Thursday, August 13

Search Millions of Ancestor Records in an Instant (with free Census info, to boot)



I covered FamilySearch.org in an earlier post, and this continues to be a wonderful resource, of course.

But the Mormons are up to something that might be even better. They've quietly posted a Pilot Site with a new Search for Ancestors interface. If you've used FamilySearch before, it will certainly look familiar.

But the results are different!

One difference is in format. The Pilot Site search returns very clear information identifying a person by name, the source of information (such as 1900 US Census, Passenger Lists, etc), and detailing life events (date of birth, etc), and family relations (spouse, siblings, parents).

But an even bigger difference is what happens next. Clicking on a name provides more information. In about five seconds I had the name of the ship that transported my great grandfather from Russia, via Hamburg, and into New York.

More clicks can take you to actual page images of census records, ship manifests, and so on. Let me say that again: you can use the Pilot Site to get free access to census records and page images.

It's not entirely clear what other differences will ultimately become a part of this new system, and how different it will be from the main FamilySearch search function. But this is a fun and useful resource, and a very welcome addition to the world of free genealogical tools.



Ah! Life was fun in the Old Country


Don't forget to also check for your family history at
Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive.com. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots

Monday, August 10

Free Family History Research -- Our Story So Far


A quick recap. This blog is devoted to discovering genealogy resources that are free, high-quality, and not always well-known, even to aficionados of family history research. Here's what we've highlighted so far:

Google News Archives -- 300 Years of Free Newspaper Articles

Immigration Records from Ellis Island, Castle Garden, etc.

SSDI -- More than 80 million death records

Free Civil War Military Records

FamilySearch.org from the Mormons


Free Newspaper Archives and Historical Articles

Free World War II Military Records

Medieval Soldier Military Records (That's right...Knights!)

Millions of Family History Records from Canada

Immigrants from Europe

New York City Family History


Mystery ancestors. Yours, perhaps?

Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive.com. Yes, these are subscription databases, but they are also among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots

Friday, August 7

New York City Ancestors and Family History


At one time or another, it seems that almost every family in America passed through New York City. Most typically, this was the major port for newly-arrived immigrants, passing through Ellis Island (and earlier, Castle Garden) on their way to Manhattan or the outer boroughs.

But even for US natives, New York held a special draw for those wishing to make it big, or simply to find work in one of the world's largest metropolitan centers.

To check on your own family history in New York, start with the New York City Death Index for 1891-1948. This massive list of almost three million death certificate records can be easily searched by last name on a full name search, a partial name (with wild card searching), or with a sounds-like surname. Searching can be fine tuned with first name, dates, or a choice of boroughs.

The NYC Death Index is provided courtesy of the Italian Genealogical Group, who also makes some other wonderful NYC and Long Island databases available, though none as large as the death index. You don't need to have Italian ancestors to find some very valuable family history information here. Visit their site to peruse their bride and groom records, births, marriages, and naturalization records. There are also databases linking Italian surnames to the particular towns in Italy from which they came.



NYC Ballplayer, Back in the Day


Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive.com. Yes, these are subscription databases, but they are also among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.


NewspaperArchive.com

Thursday, August 6

Finding Ancestors Who Were Immigrants to the US from Russia, Germany, Ireland and Italy



Most of what's in the US National Archives is, well, in the National Archives. It's just sitting in boxes and file drawers, or immortalized on microfilm.

But a few large files from NARA (as they're known) have made it online, and are terrific tools for researching your family history. They include the following immigration files.

Note that many immigrants from other countries are included in these files, mostly because they sailed on a ship that left from someplace other than their home country.

All told, there are more than six million records here... a rich resource for anyone searching their family history who may have ancestors who made their way to the US from Europe in the 19th century.

Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive.com. Yes, these are subscription databases, but they are also among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.


Guess which country he immigrated from.

Wednesday, August 5

Family History in Canada, eh?



I was surprised to find a Canadian wing to my own family history, though once I did, it stirred dim memories of having visited some distant uncle or other in Montreal when I was a kid.

Anyway, searching records from Canada is fairly easy, so you might as well have a look. The national government hosts an Ancestor Search at the Library and Archives Canada website. (and you can also recherche d'ancĂȘtres en Français, if you please).

This lovely and easy to use family search tool appears to contain several million records (though the overall scope is not well described). These include vital records -- births, marriages, deaths, and divorces -- census records, military rolls and casualties, immigration, land grants, and many other sources as well.

Coverage seems strongest in the late 1800 and early 1900's, though some files extend back much further, and I'm told a few even venture into the 17th century (1600's).

Like I said, it's an easy system to use, so have a look at your family names, and see what you find. If something turns up, check out the Canadian Genealogy Center (sorry...Centre!) to explore next steps in your search.



Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive.com. Yes, these are subscription databases, but they are also among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.