Saturday, June 6

Ancestors Who Came From -- Or Thru -- Germany

Emigrants leaving Bremerhaven, Germany 1850
Leaving Bremerhaven

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-sounding 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.


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

Sunday, May 10


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 surnames 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!


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

Saturday, March 21

Military Records, State by State

Wars are really bad for humankind, but really good for family researchers. Armies keep lots of records. One underappreciated (and of course, free) resource for military records are online state archives. Some of them are phenomenal.

Here are some state military records to check out.

  • Civil War Soldiers database.
  • World War I Goldstar database.  This database of WWI dead from Alabama 
Alaska at War!

  • Confederate Pensions
  • Confederate Home (as in Old Soldiers Home)
  • Arkansas Civil War site
  • Calisphere 1939-1945
  • World War II
  • Vietnam Deaths
  • World War I Civilian Service Questionnaires
  • Spanish-American War Volunteers
  • Civil War Casualties
  • Fitch's Home for Soldiers Database -- Civil War and Spanish American War
  • World War I Veterans Database
  • Muster rolls, Civil War and WWII
  • World War I service cards
  • Confederate Pension Application Files
  • Militia Enrollment Lists, 1864
  • Confederate Pension Applications
  • Spanish-American War Service Summary Cards
  • World War I Service Records
  • Slavery and emancipation database
  • Veteran Records, including those from wars you don't often hear about, like the Black Hawk War, or the Winnebago War.  
  • Military Records (citations, veterans home records, Mexican War veterans)
  • Civil War era telegrams
  • Indiana Muster, Pay and Receipt Rolls, War of 1812
Iowa in World War II (press clippings)

  • World War I, 1914-1919
  • World War II, 1939-1945
  • WWI Alien Enemies list, of foreign born non-citizens living in Kansas
  • Civil War Soldiers from Kansas, with name look-ups
  • WWII Kansas Veterans Lookup
  • Survivors of the Bataan Death March Oral History Project
  • Revolutionary War land grants and pensions
  • Civil War records, including narrative histories, photos, muster rolls and burials
  • Fire and Thunder: Massachusetts Blacks in the Civil War
  • Military Service Records from the Civil War
  • The Freedmen's Bureau searchable index includes the records of more than 30,000 ex-slaves who entered into contracts with farmers after the Civil War.
  • Civil War resources
  • Civil War Provost Marshal Index Database
  • Soldiers' Records: War of 1812 - World War I
  • Civil War Veterans (includes name searching)
  • WWI Draft Registration Cards
New Jersey:
  • Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War, 1861-1865
  • Civil War Treasury Vouchers, 1861-1865 has more than 100,000 records of payments to soldiers for final pay, or to families of deceased soldiers, as well as for hardship. 
  • Civil War U.S. Colored Troops Service Files
  • Registers of Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers
New York:
  • Harlem Hellfighters WWI Muster Rolls
  • Military Patents
  • New York State Civil War database
North Carolina:
  • Civil War Resources
  • World War I
North Dakota:
  • Veterans History Project
  • War of 1812 Roster
  • Oklahoma Confederate Pension Records (soldier and spouse's names) 
  • Military Deaths-World War I to the Korean War.
  • Oregon at War: World War I and the Oregon Experience
  • Life on the Home Front: Oregon Responds to World War II
  • Pearl Harbor Remembered: Oregonians and the Attack on Pearl Harbor
  • PA National Guard Veteran’s Card File, 1867-1921
  • Civil War Veterans’ Card File
  • Revolutionary War Military Abstract Card File
  • World War I Service Medal Application Cards
  • Spanish American War Veterans’ Card File of United States Volunteers
  • Mexican Border Campaign Veterans’ Card File
  • Militia Officers’ Index Cards, 1775-1800
South Carolina:
  • Confederate Pension Applications, 1919-1938
  • Militia Enrollments of 1869
South Dakota:
  • South Dakota National Guard Collection
  • Civil War Diary
  • Military Records
  • Civil War Military Records
  • Civil War Soldier Photographs
  • Looking Back - The Civil War in Tennessee
  • Tennessee in World War I
  • Civil War Era Database -- Nearly 2,000 pamphlets and eight newspapers
  • Civil War Sourcebook -- Over 7,000 articles 
  • Military Records
  • Vietnam War
  • War of 1812
  • World War I
  • Texas Adjutant General Service Records: Military and Ranger Records, 1836-1935
  • Confederate Pension Applications, 1899-1975
  • Indian War Service Affidavits (1909-1919).
  • Confederate Disability Applications and Receipts
  • Confederate Pension Rolls, Veterans and Widows, name searchable
  • Dunmore’s War (Virginia Payrolls/Public Service Claims, 1775)
  • Revolutionary War Bounty Warrants
  • Revolutionary War Rejected Claims
  • Revolutionary War Virginia State Pensions
  • VMI Archives historical rosters database, all enrolled students, 1839-1935
  • Military Records
West Virginia:
  • Civil War
  • Civil War Medals.
  • Militia Database, lists Civil War soldiers who fought for the Union
  • The Veterans Memorial Archives Database lists more than 10,000 veterans who died in 20th century conflicts.  
  • Wisconsin in the Civil War
  • Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust

Most state archives have other pertinent records -- census, deaths, land grants and so on. Check out the full set of available materials at Digital State Archives.


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 and NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.