We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records online

Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Do any of the collections below relate to your family history? Look below for early Australian settlers, Canadian military and vital records, the 1925 Iowa State Census and a fascinating collection of old New York City photographs.

AUSTRALIAN CONVICT RECORDS. Now Findmypast subscribers can access several collections on early settlers. Among them over 188,000 Australia Convict ships 1786-1849 records, which date to “the ships of First Fleet and include the details of some of the earliest convict settlers in New South Wales.” You’ll also find “nearly 27,000 records, the Australia Convict Conditional and Absolute Pardons 1791-1867 list the details of convicts pardoned by the governor of New South Wales and date back to the earliest days of the colony” and New South Wales Registers of Convicts’ Applications to Marry 1825-1851, with over 26,000 records.

CANADIAN WWI MILITARY RECORDS. As of June 15,  162,570 of 640,000 files are available online via the Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database on the Library and Archives Canada website. This is the first installment of an ongoing effort to digitize and place online records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force service files.

IOWA STATE CENSUS. About 5.5 million newly-added records from the 1925 state census of Iowa are now free to search at FamilySearch,org. Name, residence, gender, age and marital status are indexed. The linked images may also reveal parents’ birthplaces, owners of a home or farm and name of head of household.

NEW YORK CITY PHOTOGRAPHS. About 16,000 photos of old New York City from the New York Historical Society are free to view on Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York. According to the site, “The extensive photograph collections at the New-York Historical Society are particularly strong in portraits and documentary images of New York-area buildings and street scenes from 1839 to 1945, although contemporary photography continues to be collected.”

ONTARIO, CANADA VITAL RECORDS. Nearly a half million birth record images (1869-1912), nearly a million death record images (1939-1947) and over a million marriage record images (1869-1927) have been added to online, indexed collections at FamilySearch.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Today’s list of new records has a LOT of Canadian material! If you’re researching Canadian roots, here’s a FREE video for you to watch on our YouTube channel: Lisa Louise Cooke’s interview with Canadian research expert Dave Obee, who shares 10 tips in his effort to help one RootsTech attendee break through her brick wall. This post and tip and brought to you by The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke, newly-revised and completely updated for 2015 with everything you need to find your ancestors with Google’s powerful, free online tools.

Humidity and Your Family Archive: Why It Matters

book gets dampArchivists tell us to store precious documents and photos in conditions with stable temperature and humidity. This time-lapse video shows why!

Many of us save old books, documents and photos, especially those with sentimental or family history value. But we don’t always store them carefully enough. When storage is at a premium, we may put old books and papers in attics and basements. Here they sweat out the summers, freeze in the winters and swell or shrink as humidity changes.

What kind of effect do these conditions have on our old books and papers A YouTube video posted online from the Image Permanence Institute shows what happened to a 300-year old book when it was subjected to humidity fluctuations. It actually looks like a breeze is blowing the cover off. But really, a change in humidity is plumping up those pages. That can’t be good!

To keep old pages in your family archive from curling up, swelling or mildewing, store them at a lower (and consistent) humidity. Books and papers like living in the same conditions we do, so try to make room for them in your regular living space. Tuck them away in an archival box, then under a bed, on a shelf, in a closet, in a trunk–get creative!

Learn more about this process in our interview with Denise Levenick, author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records, on the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 144.

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A Tip for Harnessing New Technologies for Genealogy

Lisa BYU Keynote

Photo courtesy of The Ancestry Insider

New technologies don’t stay new. They keep evolving. Here’s a tip for harnessing new and emerging technologies to advance family history research and stay connected with living relatives. 

Last week, I was at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy in Provo, Utah. What a friendly, welcoming group! (Be sure to check out the BYU Family History Library here.) All week, I taught sessions and gave a keynote address on various technologies that help our research. The week’s discussions reminded me how quickly technology moves–and how enthusiastically genealogists continue to embrace new opportunities given them by technology.

It’s part of my job to learn about these new technologies and pass the best ones–the “gems” along to you. But here’s a tip I shared during my keynote address that will help you focus on the technologies you care most about: Think about which tasks you want to accomplish with technology, rather than just learning genealogy-specific technology. Then keep up with developments in the technologies that accomplish those tasks.

For example, by now, many of us have used (or at least heard of) Google Translate. We can use it with foreign-language documents and to correspond with overseas relatives and archives. But Google Translate’s functionality keeps improving. “By the audible gasps of the audience” (during my keynote address) reported the FamilySearch blog, “most were not aware that the Google Translate app enables you to literally hold up your phone to the computer screen or typeset document, and it will translate foreign text on the fly for you—a must have free tool when dabbling in nonnative language content.”

Genealogists are really thinking about these issues. The Ancestry Insider blogged about my keynote talk, too, and my observation that genealogists haven’t been embracing digital video at the same speed at which they embrace other forms of digital media. In the comments section of that post Cathy added, “Now what we need to do is get FamilySearch to figure out a way to let us upload our URL YOUTube videos, not only for our deceased, but for our living….Our children and grandchildren don’t write letters, they email, text, instagram. They don’t write journals, they blog. They make videos of current history….We all need to look to the future and [learn] how to save the new technologies.” Cathy gets it!

A special thanks to conference organizers Stephen Young and John Best, who welcomed me and Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton all week long. They did a fantastic job of organizing a large event while retaining a warm, personal environment.

Continue reading about applying technology to your family history here.

Family Reunion Ideas: Top 10 Ways to Incorporate Family History

Family reunions are the perfect place to share your family history with others. The trick is to keep things light and fun!

Family Reunion Top 10

These top 10 family reunion ideas can sprinkle a healthy–and tasty– dose of heritage into your next family gathering.

10 Family Reunion Ideas for Incorporating Family History

1. Family Tree Hopscotch.

This life-sized bean bag toss/hopscotch game quizzes family members on the names of ancestors. It’s aimed at kids, but adults enjoy it, too!

family tree hopscotch great for reunions

2. Table Talk: 

If you’ll be seated at tables, provide an icebreaker that can double as a family history gathering opportunity.

Place a form at each place setting for guests to fill out. (Or a short list of questions for people to answer, if a videographer will make the rounds at each table)

Include questions like:

  • What’s your earliest childhood memory? 
  • Who’s the earliest ancestor you have a photograph of?
  • What are three things you remember about great-grandmother?

Can you imagine how this Martha Stewart placecard on Pinterest (which I found by searching “family reunion history” at Pinterest, a great place for collecting family reunion ideas) might be adapted this way?

3. Put Ancestors at the Center of Things: 

Centerpieces or displays that celebrate your heritage will attract curious relatives and may prompt memories and comments.

One of our Premium members sent us a description of her conversation-starting centerpiece: click here to read about it. 

If guests won’t be seated at tables, set up a family history display table next to the refreshments table (where they’re most likely to walk by!). Let them know that this is their gift to you. You could even have some sort of treat or little sticker they can wear that says, “I shared our family history: Have you?”

4. Sweet Memories: 

Create “Sweet Memories Candy Bars” that feature family history. I write about these in my book Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies. They are great conversation starters–and the candy is a definite incentive to get people talking.

sweet memories chocolate bar

My family adored this customized candy bar

5. Heritage Scrapbook:

A mini, accordion-style scrapbook craft project makes a fun, meaningful activity for all ages. Relatives can work on these alone or in little groups. It’s the kind of project that would be easy to adapt for any family’s background.

6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Family History:

Make a holiday craft that celebrates your heritage. Click here for a free PDF with directions on making a heritage Christmas stocking. Or make a family history-themed wreath, following these instructions I posted on YouTube.

7. Games: 

Try a heritage twist on the classic wedding or baby shower games. Create a crossword puzzle or word search with family surnames, hometowns, favorites and more. Here’s a link to one website that creates a puzzle for you for free.

Or invite guests to bring their own baby pictures. Post them for all to see and let your guests guess who each baby is.

8. Cook up some Conversation:

When I was looking for family reunion ideas a while back it occurred to me that my family’s love of food was a great angle to tap into. 

Heritage cookbooks are a time-honored way to share family recipes, and they can double as a reunion fund-raiser if you like.

Ask family members to submit recipes. Add recipes from ancestors. Share them with each family or guest who attends.

Remember, it’s not hard to create an e-book of recipes that you can’t share by email or on Facebook. An easy version of this idea: Snapfish offers a really cute way to share individual recipes on pre-printed cards. Only one or two recipes required to make this a success!

heritage recipes cookbook

9. The Amazing Family History Scavenger Hunt:

Create a list of questions that will require some scavenger-hunt type searching among your relatives.

Questions might include finding someone who has at least 10 grandchildren, was born in California, is about to start kindergarten, likes the Beatles, etc.

Research ahead of time so that questions all apply. This activity gets people talking!

10. DNA Day:

Purchase a few DNA kits for genealogy. Have them on hand in case family members want or are willing to have their DNA swabs done. This is especially great if older relatives are coming, but might not complete the swabs if you mailed them to them.

BONUS FAMILY REUNION TIP:

Did you know you can organize a great family reunion on Facebook–even if not everyone is ON Facebook? Click here to read a post with great tips about using Facebook to keep everyone in the loop and share the good times with those who can’t attend.

Be sure to share this article on family reunion ideas with the family reunion planners you know! It can be so helpful to get a fresh burst of ideas when planning big family gatherings.sharing

 

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