4 Fabulous Ways to Use the Library of Congress for Genealogy

The Library of Congress (LOC) is a dream destination for many U.S. genealogy researchers, but most of us can’t get there in person. Here are 4 ways–all online–to access the mega-resources of the Library of Congress for genealogy.

library of congress genealogy

 

 

digital archive, world digital library

1. World Digital Library: for the bigger picture

The Library of Congress is home to the World Digital Library, “a collaborative international project led by the Library of Congress. It now includes more than 10,000 manuscripts, maps and atlases, books, prints and photographs, films, sound recordings, and other cultural treasures.

What can be useful to genealogists? The World Digital Library’s Timelines of U.S. History and World History work together with interactive maps on the same topics. The worldwide and historically deep scope of digital content can help you explore your deep cultural roots in another place. The History and Geography Section offers great visuals and includes (small but growing) sections on biography and genealogy.

 

2. Chronicling America: for finding ancestors in the news

The Chronicling America newspaper site, hosted by the Library of Congress, catalogs U.S. newspapers and provides free access to more than six million digital newspaper pages (1836-1922) in multiple languages. Run searches on the people, places and events that shaped your ancestors’ lives. Results may include:

  • Advertising: classifieds, companies your ancestor worked for or owned, store ads, runaway slaves searches and rewards and ship arrivals or departures.
  • Births & deaths: birth announcements, cards of thanks printed by the family, obituaries and death notices, funeral notices, reporting of events that led to the death, etc.
  • Legal notices and public announcements: auctions, bankruptcies, city council meetings, divorce filings, estate sales, executions and punishments, lawsuits, marriage licenses, probate notices, tax seizures, sheriff’s sale lists.
  • Lists: disaster victims, hotel registrations, juror’s and judicial reporting, letters left in the post office, military lists, newly naturalized citizens, passenger lists (immigrants and travelers), unclaimed mail notices.
  • News articles: accidents, fires, etc. featuring your ancestor; front page (for the big picture); industry news (related to occupations); natural disasters in the area; shipping news; social history articles.
  • Community and social events like school graduations, honor rolls, sporting and theater events; social news like anniversaries, church events, clubs, engagements, family reunions, visiting relatives, parties, travel, gossip columns, illnesses, weddings and marriage announcements.

With Chronicling America, you can also buy medicine online china subscribe to receive “old news” on many of your favorite historical topics. Sign up for weekly notifications that highlight interesting and newly-added content on topics that were widely covered in the U.S. press at the time. (Click here to see a list of topics.) To subscribe, just use the icons at the bottom of the Chronicling America home page.

3. Flickr Creative Commons  – Library of Congress Photostream for old pictures

LOC ElectionFlickr Creative Commons describes itself as part of a “worldwide movement for sharing historical and out-of-copyright images.” Groups and individuals alike upload old images, tag and source them, and make them available to others. The (U.S.) Library of Congress photostream has thousands of photos and a growing collection of front pages of newspapers.

Tip: The Library of Congress isn’t the only library posting cool images on Flickr Creative Commons. Look for photostreams from your other favorite libraries and historical societies. (Use the main search box with words like “Ohio library” and limit results to groups. You’ll see who’s posting images you care about and you can even follow them!)

4. Preserving Your History video for archiving your family history

LOC scrapbook videoThe Library of Congress has a FREE video about how to create and properly preserve digital or print archival scrapbooks.

It’s a 72-minute video by various experts with a downloadable transcript on these topics:

  • Basic preservation measures one can do at home for long-lasting albums and scrapbooks
  • Pros and cons of dismantling old scrapbooks and albums in poor condition
  • How to address condition problems
  • Preservation considerations for digital scrapbooks and albums
  • How to participate in the Library’s Veterans History Project.

Also check this out: the Preserving Your Family Treasures webpage on working with originals at the Library of Congress website.

More Resources

The Library of Congress is Your Library, a four-minute video introduces the Library of Congress and gives a brief history.

VIDEO: Exploring LOC.gov, a three-minute video highlighting the Library’s online collections and providing searching techniques.

How to Find Stuff at the Largest Library in the World, a 5-minute introductory video showing how to use subject headings, research databases and other helpful tools to find books, photos, sheet music, manuscripts and more at the Library of Congress or other locations.

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How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: The Ultimate Education

organize genealogy with EvernoteUsing Evernote for genealogy will make you a more efficient and effective researcher.

Genealogists all over the world are harnessing the power of Evernote to organize their family history researchThis free software (and website application) can bring all your research materials (text notes, photos and images from mobile devices, video, audio interviews, web content and URLs) together in one place.

Then it goes even further by making all the text items keyword-searchable. So you can much more easily locate that one little piece of information you recall only as “that bit about the fire station he worked for.”

Better yet, Evernote goes with you. With the Evernote software and companion app, your genealogy notes will be accessible from and fully-synced across all your computing devices. Sigh! It’s wonderful!

Here’s how to get started

1. Download the free Evernote software here.

2. Create your free or premium Evernote account. (Click here to learn more about Evernote account options.)

3. Go to your Account page and make note of your unique Evernote email address. (Help>Go to My Account Page>Account Summary and scroll down to “Email Notes to.”)

4. Download the free Evernote web clipper for your web browser.

5. Download the free Evernote app from the App Store or Google Play and sign in to your account.

Now you’re ready to use Evernote to collect your research content and source citation information!

Here are 5 ways to add content to Evernote

1. The Web Clipper: Pull data from websites with the handy web clipper and Evernote will often automatically capture information about the site you got it from.

2. Drag and Drop: Images, scanned  documents and other multimedia content can be dropped right into new or existing notes.

3. Smartphone and Tablet: Snap a photo of a record, tombstone or any other genealogical item. (I like to do a quick photo “Edit” cleanup to get it in the best shape possible). Tap the Share button and send it to Evernote.

4. Email Content: Use your unique Evernote email address to send content from anywhere to your account.

5. Good Old Typing: Click “New Note” and start typing. You can always add other content including merging notes together.

Resources for Success

There’s so much demand for learning to use Evernote for genealogy that I’ve created a variety of helpful resources in video, audio, print and online formats (because everyone learns differently!).

FREE YouTube Video Series: Evernote for Genealogy

I’ve posted two videos so far on my free YouTube series:

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference Guide

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideMy laminated reference guide is super handy for every day support! This guide includes:

  • A Getting Started Checklist
  • Quick Keystrokes
  • Getting the Most Out of Clipping
  • Maneuvering the Desktop Client
  • Genealogical Organization
  • Little-Known Search Strategies
  • Specialized Genealogy Focused Techniques
  • Comparison of Evernote Pricing Tiers

The guide is available for both Windows and Mac users, in both print and digital download format. Click below to view:

The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education

Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedGenealogy Gems website Premium members have a full-year’s access to my popular in-depth video classes, which include The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education video series. This series includes the following full-length and mini-series classes:

Evernote genealogy family history organizeKeep up on all my latest Evernote news and Q&As!

Click here to read my Evernote blog posts.

Sign up for my free email newsletter (that sign-up comes with a free bonus e-book!).

Who else do you know who would benefit from getting organized? I hope you’ll share this page with your friends, relatives, family history buddies and fellow gen society members using the share icons below. Thanks!

Genealogy Book Club: Facebook Chat and More Book Picks

genealogy book club genealogy gemsMany of you are reading (or have already finished) our Genealogy Book Club featured book for the quarter, She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me by Emma Brockes. In the just-published November episode of the Genealogy Gems podcast, Lisa and I talk a little more about this fantastic book from the family historian’s point of view. We get a kick out of how she uses her mother’s dog-eared address book as a family history source.

What do YOU think of the book? On Thursday, December 4, we invite everyone to post comments on She Left Me the Gun on the Genealogy Gems Facebook pageWe welcome comments for a full 24 hours (12am-12am Eastern Standard Time, USA) for our worldwide audience. But we’ll monitor the page and give feedback from 9am-9pm EST. Emma Brockes herself hopes to pop in with comments and responses to your questions. (So start thinking of what you want to say!)

Genealogy Book Club Emma Brockes

Author Emma Brockes

Of course, I’m really looking forward to the December podcast, when you’ll hear my conversation with Emma about the book. Here’s my favorite quote from the interview:

“When [your] parent dies…your relationship with their history changes almost overnight. It suddenly becomes much more relevant to you because you feel like you are the only one left who is in a position to remember it. So having never wanted to know anything about my mother’s life, suddenly after her death it seemed imperative to me to find out absolutely everything….It felt to me that I couldn’t…stake out the parameters of what I’d lost until I knew everything there was to know about her.” -Emma Brockes, on She Left Me the Gun 

Meanwhile, we have two more books to recommend this quarter for our no-fuss genealogy book club, based on YOUR feedback:

One of our listeners, Mary, wrote to us about The Woman in the Photograph by Mani Feniger. She said, “I just ordered this book and thought you might be interested in reading it. I am looking forward to reading it myself.” Here’s a little blurb I found on the book: “Mani Feniger wanted nothing to do with the relics of her mother’s life before she escaped from Nazi Germany in 1936. But when the fall of the Berlin Wall exposed the buried secrets and startling revelations of her mother’s past, she was drawn into an exploration–of history and family, individuality and identity, mothers and daughters–that would change her life forever.”

 

And here’s a suggestion from Mike: “Here’s a book I found that you and your listeners might also enjoy. The Lost German Slave Girl by John Bailey recounts the story of a poor emigrant family and what happened to one of the daughters.  I found it fascinating.  The story is non-fiction and takes place around New Orleans in the first half of the 19th century.  There is much family research involved, some heart-wrenching descriptions of what the emigrants suffered, and delightful insights into the New Orleans of that time period.  It’s the kind of research that we family historians love to do but is more dramatic than many of the personal stories we work on.”

Mark Your Calendar: Thursday, December 4
We invite you to post comments on She Left Me the Gun on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page.

New FamilySearch Indexing Website Launches

Are you a FamilySearch indexer, or have you considered joining this worldwide volunteer effort? FamilySearch has just launched a new website that’s familysearch indexing eventall about making indexing EASIER.

If you’re already an indexer, here are the highlights of the new site, according to FamilySearch:

  • Getting started with indexing just got easier. With an easy-to-navigate Overview page and an all-new Get Started page, the new website is the perfect introduction to indexing.
  • Looking for more indexing help? Check out the completely redesigned resource guide. Now called Help Resources, this page guides you to the help you need.
  • Find projects you want faster. In the old indexing website, you had to scroll through over 200 projects, now you can click on an interactive map and filter the project list based on language and country.

But wait, there’s more! According to FamilySearch, “The change in the indexing website is just the first step in a total redesign and improvement of the indexing experience. The coming year will see the all-new indexing program become more integrated with FamilySearch.org, bringing indexing to your Internet browser, enabling indexing on tablet devices, and much more.”

They plan to announce more at RootsTech next month, where there will be a session on FamilySearch indexing and where the FamilySearch booth will have hands-on opportunities to try out the new system. (Haven’t registered for RootsTech yet? Register here! Early-bird pricing has been extended until Monday, Jan. 27.)

 

P.S. WHY INDEX?

Indexers for FamilySearch have already generated more than a billion names that are free to search at FamilySearch.org. The company’s press release points out that improvements to the indexing site have in the past accelerated the pace of indexing and they expect that to happen over the coming year, too.

 

Here’s my favorite tip for the researcher who wants a little more out of indexing for themselves. Use indexing to become more familiar with different record types. Do a few batches of naturalization records, border crossings, church registers, etc., from different places or time periods, and you’ll quickly become more familiar with that record type. You’ll also become more adept at reading old handwriting, picking out the genealogical details from the legalese and other skills that will help you in your own research.

Danish Delights in New and Updated Genealogical Records This Week

Genealogical records and research for your Denmark ancestors has just gotten a little easier! New and updated genealogical collections for Danish genealogy have been added to FamilySearch. Also new this week, new and updated records for Sweden, Hungary, Britain, and Ireland.

dig these new record collections

Denmark – Census

It was truly a Danish delight when we heard the 1916 Denmark Census is now available at FamilySearch. Danish genealogy is just a bit easier with the availability of this census, especially when paired with the already published 1911 Denmark Census, also at FamilySearch.

This is an every-name index to the 1916 census of Denmark. This index was created by MyHeritage from images provided by the National Archives of Denmark. The collection at FamilySearch includes an index or abstract version in English and a digital image of the original.

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This census was taken for the countries of Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Danish West Indies, however, only the records for Denmark are available at FamilySearch. The enumeration for Denmark was divided into three sections with a different form for each of the sections: Copenhagen city, other cities, and rural areas.

This census names each individual in the home and includes: sex, calculated birth date and year, marital status, relationship to head-of-household, and residence.

Other genealogy record collections for Denmark can be found on FamilySearch, too. See the entire list here.

Sweden – Church Records

FamilySearch has four Swedish church record collections that have recently been updated. Church records are especially helpful when civil records such as birth, marriage, and deaths, are not available. Check out these four updated collections and their titles below.

Sweden, Västmanland Church Records, 1538-1901; index 1622-1860 43,976
Sweden, Värmland Church Records, 1509-1925; index 1640-1860 Browse Images
Sweden, Skaraborg Church Records, 1612-1921; index 1625-1860 Browse Images  
Sweden, Västerbotten Church Records, 1619-1896; index, 1688-1860 36,337

Hungary – Civil Registration

More records have been added to the Hungarian Civil Registration records at FamilySearch as well. This collection includes the years 1895-1980.

The records are bound volumes of pre-printed forms with event information recorded by hand. From 1895 through 1906, the forms are one page per event, but beginning in 1907 each event occupies one row in a printed table, so there are multiple events recorded per page. The records are in Hungarian.

Civil registrations include birth, marriage, and death records. You may be able to find the following information in each of these groups:

Birth records:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Name of child
  • Gender and religion
  • Parents’ names and mother’s age
  • Parents’ religion
  • Signature of informant

Marriage records:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Groom’s name, date and place of birth
  • Groom’s religion and occupation
  • Groom’s parents’ names
  • Bride’s name, date and place of birth
  • Bride’s religion and occupation
  • Bride’s parents’ names
  • Witnesses’ names and their residence
  • Additional remarks

Death records:

  • Name and age of deceased
  • Date, time, and place of death
  • Deceased’s residence and occupation
  • Deceased’s religion
  • Spouse’s name
  • Parents’ names
  • Cause of death
  • Signatures of informant

United Kingdom – 1939 Register

Like a census, the Register can tell you a lot about how your ancestors. You can find names, occupations, and more. The 1939 Register of more than 32.8 million records is now available at Findmypast.

The 1939 Register is pretty unique. It required people to explain exactly what they did. General terms, such as Foreman, Overseer, Doctor, Mill-hand, Porter or Farmer, were not acceptable. Instead, people were asked to be as specific as possible, giving details of the trade.

Additional information you will find on the Register includes:

  • Name
  • Full date of birth
  • Address
  • Marital status
  • Occupation

Ireland – Directories

Also at Findmypast, the Ireland, 19th Century Directories allow you to search more than 120 volumes of directories that contain more than 74 thousand records. Listings may include your ancestor’s occupation, place of business, or home address.

These directories were published annually, which means that you can easily track your ancestor year to year.

You will want to be aware that most of the details in the directories were collected six months before publication; therefore, all the listings are six months old.

The records are presented as PDFs (portable digital files). This feature allows you to narrow your search by publication, year and page number. After selecting an image, you can read through the whole directory by using the previous and next buttons at the top of the image.

Learn more about Danish Genealogy

Read some great gems in our article Digitized Danish Records at MyHeritage!

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!

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