1836 map of New York City compared to modern satellite image, shown with each map in “spyglass” format. Image from David Rumsey Map Collection blog at DavidRumsey.com.
I love showing people how to use online tools to compare historical maps to modern ones. You can map out your ancestor’s address, check out their neighborhoods “then and now,” map their route to work, see if their old home still exists and more.
Well, the online Smithsonian magazine has created an exciting new interface for six American cities. Now you can compare modern satellite imagery with bird’s-eye views of:
You’ll see great city layouts before the fire that claimed much of old Chicago, the San Francisco earthquake, the Lincoln memorial and more. The historical map of New York City is the oldest, but the other maps capture each city at a critical point in their growth. For each city you can look at a historical map with a “spyglass” mouse-over of a modern satellite image, or vice-versa, as shown in the New York City map on the right. Each map is accompanied by a fantastic Smithsonian article; the historical maps come from the amazing David Rumsey Map Collection.
As many of you know, it’s possible to do something similar (or even better) with Google’s amazing mapping tools. Learn how to do that with these three Genealogy Gems resources:
1. My FREE Google Earth Video, which teaches you how to unlock mysteries in your research, from unidentified photographs to pinpointing homesteads;
3. My new Time Travel with Google Earth video, in which you’ll see old maps, genealogical records, images, and videos come together to create stunning time travel experiences in Google Earth. This is available to Genealogy Gems Premium Members (learn more membership here).
Every week we blog about new genealogy records online. Which ones could be the key to busting your genealogy brick walls? New this week? Vital records for Delaware, South Dakota, Illinois and Texas. Italy civil registrations. Newspapers from Indianapolis, Louisville KY and San Bernadino CA. Immigrant passenger lists for Mississippi ports.
DELAWARE VITAL RECORDS. Over a million images of vital records from Delaware (1650-1974!) have been added to a 3-million strong collection you can browse at FamilySearch. Images of birth, marriage and death records for the city of Wilmington, Delaware are also newly browsable on FamilySearch. These date mostly to 1881. Birth records end in 1919; marriages and deaths in 1954.
ILLINOIS BIRTH CERTIFICATES. Over 370,000 births from Cook County, Illinois (home to Chicago) are now indexed at FamilySearch. These span 1878-1938; more records will be added on an ongoing basis.
ITALY CIVIL REGISTRATION. FamilySearch continues to churn out newly-digitized Italy civil registrations to its free site. They’re not indexed yet, but these are newly browsable: Arezzo (back to the 1300s!), Bergamo, Cremona, Enna, Imperia (San Remo) and nearly a million images for Pescara. Birth, marriage and death records may all contain important genealogical information.
U.S. IMMIGRATION–MISSISSIPPI PORTS. Indexed images of passenger arrival records at the ports of Gulfport (1904-1964) and Pascagoula (1903-1935, 1955-1964) are now available to Ancestry subscribers. According to the database description, “they typically include the name of the vessel and arrival date, ports of departure and arrival (as well as future destinations on a ship’s itinerary), dates of departure and arrival, shipmaster, full name, age, gender, physical description, military rank (if any), occupation, birthplace, citizen of what country, and residence. For military transports, you may find the next of kin, relationships, and address listed as well. Later manifests may include visa or passport numbers.”
SOUTH DAKOTA BIRTHS AND MARRIAGES. Nearly 700,000 indexed records comprise this new FamilySearch collection. The collection spans 1843-2014.
TEXAS MARRIAGES. About 1.3 million indexed records and related images have been added to a Texas county marriage records collection at FamilySearch.
Please help us spread the word about these new genealogy records online! Thank you! You are a gem!
Old film footage can make your family stories truly unforgettable–even for those relatives who seem to forget every fact you tell them about your genealogy! Follow these tips to find old film footage and video online.
If a picture’s worth a thousand words when you share your family history, how much more do you think a video is worth?
A while back, we told the gripping story of Betty McIntosh, a Honolulu reporter-turned-World War II spy. What fun it was to research and share on the blog! The post has multimedia sources threaded throughout: an image of a young Betty from the CIA’s website, news articles, oral histories with more memories of Pearl Harbor, a YouTube video interview with Betty, and even a dramatic radio broadcast clip from the day of the attack, when the media was trying to reach the mainland with news of the attack.
We found all those sources via Google searching. And while we could go into great depth on how to find each of those kinds of sources (and I do, in resources such as my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox), in this article, I wanted to share some tips on finding old film footage online, using Betty as a case study. Think about how you might use these tips to look for old video or films related to your family history–and let me know what you find! I’d love to hear from you.
How to find old film footage online: 4 tips
1. Search for your topic on YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing website. My book The Genealogist’s Google Toolboxhas an entire chapter devoted to YouTube searches for family history, so I won’t go into great depth here. I will tell you to think of search terms that pertain to the family history stories you want to share: a person’s name, a place, an event in history, or even an occupation or industry. Enter those search terms at YouTube.com.
Betty lived in the 20th century and was recognized publicly for her work during her own lifetime. So there was a good chance that old film or video would exist about her. And they do! A YouTube search brought up video interviews with her, such as this one:
2. Repeat the searches on Google. YouTube searches can only bring up what’s actually been put on YouTube. Google searches are much wider, across millions of websites, and you may find some other wonderful resources. When your Google search results come up, click Videos to narrow your results:
You’ll have some duplication with results from YouTube. In the case of Betty McIntosh, I found two additional videos that didn’t come up on YouTube. One of them was at NBC News.com and the other was an hour-long interview on C-Span!
3. Run multiple searches on both Google and YouTube. Repeat your searches with various search parameters to broaden or narrow your results, or to capture different kinds of results. In Betty’s case, keywords such as spy and reporter were important to filter out unwanted results.
Remember that Google and YouTube aren’t specifically designed for searching for name variants like your favorite genealogy website is. So these sites may not recognize nicknames or other name variants, such as “Elizabeth” instead of “Betty.” Also search by surnames only, maiden and married names and even initials. Here’s a quick video tutorial I did on using asterisks to search for name variations on Google:
4. Pay attention to copyright restrictions if you want to share old film footage, such as if you’re making your own family history video. For example, I found these copyright restrictions for using C-Span video (noncommercial use is allowed and there’s even a handy video clipping tool right on the site if you want to clip part of it and save it).
This week in new and updated genealogical collections, enlistment books for five disbanded Irish regiments of the British Army are now available online. Additional collections include records for the Scots Guard, English parish records, Australian funeral notices, New Zealand passenger lists, and Pennsylvania church records.
After the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the five regiments of the British Army recruited in southern Ireland – the Royal Irish Regiment, the Connaught Rangers, the Leinster Regiment, the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers – were disbanded.
Researchers can see the original scans of each soldier’s entry and may find the recruit’s age and trade on enlistment, names of his next of kin, date of marriage, and the birth date of any children.
The entries also include his address and his rank and character upon discharge.
Britain – Military – Service Records
Over 4,000 records of personnel files and enlistment registers pertaining to the Scots Guards have been added to the British Army Service Records – Scots Guards 1799-1939 at Findmypast. The Scots Guards were one of the Foot Guard regiments of the British Army. They were originally formed to be the personal bodyguards of King Charles I of England and Scotland.
Each record includes a transcript and most include several black and white images of the actual records. The detail within each record may vary, but likely include:
First and last name
Birth year and birth place
Service number (i.e. regimental number)
Rank, Regiment, and Unit/Battalion
England – Cornwall – Church Records
This week at FamilySearch, more records have been added to the England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010 collection. This collection contains church records from the counties of Devon and Cornwall, covering the years of 1538-2010. The collection also includes some material for nonconformist chapels which were filmed at the Cornwall Record Office at the time of filming Church of England registers. There are also some typed transcripts of Society of Friends marriages included for certain areas of the county.
Minister’s recorded all the baptisms (officially termed “christenings”), marriages, and burials which took place in his parish each year. These records are wonderful substitutes when the civil records can not be located.
The amount of information found on these christenings, marriages, and burials will vary over time, however, you might expect to find:
Names and ages of the recorded person
Parent’s names and residences
Witnesses names and information
England – Warwickshire – Church Records
Also at FamilySearch, new records have been added to the collection titled England, Warwickshire, Parish Registers, 1535-1984. This collection contains baptismal, banns, marriage, and burial records. Banns and marriage record entries appearing together are the most common in this collection. Approximately half the records in this collection are after 1837 entries, and less than twenty percent are pre-1753.
Australia – Queensland – Funeral Notices
Also at Findmypast, a new collection titled Queensland, Mackay, Funeral notices and funeral director records is now available. In this collection, you will find over 44,000 transcripts of records kept by the local firms Melrose & Fenwick and Mackay Funerals, as well as other funeral notices published in the Daily Mercury. Some of these funeral record indexes may provide your ancestor’s age at death and funeral date. The notices posted in the Daily Mercury cover the years of 1955-2012. These notices may also contain the birth year, burial date, and place of the deceased. These records may be particularly helpful if you have been unable to find a death record for your targeted ancestor.
New Zealand – Passenger Lists
New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973 is a helpful collection you will find at FamilySearch. This collection contains immigrant registers from New Zealand, covering the years of 1839 to 1973. The collection contains primarily New Zealand immigration passenger lists, although crew lists make up a significant portion as well. Approximately ten percent of the collection is a mixture of other travel-related documents, including goods manifests.
Some of these record images may be difficult to make out due to ink bleeding through or poor handwriting.
If you are able to find your ancestor listed on one of these passenger lists, you may also find the following information:
Full name of each passenger
Adult or child
Male or female
Country of emigration
Port of entry and date of arrival
Total cost of passage and how paid
Name of ship and port of embarkation
United States – Pennsylvania – Baptisms, Burials, & Marriages
Pennsylvania baptisms 1709-1760 at Findmypast contain over 4,500 transcripts of original baptismal records kept by Christ Church in Philadelphia. Each record will likely list a name, birth year, baptism date and location, and the names of both parents, including the mother’s maiden name. Rembmer, baptismal records are a great substitute for a birth record.
If Pennsylvania is your targeted research area, you might also be interested in the collection titled Pennsylvania burials 1816-1849. This group of transcripts number over 1,000 and are the transcripts of the original death records from Susquehanna County. Most records will contain your ancestors name, date of death, and place of burial. They may also include important biographical details such as birth years, occupation, residence, names of parents, and name of spouse.
Lastly, over 17,000 new marriage records for Pennsylvania have been added to the United States Marriages at Findmypast. The entire collection now contains over 140 million records. Each record includes a transcript and an image of the original document that lists the marriage date, the names of the bride and groom, birthplace, birth date, age, residence as well as fathers’ and mothers’ names.
Ireland – Newspapers
Two new titles have been added to the over 177,000 articles in the Irish Newspaperscollections at Findmypast. The Tyrone Courier and the Mayo Constitution, are now availabe to search. You will be amazed at the wonderful detail found when using newspapers for genealogy!
More Gems on Military Research
Check out the following helpful articles from our Genealogy Gems blog:
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These genealogy sleuths used Facebook for family history when they responded to a plea to help return a family Bible to its family.
Back on March 21, Donna Whitten posted a video on her church Facebook page. Her post says, “How far would you go to get back something you’ve lost?”
She was talking about a 150 year-old family Bible she’d come across while antiquing one day in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her post says, “We want to find this family and return it to them! Can you help?” (Click here to see that post and video.)
That video post got 34,000 views, thanks in part to more than 600 people who shared it! Family history fans immediately stepped up to the challenge. They looked for names on Ancestry.com and reached out to tree owners. Within two days, several descendants were aware of the Bible and asking for copies. The bible eventually went to a woman in California named Carrie Robinson, who has been researching her tree for several years. It contained obituaries clipped from newspapers and handwritten vital family events. (Wouldn’t you love to receive that kind of family treasure?) Click here to watch the follow-up video about when Donna took the bible to the new owner.
Hats off to Donna and her team of sleuths who took the time to find Carrie’s family and return their past to them! I find a few take-home messages in this story:
Social media is a great way to cast your net wide, not just when you’re sharing family history, but when you’re looking for information. Click here to read more about gathering memories through Facebook.
You can watch for orphaned heirlooms in your path and return them to descendants. Click here to read tips on how to do that.
The video Donna created got attention on Facebook! Video is powerful. Use it to share your family history. (Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I appreciate you using these links because that compensation helps make the Genealogy Gems blog possible. Thank you!)Click here to read about Animoto, a DIY-video making service I love that lets you produce your own professional-quality videos. Below is one quick video I created. Can you say shareable?!