Using the US Public Records Index for Genealogy

The US Public Records Index can be useful for genealogy–if you understand what it is and how to use it properly. Here’s an example and some tips.

Not long Russ sent in this tip recommending the US Public Records Index for genealogy:

“I was listening to Genealogy Gems Podcast 181 [in which] you were talking about where do we search while we are waiting for the 1950 Census….I recently discovered a wonderful resource, on Ancestry.com, that I have used along with city directories. The name of the record group doesn’t sound interesting but it can be a Gem for you: the US Public Record Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1 and 2. Volume 1 is far more interesting with more data. A search will return a name AND birth date, along with more than one address, zip code and sometimes phone numbers.”

Here’s a sample search result:

US Public records index

Russ kindly sent me Ancestry’s description of its online database for Volume 1, which says that original data comes from public records spanning all 50 states, such as voter registration lists, public record filings, historical residential records and other household database listings.

Collection Profile

What: U.S. Public Records Index

Where: Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage

Years Spanned: 1950-2009

Source Type: Lacking original source citations. “Hints to go on and follow up with further research into verifiable sources.”

Then he shared the following example of using the US Public Records Index to find recent relatives that he can’t look up yet in the 1950 census:

“I had a hint for a cousin in a yearbook. I know that she recently lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I didn’t know where she went to college and I know her birthday. The name is not unique, not also not common. At the same time, I had the hint for the Public Record Index. You know those things we can’t use in a proof argument, but there [she] was in Philadelphia. The yearbook had her picture and only her name, not spelled the way I know it, but the Public Record Index puts her in Philadelphia at the right time and place.

I have seen 2 or 3 addresses for folks in the 1980s and 1990s in these indexes. Not all addresses have dates, but some do. I have one cousin with 5 addresses since 1983 and he won’t be in a census until the 1960 Census Records are released.”

Russ blogs about his family history at worthy2be.wordpress.com/. Thanks for the tip!

The U.S. Public Records Index pops up in my search results sometimes, too. Both volume 1 and volume 2 are searchable on Ancestry.com, as Russ says, in separate databases. Each has over 400,000 records in it. There’s also a free partial version of this database for 1970-2009 at FamilySearch.org and yet a third version at MyHeritage, with 816 million records, with nearly the same time frame. The FamilySearch database says its data comes from “telephone directories, property tax assessments, credit applications, and other records available to the public.”

More on the US Public Records Index

Here are a few tips worth mentioning about the US Public Records Index. Some of these points come from the FamilySearch wiki:

  1. Not everyone who lived in the U.S. appears in the index, and you’re more likely to find birth information for those born between 1900 and 1990. What you’ll find is primarily where someone lived, and often when they lived there.
  2. It’s rarely possible to positively identify a relative in this index since there’s limited information and it spans the entire country for up to a half-century, and you can’t follow up on the record it comes from because the index doesn’t say where individual records come from. So as Russ says, this is a great resource to use in combination with other records. It’s a similar concept to the way you might consult family trees that lack sources: hints to go on and follow up with further research into verifiable sources.
  3. When you find more recent listings, you can sometimes find telephone numbers for living distant relatives. If the thought of cold-calling distant relatives seems a little intimidating, listen to my Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, episodes 14-15, for tips–and to get your courage up!

1950s family historyMore Gems on Researching Recent Relatives

 

New Genealogy Records Online – January 23, 2020

New genealogical records continue to pour on line. This week we’re highlighting the latest from FamilySearch and MyHeritage. We’re crossing our fingers that the records you’ve been waiting for are among them. Happy searching!

new genealogy records

FamilySearch New Records

SALT LAKE CITY, UT—FamilySearch.org added over 8 million newfree, historical records from WWII Draft Registration Cards (1940-1947) and Lincolnshire, England, Parish Registers (1538-1990). The military records are from California, Kansas, Montana, Oregon and Texas.  More indexed records were added from Australia, Finland, France, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sweden, and the United States. 

Australia        

Australia, Convict Tickets of Leave, 1824-1874
Indexed Records: 60,093 
New indexed records collection

Belgium

Belgium, Antwerp, Civil Registration, 1588-1913
Added 68,547 indexed records to an existing collection

Belgium, Hainaut, Civil Registration, 1600-1913
Added 8,767 indexed records to an existing collection

Belgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-1912
Added 53,070 indexed records to an existing collection

Canada

Nova Scotia Church Records, 1720-2001
Added 565  indexed records to an existing collection

England         

England, Lincolnshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1990
Indexed Records: 3,947,025
New indexed records collection

England, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898
Added 2, 263 indexed records to an existing collection

England, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898
Added 1,369 indexed records to an existing collection

England, Northumberland, Parish Registers, 1538-1950 
Added 557,993 indexed records to an existing collection

England, Oxfordshire Parish Registers 1538-1904
Added 474 indexed records to an existing collection

England, Oxfordshire Parish Registers 1538-1904
Added 1,471  indexed records to an existing collection

England, Yorkshire Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1613-1887
Added 2,074 indexed records to an existing collection

England, Yorkshire Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1613-1887
Added 815 indexed records to an existing collection

 

Finland          

Finland, Tax Lists, 1809-1915
Indexed Records: 24,525
Added indexed records to an existing collection

France           

France, Vienne, Census, 1896  
Indexed Records: 6,635
Added indexed records to an existing collection

Netherlands  

Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Vital Records
Indexed Records: 6,684 
Added indexed records to an existing collection

Peru               

Peru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-1992  
Indexed Records: 34 
Added indexed records to an existing collection

 

Poland           

Poland, Lublin Roman Catholic Church Books, 1784-1964
Indexed Records: 6,522
Added indexed records to an existing collection

Sweden         

Sweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records, 1546-1927
Indexed Records: 98,780
Added indexed records to an existing collection

California

California, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-1945  
Indexed Records: 2,083,701
Digital Images: 2,112,990
New indexed records and images collection

Hawaii

Hawaii, Grantor and Grantee Index, 1845-1909
Indexed Records: 229,833
Added indexed records to an existing collection

Kansas

Kansas, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-1945
Indexed Records: 429,561
New indexed records collection

Montana

Montana, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-1945  
Indexed Records: 144,392 
New indexed records collection

Oregon

Oregon, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-1945
Indexed Records: 295,077 
New indexed records collection

Texas

Texas, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-1947
Indexed Records: 1,794,395
Digital Images: 1,819,299
New indexed records and images collection

MyHeritage New Records

Here’s the latest from the folks at MyHeritage:

Historical Books – Index of Authors and People Mentioned, 1811–2003

Description: An index of persons mentioned in various English-language public domain books as well as the names of authors of these publications. This collection of 494 million records is an index of persons mentioned in various English-language public domain books as well as the names of authors of these publications. The number of digitized books is over 3 million. The following searchable information can be found in most records in the index: the title and the year of publication, name of the author(s), birth and death year of the author(s), the names of all the individuals mentioned in the publication, the publisher, and the subject(s) of the publication.

Number of Records: 494,096,291 records in 3,024,213 books

 

Authors of Scholarly Articles

Description: Names of authors of millions of scholarly articles. This collection of 272 million records includes the names of authors of millions of scholarly articles. Authors’ names are collected from over 50,000 journals and open-access repositories from all over the world. Records typically include the given name and surname of authors and co-authors, the article’s title and date, the name of the journal, and the name of its publisher. For some of the articles, a link is provided to view the article online.

Number of Records: 272,046,994 records

VITAL RECORDS

Texas Marriages and Divorces

Description: An index of marriage license applications from all counties in the state of Texas for the years 1966 to 2016. This collection was updated and now contains 26 million records.

Number of Records: 26,591,435 records

 

France, Military Death Index, 1914–1961

Description: An index of death records of individuals who died fighting in the French armed forces, members of foreign armed forces who died fighting in France, and civilians who were killed in France.

This free collection of 5 million records is an index of death records of individuals who died fighting in the French armed forces, members of foreign armed forces who died fighting in France, and civilians who were killed in France. The majority of the records pertain to the First World War, although there are also records from the Second World War, the Franco-Prussian War, and various other conflicts that occurred in France or that involved the French armed forces. Records may contain the following searchable information: first and last name of the individual, date and place of birth, date and place of death, burial place, and the first and last names of the individual’s parents and spouse.

The following information may also be found in most records: rank and regiment, company, conflict, military decorations, additional notes on locations, and the individual’s family situation.

Number of Records: 5,332,260 records

Germany, Hesse Marriage Index, 1849–1931

Description: An index of marriage records from several communities that are within the state of Hesse in Germany.

This collection of 4.77 million records includes marriage records from several communities within the state of Hesse in Germany. Marriages were usually recorded in the bride’s place of residence. When the information is available a record will include the groom’s given name and surname, age or birthdate, birthplace, residence, occupation, marriage date, and information about the groom’s parents. A record will also include the bride’s given name and surname or maiden name, age or birthdate, birthplace, residence, occupation, and information about the bride’s parents.

Starting in 1874, the state mandated that new local civil registry offices be responsible for creating civil registers of birth, marriage, and death records in the former Prussian provinces, among them many communities in Hesse.

Number of Records: 4,770,560 records

Germany, Hesse Birth Index, 1874–1911

Description: An index of birth records from several communities that are within the state of Hesse in Germany.

This collection of 3.78 million records includes birth records from several communities within the state of Hesse in Germany. When the information is available a record will include the child’s given name, the date of a birth, and sex. Information about the mother includes given name, maiden name, last name, address, and spouse. Information is also provided about the informant. An informant was often the father of the child or a midwife.

Number of Records: 3,784,938 records

NEWSPAPERS

This is the next installment in our U.S. newspaper collections. We have added 14.6 million pages from nine states: Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas, Montana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Tennessee. The newspapers in this update range in date from the late 19th/early 20th century to 2009.

Newspapers are an important resource for genealogy and family history research as they contain obituaries and other vital record substitutes such as birth, marriage, and death notices. Additionally, society pages and stories of local interest contain rich information on activities and events in the community and often provide details about the persons involved.

Before vital records were recorded by city, county, or state governments, local newspapers often published articles listing or detailing these events. Obituaries contain vital and biographical information on the deceased as well as his or her family and relatives.

Society pages began as a way to entice readers with gossip and news about the wealthy and famous but soon evolved to cover the goings-on of “average” citizens. An incredible array of information can be discovered in these society pages or sections from seemingly mundane notices and reports on events such as parties, job changes, hospital stays, and social visits by friends or relatives. These pages are a source of historical events that are unlikely to exist in any other record.

Coverage and completeness in this collection varies by title.

Florida Newspapers

Description: This collection is a compendium of over 8 million newspaper pages from 25 newspaper titles published in various cities and towns in the state of Florida.
Time frame: 1901 to 2009.
Number of Records: 8,084,846 pages in 25 newspaper titles

Illinois Newspapers

Description: This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Illinois.
Time frame:  1840 until 2009.
Number of Records: 83,452 pages in 14 newspaper titles

Kansas Newspapers

Description: This collection of 1.4 million newspaper pages is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Kansas.
Time frame: 1869 to 2009.
Number of Records: 1,473,037 pages in 39 newspaper titles

Minnesota Newspapers

Description: This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Minnesota.
Time frame: 1902 until 2009.
Number of Records: 92,171 pages in 26 newspaper titles

Montana Newspapers

Description: This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Montana.
Time frame: 1890 until 2009.
Number of Records: 155,210 pages in 94 newspaper titles

Oklahoma Newspapers

Description: This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Oklahoma.
Time frame: 1927 to 2009.
Number of Records: 521,793 pages in 14 newspaper titles

Tennessee Newspapers

Description: This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Tennessee.
Time frame: 1870 until 2009.
Number of Records: 66,994 pages in 8 newspaper titles

Texas Newspapers

Description: This collection of 1.2 million records is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Texas.
Time frame: 1848 to 2009.
Number of Records: 1,254,230 pages in 33 newspaper titles

Wisconsin Newspapers

Description: This collection of 2.8 million newspaper pages is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Wisconsin.
Time frame: 1884 to 2009.
Number of Records: 2,887,946 pages in 3 newspaper titles

Searching all of these collections in MyHeritage SuperSearch™ is free, but a Data or Complete subscription is required to view the full records, save them to your family tree, and fully access Record Matches. Our Record Matching technology will automatically find relevant historical records revealing new information about any ancestors who appear in these records.

 

 

 

 

Video #3 of our 25 Websites for Genealogy – Newspapers!

VIDEO & SHOW NOTES: Video #3 of our 25 Websites for Genealogy Playlist. In this video, my guest presenter Gena Philibert-Ortega covers digitzed newspaper websites that are must-haves for family history research. Even though some sound specific to a certain area, don’t be fooled. They have resources available for all genealogists including even more than newspapers.

Websites 13 through 17 of our 25  Websites for Genealogy

Some of these websites will be new to you, and others are going to be very familiar to you. In talking about the familiar websites, I want to get you thinking about them differently, explain a little bit more about what you can do at these websites, and how to get the most out of them.

In this series of 25 Websites for Genealogy, we’re going to be looking at websites in different categories. Our third category is the newspaper websites (#13 through 17). 

Download the ad-free Show Notes cheat sheet for this video here. (Premium Membership required.)

Websites #13: Newspapers.com

https://www.newspapers.com

Newspapers.com is a subscription service owned by Ancestry.com. The two websites are connected so that you can attach your Newspapers.com finds to your Ancestry tree. Newspapers.com includes newspapers found at Ancestry but all newly newspaper pages are added to Newspapers.com. They also offer a Publisher’s Extra subscription that expands your access to additional newspaper records. 

Learn more:

newspaper websites for genealogy

Website #14: GenealogyBank

https://www.genealogybank.com

GenealogyBank.com is a subscription service offering one of the largest collections of digitized U.S. newspapers, dating back to 1690. You’ll also find additional genealogy resources such as the Social Security Death Index, obituaries, government publications, and historical books.

Website #15: NewspaperArchive

https://newspaperarchive.com

NewspaperArchive includes digitized newspapers from around the world.

Website #16: Chronicling America

Original Website: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov
New website: https://www.loc.gov/collections/chronicling-america

The Library of Congress offers this huge free collection of digitized newspapers from across the United States. The papers range from 1756 to 1963. Expand your search with the U.S. Newspaper Directory 1690 to present.

the new chronicling america website

The new user interface at Chronicling America.

Website #17: Fulton History

https://fultonhistory.com

Fultonhistory.com features over 1,000 New York newspapers, plus newspapers from other states and Canada. It’s a vast free collection curated by one man!

Resources:

Download the ad-free Show Notes cheat sheet for this video here. (Premium Membership required.)

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