South Africa Genealogy Records & More Online

Featured this week are new and updated records for South Africa. The all-free site FamilySearch has two new and one updated collection for South Africa including death and probate records and passenger lists. Ancestry.com also has an updated collection of church records going back to the 17th century. Also new at Ancestry.com are four genealogy records collections for Essex, England.

new genealogy records for South Africa

Featured: South Africa Genealogy Records

If you have ancestors that lived in South Africa, you may already be familiar with some of the challenges of researching them. And if you’re new to genealogy or to your ancestors that lived in South Africa, you might be in for a surprise when it comes to records: census records aren’t available! They are routinely destroyed after being abstracted and thus not available to the public.

So where’s the best place to start looking? Most genealogy experts will tell you to start with death notices. A death notice is different than a death certificate, in that it’s not an official document. Rather, it is a document provided by next of kin, friends, or associates of the deceased. Information provided may not be 100% accurate or reliable, but it can often provide really helpful details and a glimpse into the person’s life.

FamilySearch as a new collection of South Africa, Orange Free State, Probate Records from the Master of the Supreme Court, 1832-1989. There are over 300,000 records in this set, and the most useful records in the collection are the death notices, which give detailed information. The probate records usually have multiple pages and are included in a probate file, which is identified by a probate number.

south african genealogy record

When a person died, the nearest relative or other connection should have completed a death notice and sent it to the Master of the High Court within 14 days of the death. These records might tell you the deceased’s name, birthdate and place, marriage status, parents’ names, the names of their children, information about property and wills left, and more.
There is an updated collection of actual death certificates at FamilySearch, which is the Transvaal, Civil Death, 1869-1954 collection. “Death certificates are arranged chronologically and alphabetically by place and include full name, parent’s name if under the age of ten, mother’s residence, age, sex, birthplace, marital status, occupation, whether pensioner or pensioner’s dependent, place and date of death, residence, place of burial, cause and duration of death, and background of informant. For the years 1899-1902, records are arranged separately by internment camp and district where death occurred.”
If you’re an Ancestry.com subscriber, you can also check out the recently updated collection of Dutch Reformed Church Registers, 1660-1970. This collection contains records from various locations which were part of historic Cape Colony, including Namibia, Cape of Good Hope province and Transvaal province. Record coverage will vary depending on location. It is also available at FamilySearch.

Essex, England

Ancestry.com has four new collections of genealogy records for Essex, England. These BMD records date back as far as the 16th century and may hold important details about the lives of your ancestors living in Essex.

Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1918: “Children were usually baptised within a few days or weeks of birth. The records generally include when the baptism took place and in what parish, child’s Christian name, parents’ given names and the family surname, residence, father’s occupation, and who performed the ceremony. Sometimes you’ll find additional details such as date of birth. Early records may contain less detail.”

Church of England Marriages, 1754-1935: “Couples were usually married in the bride’s parish. Marriage records typically include the bride and groom’s names, residence, date and location of the marriage, names of witnesses, condition (bachelor, spinster, widow, or widower) and the name of the officiant. Some records may also include the father’s name and occupation.”

Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1994: “Burials took place within a few days of death. Records generally list the name of the deceased, residence, burial date, and age at death.”

Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812: “This collection contains images of Church of England parish registers of baptisms and burials during the years 1538–1812, and marriages during the years 1538-1754 from Essex, England.”

Get more new and updated records every week!

Each week we round up the new and updated genealogy records collections for you in a helpful article so you can jump right into researching! Our free weekly email newsletter always has the latest records round up article, as well as other featured articles on genealogy methodology, inspiration, tips and tricks, and more. Plus the newsletter also lets you know where there is a new episode of The Genealogy Gems Podcast, new videos, and updates on news and events. And best of all it’s free! Sign up today to get our email newsletter once a week in your inbox.

Lisa Louise Cooke Author

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google ToolboxMobile GenealogyHow to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series. She is an international keynote speaker and the Vice President of the Genealogical Speakers Guild.

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

RootsTech 2017: Come Celebrate 10 Years with Us!

RootsTech 2017 is the biggest genealogy conference of the year, and Genealogy Gems will be celebrating in a big way! Here’s your chance to win fantastic prizes, and join in even from home through our live-streaming, as we celebrate 10 years and 200 episodes of The Genealogy Gems Podcast.

RootsTech is being held on February 8-11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is sponsored by FamilySearch International and is a conference that brings together family history lovers and technology innovators for a truly one-of-a-kind event.

RootsTech 2017 Exhibit Hall: Visit Genealogy Gems Booth #1039

Free 30 Minute Sessions
Join us for our famous power-sessions at our booth #1039, very close to where we were located in the hall last year!

Not able to make it to Rootstech in person? Join us for a selected classes via live-streaming via the free Periscope app, or on our Facebook page.
Look for the Periscope symbol next to the live-streamed sessions on the schedule above.
(All time listed are Mountain time)

Prizes!

As part of our 10th year & 200th episode celebration, you will have a chance to win fantastic prizes at every session in our booth. This is thanks to the generous genealogy community and our podcast sponsors! Here’s what you can win:

Thursday, February 9

  1. 10:15 AM – Beginning Genetic Genealogy with Diahan Southard
    Your DNA Guide Video Series ($29.95)
    Getting Started Quick Guide ($8.95)
  1. 12:15 PM – 5 Ways to Jog Memories with Sunny Morton
    Story of My Life workbook ($19.99)
    Famicity Premium Subscription ($95.88) This is a brand new, private family social network. Think of it as your family’s Legacy Center!
  1. 12:40 PM – Naturalization Records with Amie Tennant
    RootsMagic 4 CD Set ($119.80) includes RootsMagic Software from our long-time and valued sponsor, the spectacular RootsMagic!
  1. 2:30 PM – German Ancestral Villages with Jim Beidler, video from Family Tree University
    Trace Your German Roots Online book ($21.99)  Fabulous resource for Germany research!
    Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies book ($15.95) Lisa Louise Cooke’s hard to find first book.Google Drive and other tips
  1. 4:00 PM – Google Methodology with Lisa Louise Cooke
    The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox book, Second Ed. ($24.95) Lisa Louise Cooke’s Google Methodology in one complete and updated volume.
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership (New or renewal) ($39.95) Includes over 30 class videos and over 140 exclusive Premium podcast episodes!

Friday, February 10

  1. animoto how a genealogy society can grow membership10:15 AM – Creating Family History Videos with Lisa Louise Cooke
    Animoto Subscription ($96.00) You’re going to flip for this tech tool! Click here to learn more right away.
  1. 12:15 PM – Your Ethnic DNA Pie with Diahan Southard
    Exciting DNA themed prize to be announced soon!
  1. 12:45 PM – Genealogy Jackpot with Sunny Morton
    SnagIt Software by Techsmith ($49.95) Lisa uses SnagIt constantly, and you’re going to love it for genealogy! TechSmith tools are tops!
    Ultimate Family Tree Chart Templates CD ($29.99) Every genealogist needs this from the #1 genealogy magazine, Family Tree Magazine.
  1. 4:00 PM – Mastering Ancestry.com video from Family Tree University
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership (New or renewal) ($39.95)
  1. 5:45 PM – Journaling & Scrapbooking Tech with Amie Tennant
    FlipPal Mobile Scanner ($149.99) You’ll flip if you win this wonderful prize from our good friends at FlipPal.
  1. 6:15 PM – Organize with Trello with Drew Smith
    Organize Your Genealogy book ($25.99) After you win the book, Drew will sign it for you!

Saturday, February 11

  1. 10:15 AM – “Big 4” Databases with Sunny Morton
    Findmypast Premium Subscription ($239.50) You don’t have to have just British ancestors to love this prize!
  1. 2:05 PM – Google Earth Strategies with Lisa Louise Cooke
    Google Earth for Genealogy Video Series ($24.00) This series will help you go into the genealogy geography stratosphere after learning the basics from Lisa’s session.
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership ($39.95)  7 of the 30 video classes included are on geography and genealogy, like Time Travel with Google Earth! Sweet!

Saturday Starting at 12:15 p.m.
Pick up an entry form, fill it out, and bring the completed form to our booth starting at 12:15 on Saturday for a chance to win our GRAND PRIZE and get our FREE syllabus e-book with all of our booth session handouts. No purchase necessary, and you must be present to win.

Grand Prizes – Saturday at 12:45 PM

3rd Grand Prize: 1 Complete MyHeritage Subscription ($250.74) AND MyHeritage DNA Test Kit ($99.00) from our wonderful podcast sponsor. Thank you MyHeritage!

2nd Grand Prize: Discovery Research Package from Legacy Tree Genealogists ($350.00) Hit a brick wall? These experts will help you bust through! The winner will receive 3.5 hours of research in a digital format which includes: preliminary analysis on your family tree or DNA; discovery of what records are available for the area and time period of interest; development of a research plan; and some work towards your research goals.

1st Grand Prize: 1 Year Ancestry.com World Subscription ($298.00) AND Ancestry DNA Autosomal Test Kit ($99.00) An amazing duo from our friends Ancestry.com.

Book Signings: All Week

Lisa will also be signing copies of her books, including her books Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research
and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition. Sunny Morton will be available to sign her new book, Story of My Life. Diahan Southard will also be there answering your DNA questions!

RootsTech 2017 Classes: All Week

Lisa Louise Cooke and her regular Genealogy Gems team members will be teaching several sessions:

Wednesday:
3:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Google Books: The Tool You Should Use Every Day!  Location: Ballroom C
3:00 p.m. Diahan Southard: DNA: The Glue that Holds Families Together  Location: Ballroom J

Thursday:
11:00 a.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Organizing All This Stuff (Beginner)  Location: 155D Getting Started Pass
1:30 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Eliminate the Eye-Rolling with These 7 Awesome Apps!  Location: Ballroom C
3:00 p.m. Diahan Southard: From Click to DNA Connection (Lab)
5:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: 5 Amazing Things Google Earth Can Do for Genealogy (Rootstech Demo Theater, Exhibit Hall)

Friday:
3:00 p.m. Sunny Morton: Comparing the Big 4 (Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage, FamilySearch; Location: Ballroom B
3:00 p.m. Amie Tennant: Crowdsource with Social Media Breaks Through Walls; Location: Room 251D
3:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Google Search Power Strategies (Rootstech Demo Theater, Exhibit Hall)
4:30 p.m. Diahan Southard: From Click to DNA Connection (Lab)

Saturday:
11:00 a.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: How to Create a Free Google Earth Map Collection; Location: Ballroom G
11:00 a.m. Diahan Southard: Let Your DNA Tell the Story
11:00 a.m. Amie Tennant: Troll Virtual Cemeteries & Using Cemetery Records; Location: Room 254A
1:30 p.m. Sunny Morton: Relatively Recent Relatives: the 20th Century Search; Location: Room 150

We can’t wait to meet as many of you as possible! We hope you have a marvelous experience at RootsTech 2017.

GEDCOM File (What is It & How to Use This Genealogy File)

A GEDCOM file is a universal type of file that genealogists use to move data from one genealogy software program to another. Using these helpful tips below, you can open genealogy files your family members send to youor share your data with others.

When and Why You Would Need to Open a GEDCOM File

A Genealogy Gems reader recently wrote:

I recently signed up for [the Genealogy Gems] newsletter. I received a CD from a relative with family history information that was set up through Family Tree Maker. I am currently not subscribed to any of the genealogy sites. My question is, how can I retrieve this information [from the CD.] Can you help?

The answer to the question is: Use another program to open the GEDCOM file from the CD. Let me show you how easy it is to open and create GEDCOM files.

GEDCOM Basics

GEDCOM is an acronym standing for Genealogical Data Communication. It is a universal genealogy file that allows you to exchange genealogical data between different genealogy software programs.

Because it is “universal” in nature, a GEDCOM file can be read by many different types of genealogy software. That means, if you are using RootsMagic, you can still share all the data you have collected with your cousin who uses Family Tree Maker, and she will not have to type in all the names, dates, and places manually.

Occasionally, not all the information included in a GEDCOM file will transfer perfectly. There are differences in how that information is interpreted and some things, like notes and sources, may be affected. However, for the most part, much of it will transfer correctly.

How to Open a GEDCOM File

Our reader needs to open a GEDCOM file contained on the CD he was sent. To do this, he must have a program on his computer that will read a GEDCOM file. There is an option I would like to share with you.

RootsMagic is a downloadable software for both Mac and PC users. (And, it is the one we here at The Genealogy Gems Podcast use! That’s why we accepted them as a sponsor of the podcast.)

Once you have downloaded  RootsMagic to your computer, open it. At the top left corner, click on File and from the pull-down menu, choose Import.

import GEDCOM file

Now, a new pop-up window will open and ask from what source you would like to import from. You will notice several options, but for our reader’s question, he will choose the GEDCOM option.

GEDCOM transfer

Then, choose I know where the file is, and the file explorer window will appear. In this case, our reader would click on the CD that he has loaded into his computer’s disk drive, and follow the prompts to open the GEDCOM file. All that information his relative sent him will be slurped into RootsMagic and he can easily look through the pedigree of his family.

Family tree using GEDCOM

Creating a GEDCOM to Share with Others

RootsMagic also allows you to create a GEDCOM file. This is what you would send to your relatives when they would like to have a copy of the family tree.

To do this, open RootsMagic. Click on File, as we did before, and this time choose Export from the pull-down options.

The export box will pop-up. You can choose what you wish to have included in this export. I typically choose Everyone, but you can do yours by family names by clicking on the down arrow next to Everyone and choosing Select from list.

GEDCOM export

Once you have clicked OK, the GEDCOM file is ready to be saved to your computer. Save the file on your desktop or somewhere you will be able to locate it again. Remember to name the file and pay attention to where you are saving it!

Creating a GEDCOM from Ancestry.com

If you have stored your genealogy data at Ancestry.com, you may be interested to know that you can create a GEDCOM file for your family tree there as well. It’s just a matter of signing into your Ancestry account, locating the Tree Settings, and then clicking Export. I found a nice article outlining the steps on how to do that here.

Protecting Your GEDCOM Files

Creating a GEDCOM is also a great way to save or backup your hours and hours of family history research. One of the saddest tales of genealogists everywhere is losing their computer or printed family files with all that work!

GEDCOM files can be saved to a hard drive, saved to an external unit, emailed, put on a thumb drive, or uploaded to the Cloud. You can also invest in a company like Backblaze, the official backup of The Genealogy Gems Podcast,  that will automatically backup all your files. (Read more about Backblaze, here.) All of these methods protect you and your genealogy.

More on Protecting Your Genealogical Data

Learn more about Backblaze, The Genealogy Gems Podcast’s first choice when it comes to backing up precious genealogy research and personal files. Read the article’s below and determine if Backblaze is the answer you’ve been looking for.

How to Download Backblaze in 4 Easy Steps

Backing Up Your Genealogy with Backblaze – Q & A

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