More than 100 million people are mentioned in Ancestry’s newest database of U.S. wills and probate records, an exclusive collection spanning over 300 years. To celebrate, Ancestry is offering free access through September 7.
This morning, Ancestry launched an enormous–and enormously significant–new online records collection. According to its press release, “More than 170 million pages from the largest collection of wills and probate records in the United States is now available online exclusively on Ancestry. With searchable records included from all 50 states spread over 337 years (1668-2005), this unprecedented collection launches a new category of records for family history research never before available online at this scale the United States.”
Wills and estate records are one of those record types that have been less-accessible online. First, the records themselves are not easy to digitize or even index. They are often thick files, packed with various kinds of documents that may be fragile and of varying sizes. Several people may be mentioned throughout the file, but finding and picking out their names to put in an index is time-consuming.
Furthermore, the U.S. has no central will or probate registry. This happens on a county level, generally. Compiling a centralized database from all those county offices or archives is a huge undertaking.
According to the Ancestry release, “Ancestry spent more than two years bringing this collection online, working with hundreds of different archives from individual state and local courts across the country and making a $10M investment to license and digitize the records.”
Better yet, “the documents cover well over 100 million people, including the deceased as well as their family, friends and others involved in the probate process. Ancestry expects to continue to grow the collection, with additional records available over the next several years.”
Todd Godfrey, VP of Global Content at Ancestry, loves the fact that wills and probate records can reveal not just names, dates and family relationships, but stories. “Wills can offer an incredible view into the lives of your ancestors…providing insight into their personality, character, achievements, relationships, and more,” said Godfrey. “Reading these records you will find a deeper level of understanding about who your ancestors were, who they cared about, what they treasured, and how they lived.”
We already trust Backblaze as the official cloud-based computer backup service for Genealogy Gems. Now they’ve added another optional layer of security: even better!
Recently Backblaze, our computer backup service and a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems podcast, let us know that we can now activate an extra layer of security to better protect the data we have stored with them.
The feature is called two-factor verification. It requires that we present both our account credentials and a verification code from a second device to gain access to our Backblaze account. That means someone who was trying to steal our data would have to have both our account information and access to the phone that’s tied to the account. Pretty unlikely!
“This feature is available immediately to all Backblaze users and does not require an update to be used,” they told us. It’s also not automatic–you can activate it if you choose.”
We’ve heard from so many Gems listeners and readers who have purchased Backblaze that we wanted to share with you how to enable this optional feature.
How to Activate Backblaze Computer Backup Service’s Two-factor Verification Security
1. Log in to your existing Backblaze account.
2. Open the “My Settings” page as shown here.
3. Click on the “Sign in Settings” link on the right hand side. If you already have a phone number set up for your account, go to Step 4. If you do not have a phone number set up for your account you will see this screen:
In the “Verify Phone Number” window, you’ll enter your phone number and then verify it is correct by having Backblaze send a verification code to the phone. That verification code is entered in this window. You can not turn on two-factor verification without successfully completing this step.
4. Once you have a phone number set up for your account, you’ll see a screen like this when you click on the “Sign in Settings” link.
5. Choose the two-factor verification setting you desire and select “Update” to change the setting.
6. The set-up/change of your two-factor verification setting is now complete.
What it will be like to use Backblaze two-factor vertification
Let’s say you have selected the “Every time I sign in” option for your two-factor verification setting. Here’s what happens when you sign in to Backblaze:
1. Click the sign-in button and enter your Backblaze account credentials.
2. A unique text message is sent to the phone number on your account, as shown here:
3. At the same time, a “Two-Factor Verification” screen is presented.
4. Enter the code from the text message you received into the “Two-Factor Verification” screen, then press “Enter Code.” You have 10 minutes to enter the code. If you do this correctly you will be logged in to your Backblaze account.
Why not use it?
This is an optional feature on Backblaze. Why would you choose not to activate it?
“It is important to weigh the added security of two-factor verification against the possibility that you will not have the second device with you when you require access to your Backblaze account,” says an email from the company. Some users may not consider what they’ve got stored with Backblaze to be the kind of data that needs extra layers of protection. Others may not want the hassle of an additional layer of security.
But think carefully–Backblaze backs up ALL the files you tell it to. You may have personal and financial data in at least some documents: bank account or credit card numbers, digitized birth certificates or Social Security cards.
Consider what works best for you! Our best recommendation is to HAVE a computer back-up service in place. We chose Backblaze because of its reputation, the quality and security of its service and its very reasonable price. Click here to learn more about Backblaze and why we selected them as a sponsor of our free Genealogy Gems Podcast.
Here’s our weekly list of new genealogy records online. Do any collections below relate to your family history? Please share with your genealogy buddies or with societies that might be interested!
AMERICAN LOYALIST CLAIMS (U.S., U.K., CANADA). A database of claims and cases heard by the American Loyalist Claims Commission (regarding British subjects in North America who remained loyal to the crown during the Revolutionary War) has been updated at Ancestry. “These documents include books of evidence and memorials given by witnesses, accounts of losses (which can provide detail about places and possessions), evidence of claims, correspondence, indentures, and other documents collected over the course of these examinations.”
BRITISH NEWSPAPERS. Over 5.8 million new newspaper articles are online at Findmypast. According to the site, “This includes 22 brand new titles and additions to a further 94 publications. The new titles come from all over England, Scotland and Wales and include newspapers from Edinburgh, Liverpool, Sheffield and Wolverhampton. The largest of the new publications is Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser which contains over 939,000 articles covering 1805-71….Over 1 million articles were added to London Evening Standard. There were also substantial updates made to Falkirk Herald, Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle and Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer.
CALIFORNIA NATURALIZATIONS. Original naturalization records from the state of California, 1887-1991, have been updated at Ancestry. “Most pre-1906 naturalization papers contain little information of biographical or genealogical value….There are, however, wonderful exceptions, so it is worth seeking pre-1906 naturalizations. Records created after 1906 usually contain significant genealogical information.”
DUTCH EMIGRANTS TO CANADA AND U.S. A new Ancestry database captures information on Dutch emigrants who relocated to the U.S. or Canada between 1946 and 1963. “Details from those lists are included in this database. You may find name, birth date, place of origin, arrival year, destination, sponsor year, religion, relation to head of household and family size.”
ENGLAND AND WALES PROBATE CALENDARS. Findmypast subscribers now have access to an index to the Principal Probate Registry system for England. In these indexes, you can find the deceased’s name, death date, address, occupation, marital status, spouse’s name, names of executors/administrators and beneficiaries and their occupations and the size of the estate. Use this data to request a copy of a will from the National Probate Registry.
U.S. QUAKER RECORDS. A substantial Ancestry database of Quaker meeting records (1681-1935) has been freshly updated. According to the site, “Quakers recorded a variety of details in their monthly meeting minutes which can be searched by name, location, and event date; or browsed by state, county, meeting, and record type….This collection marks the first time a major collection of Quaker meeting records has been made available online with a comprehensive index.”
Sign up for our weekly newsletter, and this weekly round-up of major new record collections will be among the “gems” you find in it! With your sign-up, you’ll receive a free e-book on Google search strategies for genealogy. Simply enter your email address in the box in the upper right-hand corner of this page. Thank you for sharing this post with anyone else who will want to know about these records (and this weekly blog post.)
Do you use Evernote for Genealogy? Genealogists everywhere are singing its praises and it’s a regular feature here on Genealogy Gems. Well, Evernote just got a little better today.
Evernote has just released a new web clipper and it oozes with awesomeness. It works with Safari, and may be the catalyst for reluctant Windows users to finally say goodbye to Internet Explorer and make the commitment to Google’s Chrome web browser.
My favorite feature (so far) of Evernote’s new web clipper is easy to spot. The Screenshot clipper that was once only available using the desktop app is now built right into the browser web clipper. You gotta love it!
But it doesn’t stop there. Once you have clipped the desired web content, there are a load of new annotations you can add to highlight what’s important to you.
Watch the video to see it in action:
Here are some key features:
The Evernote Web Clipper has been updated on Chrome, Opera, and Safari. You’ll need to restart your browser once it’s updated.
Clipping from Gmail, LinkedIn, YouTube and Amazon has been customized to allow you to clip only the parts of the page you want. It saves as a clean and clutter-free note. With Gmail, Web Clipper includes any email attachments.
You can share clips right from the new Web Clipper. You can even embellish clips with text and visual callouts.
You can assign clips to notebooks and tags right from the clip screen. The more clips you save, the better Evernote gets at predicting where you want it saved.
Snagit and Skitch can help you highlight screenshots and other digital images you capture for genealogy. Here’s how!
Recently Diane from Alberta, CA sent in this question:
“I am trying to find how to highlight a portion of a document such as a birth certificate. The document has three people listed for the county and prior to adding it to my tree on Ancestry, I would like to highlight my ancestor so he will stand out. Can you offer any suggestions. I tried Evernote without success, also my family tree program. What am I missing?”
I suggested Diane use Snagit 2019, compatible with Windows and Mac software to highlight her documents. In fact, I use it constantly for a variety of genealogical projects. The full-blown software has loads of cool features!
You can also download the free Snagit Chrome extension here. After you install Snagit, you’ll see it show up on your browser page. Here’s what it looks like on Google Chrome (the blue “s” button):
When you see something on your screen you want to capture, just click on the blue “S” icon. You’ll be asked at the outset to give Snagit access to various cloud storage options so it can store the image for you. Once you allow it access, then you’ll be able to name your file and add your own shapes, arrows and text. Use these to call attention to part of a record; annotate what you learned from it or even mark your ancestor’s face in a group photo.
As far as doing something similar in Evernote: Evernote only allows you to highlight typed text, not portions of an image. However, you can download Skitch and drag and drop the document from Evernote into Skitch. Then you can highlight an image to your hearts content. When you’re done you can Save to Evernote in the menu (SKITCH > SAVE TO EVERNOTE).
Thanks to Diane for a great question! I hope you’ll all share this post: Snagit is free and makes it so easy to take notes on your digital images, for your own use or to share with others!