New online! Denmark church records, Yorkshire parish records, English and Irish estate records, French church and civil registration records, German vital records, Irish townland indexes, and U.S. collections for Georgia, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. They’re all new at the Genealogy Giants: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.
Featured: Denmark church records
Genealogy GiantMyHeritage.com has published an exclusive new collection,Denmark Church Records, 1813-1919. According to the site, these are “records of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, burials, and other records kept by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. Church records are extremely important for Danish research as vital events of virtually every individual who lived in Denmark during the time period covered by this collection were recorded in these parish registers or church books (kirkebøger).”
The records include the typical birth or baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths and burials but also may include the following, as described on the site:
“Vaccinations (Vaccinerede) – The vaccination mandate began in 1810 required everyone to receive the smallpox vaccine, unless the person at already had the pox. Vaccinations typically occurred when children were quite young. These records usually list the name of the person receiving the vaccine, date of vaccination, their father’s name, and their age or birth date. A person’s vaccination date could also be recorded in their confirmation record, and if they ever moved, could be noted in their moving in or moving out record.
Moving In (Tilgangsliste) and Moving Out (Afgangsliste) Records – Began in 1812 and list individuals moving in or moving out of a parish. These records may contain name, age or birth date, occupation, residence, vaccination date, moving date, and where moving to/from.”
England parish records
Subscription giant Ancestry.com has published a new collection of indexed images, Yorkshire, England: Church of England Parish Records, 1538-1873. According to its description, “Parish records–primarily baptisms, marriages, and burials–provide the best sources of vital record information in the centuries before civil registration. Baptismal records generally list the date of the baptism, the name of the child being baptized, and the name of the father. Marriage records generally include the date of the marriage and the names of the bride and groom. Burial records generally list the date of the burial and the name of the deceased individual. Occasionally burial records will include other bits of information, such as where the individual was from or if he/she was a widow. Records from various parishes throughout Yorkshire will continually be added to this database for the next couple of months.”
UK subscription site Findmypast.com has publishedPrerogative Court Of Canterbury Administrations 1660-1700. Subscribers may “search over 88,000 transcripts and images of Index slips and related documentation created from original Prerogative Court of Canterbury administrations held by The National Archives at Kew. This collection includes a high volume of mariners; approximately a third of these records refer to a mariner. Each record will reveal the date of your ancestor’s will, the value of their will, the archive reference number and any additional notes.”
England and Wales electoral registers
Findmypast.com has released an exclusive new collection,England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1920. According to the site, “Electoral Registers are lists created annually of people who are eligible to vote and include their reason for eligibility, such as their residence or ownership of a property. These records from 1920 will include the men and women who first gained the right to vote in 1918….These newly indexed records can be searched by name, year, constituency, polling district and keyword.”
France church and civil records
Nearly 8 million records comprise a new, free collection at FamilySearch.org: France, Dordogne, Church and Civil Registration, 1540-1896. Among the documents included are baptism, birth, marriage and death records. According to the site, these can be an incredibly rich resource for identifying your French ancestors:
Birth records often include the child’s name, gender, birthdate, birthplace, parents’ names (including mother’s maiden) and marital status, father’s age, father’s occupation and residence and the names of witnesses or godparents, along with their ages, occupations, and residences.
Marriage registers may include the names, ages, birthplaces, occupations and residences of the bride and groom; marriage date and place; marriage certificate and banns date; names of the bride’s and groom’s parents (including mother’s maiden); and the witnesses’ names, occupations, and ages.
Death records may include the deceased’s name, age at death, cause of death, gender, marital status, death and burial date and place, birth date and place, name of spouse, and father’s name and occupation.
For help reading these French-language records,click here.
Germany vital records
Ancestry.com has recently published or updated several new collections of German vital records:
Saaldorf-Surheim Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1876-1983. This new collection “includes the civil registers of births, marriages, and deaths from Saaldorf-Surheim,” a local registry office. According to the collection description, “The collected records are arranged chronologically and usually bound together in the form of yearbooks.”
Ancestry.com has published a new collection spanning nearly 300 years:Ireland, Index to the Prerogative Wills, 1536-1810. The source of this collection is a previously-published volume by the same name (ed. Sir Arthur Vicars; originally published in 1897, Dublin, Ireland; Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989). The collection description explains the historical process of proving wills in Ireland. This particular collection relates to a specific type of estate: “The Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Armagh, latterly established at Henrietta Street, in Dublin, proved the wills of testators dying with assets of value greater than £5 (“bona notabilia”) in at least two Irish dioceses. This court was also abolished by the Court of Probate Act 1857.”
Findmypast.com also has new Irish records:Ireland, Alphabetical Indexes To The Townlands and Parishes 1851-1911. Browse “2,900 records taken from indexes of townlands and parishes in Ireland spanning the years 1851 to 1911. In addition to townlands and parishes, discover details of baronies and electoral divisions in Ireland for a given year.”
U.S. genealogy record collections by state
Georgia. A new, free collection,Georgia, Houston County, Marriage Records, 1832-2015 is available at FamilySearch.org. According to the site, “Marriage records usually include: the name of the groom, the maiden name of the bride, the names of the officiator and witnesses, the marriage date [and] the marriage place.” The collection link above goes just to the index, but you can alsoclick hereto see a full list of the various digitized volumes in this collection in the FamilySearch Catalog (with links to the digital images).
The site also offers an important tip: “Many marriages recorded in the South are separated by race in volumes, books, or registers. Be sure to check to determine if you have the right set of marriage records.” For example, there is a volume dedicated to “Marriage certificates (colored), 1891-1951,” which you’ll find in the above-named list of volumes in the FamilySearch Catalog.
United States genealogy records by state
New York. Subscription-access giant MyHeritage.com has added over 6 million records to its collection ofNew York City Marriage License Index 1908-1972, bringing the index to nearly 10 million names. According to the site, “This collection is an index to marriage licenses filed at the New York City Clerk Offices from the five boroughs from 1908 to 1972. The index contains the given names and surnames of both the bride and the groom, the date of the license application, and the license number. Images provided by Reclaim the Records.”
Ohio. FamilySearch has added over 150,000 free indexed records toOhio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977. The collection includes images of naturalization records from county courthouses in Ohio and a growing number of indexed names. According to the site, “The record content and available years vary by county, though most content falls between 1818 and 1954.” You can either search indexed names on the collection page or scroll down and select the option to browse through over a million images that may not have been indexed yet. (These images are grouped by county, then by record type, year range and volume, making it relatively easy to find the records you want. Click here for a tutorial on browsing records on FamilySearch.org.)
Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, MyHeritage.com, and FamilySearch.org publish millions of new historical records online every month. Keep up with the new collections of these Genealogy Giants with me here at Genealogy Gems. Bring focus to your research: click here to learn what sets apart each of the Genealogy Giants, and learn strategies for getting the most out of them.
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!
When it comes to digitized newspapers on genealogy websites, Findmypast is a clear headliner. The site already hosts millions of U.S., British, and Irish newspaper pages–and their British collection is about to DOUBLE. Extra, extra, read all about it!
It may surprise you to hear that digitized historical newspapers aren’t a big part of the collections at all four giant genealogy websites. In fact, only one site–Findmypast–offers access to millions of exclusive British and Irish newspaper pages and a major U.S. newspaper database (which is usually just available at libraries).
Why mention it now? Because a good thing just got better: Findmypast plans to double its British newspaper content over the next two years.
Digitized Newspaper Treasures at Findmypast.com
Findmypast’s enormous genealogy collections focus on the countries of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Findmypast and The British Library have been working together for several years on The British Newspaper Archive, now home to more than 22.5 million newspaper pages dating from the 1700s. But what many people might not realize is that these same newspaper pages are also available to Findmypast subscribers.
You can search newspaper pages on Findmypast by name (first and last) and by other keywords, such as an occupation, street address, event or another word that might be associated with your family in newspaper articles. You can narrow the date range of papers searched and even target specific newspapers:
Original bound newspaper volumes at the British Library. Image from The British Newspaper Archive.
And it gets better. Findmypast just announced that over the next two years, it will nearly double its digitized newspaper collections! It is scanning over 12 million pages from the largest private newspaper collection in the UK: the Trinity Mirror archives. Over 150 local papers from across the U.K. are included. These pages have never been made available online, but will be on both The British Newspaper Archive and Findmypast. The project is already underway and moving along rapidly: up to 100,000 pages per week.
According to a press release, “The program builds on an existing partnership that has already resulted in the digitization and online publication of upwards of 160 Trinity Mirror titles, including significant coverage of both World Wars. Published online for the very first time, these war-time publications also included the Archive’s first national titles, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Herald.”
TIP: If you are interested in accessing British newspapers, but not needing the full range of genealogy resources offered at Findmypast, consider purchasing PayAsYouGo credits from Findmypast. You can purchase 60-900 at a time and “spend” them to view individual search results, including newspapers. You can also subscribe separately to The British Newspaper Archive.
More Digitized Newspapers on Genealogy Websites
The other giant genealogy websites do offer some newspaper content–indexed, imaged, or both. Here’s a short summary of what you’ll find on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage:
FamilySearch: Millions of indexed obituaries are searchable by name on its free website, but it doesn’t generally offer any digitized newspaper pages. Of its billion+ historical record images, FamilySearch prioritizes more “core” genealogical records, such as vital records, censuses, and passenger lists.
MyHeritage.com: This site used to have access to NewspaperARCHIVE, the same U.S. newspaper database Findmypast currently offers, but it doesn’t now. It’s got new collections of Ohio (4.5 million pages from 88 sources) and New York (1.9 million pages from 56 sources) newspapers and access to the Jewish Chronicle [England]. But the bulk of its newspaper search results come from searching two other websites: Chronicling America and Trove, run by the national libraries of the United States and Australia, respectively. While it’s convenient to search them from MyHeritage if you are already using it, it’s not a reason to subscribe, as you can use those sites for free.
More Inside Tips on the Genealogy Giants
Genealogy Gems is your home for ongoing coverage and insight into the four ‘genealogy giants’ websites. Click here to learn more and to watch the RootsTech 2017 world premiere of my popular lecture that puts these big sites head-to-head. Genealogy Gems has published my ultimate quick reference guide, “Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites.” It distills that hour-long lecture (and I was talking fast!) into a concise, easy-to-read format that will help you know which websites are best for you to use right now.
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 the free Genealogy Gems podcast and blog!
Millions of records from around the world are new at FamilySearch this week, and are completely free! These new collections include Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, and South Africa. PERSI also got a big update this week at Findmypast, as well as new and updated records for Canada, England, and Ireland.
New collections free at FamilySearch
Australia. The new South Australia, Immigrants Ship Papers, 1849-1940 collection includes immigrants’ ships papers, containing a record of births and deaths aboard, 1849-1867 and 1873-1885. Indexed records in this collection include passenger lists arriving and departing from South Australia. (Original records in the State Records of South Australia, Adelaide.) Get started with Australian genealogy research with these tips from an expert at Legacy Tree Genealogists!
Denmark. FamilySearch has been adding census records for Denmark recently, and the latest new collection is the 1921 Denmark Census. This collection includes over 430,000 images, and these census collections were all provided by MyHeritage and previously from the National Archives of Denmark.
Finland.Church Census and Pre-Confirmation Books, 1657-1915: This collection contains church census books and pre-confirmation books kept by the Lutheran Church in Finland. These records come from a database at MyHeritage, citing Kansallisarkisto (National Archives of Finland), Helsinki.
Italy. The Salerno, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1806-1949 collection includes civil registration (stato civile) records of births, marriages, and deaths within the custody of the State Archive of Salerno (Archivio di Stato di Salerno). Almost 6 million images are in this collection, and availability of records is largely dependent on time period and locality.
South Africa. Lastly, this collection of Pietermaritzburg Estate Files 1846-1950 is also new at FamilySearch. Records include death notices, vital records, wills, distribution accounts, and succession duty accounts.
Need help using FamilySearch? The Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org by Dana McCullough provides the guidance you need to discover your ancestors and make the most of the free site’s valuable resources. Learn how to maximize all of FamilySearch.org’s research tools–including hard-to-find features–to extend your family tree in America and the old country.
PERSI update at Findmypast
The Periodical Source Index (also known as PERSI) has had another large update at Findmypast. Almost 11,000 new articles and 30,000 new images have been added, covering Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Toronto, and Yorkshire. PERSI is an excellent resource for discovering articles, photos, and other material you probably won’t find using conventional online search methods.
Recently announced on Twitter: “The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) is piloting a service from 12 October 2017 to provide portable document format (PDF) copies of digitized historical birth and death records. The pilot will run for a minimum of 3 months to enable GRO to assess the demand for this service over a prolonged period.” England and Wales records which are available as PDFs in this extended pilot include births (1837 –1916) and deaths (1837 –1957).
Ireland: Historical Newspaper
A new historical newspaper title was added to the British Newspaper Archive this week for Northern Ireland. The Coleraine Chronicle 1844-1910 was published by Alpha Newspaper Group in Coleraine, Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The collection features nearly 3,500 issues and over 26,000 pages.
Get the most out of your genealogy records websites subscriptions!
Use the jammed-packed Genealogy Giants cheat sheet by Sunny Morton to quickly and easily compare all of the most important features of the four biggest international genealogy records membership websites: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com. Then consult it every time your research budget, needs or goals change. Tables, bulleted lists, and graphics make this guide as easy to use as it is informative. Available in print or digital download.
Disclosure: This post 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 the free Genealogy Gems podcast and blog!
The new MyHeritage Collection Catalog is making the site even easier to use. Read our 3 favorite uses for the new MyHeritage Collection Catalog, and a description of how MyHeritage counts its records.
The new MyHeritage Collection Catalog has just been released, and is dedicated to searching records collections on the site. It’s a public catalog, available whether you are a subscriber or not, so now you can easily see whether MyHeritage may have the historical records you need.
It’s a public catalog, available whether you are a subscriber or not!
“The new Collection Catalog provides a useful listing of the collections on SuperSearch and is a gateway to the vast historical treasure trove of 7.8 billion records currently offered by MyHeritage,” says a MyHeritage press release. “The catalog lists our 6,503 main collections and excludes tiny collections that have fewer than 500 records each.” (Those may be added to the catalog later on.)
Here are 3 top uses we see for the new MyHeritage Collection Catalog:
1. Look for specific record types for a particular place and time period. Use the left side menu to select record types, locations and time periods. Within many of those, you’ll be able to choose more specific subcategories. You can also do keyword searches if you’re generally looking for particular kinds of records (“newspaper” or “church”).
2. See what’s new on the site, or what collections have been recently updated. To see what’s been added or updated lately, roll over Sort by and select “Last updated.” You’ll also see a little tag on any collections that are new or have been recently updated. This helps you to know whether you’re seeing the most recent data available, particularly in collections they index from other websites, such as the FamilySearch Tree or Geni World Family Tree.
3. See how many records are in a collection. This may help you determine how comprehensive a particular database might be, and compare how many records for a particular place are on their site.
Speaking of record counts, MyHeritage also shared a description of how they count records. I’m really encouraged to see a major records site do this and I hope this trend continues! In our newest quick reference guide, Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites, we talk about how difficult it is to compare record content on different genealogy websites because there’s no uniform standard for counting them, and they don’t all define their counting methods alongside their site statistics. Here’s MyHeritage’s description of how they count records:
“In structured collections, such as census records, birth, and marriage records, each individual name is counted as one record. For example, a marriage document naming both the bride and groom is counted as two records. Nicknames or aliases are not counted as additional records. In family trees, each tree profile is counted as one record, even when it is available in more than one language. Each photo is counted as one record. In unstructured collections, such as newspapers or yearbooks, each page is counted as one record even though it may include hundreds of names. We count each page as a single record because we don’t want to inflate the record count by guessing.” (MyHeritage previously published this information in a 2014 blog post.)
Getting the Most from MyHeritage
Here at Genealogy Gems we strive to help you get the most out of the genealogy websites you choose to use in your research. In the case of MyHeritage, we’ve got two jam-packed quick reference guides like no others on the market:
Social Security Death Index (SSDI) search is not necessarily as straight forward as you might think. We’re going to explore what SSDI records are, their range of availability, and how they compare across the Genealogy Giants records websites.
If you’ve been dabbling in genealogy research for a while, then you are very likely familiar with the Social Security Death Index, more commonly referred to as the SSDI. But even experienced researchers have questions, like the one that Marti sent me recently:
From Marti in Texas:
Thank you so much for all your helpful resources on your website!! I just listened to the SSDI Working Backwards podcast episode (Family History: Genealogy Made Easy episode 3) and my grandparents passed away in 2012 and 2014. Do you know when the last time the index has been updated, I cannot locate them.
Thank you so much!!
This two-fold question is a good one. While many genealogical record sets have privacy laws that dramatically restrict more recent records from being available, the SSDI is not one of them. But even if the records are available, there may still be times when we have trouble locating our relatives.
Whenever you run into a road block finding ancestors in a record collection, do what good detectives do, and go back to the beginning. In this case, let’s learn more about the collection itself.
Social Security Death Index Background
The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin Roosevelt. By 1937, more than 30 million Americans had registered. Today, the Death Master File from the Social Security Administration contains around 90 million records of deaths and they are publicly available online.
Some data goes as far back as 1937, but most of the information included in the SSDI dates from 1962. This is because the Social Security Administration began to use a computer database for processing requests for benefits in 1962. Some of the earlier records back to 1937 have not been added.
It’s important to know that the SSDI does not have a death record for everyone. It’s also very possible that you may occasionally find an error here and there if something was reported incorrectly. But don’t let that stop you from tapping into this major resource! It’s a wonderful alternative source for finding people who were counted in the 1890 census (which was unfortunately mostly destroyed) because they may still appear in the SSDI. Also, those who were born before vital records registration in their home state began, may also show up. Remember, working folks just had to live past 1937 to have been possibly included. That means some people could have been born sometime in the late 1800s.
Now that we have a handle on the history of the SSDI, let’s look at who has it and how recent their records are.
Where to Find the SSDI
The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is available on all of the ‘big 4’ genealogy records websites, which we here at Genealogy Gems refer to as the “Genealogy Giants.” The links below will take you directly to the SSDI search page for each.
MyHeritage (It is not stated how current the database is, but a search for 2014 did retrieve results)
(No dates or citation provided, but a search for people who died in 2014 did retrieve results)
In Marti’s case, she will want to search every single one of these websites for her ancestors. The good news is that they all appear to be up-to-date, but that doesn’t mean they are all exactly the same. The same collection of genealogy records can appear differently from site to site for a number of reasons such as accidental omissions, variations in the power of their search engine, differences between indexers and scanners, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) inaccuracies. These may or may not affect the SSDI, but the point is that you can’t go wrong searching each one of the Genealogy Giants just in case. And since SSDI search can be conducted for free at all of the Genealogy Giants, it doesn’t cost you anything to do so.
A quick way to find all of the websites that include the SSDI is to Google SSDI genealogy. Here’s a link to the results.
SSDI Search Head-to-Head Comparison
Another excellent reason to search the SSDI on multiple websites is that each website displays the information a little differently. And as you can see from the chart below, when it comes to the Genealogy Giants, there are definitely differences.
It’s interesting to note that Ancestry is the only website that provides information about the year that the Social Security number was issued. It isn’t exact, but it’s more than the others offered in my search for Alfred H. Sporan.
The differences between the 4 major websites can be sometimes subtle or quite dramatic. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses, as well as free versus subscription offerings, is key to successful research that is both efficient and cost effective.
The quick reference guide Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites is a must-have for anyone serious about getting the most out of free and paid subscriptions.
The author of this 4-page full color cheat sheet, Sunny Morton, is Contributing Editor here at Genealogy Gems, and she’s packed this guide with everything you would ever want to know, and many things you probably didn’t know that you needed to know. You can pick up your copy here in our store.
SSDI Search and Beyond
There is another database at Ancestry that is worth keeping your eye on. It’s called the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index and it shouldn’t be missed! Currently this covers 1936-2007, but who knows, they may update it in the future. It includes even more information. It was first released in 2015. Read more about it here at Genealogy Gems.
Gems: Share Your SSDI Search Experience!
I invite you to take a moment to share your SSDI search experience in the comments below.
Have you had any surprises?
Did you find a difference between the records found at different websites?
We want to hear your story, because we all benefit from each other’s experiences.