It’s not really wedding season, but we are hearing wedding bells across the United States! New and updated marriage records are dotting the country. Among other record finds this week, we share new sources from Latin America and Nicaragua.
United States – New York – Marriage Records
The not-for-profit organization called “Reclaim the Records” has just added the New York City Marriage Index to the public domain. We welcome this first searchable database of the 3,124,595 marriage licenses filed in New York City between 1950-1995. It’s free and searchable online at this time.
These records were finally won after a settlement was reached between the city of New York and Reclaim the Records. The organization won 110 reels of microfilm made from the masters in the City Clerk’s Office vault. This covers the handwritten marriage license index for 1930-1972. They also won a copy of a text-searchable database covering 1950-1995.
The search engine for these marriage records recognizes soundalike surnames, spelling variants, wildcards, common nicknames, year ranges, borough preferences, and more.
There are some records that are missing for Manhattan for 1967. Those Manhattan records do exist at the City Clerk’s Office on paper, however.
United States – Arkansas – Ohio – Tennessee – Washington – California – Marriage Records
FamilySearch joins the party by updating many of their U.S. marriage collections. Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, and California are among those updated over the past week.
Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013 collection is quite large and being added to regularly. Though not all have been indexed, you can browse through over 1.5 million marriage records by county. The collection consists of an index and images acquired from local courthouses. You may find:
Licenses to perform marriages
The Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950 is an even larger collection of marriages with more than 3.3 million records. I was particularly excited to see the Claiborne County marriage records from as early as 1838 are available online. You can see an example of these handwritten records below.
Early Claiborne County, Tennessee Marriage Record found on FamilySearch
Next on our list of new and updated collections of marriage records are the Washington, County Marriages for 1855-2008. The index includes marriage records for Clallam, Lewis, Pacific, Snohomish, Thurston, and Wahkiakum counties. Images for both indexed and non-indexed counties are available to browse. Additional records from other counties will be added to the collection as they become available, so check back often.
And lastly, the California, County Marriages, 1850-1952 of over 2.4 million records is a must see. This collection includes several different types of documents such as licenses, certificates, registers, applications, affidavits, and stubs. Currently, the collection is 99% complete. It should be noted that not all indexed names will have a view-able record image due to contractual agreements, however most will.
Latin America – Books
Over 50,000 early Latin American books housed at the University of Texas are now available online in the public domain. That means that anyone can search the digitized pages of these wonderful historical books.
You will find these digitized volumes online at Google Books or HathiTrust. If you need to learn about how to effectively utilize Google Books, take a look at this helpful video from Lisa.
Nicaragua – Civil Registrations
FamilySearch offers the Nicaragua Civil Registration, 1809-2013 records online. 2.5 million records have been digitized and 1.1 million are indexed. These civil records include birth, marriages, and deaths from Nicaragua. The text of the records is written in Spanish.
Civil registration is mandatory in Nicaragua; therefore most of the population has been registered. The civil registration records are considered a reliable source for doing genealogical research in that locale.
Birth records usually contain the following information:
Date and place of birth
Child’s name and gender
Parents’ age, race, status and residence
Occupation of father and mother
Names of witnesses
Marriage records may contain the following information:
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Every where we go, we are snapping pictures. Whether you are interested in capturing your current family history or want to preserve the past through pictures, photo editing apps and software are a must! Read more to learn what software and apps are out there for the active genealogist who loves to take pictures.
A Gems reader recently asked if we have any suggestions on photo editing software and apps for family history. Our Genealogy Gems team members are each active in their personal family history and are quite savvy when it comes to some of the best photo editing apps and software out there.
Lisa Louise Cooke’s Favorite Photo Editing Software and Apps
I think one of the best photo editing software programs out there is Adobe Photoshop Elements, the consumer version of the high-powered Photoshop CS/CC software. On my mobile device, Photoshop Express is my go-to photo editing app which I discuss in Chapter 8 of my book Mobile Genealogy. In fact, I use the app far more for the photos I’m actively taking with my iPhone 6 Plus than the software on my computer.
Adobe Photoshop Elements is an ideal editor for entry-level photographers, image editors and hobbyists. You’ll find most of the features of the more expensive professional version, but with fewer and simpler options. It allows you to create, edit, organize, and share your images to social media sites. Use the built-in Guides to quickly accomplish your goals.
Adobe’s Photoshop Express app can be downloaded to your mobile device for free from Google Play (for Android) or the Apple Store (for iPhones.)
Using the Photo Express Photo Editing App for Photo Restoration
If you want to restore old family photos, this app is now also capable of doing a lovely job with the new Blemish Removal tool. The app allows you to access your photos straight from Dropbox, as well as Adobe Creative Cloud, and Facebook. You can copy the old photos you want to edit to a dedicated folder in Dropbox. Remember, always leave your master digital photos where they are on your computer, and make sure your computer is backed up. (The Genealogy Gems Podcast uses and recommends Backblaze.)
How to add photos to Adobe Photoshop Express:
On the computer where your photos are stored, go into Dropbox (either your Dropbox desktop application, or sign in to your account at www.dropbox.com)
Create a folder called “Photos for Editing”
Save copies of the photos you want to edit into the folder you created, leaving the originals where they are on your hard drive
On your tablet, tap the Adobe Photoshop Express app
Tap Dropbox. (See the chapter on File Sharing and Storage for more information on Dropbox)
Tap the “Photos for Editing” folder
Tap the photo you want to edit
The photo is now on your screen and ready to edit and embellish
When editing is complete, tap Close, then Save
Above is a photo of Lisa’s great-grandfather. On the left is the original scan, and on the right is restoration with the Blemish Removal tool (the icon looks like a band-aid.) After the touch up, Lisa applied the Dream filter which provided a bit more clarity and softened the rough spots in the background. Dream is one of the many free “Looks” available in the app, in addition to “Premium Looks” filters that you can purchase. She loves the fact that if she finds a certain combination of filters is working well, she can save it under “My Looks.” This saves time in the future because with one tap, you can apply your own special mix.
Amie’s Favorite Photo Editing Software and Apps
“One of my favorite photo editing tools is Pixlr Express. It is easy to use without having to read through the ‘instructions.’ It is a web-based tool or a mobile app. It makes correcting and enhancing my old photos a breeze.”
Using Pixlr Express
Pixlr Express is a web-based tool and a mobile app. Resize, rotate, filter, correct, and even add borders and text. Pixlr Express is free to use, which is always a plus. On your laptop, simply go to www.pixlr.com/express. Click on Browse.
Choose the photo you wish to edit. The example below is a cute little picture of Amie’s dad in the fourth grade.
It could use some more color definition, maybe a new border to clean up the edges, and a caption on the front so that when shared, others will know who it is. To begin doing these edits, first click Adjustment.
From the icons that pop-up, choose Auto Fix. It really looks great with just the click of one button! Add a fun border if you wish and click Type to add the text you want. Here’s the finished product in less than 3 minutes:
Don’t you just love it!
Enlisting the Help of Others
In some cases, our old photos are in seriously bad shape. We could pay to have a professional doctor it up, but I enlist the help of others at one of my favorite Facebook groups. Photo Restoration Free Service group on Facebook is dedicated to fixing images for free. Many of the people offering their talents are truly amazing. One man in particular caught my attention and gave me permission to use a before and after shot of his work. Thank you to Balazs and others who gave their permission for the before and after screenshot you see here.
What are your favorite photo editing apps? Do you use a different app for your mobile device? We’d love to hear from you and what you are doing to make the most of your treasured family photos. Please leave a comment in the comment section below.
Sunny’s Tips for Restoration of Digital Documents
It’s not only the pictures of ancestors we sometimes need to restore, but it can also be those hard-to-read images of documents. When dealing with this problem, Sunny says:
“I do most editing on my laptop. This is where the nearest free software is and the default photo editor for Microsoft 2010. Most of the time, I just want to tweak the lighting: brighten up a scanned image or heighten the contrast in the image. To do this quickly, I open the image, then click Edit Pictures > Brightness and Contrast. In the Before/After images shown here, I just adjusted the midtones (+22) to make the gray areas lighter, then upped the contrast (+43).”
With so many photo editing apps available, it is hard to know what is going to work best for your needs. We hope that our experiences might help you to decide! We would love to see some of your before and after photos of a remarkable restoration. Will you share with us on our Facebook page? We’d love to hear from you!
London. Paris. Athens. Berlin. Bombay. Rome. New York City. Copenhagen. Dublin. Edinburgh. Jerusalem. The oldest known photographs of these cities and more are featured in this post at Abroad in the Yard.
Boulevard du Temple, Paris, by Louis Daguerre, 1838. Wikimedia Commons image, Scanned from The Photography Book, Phaidon Press, London, 1997.
I love the details in these photos that are usually left to our imagination. An 1858 image of a Toronto thoroughfare was likely taken in at its best, since the photo was part of a (failed) bid to become Canada’s capital. And yet the streets are still muddy enough you wouldn’t want to step off that freshly-swept sidewalk, especially if you were in a long dress.
You can read the shop signs in these pictures. See signs of construction and destruction, an eternal presence in these metropolises. Count the number of levels in the tall tenements and other buildings that sheltered our ancestors’ daily lives without air conditioning, central heat or elevators.
Despite the busy city streets shown here, they don’t look busy. So much time had to elapse during the taking of the image that anyone moving wasn’t captured. Only a few loungers and the shoe-shine man (and his customer) appear in these photos of busy streets.
Although not shown in the blog post above, my favorite historical image of a city is the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848, the oldest known “comprehensive photo” of an American city. The resolution of this series of photos is so high, you can see details the photographers themselves couldn’t possibly have caught. The panorama can be explored at an interactive website, which offers “portals” to different parts of the city and city life when you click on them. Whether you had ancestors in this Ohio River town or not, this is a fascinating piece of history.
Looking for pictures of your ancestor’s hometown or daily life? There are some great search tips in Lisa’s newly-revised and updated 2nd edition of her popular book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Maybe you already use Google to search for images. Learn how to drill down to just the images you want: black and white pictures, images with faces, images taken of a particular location during a certain time period and more!
Join me at the Midwestern Roots 2016 conference in Indianapolis on July 15-16! Early-bird registration rate applies until June 30.
I look forward to speaking at Midwestern Roots 2016 in Indianapolis next month! Will you be there?
This conference has a unique Midwest vibe: welcoming and unpretentious but absolutely solid in the value and education it offers. Indianapolis is easy to get to from many U.S. cities. The conference venue itself, located on the outskirts of the city, is also easy to reach and has free parking.
“This year’s theme is #YourStory, and many sessions focus on the technologies that are changing the ways genealogists research and share their family history,” says the conference brochure.
I’ll be sharing a bit of my own story during an evening banquet: memories of the summer my family spent living like it was 1867 on the TV show Texas Ranch House. I’ll go behind-the-scenes of ‘not so reality’ reality TV, reveal what it was like to live the daily routine my Texan great great grandmother may have, and most importantly, share the ways in which the experience drew my family even closer together.
Join me for my classes:
How to Use Evernote for Genealogy
Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy
How to Reopen and Work a Genealogical Cold Case
Lots of fabulous presenters (including some who have been on the Genealogy Gems podcast) will be at Midwestern Roots. Curt Witcher is giving the Friday opening session (he joined us to dive deep into U.S. census records in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 10). CeCe Moore will talk about DNA, as she did on Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 178.
Here’s the scoop:
WHAT: Midwestern Roots 2016
WHEN: July 15-16, 2016
WHERE: Indianapolis Marriott East 7202 E. 21st St, Indianapolis, IN
REGISTER: Click here—Early-bird registration discount ends June 30!
Pre-conference activities on July 14 include an all-day workshop for librarians and volunteers who work with genealogy sources as well as computer labs, writing workshops, preservation workshops and research opportunities for all attendees.
Bring my lectures to you
If you can’t join us in Indianapolis, Genealogy Gems Premium website membership brings my most popular classes to you. Membership gives you a year’s worth of on-demand video classes and handouts. Among these classes are all the topics I’m covering at Midwestern Roots 2016 in even more depth including:
an entire Evernote for genealogy series,
three classes on my Google search methodology,
a “cold case” research class and a companion video on finding living relatives like a private eye.
Click here to see the full list of video classes, and consider giving yourself the best value in on-demand genealogy education around!
A “house history” can tell you more about the house you live in–or your ancestor’s home. Here’s how.
Are you curious about the history of the house you live in, or would you like to trace the history of a family property? The online article “How to Research Your Home’s Past” by Charity Vogel has some great ideas. It’s not written for family historians, but I like some of the ideas it suggests:
1. Pull a full history of home ownership off your deed. (Historical deeds may not have these. But each deed does represent a link in the chain of property ownership: you should be able to move forward and backward in time in deed records until you’ve listed all owners.)
2. Use census records to learn more about other folks who lived in your home. Remember you’ll be able to see how many people lived there, and, for some census years, whether they owned or rented.
3. Watch for unusual patterns of ownership. For example, a deed showed sisters co-owning a home in the 1930s. Additional research showed that the sisters were nurses and ran the house as a community hospital. How cool is that to know about a house?
4. If it was a grand or unusual home, see whether the newspapers covered its construction. The author of the article found an 1898 article that detailed the entire five-month building process of her house!
Last year I shared an applicable research strategy in my blog post A Shocking Family Secret, and3 Powerful Newspaper Research Tips about researching our ancestors and where they lived. By searching on their home address, and not including their name, you can uncover “a kind of house history set of search results, revealing who lived there before, descriptions of the home and its contents and who moved in after your ancestors left. In my case, I located an article about the Cooke home (by the address) being up for sale several years before they owned it. That article included a fairly detailed description of the property. The final article found in the British newspapers was also found only by address (as the Cooke name wasn’t mentioned) and it detailed the contents of their household up for sale. The auction was held in preparation for their move to Canada.” (Click here to learn more about finding your family history in newspapers.)
While looking for more on this topic, I came across a great newspaper article about three researchers who specialize in house histories. They said that in addition to the personal satisfaction of knowing about a family home, “A bit of history and story makes it much easier to sell: it attracts a certain buyer.”
Here are a few more helpful resources, if you’d like to research your house history: