, Gainesville, and Rome) from 1850 to 1922. Consisting of over 33,000 newspaper pages, the archive provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date. The site is compatible with all current browsers and the newspaper page images can be viewed without the use of plug-ins or additional software downloads. The archive includes the following north Georgia newspaper titles: Gainesville News (1902-1922), Georgia Cracker (Gainesville) (1894-1902), North Georgia Citizen (Dalton) (1868-1921), Rome Courier (1850-1855), Rome Tri-Weekly Courier (1860-1880), Rome Weekly Courier (1860-1878). The Digital Library of Georgia will add additional titles from the region over time.
OHIO GENEALOGY INDEX. The Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, OH has created an online Genealogy Index to some of its most valuable and unique genealogical records, including original funeral home and Bible records. Also in the index are Jewish marriages and death notices, an index of names in a significant African-American manuscript collection, a 1907 Cleveland voter registration index, a photo database of Cleveland military personnel from WWII and the Korean War and a biographical sketch name index. Currently, there are about 320,000 records in the index; more are being added on an ongoing basis. The Society primarily archives records relating to Cleveland and northeast Ohio. Soon to be added are indexes to the 1870 mortality census for Ashtabula, Ohio and indexes to several church records collections.
WWII CADET NURSING CORPS (US): The WWII Cadet Nursing Corps Card Files, new on Fold3, contain membership cards of women who joined. According to Fold3, the cards “are organized by state, nursing school, and cadet name. Some cards include the date of admission to the school, date of admission to the corps, and date of graduation (or date of other reason for termination from the school). Others contain details like the woman’s marital status, father’s/husband’s name and profession, years of college completed, place of residence, and how they heard about the corps. Still others also record the woman’s age in addition to the previously mentioned information.”
To search for images you can use without violating copyright, do a keyword search in Google Images (or just do a keyword search from Google’s home page and then click “Images” above your search results). Click Search Tools. Another toolbar will pop up. Click “Usage rights.” You can sort search results by those that are labeled for reuse in different ways. You won’t capture every copyright-free image, but hopefully you’ll get a decent selection of options! This tip comes to you courtesy of the book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition by Lisa Louise Cooke–the fully-revised 2015 edition that’s packed with strategies that will dramatically improve your ability to find your family history online.
Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian national archive, holds original passenger arrival records. You can search a massive index to them on their website for free.
Canadian Passenger Arrival Lists: The Good and Bad News
There’s good news and bad news for those searching for Canadian passenger arrival lists.
The Bad News:
You won’t find a lot of Canadian passenger arrival lists before 1865. There are no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants arriving prior to 1865 in Canada according to the Library and Archives Canada. Unfortunately, those lists didn’t generally survive.
Those that have can be scattered amongst various French and British collections.
“Les passagers du Saint-André : la recrue de 1659” is among the French resources at the Library and Archives Canada.
Visit the Passenger Lists page at the Library and Archives Canada here for details lists, years and microfilm numbers.
You will be able to find a lot of records after 1865.
And the news gets even better. These records can easily be found online!
“The passenger lists are the sole surviving official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada,” says a Library Archives Canada webpage. “The passenger list is a list of immigrants arriving at an official port of entry on a particular ship on a given date.
Newspaper advertising was used to attract immigrants to Canada
Information Found in Canadian Passenger Lists
Generally speaking, each manifest provides the following information:
- the name of the ship
- date(s) of departure and arrival in Canada
- professions or occupations
The earlier lists aren’t always so detailed. But in some cases, other lists have information about the travelers’:
- previous travels to Canada
- family members
- and how much they carried in their wallets.
Where to Search for Canadian Passenger Lists 1865-1922
Start your search for free in the Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 collection at the Library and Archives Canada website.
The city of Quebec, the major arrival port for many years, is covered for nearly that entire time span.
Quebec: Major Arrival Port in Canada
If you find it easier to search for these records in genealogy websites (so you can attach them to individuals in your tree), or if you’re specifically looking for passengers whose final destination was the U.S., check out these databases:
Canadian Passenger lists, 1881-1922 at FamilySearch.
The database includes records for Canadian ports:
- Quebec City,
- St. John,
- North Sydney,
- U.S. ports for passengers who reported Canada as their final destination.
Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 at Ancestry.
Quebec ports are included for these time periods:
- May 1865–Jun 1908,
- Jun 1919–Jul 1921,
- Apr 1925–Nov 1935.
U.S., Passenger and Crew Lists for U.S.-Bound Vessels Arriving in Canada, 1912-1939 and 1953-1962 at Ancestry.
Nearly 100,000 records of travelers to the U.S. via Canada are recorded for the ports of:
- Saint John
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- British Columbia
- British Columbia
Mixed group immigrants, Quebec
More Great Canada Genealogy Resources
We have several more resources to assist you in your Canadian family history research.
- Click here to learn why Quebec Church Records are a Great Place to Look for Ancestors.
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Basse-Ville (Lower Town). Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 218
with Lisa Louise Cooke
In this episode, Lisa answers your questions and shares your comments. Hot topics on your minds that are covered in this episode:
- discovering new records online,
- working with other people’s online trees,
- hard-to-locate military records;
- and getting help with early Pennsylvania research
NEWS: GOOGLE EARTH STORIES COMING
“Google Earth to let users post stories, photos in coming years” at DNAIndia.com
Lisa’s FREE Google Earth video class: How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy
The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition and Google Earth for Genealogy Video Series
Try Google Earth for Chrome (you must use the Chrome browser to access)
Download the free Google Earth Pro software.
NEWS: FAMILYSEARCH REACHES 2 BILLION IMAGES
Why you should have a free FamilySearch account and use it!
How to use the FamilySearch Catalog (it’s free! Everyone should use it!)
Best strategies for accessing content at FamilySearch.org (special podcast episode on the end of microfilm lending)
GEMS NEWS: LISA’S NEW COLUMN IN FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE
Purchase the May/June issue in print or digital download format
Subscribe to Family Tree Magazine: print format, digital download format or get a great price for both!
StoryWorth for Father’s Day: Invite your dad to share stories with loved ones every week, and then get them all bound in a beautiful hardcover book at the end of the year. Go to http://www.storyworth.com/lisa for $20 off when you subscribe. This Father’s Day is actually a gift for you, too!
BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users
If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, don’t forget to check out your bonus content for this episode! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.
MAILBOX: SARA’S FRIDAY RECORD POST DISCOVERY
Click here to view several recent Friday records posts and see what new records have appeared online lately!
Tell Lisa Louise Cooke about your “Friday records post” discoveries or anything else at genealogygemspodcast @ gmail.com or call the podcast voicemail at 925-272-4021.
MAILBOX: ONLINE FAMILY TREE MATCHES
Reviewing tree hints at Ancestry.com
MAILBOX: BACK TO RESEARCH AFTER 10 YEARS!
Lisa’s recommendations to a new Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning member for getting back into the swing of research:
Watch the Premium video, “Take Control of Your Family Tree” (Premium eLearning membership required)
Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.
Listen to Lisa’s other podcast
Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. Visit www.RootsMagic.com
Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.
Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at https://www.backblaze.com/Lisa.
MAILBOX: MILITARY DRAFT REGISTRATIONS
Click here to read about finding military draft registrations
INTERVIEW: JIM BEIDLER ON PENNSYLVANIA RESEARCH QUESTION
James M. Beidler is the author of The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide and Trace Your German Roots Online. Learn more Pennsylvania research techniques in his on-demand webinar download, Best Pennsylvania Genealogy Research Strategies.
Click here to read a summary of some of Jim’s tips AND find a collection of links we curated to help you find more Pennsylvania birth records online.
MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.
Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer
Sunny Morton, Editor
Hannah Fullerton, Audio Editor
Lacey Cooke, Service Manager
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!
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Are you tracing the family history of someone who lived in the U.S. during the 20th century? Check out a wonderful free database in the United States called the Social Security Death Index, or the SSDI. Keep reading for 5 FREE online sources for the SSDI, 7 tips for searching the SSDI and what you can do with SSDI info.
In 1935 the Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt, and consequently more than thirty million Americans were registered by 1937. Today, the Death Master File from the Social Security Administration contains over 89 million records of deaths that have been reported to the Social Security Administration and they are publicly available online.
Most of the information included in the index dates from 1962, although some data is from as early as 1937. This is because the Social Security Administration began to use a computer database for processing requests for benefits in 1962. Many of the earlier records back to 1937 have not been added.
The SSDI does not have a death record for everyone; and occasionally you may find an error here and there if something was reported inaccurately, but overall it’s a terrific resource! It’s especially great for many people who were missed in the 1890 census or whose birth predated vital records registration in their home state. Remember they just needed to live past 1937 and to have worked to have been included. So they could have been born sometime in the later 1800s.
5 FREE Online Sources for the SSDI
Several genealogy websites provide free access to the SSDI, including (click to go right to the SSDI at these sites):
On the Search page, enter your relative’s name and other details you’re asked for. Hopefully you will get back results that includes your relative!
7 Tips for Searching the SSDI
If your relative doesn’t show up in the SSDI, even though you know they worked after 1937 and you know they have passed away, try these search tips:
1. Does the website you are using to search the SSDI have the most current version available? Look in the database description on the site to see how recently it was updated. Try searching at other sites.
2. Make sure that you tried alternate spellings for their name. You never know how it might have been typed into the SSDI database.
3. Many SSDI indexes allow you to use wildcards in your search. So for example you could type in “Pat*” which would pull up any name that has the first three letters as PAT such as Patrick, Patricia, etc.
4. Try using less information in your search. Maybe one of the details you’ve been including is different in the SSDI database. For example it may ask for state and you enter California because that’s where grandpa died, when they were looking for Oklahoma because that’s where he first applied for his social security card. By leaving off the state you’ll get more results. Or leave off the birth year because even though you know it’s correct, it may have been recorded incorrectly in the SSDI and therefore it’s preventing your ancestor from appearing in the search results.
5. Leave out the middle name because middle names are not usually included in the database. However, if you don’t have luck with their given name, try searching the middle name as their given name. In the case of my grandfather his given name was Robert but he went by the initial J.B. But in the SSDI his name is spelled out as JAY BEE!
6. Remember that married women will most likely be listed under their married surname, not their maiden name. But if you strike out with the married name, go ahead and give the maiden a try. She may have applied for her card when single, and never bothered to update the Administration’s records. Or if she was married more than once, check all her married names for the same reason.
7. Don’t include the zip code if there is a search field for it because zip codes did not appear in earlier records.
While most folks will appear in the SSDI, there are those who just won’t. But knowing where information is not located can be as important down the road in your research as knowing where it IS located, so I recommend making a note in your database that you did search the SSDI with no result. This will save you from duplicating the effort down the road because you forgot that you looked there.
What You Can Do with SSDI Information
Now, here comes the most exciting part of the SSDI: what you can do with that information. First, it usually includes a death date (at least the month and year) and sometimes a state and last known residence. Use this information to look for death records, obituaries, cemetery and funeral records. And use that Social Security Number to order a copy of your relative’s application for that number: the SS-5. Click here to read more about the SS-5 and how to order it.
Up next, read:
Get Started: How to Find Your Family History for Free
7 Great Ways to Use Your iPad for Family History
How to Find Your Family Tree Online
Best Genealogy Software