According to FamilySearch, “The civil registration records in Puerto Rico are an excellent source for genealogical research after 1885. Important genealogical data can be found in these records; see below. The data may even help to find information about an earlier generation.” They include birth, marriage and death records.
The description on FamilySearch indicates that records go back to 1805. But other hints (and a comparison to the Ancestry dataset) indicate that most of the records are for 1885 and later, just like Ancestry’s. Civil registration didn’t start in Puerto Rico until 1885 (before that, look to Catholic church records for BMD data). Of course, like many records, they may contain information about family dates and relationships from earlier in that person’s life.
Those who know about Puerto Rico’s connection to the U.S. may wonder why Puerto Rico had civil registrations at a time that U.S. states and territories did not. Puerto Rico was actually a colony of Spain when civil registration started. Only after the Spanish-American War of 1898 did Puerto Rico become a U.S. protectorate.
Each Friday we share a list of selected new genealogy records online. Watch for records in which your ancestors might appear–and get inspired by the kinds of records that may be out there waiting for you to discover. This week: Australian cemetery records, British military officer deaths, various U.S. passenger lists and North Carolina marriage records.
AUSTRALIAN CEMETERY RECORDS. Two million indexed records have been added to the free Australia, Queensland Cemetery Records, 1802–1990 dataset at FamilySearch.org. According to the site, “The records include an index which combines several other indexes, cemetery transcriptions, burial and other records from cemeteries in Queensland….Cemetery records are especially helpful for identifying ancestors who were not recorded in other records, such as children who died young or women. They may also give clues to finding more information. In Australia, the first cemetery is reported to have been in Sydney in 1788.”
BRITISH MILITARY OFFICER DEATHS. FindMyPast’s new dataset, Royal Artillery Officer Deaths 1850-2011, lists the details of over 17,000 commissioned officers who were killed or died during the campaigns in Kosovo, Bosnia, Borneo and Iraq as well as the First and Second World Wars. It is estimated that since the regiment’s formation in May 1716, over 2.5 million men and women have served with the regiment. Each record includes a transcript of details found in the original records.
US PASSENGER LISTS. Browsable images were added to several existing US immigration records. Click here (and then scroll down) to view a table that has links directly to these datasets:
For San Diego, CA:Airplane Passenger and Crew Lists, 1929–1954 and an apparently segregated Chinese Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905–1923;
San Francisco, CA Passenger Lists, 1893–1953;
Key West, FL Passenger Lists, 1898-1945;
Minnesota Passenger Lists, 1910-1923;
New York City, NY Passenger and Crew Lists Soundex (meaning an index based on how a name sounds), 1887-1921; (this is actually a new image collection)
North Dakota Manifests of Immigrant Arrivals, 1910-1952 (this is also new).
NORTH CAROLINA (US) COUNTY MARRIAGES, 1741-2011. This new dataset on Ancestry “includes images of marriage bonds, licenses, certificates, and registers from 87 different counties.” According to an Ancestry blog post, some marriages have multiple records in this collection, like a bond and an indexed marriage record. This record set may be particularly useful for those tracing African-American marriages, as they “reference the joining of couples living as man and wife dating back to 1820, and possibly earlier…. Sometimes they also include the names of their former owners.” There’s a free, similar-looking dataset at FamilySearch, but the dates aren’t as extensive (it covers 1762-1979).
Tip: When searching within record sets like these, read the record collection description! Sometimes you are just seeing a partial collection that is being updated on an ongoing basis. Some years or locales may be missing from an otherwise complete record set.
When you have questions that aren’t answered in the record collection description online, Google them! Use keywords like the type of record (“marriage records”) and the missing locale (“Burdett County”) to see whether other sites can lead you to these records or confirm that they don’t exist. Learn more about advanced Google searching for genealogy in the fully-updated 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke.
According to a news story by IowaWatch.org, current Iowa newspapers are piling up at the archives of the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines, with no current plan to microfilm or otherwise preserve them.
“Traditionally, the papers would have been sent off [for microfilming], but a 2009 budget cut ended that 50-year practice,” says the report. “A bill proposed last year would have provided funds for the backlog, but the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, which oversees the historical society, put on the breaks. It rejected the proposed funding citing pending completion of a master planning process and assessment study to evaluate what it has in the archives and how to preserve those materials in the future.”
Over 1500 bundles of newspapers await microfilm preservation, at an estimated cost of around a quarter million dollars. Officials state that they are reviewing a master plan for preserving all important materials in the state archive, not just newspapers. Click here to read the full story.
What can you do to ensure that today’s newspaper history lives on in your family
Digitize current obituaries and articles that mention your family.
Image meaningful headlines and write a journal entry about why they are important to you.
Keep track of these images, full source citations and your thoughts in organizational software like Evernote and attach them to your family tree in your own software and in your online trees.
Meanwhile, make the most of what historical newspapers had to say about your family. More of these papers are accessible online, either directly as digitized content or through microfilm rentals or research services you can learn about online. Learn more in Lisa’s book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers.
FamilySearch has posted a series of new videos aimed at helping people trace their African-American family history with Freedmen’s Bureau records.
FamilySearch’s YouTube channel has published several new videos to help researchers better understand how to trace African-American ancestors with the Freedmen’s Bureau records. As we explain more fully in this article, the Freedmen’s Bureau was organized after the Civil War to aid newly-freed slaves in 15 states and Washington, DC. For several years it gathered “handwritten, personal information on freed men, women and children, including marriage and family information, military service, banking, school, hospital and property records,” according to FamilySearch.
Freedmen’s Bureau records are finally being fully indexed and posted online for free at FamilySearch and at DiscoverFreedmen.org. (Read the article we refer to above to see how you can help.) Now it’s time to teach everyone how to USE these records and to begin to share success stories. That’s the purpose behind these videos:
Telling a Story with the Freedmen’s Bureau with the Reverend Dr. Cecil L. Murray:
Research the Records of African-American Ancestors with the Freedmen’s Bureau with Kimberly Freeman:
Uncover Information about your African American Heritage wih the Freedmen’s Bureau with Judy Matthews:
Discover Stories from Your Ancestry with Insights from the Freedmen’s Bureau Project with John Huffman:
Use Freedmen’s Bureau Records to Demystify Your Family History with George O. Davis
Enrich Your Family History with Information from the Freedmen’s Bureau with Ambassador Diane Watson
New genealogy records online this week include a new index of WWII POWs from the US; British and Welsh newspapers, New York passenger and crew lists and more. Take a look!
BRITISH 1939 REGISTER BROWSER. A new browsing tool is available to help Findmypast subscribers access the 1939 Register (which is online in indexed format but requires separate premium access). “A handy partner to the name-searchable 1939 Register, Browse offers you the ability to explore England and Wales by county, borough/district, piece number and ED letter code.”
BRITISH AND WELSH NEWSPAPERS. Over 6.4 million articles have recently been added to Findmypast’s collection of historic British Newspapers. They comprise 26 new titles, including 19 from Wales dating back to 1829. According to the collection description, “19 of our newest titles come from Wales, allowing you an insight into local life during the 19th and early 20th centuries.”
ENGLAND (LANCASHIRE) CEMETERY. Nearly a half million indexed records have been added to a free collection at FamilySearch of England Lancashire Oldham Cemetery Registers 1797-2004. According to the collection description, “This collection contains cemetery registers from Hollinwood, Failsworth, Royton, Crompton, Chadderton, Lees, and Greenacres cemeteries in Oldham. Most registers contain, name, address, date of death, date of burial and burial location.”
NEW JERSEY CHURCH. Ancestry.com has posted a new collection of New Jersey, United Methodist Church Records, 1800-1970, 1800-1970 spanning nearly two centuries (1800-1970). According to the description, “This collection includes baptism, marriage, burial, and membership records from churches in the Greater New Jersey United Methodist Church Commission on Archives and History. Most records are from churches that have been closed.”
Keep up-to-date with this weekly digest of new genealogy records online, which notes some of the biggest, most interesting and exciting collections we’ve noticed. Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter so you won’t miss any, and you’ll receive a free e-book of Lisa Louise Cooke’s Google search tips from her popular book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.
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