A New Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights: You Can Sign It

genealogists declaration of rightsA new Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights was announced before a crowd of more than 2,500 genealogists at the NGS 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia recently. Jordan Jones, President of the National Genealogical Society (NGS), a sponsoring member of the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC).

According to the NGS Press Release, “The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy. The Records Preservation and Access Committee has worked with state and federal legislators as well as local public officials for more than twenty years in support of legislation and regulations that achieve a balance between access and privacy. The Declaration of Rights has been approved by the board of directors of the three sponsoring organizations: The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS).”
Genealogists from all over the U.S. signed the Declaration at NGS, and will continue to do so in the coming months at the IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Salt Lake City, Utah (27 July–1 August) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in San Antonio, Texas (27–30 August). You can click here to sign it electronically if you would like to (though you can’t do it in person.)

The press release further states, “Genealogists advocate the right of access to records held by government agencies including but not limited to vital records (births, marriages, deaths, divorces); land conveyances and mortgages; tax assessments; guardianships; probates of estates; criminal proceedings; suits of law and equity; immigration; military service and pensions; and acts of governmental entities. Genealogists further advocate that they need to be allowed access to original records when photocopies, microfilm, digital images, or other formats are insufficient to establish clear text, context, or completeness of the record. The rights of genealogists specified in the Declaration object to numerous barriers created to deny them access to records.

“Thousands of professional genealogists do research every day on behalf of clients, government agencies, and attorneys. Of particular note are the many forensic genealogists who assist the Department of Defense in locating heirs for the repatriation of remains from previous wars; assist county coroners in the identification of unclaimed persons; work with attorneys in locating missing and unknown heirs involving estates, trusts, real estate quiet title actions, oil and gas and mineral rights, and other similar legal transactions; trace and track heritable medical conditions where finding distant cousins can facilitate early treatment and possibly prevent a premature death; research stolen art and artifacts for repatriation; and identify American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians to determine eligibility for tribal benefits.”

Sacramental Records Now Searchable Online in New and Updated Genealogical Records

Special thanks to the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Archdiocese of Boston for their effort to make Sacramental records for genealogy available online. These and other new and updated genealogical collections are mentioned in this weeks list from the United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Italy, and free record searches at Findmypast!

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United States (New England area) & Canada – Sacramental Records for Genealogy

NEHGS has announced the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and Archdiocese of Boston have made millions of 18th and 19th century sacramental records searchable online.

The records, which document baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and other sacraments, cover more than 150 parishes from throughout eastern Massachusetts. They also hold records that were carried out in other locations in New England and parts of Canada.
These detailed documents are a critical resource for researchers, historians, and genealogists, especially when secular records are unavailable. They record important moments in the lives of the individuals, families, and communities.
Though the fully searchable data will not be available immediately, anyone can browse images of parish records as they are completed. Click here to learn how to browse records.

United States – Oklahoma- Vital Records

Ok2Explore is a free searchable index of births and deaths that occurred in the state of Oklahoma. Only limited information is available for births occurring more than 20 years ago and deaths occurring more than 5 years ago.

Visitors to the site may search the index using any combination of the subject’s name, date of event (birth or death,) county of event, and sex of the subject.

Remember this is only an index version of the record, but you can order certified copies for a fee.

Ireland – Petty Sessions

New and updated genealogical collections this week include the Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers at Findmypast.

With over 227,700 new records, the petty sessions handled the bulk of lesser criminal and civil legal proceedings in Ireland. Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers now contains over 22.8 million records and is the largest collection of Irish court & prison records available anywhere online. Each record includes a transcript and a scanned image of the original document. These documents will include details of victims, witnesses and the accused, such as an address, date in court, details of the offence, details of the verdict, and the sentence.

Cases range from merchants who had not paid duty on their goods, to workers suing for unpaid wages. Farmers were sometimes fined for letting their cattle wander or for allowing their cart to be driven without their name painted on the side. Public drunkenness was a common offence, as was assault and general rowdiness. Though these records are not considered typical for finding vital information, they can work as great clues to lead you to the information you need.

United Kingdom – Dorset – Memorial Inscriptions

The Dorset Memorial Inscriptions collection at Findmypast contains over 40,000 new records. The collection contains details of inscriptions found on gravestones, tombs, monuments and even stained glass windows throughout 266 parishes within English county.

Each record includes a transcript. The information contained varies, however, most will include a combination of birth year, death year, burial date and location, relative’s names, memorial type and notes on the inscription.

United Kingdom – Warwickshire – Burials

Also at Findmypast, over 175,000 new records have been added to the Warwickshire Burials. The entire collection now contains more 1 million records and includes monumental inscriptions from Clifton Road Cemetery in Rugby.

Each record includes a transcript of the original burial registry or details from the monumental inscription. While the information listed will vary depending on the records original source, most will include your ancestor’s name, age, birth year, death date, burial year, burial location and the name of the officiating minister. A number of records will also include parent’s names and residence. Inscriptions will include information recorded on the individual’s grave stone and will usually include the name of the individual’s spouse, children and/or parents. Also, some grave sites may have more than one person buried in the same plot.

United Kingdom – Northumberland & Durham – Monumental Inscriptions

Over 16,000 records for the Northumberland & Durham Monumental Inscriptions at Findmypast are now available. These include the full description found on a grave stone or monument which will often include additional family names and dates.

Each record includes a transcript of the original source material. The amount of information may vary due to the age and legibility of individual monuments, but most records will include birth date, burial year, burial place, death date, denomination, inscription, and even the type of stone their monument was made from.

Ireland – Quaker Congregational Records

Also at Findmypast, Ireland, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Congregational Records has been updated with an additional 5,000 congregational records. Congregational records include details of the meetings your ancestor’s attended and the activities they engaged in. This is a nice way to enrich your family story.

These records, dating back to the mid-1600s, include minutes from half-yearly Quaker meetings. Each entry includes an image of the original handwritten record. The information included will vary, but most will include the congregation date, address, meeting, archive and reference.

MyHeritage Year End Review

MyHeritage had some pretty exciting things going on in 2016. In their recent blog post, “A Look Back at 2016,” you will see the list including the MyHeritage mobile app, the introduction of Tribal Quest, the debut of the beautiful Sun Chart, and their recent announcement of MyHeritage DNA, just to name a few. Visit the blog post to see the MyHeritage year-in-review for yourself!

Venezuela – Australia – El Salvador – Philippines – Netherlands – Canada – Spain – Slovenia – U. S. – Italy

FamilySearch.org took a short break over the holidays from updating their collections, but with the start of the new year, they have added and updated over 20 collections from all over the world! Check out these great records:

Venezuela, Diocese of San Cristóbal, Catholic Church Records, 1601-1962 688,577  *09 Jan 2017
Australia, Queensland, Immigration indexes, 1864-1940 64,508  *09 Jan 2017
El Salvador Civil Registration, 1704-1990 832,749  *06 Jan 2017
Philippines, Manila, Civil Registration, 1899-1984 2,847,720  *06 Jan 2017
Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records 1,254,022  *06 Jan 2017
Canada Census, 1901 5,343,565  *06 Jan 2017
Spain, Soldier Personal Service Files, 1835-1940 1,687  *06 Jan 2017
BillionGraves Index 20,128,469  *06 Jan 2017
Slovenia, Ljubljana, Funeral Accounts, 1937-1970 5,664  *06 Jan 2017
Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001 2,608,950  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Rieti, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1840-1945 134,767  *05 Jan 2017
Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 3,311,060  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Enna, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-1944 131,581  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Reggio Calabria, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1784-1943 108,208  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Trapani, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1906-1928 105,264  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Pescara, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1929 385,939  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Cremona, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1744-1942 425,374  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Bergamo, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-1901 629,035  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Caltanissetta, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1820-1935 403,003  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Napoli, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1865 633,646  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Taranto, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1926 272,929  *05 Jan 2017
Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936 90,841  *04 Jan 2017

Free Record Searches at Findmypast

Findmypast is offering a free records search weekend from January 12 – 15th, 2017. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity!

For records in the United Kingdom, click here.

For records in the US, click here.

For records in Ireland, click here.

For records in Australia, click here.

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

Each Friday we share a list of selected new genealogy records online. Watch for records in which your ancestors might appear–and get inspired by the kinds of records that may be out there waiting for you to discover. This week: Australian cemetery records, British military officer deaths, various U.S. passenger lists and North Carolina marriage records.

AUSTRALIAN CEMETERY RECORDS. Two million indexed records have been added to the free Australia, Queensland Cemetery Records, 1802–1990 dataset at FamilySearch.org. According to the site, “The records include an index which combines several other indexes, cemetery transcriptions, burial and other records from cemeteries in Queensland….Cemetery records are especially helpful for identifying ancestors who were not recorded in other records, such as children who died young or women. They may also give clues to finding more information. In Australia, the first cemetery is reported to have been in Sydney in 1788.”

BRITISH MILITARY OFFICER DEATHS. FindMyPast’s new dataset, Royal Artillery Officer Deaths 1850-2011, lists the details of over 17,000 commissioned officers who were killed or died during the campaigns in Kosovo, Bosnia, Borneo and Iraq as well as the First and Second World Wars. It is estimated that since the regiment’s formation in May 1716, over 2.5 million men and women have served with the regiment. Each record includes a transcript of details found in the original records.

US PASSENGER LISTS. Browsable images were added to several existing US immigration records. Click here (and then scroll down) to view a table that has links directly to these datasets:

  • For San Diego, CA:Airplane Passenger and Crew Lists, 1929–1954 and an apparently segregated Chinese Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905–1923;
  • San Francisco, CA Passenger Lists, 1893–1953;
  • Key West, FL Passenger Lists, 1898-1945;
  • Minnesota Passenger Lists, 1910-1923;
  • New York City, NY Passenger and Crew Lists Soundex (meaning an index based on how a name sounds), 1887-1921; (this is actually a new image collection)
  • North Dakota Manifests of Immigrant Arrivals, 1910-1952 (this is also new).

NORTH CAROLINA (US) COUNTY MARRIAGES, 1741-2011. This new dataset on Ancestry “includes images of marriage bonds, licenses, certificates, and registers from 87 different counties.” According to an Ancestry blog post, some marriages have multiple records in this collection, like a bond and an indexed marriage record. This record set may be particularly useful for those tracing African-American marriages, as they “reference the joining of couples living as man and wife dating back to 1820, and possibly earlier…. Sometimes they also include the names of their former owners.” There’s a free, similar-looking dataset at FamilySearch, but the dates aren’t as extensive (it covers 1762-1979).

Tip: When searching within record sets like these, read the record collection description! Sometimes you are just seeing a partial collection that is being updated on an ongoing basis. Some years or locales may be missing from an otherwise complete record set.

When you have questions that aren’t answered in the record collection description online, Google them! Use keywords like the type of record (“marriage records”) and the missing locale (“Burdett County”) to see whether other sites can lead you to these records or confirm that they don’t exist. Learn more about advanced Google searching for genealogy in the fully-updated 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke.

Five Disbanded Irish Regiment Records in New and Updated Collections

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.

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Britain – Military – Disbanded Irish Regiments

The National Army Museum has recently made the enlistment books of the five disbanded Irish regiments available online. This collection allows users to find information on soliders serving in these regiments during 1920-1922.

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.

These books have now been digitized and for the first time, the records of nearly 12,000 soldiers can be searched online – by unit, place of birth, place of attestation, and year of attestation.

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
  • Residence

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
  • Estimated age
  • Occupation
  • 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 Newspapers collections 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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