Have you ever thought to use passport applications for genealogy–to search for your immigrant or traveling ancestors?
Passports were issued in the U.S. beginning in the late 1700s, but weren’t required except during times of war until 1941. These records can be an excellent place to learn an immigrant’s date of arrival, the arrival ship and date of naturalization (if naturalized).
Two Quick Tips for Researching U.S. Passports for Genealogy
- Passports expired every few years, so people reapplied. You may find multiple applications for those who traveled abroad more than once. Subsequent applications will refer back to a prior one.
- In earlier years, look for married women and minor children in group passports issued under the name of the head of household.
Where to Find Passport Applications
A Page of History: Passport Applications by Phil Golfarb
Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 124 interview with author Phil Goldfarb on the history of passport applications and celebrity passport stories. Available to Genealogy Gems Premium members.
Family History Made Easy podcast for free, step-by-step beginner and back-to-basics genealogy education
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Denmark Census Records are new at FamilySearch this week. Other new and updated genealogy records include new vital records for England, Catholic Parish records for Scotland, and various unique collections like WWII records for New Zealand, French Polynesian vital records, and military records and more for the United States.
Denmark Census Records
FamilySearch.org now has Denmark Census collections for the following years: 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1901, & 1906. These indexes (provided by MyHeritage) are totally free to explore at FamilySearch, and the images were provided previously from the National Archives of Denmark.
England Wills & Probate
New at Findmypast is an index of over 229,000 Lancashire Wills & Probate 1457-1858 records. This index of more than 229,000 records will give you details about the type of material available, the probate year, and your ancestor’s occupation and residence.
Also new from Findmypast this week are large records for Herefordshire. You can search indexes for Baptisms starting in the early 1500s, Marriages 1538-1936, Burials spanning four centuries, and Wills 1517-1700.
Scotland: Catholic Parish Records
An extensive collection of browsable Scottish Roman Catholic Parish records is now available at Findmypast. It consists of all eight Scottish dioceses: Aberdeen, Argyll & The Isles, Dunkeld, Galloway, Glasgow, Motherwell, St Andrews & Edinburgh, and Paisley. Records begin as early as 1736 and continue until 1942.
New Zealand WWII Records
The Auckland War Memorial Museum has made over 100,000 WWII records available free online. From a recent press release: “Of the 140,000 New Zealanders dispatched to serve overseas in WWII, 104,000 of them served with the 2NZEF. Auckland Museum is now making these WWII Army personnel records publicly accessible through Online Cenotaph.”
French Polynesia: Vital Records
New this week at FamilySearch: Civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths for French Polynesia, 1843-1999. Original records are located with the Tribunal Civil, Papeete, Tahiti.
United States Military Collections & More
Japanese internment camps. Now available at FamilySearch.org: War Relocation Authority Centers, Final Accountability Rosters, 1942-1946. From the collection description: “Digital images of originals are held by the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. These rosters are alphabetical lists of evacuees housed in relocation centers from 1945-1946. This project was completed in cooperation with Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project.”
Audio recordings. Check out The Great 78 Project! You can listen to this collection of 78rpm records and cylinder recordings released in the early 20th century. These recordings were contributed to Internet Archive by users through the Open Source Audio collection. The Internet Archive has digitized many.
Montana. A new Birth Index 1870-1986 is available at Ancestry.com. The Death Index 1907-2015 has also been updated. These records come from the State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Copies of the actual certificates may be ordered from the Office of Vital Statistics.
Virginia. Also new at Ancestry.com are Virginia Vital Records, 1660-1923. Indexed information may include primary names and names of family members, as well as birth, marriage, death, and burial information. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
North Carolina. From the State Archives of North Carolina: New Veterans Oral History Collection Online. “The interviews, conducted since 2015 as audio interviews, are part of the Military Collection’s North Carolina Veterans Oral History Program, whose goal is to capture and provide access to the memories and experiences of the military servicemen and servicewomen from North Carolina, preserving them for the future scholarship.”
Be sure to share this post with your genealogy friends and groups so they can explore these wonderful new collections!
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Need help reading or translating German genealogical documents? These top German translation websites will help you identify and translate old German letters, words, abbreviations, street names, and occupations. These online resources are so good, even the experts use them! See how they can help your German family history.
Thanks to Katherine Schober of SK Translations and the instructor of the innovative online course on learning how to read the old German script and handwriting for this guest post.
Those of you who have braved the world of German genealogy may have run into a beautiful but solid genealogical “brick wall:” old German handwriting. “Kurrentschrift” (literally: “running script”) was the main form of writing in German-speaking lands until the mid-20th century. Unfortunately, this elegant script is often a major obstacle for modern-day genealogists searching for their German ancestors.
But it doesn’t have to be! While I recommend contacting a professional for the more complicated texts (I’d be happy to be of service), you can often make substantial progress in transcribing and translating old German documents with the help of several fantastic online resources.
Top 9 German Translation Websites and Resources
These are my favorite German translation websites for genealogy (and yes, I use them myself):
This is a great site for transcribing German genealogy documents, especially if you can only recognize some of the letters in a word. Choose either “words ending with” (Wörter mit Endung) or “words beginning with” (Wörter beginnend mit) and type in the first or last letters of the word you are deciphering.
For example, if you can only recognize “tum” at the end of the word, type in “tum” under “Wörter mit Endung”. It will then show you all the German words ending in “tum”, which may help you to recognize what your handwritten word could be.
This site offers a nice key of the Kurrent letters and the corresponding letters in our alphabet.
If you see an abbreviation in your genealogy document but aren’t sure what it stands for, you can type it into this website and it will provide you with a list of possible German words for your abbreviation.
Online German Dictionaries:
LEO, Online Dictionary by Langescheidt, and dict.cc are all extensive online German dictionaries. If one of these dictionaries doesn’t have a definition for a word, one of the other two might.
This is a very helpful translation site. Unlike Google Translate, it shows you words and phrases translated into English by actual translators and not machines. You receive the definition of the word, plus pages of various sample sentences that include your word/phrase in a contextual format.
This is a good site for finding the meanings of old-fashioned German words. Modern dictionaries often do not have definitions for the outdated words found in genealogy documents, but this online collection of old German dictionaries does. Knowledge of German required.
This website provides an A-Z list of old-fashioned German occupations with their modern-day German translation.
If you know that a word in your document is a street (“Straße”), but can’t figure out which street it is, use this site to help you out. First, type in the city in the “Ortsverzeichnis A-Z” (gazetteer). The site then pulls up a map of the city and an A-Z list of street names. If you know at least some of the letters in your street name, this list can help you to recognize the correct transcription of the word.
This site allows you to type in any word to see how it would look in Kurrentschrift. While everyone’s handwriting was, of course, different, it is nice to get an idea of what a word could have looked like in the old-fashioned script. For example, “Kurrentschrift:”
Katherine Schober of SK Translations specializes in translating German genealogical and historical documents. She also teaches the online course that can help you learn how to read the old German script and handwriting. Learn more here.
She recently joined Lisa Louise Cooke on the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #151 with creative, use-in-any-language Google strategies for translating documents and identifying ancestral names and places.
Click here to see what else has aired on the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast–and consider becoming a Premium member to get access to the entire Premium Podcast archive (it could see you through a whole year’s worth of workouts, commutes, or household chores!).