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.

Saturday, September 13

Revisiting FamilySearch

FamilySearch, where the 21st century meets the past

It's time to check back in to

The site has grown enormously in the past few years and become considerably more user-friendly. For any serious family history researcher, it is an essential resource. But it's also worth a visit for the merely curious, for searching for a lost friend or relative, or simply to marvel at the depth of the collection here.

FamilySearch, a service of the Latter Day Saints, bills itself as "...the largest genealogical organization in the world".  I don't know exactly how you go about measuring something like that, but still, their stats are impressive: more than 3 billion names on record, almost 5,000 service centers around the world and even 24/7 telephone support. And it's all free!

The main tool at FamilySearch is their Search function, which quickly peruses billions of records from hundreds of sources ranging from Alabama Births and Christenings to Zimbabwe Death Notices. There are specialty searches as well, such as a quick look through 150,000 online genealogy books.

FamilySearch is also a place where you and other family members can collaborate to build a family tree, store documents and photos, and ask for help from other researchers. And naturally, there's an app for your phone.

You don't need to register at the site to get started, although registration (which, of course, is free) lets you save and post in certain places that wouldn't otherwise be available.

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

Thursday, July 31

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System

Very neat handwriting, back in the day!

I love family history databases with millions of names in them. They make research so rewarding! 

One such data source is CWSS -- the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, maintained by the National Park Service. With more than six million names in the system, CWSS gives you an immediate sense of the vast scope of the Civil War. The entire population of the US at the time (North and South) only came to about 32 million or so.

CWSS shows the information on the General Index information source prepared from unit and regiment musters as a soldier or sailors service record.

The cards were also used after the war to figure pensions for Union Soldiers. Once you identify the microfilm role with a record of interest, an actual copy of the General Index Card can be ordered from the National Park Service.


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.

Tuesday, May 6

Old (and Not So Old) New York

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a collection of a million pictures is worth...well, you do the math. But the New York City Department of Records new photo gallery includes about 900,000 online images, which is pretty close to a million (and the numbers are growing steadily as they add new content).

John Conlan, Coney Island Lifeguard and 50-yd Dash Winner (1922)
These are mostly photos, but the collection also includes maps, films and audio files. The material looks to be mostly 20th century, though some 19th century images from as far back as the 1850's are included.

Since so many immigrants passed through NYC, the collection is definitely worth a visit to search for your family history. With luck, you may even come across a photo of your ancestor's house from old NYC tax records.

A simple search on a surname will quickly show you if anything of interest is available. Used the Advanced Search to fine tune your search results. Click the Add to Workspace button to open the highest resolution picture available at the site, or the Buy Print button to purchase a hi-rez copy.

You can read more about the collection in this NYC Department of Records announcement.

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. Also worth a read: What's the Most Common Phrase in English?