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. Might these collections include your ancestors? Today: British apprenticeships, Cleveland Jewish newspapers, Costa Rica civil registrations, Croatia church books, North Dakota state censuses, and Pennsylvania Civil War rosters.

BRITISH APPRENTICE RECORDS. FindMyPast subscribers can now Britain, Country Apprentices, 1710-1808. These nationwide registers for apprenticeships “recorded the tax paid for each indenture for an apprentice. The average apprenticeship was seven years.” Records may include an ancestor’s parent(s), his/her master and the profession chosen.

CLEVELAND OH JEWISH NEWSPAPERS. The Cleveland Jewish News Archives has added digitized newspapers that preceded the Cleveland Jewish News (already online) back to 1893. Among the papers included are these weeklies: The Hebrew Observer (1889-1899), The Jewish Independent (1906-1964 weekly), The Jewish Review (1893-1899) and The Jewish Review and Observer (1899-1964). Subscription required.

COSTA RICA CIVIL REGISTRATION. More than a million indexed records have been added to the free browsable digital images of Costa Rice Civil Registration, 1860-1975 at FamilySearch. This includes “Births, marriages, deaths, legitimizations and indexes created by civil registration offices in Costa Rica.”

CROATIA CHURCH BOOKS. Nearly 3 million indexed records have been added to FamilySearch’s free collection of Croatia Church Books, 1516-1994. Browsable images are already online. According to the collection description, “Records of births and baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials peformed by priests in Croatia. Includes vital records of Jews. These records were acquired from the Croatian State Archive. Baptisms through 1900 can be searched.”

NORTH DAKOTA CENSUSES. Over 350,000 indexed records each for North Dakota censuses of 1915 and 1925 are now searchable for free at FamilySearch. Included in these records are names, titles, relations to heads of household, hold, race, residence and family number.

PENNSYLVANIA CIVIL WAR MUSTERS. Ancestry subscribers can now search Pennsylvania Civil War Muster Rolls, 1860-1869. Says Ancestry, “This collection includes muster out rolls, arranged by regiment and thereunder by company. They list the soldier’s name, age, rank, unit, regiment and company; the date, place, and person who mustered him in; the period of enlistment; and the name of the commanding officer. Other details can include where the soldier enlisted, whether he was drafted or was paid as a substitute, pay earned, money owed to the U.S. for clothing or missing equipment, promotions, capture by the enemy, illnesses, and bounty paid and owed. At the end of the musters, transfers, deaths, and deserters were often listed, typically with details about the circumstances (e.g., where and when transferred; cause, date, and location of deaths; dates and places of desertion, etc.).”

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Here’s a tip: Always read the descriptions for online collections you are searching. The descriptions generally tell you the source of the records; which records are included/missing; what genealogical data you may find in them and tips for searching the dataset. Some websites also suggest related databases. This tip comes to you courtesy of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke, freshly updated and completely revised for 2015!

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsHere’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! New this week are records for free people of color in Louisiana, Alabamans in the Civil War, British POWs from WWII (and allies), and deaths in Pennsylvania.

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN LOUISIANA. Louisiana State University recently launched a free “comprehensive digital collection,” Free People of Color in Louisiana, about “people of African descent who…were born free or escaped the bonds of slavery before it was abolished in 1865.” Included are a “four-volume ‘Register of free persons of color entitled to remain in the state’ (1840-1864), four different collections of emancipation records, which often include testimony regarding why the enslaved person was deserving of freedom and provide other information about the enslaved person and slave owner, and an extensive collection of indenture records (1809-1843) in which at least one participant…was a free person of color.”

ALABAMA CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS. This new index at Ancestry comes from a card file kept for many years by the Alabama Department of Archives and History regarding every person they found who served in (or was exempted from) the military during the Civil War. According to the collection description, “You might find birth, death, and military information (which sometimes includes portions of letters written during or after the war, information on which battles the soldier was engaged in, wounds, imprisonment, and other items). There are some women (laundresses and other occupations) in this database as well.”

BRITISH-DUTCH-AMERICAN-AUSTRALIAN WWII PRISONERS OF WAR. Findmypast subscribers now have access to a million “records of some of the most infamous POW camps of World War II….The records cover the period 1939-1945 and contain the names, ranks and locations of Prisoners of War, along with the length of time spent in camps, the number of survivors, details of escapees and the nationalities of prisoners. Britons represent the largest number in the collection, followed by Dutch, Americans and Australians. In addition to this type of data, the collection comprises 360,000 images, including pages from personal diaries and photographs.” These can be searched amongst the larger collection of Findmypast POW records.

PENNSYLVANIA DEATHS. Ancestry’s collection of Pennsylvania death certificates has recently been updated with additional indexed images. It now spans 1906-1963. Interestingly, “Records of stillbirths were required to be filed as both a birth and death record, so you may find records of stillborn children in this collection.”

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Celebrating 1000 Genealogy Blog Posts: #10 in the Top 10 Countdown

I’m still a little bit bewildered as to how we got to 1000 genealogy blog posts! But here we are, and we are celebrating!n Genealogy Countdown #10

Our website has changed over the years to new platforms and web hosts, and our analytics don’t even go back to the very beginning. Therefore, I’m content with recapping your top 10 favorite blog posts of 2015, which was a significant year since almost 1/3  of the 1000 appeared in the last 11 months. This demonstrates our growing commitment to blogging about genealogy and bringing you the best GEMS we can find! So, here’s my take on a Casey Kasem-style TOP 10 Countdown of our most popular genealogy blog posts, starting with…#10!

I think it is pretty safe to sum up 2015 as the year of DNA. Genetic genealogy was a sizzling hot topic as Ancestry blazed a new trail, after abandoning mitochondrial and YDNA testing in 2014 and focusing all of its efforts on autosomal. Those efforts included a concentrated marketing campaign that resulted in a database of more than 1 million DNA testers.

When I first met Diahan Southard at a conference in Florida in March of 2014, I knew instinctively that she was a Genealogy Gem and immediately invited her to join our team. Now as Your DNA Guide she expertly navigates us all through the sometimes murky DNA waters. Through her blog posts and podcast segments, she helps us make sense of genetic genealogy through her warm and easy-to-understand style. So it is no wonder that the tenth most popular and widely read blog post on the Genealogy Gems blog was penned by Diahan on this very hot topic.AncestryDNA common matches tool

In the #10 genealogy blog post New AncestryDNA Common Matches Tool: Love it! Diahan reports on a fabulous online tool that pulls out shared genetic matches between two people at AncestryDNA. After hinting at what the Common Matches tool was doing for her own research…

A new tool at Ancestry DNA is blowing my genealogy mysteries wide open!

…Diahan lays out in a fun and easily digestible way how you can put it to work for you. It’s a great read or re-read – just click the link above.

The 1910 Census in Puerto Rico: A Surprising Lesson on Using Census Records for Genealogy

Puerto Rico census screenshot

Sample census detail image from Ancestry.com.

Imagine taking a standard U.S. census form, translating it into Spanish, administering it to a newly-American population whose racial identity is highly politicized, translating the results back into English and trying to make sense of them 100 years later.

That’s what happens when you’re looking at 1910 census in Puerto Rico.

I stumbled on this story when my dad, a FamilySearch indexer, called my attention to a current project to index previously-missed parts of the 1910 census. A lot of the missing data was for Puerto Rico. The forms are in Spanish. My dad asked my help translating some of what he was reading, since I speak some Spanish. He was concerned that the computer was interpreting some of the abbreviations in English when they were likely Spanish abbreviations. I looked into it and what I found reminded me of these lessons:

Puerto Rico 1910 1920 census instructions

From “The US Census and the Contested Rules of Racial Classification in Early Twentieth-Century Puerto Rico,” by Mara Loveman, in Caribbean Studies, 35:2 (July-Dec 2007), 3-36. Click image to go to the paper.

Always read the record itself and seek to understand it. Don’t just rely on the index! The published images of this census on Ancestry interpret “B” in the race column as “Black,” but a little research (thank you, Google Scholar!) reveals that the census takers entered the race in Spanish–so “B” was for “blanco” (read about it in this academic paper).

When you see someone’s race change over the course of a lifetime, consider the historical context. Puerto Rican census data from the early 1900s “show a population becoming significantly whiter from one census to the next” because of “changes in how race was classified on census returns,” says the same paper. Not only were there changes in the official instructions, but the enumerators increasingly didn’t follow them. In fact, on several thousand census entries in 1910 and even more in 1920, “individuals’ racial classifications were manually crossed out, and a different ‘race’ was written in. These post-enumeration edits, it turns out, were done by a select group of Puerto Ricans hired to supervise and ‘correct’ the work of fellow Puerto Rican enumerators.”

google toolbox bookThis little historical trivia is not so trivial if you’re wondering why your ancestor may be identified by a different race than you expected. Learn more about finding academic papers like the one quoted here in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke. Her book shows you how to search Google Scholar for gems like this that make your family history more clear!

 

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