Wednesday, April 13, 2016

History Unfolded: Nazis, Jews and You






While you're poking around in historical archives to unearth your family history, you have a real opportunity to contribute to our understanding of an important facet of modern history.


The Holocaust Museum has launched History Unfolded, an intriguing crowd-sourced research project. It aims to build a more complete picture of how the rise of Nazi Germany was perceived in the United States. As the museum puts it:

Help tell America's story. 
Together, we can uncover what ordinary people around the country could have known about the Holocaust from reading their local newspapers in the years 1933–1945. We need you to join our team of citizen historians uncovering new knowledge that will be shared with scholars, curators, and the public.

In other words, as you're digging through old newspapers from the 1930s and 1940s to find tidbits of family history, you can also be on the lookout for stories about Hitler, Nazis, the treatment of the Jews and the reactions here in America. Find an article, clip it (literally or digitally) and send it the museum to be added to their collection.

History Unfolded targets specific events, such as:

  • Nazi Olympics
  • German Race Laws
  • Kristallnacht
  • Warsaw Ghetto 
  • Concentration Camps


All submissions become part of the collection of the Holocaust Museum and will be available online for all to see.

This is an unusual and valuable opportunity to contribute to the historical record. Let us know in the comments below what you've discovered.


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Visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools. And don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ancestors Who Came From -- Or Thru -- Germany




Emigrants leaving Bremerhaven, Germany 1850

If your ancestors immigrated to the United States from Germany, they almost certainly traveled by boat. Even ancestors who came here from other European countries -- France, Russia, Italy, Sweden -- may well have left the continent from a German port.

In either case, here's an important resource worth checking. The German Emigrants Database (the elegant-souding Deutsche Auswanderer Datenbank in German) is a joint project of German and American organizations, specifically:

  • Castle Garden Immigration Research (New York) 
  • Historisches Museum (Bremerhaven) 
  • F√∂rderkreis Historisches Museum (Bremerhaven) 

Here's a direct link to the search form (though you may want to click through the site first for background info). You can search on surnames as well as gender and a range of dates. The data is mostly compiled from a large (and growing) collection of shipping manifests.

The German Emigrants Database includes other useful content: information on ships, research tools, and a collection of almost a century's worth of photographs covering the period from 1840-1938.

On a related note, the Staats Archiv in nearby Bremen also has searchable passenger lists for 1920-1939 (the page is in German, but there's a button for English at the top right of the page).  I'm not clear on how much overlap (if any) there is with the Bremerhaven lists. If anyone knows, please post a comment.

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Visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools. And don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

FIBIS




What? You never heard of FIBIS? Perhaps it's time.

Rockin' those turbans.
The Families in British India Society hosts the FIBIS website to celebrate, if that's the right word, all things related to Colonial India. If your roots hark back to the UK or to India, this can be a valuable site for family research. As the FIBIS genealogy motto says: Your brick wall is in India.

Their main tool is a searchable database of more than a million names. These look to be mostly British names, but there are a substantial number of Indian names as well. The database was amassed from newspaper mentions, shipping records, property records, government files and so on.

Don't overlook the rest of the site. Although not as comprehensive as the names database, there is ample material here like photographs, reference sources and research advice, all worth looking into. You can register at FIBIS at no charge for access to additional materials.

Enjoy your exploration!


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Visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools. And don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.