You can search and browse the collection in the State of Massachusetts’ DSpace online repository here.
Thousands of historical maps of New York City, the mid-Atlantic states and even the Austro-Hungarian empire (yes, really!) are now online–and they’re free.
The New York Public Library has published more than 20,000 historical maps dating from 1660-1922. They are free for public use, downloading, manipulating and publishing! A lot of the maps are from New York City neighborhoods, like the one shown here.
The author of a news item about the collection said this: “We can’t imagine too many people wanting to remix Gangs of New York-era property charts, but it’s hard to object to getting more geographic knowledge at no charge.” Well, we genealogists may not “remix” these old property maps, but we can certainly see the value in them!
Do you use maps in your research? Have you tried overlaying a historical map showing an ancestor’s home with a modern one on Google Earth? Learn more about using Google Earth in your genealogy research in this FREE video.
And if this post is interesting to you, you should also read this blog post about interactive historical maps of major cities (like New York City).
Lydia thinks her great-grandfather was murdered–perhaps even by her grandfather! Here’s some advice for her and everyone researching “cold cases” for criminal ancestors on your family tree.
I heard recently from Lydia with these intriguing questions:
My great great grandpa William John Gabriel Nelson disappeared one day, never coming home from work. It was family lore that he had been “shanghai’d.” But even as a child the story didn’t add up. [Through a] few other mentions of the account throughout the years, and recently reconnecting with cousins through Ancestry.com/DNA and your advice to just email DNA matches, I have a growing reason to believe my great-grandfather was murdered. An even bigger fear is that my grandfather may have been the one to do it.
All parties involved with this are now dead, so follow-up is impossible with them. But I’m wondering about contacting the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) or the library to determine if indeed there was a cold case, missing persons report or John Doe. Since this happened in the mid 1940’s, would I contact the LAPD or is this now a job for a historian?
As a citizen, Lydia can certainly contact the LAPD here. It might take a bit of persistence to get to the right person or resource. I would start by asking for how you can find out the status of a cold case from the year in question.
Here are 4 ways to follow up on your own criminal ancestors’ cold cases:
As I often say, all good searches start online because they will help you prepare to go offline. In other words, not everything is online, but searching online first will give you a lay of the land, revealing what is available, who to contact, and where to go in person. Start with a Google search such as LAPD cold cases. The search results include several good leads:
With a case like Lydia’s that is over 70 years old, I wouldn’t expect to pull it up in an online database (though you never know!) But I do see several sites here that provide phone numbers to gain access to those who can lead you in the right direction.
In Lydia’s case, she might begin with keywords relating to her great-grandfather’s disappearance, with his name, year, and the place he was last seen. Including descriptive keywords such as disappear, mystery, vanished or murder might also yield helpful results.
Learn more about effective search techniques in my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition.
Read this article about a woman who was researching not one but two mysterious deaths on her family tree.
Click here to read about the Unclaimed Persons Project and how you can help.
Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Do any of the collections below relate to your family history? Please share this post with any genealogy buddies or societies that might be interested. At the end of this post is a search tip for researching records in other languages.
ARGENTINA BAPTISMS. Ancestry has updated its database of Argentina, Select Baptisms, 1645-1930 (in Spanish), which is also searchable on FamilySearch. It’s a partial but growing index; click here to see current coverage on FamilySearch. Baptismal records are generally for newborn babies, with the date and place of event, parents’ names, and newborn death information.
ENGLAND AND WALES CRIMINAL RECORDS. Nearly 2 million records have been added to Findmypast’s databases of “crime and punishment.” Datasets include England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935, with details of felons in England and Wales, 1770-1935; the Home Office: Newgate Prison Calendar 1782-1853, taken from printed lists of prisoners to be tried at Newgate, in London, a prison for debtors and felons; Quarterly Returns of Prisoners 1824-1876 with 639,600 records of sworn lists of convicts held on board prison hulks, in prisons and criminal lunatic asylums; The Home Office: Criminal Entry Books 1782-1871, letters sent out from the Home Office, and a sort of “most wanted” list: the Metropolitan Police: Criminal Record Office: habitual criminals’ registers and miscellaneous papers kept by the police and circulated among the force on a regular basis.
IRELAND PARISH RECORDS. We blogged earlier this week about this new collection and it’s been a super popular post! The National Library of Ireland has posted digitized images of all its parish records, dating from the 1740s to the 1880s. Click on the blog post link to learn more about it.
KANSAS CENSUS RECORDS. Kansas, City and County Census Records, 1919-1961 is now available to Ancestry subscribers. Partially indexed, the images are of population schedules for city- and county-level enumerations. These include household, livestock and agricultural details by head of household; beginning in 1953, all household members are named.
POLAND GHETTO ID CARD REGISTRATIONS. A new FREE database on Ancestry is Poland, Łódż Ghetto ID Card Registrations, 1939-1944 (USHMM) (in German), an index to Jewish records from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Records include extracts from vital records, ID cards, work registration documents and protocol forms.
Some of the record sets mentioned above–and many others–were written in languages you might not speak. For best results, use the version of the name that would be common in that language, along with keywords in that language, before trying searches in your own language. Google Translate does translate common keywords and some common English names (John, Alexander, Mary, Andrew) to other languages, but isn’t guaranteed to show you an equivalent every time (especially if one doesn’t exist). You can also Google “name translator” plus the name of the language you wish to know; several online tools exist. And MyHeritage has advanced translation tools that do the work for you when you’re searching!
You’re going to want to make some time in your schedule this week to explore these new genealogy records that just might help you discover a new branch of your family tree! This week we highlight a wide variety of intriguing records including historical maps, oral histories, workhouse records, and historical newspapers. (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 helping us bring these free articles to you!)
World War II ended in 1945 making a man who enlisted at the age of 18 that year, 92 years old today. A new digital archive at Bowling Green State University is striving to digitize old cassette tapes and video tapes that contain interviews with over 100 veterans from Ohio.
According to the website, the exhibit “provides full digital access to the History 303 World War II oral histories (MS-0871). The oral histories were collected from 2000-2004 for a “History of World War II” (History 303) course taught by Drs. Walter E. Grunden and Kathren Brown in the BGSU Department of History, who assigned students the project of recording an interview with an individual who directly experienced the war, whether as a military veteran, Holocaust survivor, refugee, or non-combatant on the home front.”
The project is part of a $6,700 grant the university received from the Ohio History Connection. A helpful finding aid is available for the collection here at the BGSU website.
You can search and view the interview here. If you’re like me, you’ll find these interviews with many of the Greatest Generation compelling to watch even if you don’t have relatives from Ohio.
Findmypast has added over 400,000 Donegal, Ireland records to their growing collection of Irish Workhouse records.
The Donegal Workhouses Registers and Minute Books have been digitized and published online for the first time by Findmypast in partnership with the Donegal County Council.
The records consist of both transcripts and images of original admission and discharge registers as well as board of guardians’ minute books spanning the years 1840 to 1922.
The collection covers the unions of:
As well as registers and minute books, users can also expect to find:
From Findmypast: “High levels of poverty in 19th century Ireland meant that hundreds of thousands of Irish people passed through the workhouses. Irish workhouses were generally built to accommodate around 800 inmates although it soon became clear that more space was needed and programme of building took place throughout the 1840s and 50s.
Life inside was grim. At first, there was no so-called outdoor relief, as would have been common in England. Outdoor relief was when the poor could simply use the workhouse facilities as needed by undertaking a day’s work. Indoor relief was initially the only option and required the poor to prove they were destitute before they were admitted.”
This new collection is part of an existing archive of Irish Workhouse records which now includes over 3.1 million records covering Dublin, Clare, Sligo and Waterford.
Findmypast has added 137,896 new pages to The Archive. These have been added to 18 existing publications spanning 128 years from 1871 to 1999.
The historical newspapers with new additions include:
Search these new records and images by clicking on the collection links below. The number shown in parenthesis is the number of indexed records added.
Australia: Australia, South Australia, Prison Records, 1838-1912 (81,971) New indexed records collection
Belgium: Belgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-1912 (402) Added indexed records to existing collection
Canada: Nova Scotia Births, 1864-1877 (183,455) Added indexed records to an existing collection
Canada: Nova Scotia Marriages, 1864-1918 (18,885) Added indexed records to an existing collection
England: England, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898 (594,707) New indexed records collection
Germany: Germany, Saxony-Anhalt, Halberstadt, Civil Registration, 1874-1982 (12,060) Added indexed records to an existing collection
Lesotho: Lesotho, Evangelical Church Records, 1828-2005 (302) Added indexed records to an existing collection
Liberia: Liberia, Marriage Records, 1912-2015 (2,475) Added indexed records to an existing collection
Luxembourg: Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1796-1941 (73,901) Added indexed records to an existing collection
Peru: Peru, Cemetery Records, 1912-2013 (42,164) New indexed records collection
Scotland: Scotland Presbyterian & Protestant Church Records, 1736-1990 (109,064) New indexed records collection
United States: Arkansas Confederate Pensions, 1901-1929 (33,779) Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States: Arkansas, Church Records, 1922-1977 (306) New indexed records collection
United States: California, Church Records, 1864-1985 1,941 New indexed records collection
United States: California, Santa Clara County, San Jose, Oak Hill Cemetery Headstone Inscriptions, 1838-1985 (61,966) New indexed record collection
United States: Colorado, Church Records, 1692-1942 (35,030) New indexed records collection
United States: Connecticut, Vital Records, Prior to 1850 (8) Added indexed records to existing collection
United States: Massachusetts, City of Boston Voter Registers, 1857-1920 (32,996) New indexed records collection
United States: Michigan, Civil War Centennial Observance Commission, Committee on Civil War Grave Registration, Burial Records (15,951) New indexed records collection
United States: Minnesota, County Deaths, 1850-2001 (8,672) Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States: Nebraska, Box Butte County, Funeral Home Records, 1919-1976 (3,491) Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States: Nebraska, Church Records, 1875-1899 (151) New indexed records collection
United States: Pennsylvania, Berks County, Reading, Charles Evans Cemetery and Crematory Burial Records, 1887-1979 (106,043) New indexed records collection
United States: Texas, Bexar County, San Antonio Cemetery Records, 1893-2007 (4,981) Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States: United States Deceased Physician File (AMA), 1864-1968 (78,215) Added indexed records to an existing collection
Did you find an ancestor or bust a brick wall using our list of new online genealogical records? Please leave a comment below and share your story and inspire others. And while you’re at it, please share this article using our social buttons (at the top of this article) with your genealogy friends. We thank you, and they will too!