Ancestry Blog » Content http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry The official blog of Ancestry Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Titanic Captain among those listed as more than one million historic Liverpool crew lists are digitised by Ancestryhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/24/titanic-captain-among-those-listed-as-more-than-one-million-historic-liverpool-crew-lists-are-digitised-by-ancestry/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=titanic-captain-among-those-listed-as-more-than-one-million-historic-liverpool-crew-lists-are-digitised-by-ancestry http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/24/titanic-captain-among-those-listed-as-more-than-one-million-historic-liverpool-crew-lists-are-digitised-by-ancestry/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:20:06 +0000 Brian Gallagher http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=21614 Read more]]> We are all familiar with the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. On the night of the 14th of April 1912, 1,500 people lost their lives after the liner hit an iceberg and sank to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The captain on that tragic voyage was Edward Smith. Smith joined the White Star Line shipping company in 1880 and quickly became one of its most respected captains. He was regularly trusted to guide the largest new vessels in the fleet.
Titanic

Edward Smith can be found in The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection on Ancestry. The collection features the names of crew members who worked on vessels registered to the Port of Liverpool. In the crew lists, Edward Smith is mentioned in 1901 as captain of the SS Majestic, when he and his crew were called upon to transport troops to Cape Colony to fight in the Boer War. Following this, he was awarded a special Transport Medal for his service.

However warning signs of the later tragedy soon surfaced. In 1911, Smith was captaining the RMS Olympic when he collided with the British warship HMS Hawke. The vessel had to be returned to port with a badly damaged propeller.

The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection has been published from original records held by the Liverpool Record Office. The records were a form of employment contract between the shipping company and crew, and needed to be completed before any vessel set sail. The collection, which refers to a total of 912 ships and spans nearly 50 years, lists each crew member’s name, age, birthplace, residence and past maritime experience, and even remarks on their general behaviour. There are also details regarding whether crew members were discharges, deserted or died at sea.

The history of Liverpool is intrinsically linked to the development of its port throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, with its natural harbour helping the city become a powerhouse of the industrial revolution and a key transport hub for travel to the promising shores of America and Australia. The port also contributed greatly to the diversity found within the city, with Liverpool rapidly developing a uniquely Irish character. Around 300,000 migrants arrived in the city from Ireland in 1847 alone and within five years a quarter of the city’s population were Irish-born.

Miriam Silverman, Senior UK Content Manager from Ancestry comments, “From ship captains to their crew, this collection sheds light on a period in which the port of Liverpool was a global transport hub. With more than a million maritime records now available online at Ancestry, it will also be of huge significance for anybody looking to trace their seafaring ancestors back to Liverpool at this time.”

Search The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection today and find your seafaring ancestors on Ancestry. This collection can be accessed here.

Follow Ancestry on Facebook and  Twitter to keep up-to-date on new collections.

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Six Things to Look for in City Directorieshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/07/29/six-things-to-look-for-in-city-directories/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=six-things-to-look-for-in-city-directories http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/07/29/six-things-to-look-for-in-city-directories/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:29:13 +0000 Juliana Szucs http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=19115 Read more]]> City directories are incredible sources. In many cities, they were published annually, which can give us a lot of detail about our ancestors. Here are six things to look for in city directories.

1. Your Ancestor and Other Family Members

Sure, you’re going to look for your ancestor, but look for other family members, too. Some of them may have lived nearby, others across town. Then follow the family year-by-year to note changes in occupation, living arrangements, even deaths of a head of household. Add it all to a timeline so you can keep track of the family’s comings and goings.

2. Streets and Maps

Street names can change over time. So can house numbers. To get a real look at your ancestor’s neighborhood, look for street directories inside city directories. In some cases you may even find maps of the city or town. Street directories will typically give you cross streets, which you can use to orient you on modern day maps. This sample lists the right and left side of the street and the house number that corresponds with each intersection.

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Brooklyn, New York, 1877

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Mobile, Alabama 1890

You may also find a reverse directory that lists residents by address, as well as cross streets. Use these to look through the neighborhood when searching for your ancestor’s name just isn’t working. It’s also a good way to see who is living nearby.

3. Churches and Clerics

Religious records are incredibly valuable for discovering dates, places, and family relationships. For the years before states were required to keep records of births, marriages, and deaths, churches may be the only place to find that information. Use city directories to find the churches nearest to your ancestor and churches that may be affiliated with his or her ethnic background.

If you find the name of a cleric on records associated with your family, research the cleric in city directories, too. Use his address and compare it to the address of local churches to determine church affiliation. Also look to see if the directory you’re viewing has a list of churches and synagogues that includes the names of clerics.

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Chicago, Illinois, 1900

4. Cemeteries

Check city directories for cemeteries near where your relatives lived. They may point you to burial locations, possibly even a family plot, where you’ll find details about more than one family member. This directory from Mobile, Alabama in 1890, gives the cemetery locations and even the name of the sexton.

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Mobile, Alabama, 1890

5. Advertisements

Look at the ads carefully. You may discover more information about a family member’s business or place of business, names of photographers, banks, organizations and other details that  could appear elsewhere in your family’s history. Advertisements were a big source of revenue for directories and this Buffalo directory calls its index of advertisers the “Honor Roll.” Page numbers in the final column will take you directly to the ad.

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Buffalo, New York, 1939

6. Historical Information

City directories often included histories of the area, some with images of the city, too. That same Buffalo directory from 1939 includes an Introduction that spans 21 pages with photographs of the city and its landmarks, and sections on early history and settlers, historic sites, street names, statistics, and more. There are even sections outlining the history of several ethnic groups in Buffalo (Polish, German, Italian, Irish, and Jewish). All of this can give you a little more background on your family and their home life.

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Buffalo, New York, 1939

Search U.S. City Directories on Ancestry.com.

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It’s International Worker’s Day: How Did Your Ancestors Make a Living?http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/05/01/its-international-workers-day-how-did-your-ancestors-make-a-living/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=its-international-workers-day-how-did-your-ancestors-make-a-living http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/05/01/its-international-workers-day-how-did-your-ancestors-make-a-living/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 17:36:50 +0000 Lou Szucs http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=16569 Read more]]> May 1st is set aside in 80 countries as International Worker’s Day – a day to celebrate labor and working people. And this day serves as a reminder of how our ancestors toiled to put food on their tables and roofs over their families’ heads.  Whether your ancestor was a homemaker, a farmer, a factory worker, a civil servant, a teacher, a construction worker, a salesman, a banker, a lawyer, a soldier or a sailor, his or her hard work contributed to the improved lifestyles most of us enjoy today.

It’s fascinating to look back in time and see what your people did to make a living and this is a good day to do it. Here are a few records that will provide insights:

Home Sources

Because of the importance of family heirlooms, there’s a good chance that someone in your family may have kept a clue to your ancestor’s work. Among the treasures in my own family were a 19th-century police badge, a photo of my uncle in his miner’s hat, and a printed card bearing my grandfather’s name and the address of his carpentry shop in Brooklyn. By the way, that policeman’s badge was the key to unlocking a whole line of family history. Once we tied the name and occupation together in census records, the family story unfolded.

U.S. Federal Census Records

As early as 1820, census records indicated the number of individuals in a household who were engaged in agriculture, commerce or manufacturing, but it was not until 1850 that the question of “Profession, Occupation, or Trade of each Male Person over 15 years of age” provided us with better details. Looking at census records from 1820 to 1940 will give you a good idea of how occupations have trended in families over the years.

U.S. Non-Population Schedules

Agricultural and Industrial censuses, sometimes called the Non-Population Schedules, can help you understand more about what it was like to own a farm or a business. Sometimes, details in these records will not be found elsewhere. Turn to agricultural schedules for insight into a family’s income, crops raised, total acreage, farm value, and more. Look for details about women, too. This agricultural schedule for Nottoway County, Virginia may be the best way to learn more about Catherine Jones.

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Industry or manufacturing schedules include company name, type of business, resources, number of employees and more. Just like farms, women owned a surprising number of businesses, too.  For example, this 1850 industrial schedule shows that Mary Ann Kelly was doing rather well with her artificial flower business.

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You can learn more about agricultural schedules and how to get the most out of them in by watching Anne Mitchell’s video, Five Minute Find: Down on the Farm.

U.S. Mortality Census Schedules

Taken in most states and territories from the 1850s to the 1880s, mortality schedules offer details on people who died in the 365 days prior to the day the census was taken. One of the details included on the schedule was occupation, which this 1870 mortality schedule from Denver, Colorado, shows could sometimes prove very interesting.

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State Censuses

In order to collect more specific data, such as the financial needs and strengths of communities, states censuses were often taken in years between the federal censuses. The Iowa State Census for 1925 (available as part of the Iowa, State Census Collection) is especially rich, including details found in no other records. These census records span several pages; find your ancestor’s record then keep paging forward until you reach the “Occupation” columns.

City Directories

A decided advantage for people with city dwellers in the family tree is the potential to find them in a city directory – occupation details included. These printed books that pre-date telephone books are available in many libraries and are becoming increasingly available online – including an ever-growing collection of directories at Ancestry.com.

County and Local Histories

Over the years an incredible number of county and local histories have been published. These sources often detail the history of all of the businesses in the area, plus biographical sketches of the more prominent members of the community can be a great way to learn about your ancestor’s livelihood. Here are a couple examples from Andreas’ History of Cook County, Illinois.

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Passenger Lists

Passenger lists, especially those created after 1900, can be another way to determine an individual’s occupation. It is interesting to note that often large communities of coal miners would emigrate together; their destinations would specify a particular place in the United States where they were assured of a job.

Passport Applications

Not everyone had the need for a passport, but when they did, their application included employment history. In some cases, passport application files include testimony of the employer stating that the individual applying had a job, proving that the applicant would not be dependent on the government for an income.

Tax Lists

On July 1, 1862, Congress passed the Internal Revenue Act, creating the Bureau of Internal Revenue (later renamed to the Internal Revenue Service). This act was intended to “provide Internal Revenue to support the Government and to pay interest on the Public Debt.” Instituted in the height of the Civil War, the “Public Debt” at the time primarily consisted of war expenses. All persons, partnerships, firms, associations, and corporations submitted a list showing the amount of annual income, articles subject to special taxes and duties, and the quantity of goods made or sold that were charged with taxes or duties. Here’s Abraham Lincoln being taxed on his salary as president.

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Civil War, World War I, and World War ll Draft Registration Cards

Occupation was one of the questions on the draft registration cards for the Civil War, World War I, and World War ll. Note that sometimes reasons for deferment included being employed in an industry that was critical to national security. World War ll Enlistment cards and other military records also include occupations of those enlisting.

These are just a few places you can find stories about the work your ancestor did to make your world a better place. Now you can honor his or her memory by looking back with new-found appreciation for what was done.

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Tattoos: Signs of an “Interesting Past”http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/04/17/tattoos-signs-of-an-interesting-past/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tattoos-signs-of-an-interesting-past http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/04/17/tattoos-signs-of-an-interesting-past/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:48:19 +0000 Juliana Szucs http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=16169 Read more]]> Jack London is quoted as saying, “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.” My great-great-grandfather, Thomas Howley, was certainly no exception. In 1864, he joined the U.S. Navy under an assumed name so his wife wouldn’t find out. (She found out. She was not happy.)

In her Navy widow’s pension application that I found on Fold3.com, Jane reveals, “I do not remember any noticeable marks or scars on the person of my husband, Thomas Howley, only India ink tattooed on his arm consisting of the letters I.H.S. and as I remembered the image of the crucifiction. [sic] My impression is that the marks were on his arm at the time of his enlistment in the U.S. Navy in the summer of 1864.”

When questioned again about the tattoo, Jane tells the examiner I.H.S. stands for “I have suffered.” It was more likely a Christogram, but I’ll probably never know whether she assumed that, or Thomas told her that, or for that matter, whether Thomas knew of the significance himself. In another affidavit, she says it was “done by India ink when he was a boy.”

Not one to pull punches, Jane goes on to comment on him enlisting without telling her, “I felt very sore over it.” In regards to the tattoos on his arms she says, “I told him he was quite foolish to have those marks on his arm and he said when he was a boy, a lot of them had it done so he had it done on his arm too.” At the time of this affidavit, Thomas had been dead 23 years. Jane clearly had opinions.

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I love the little insights from the various mentions of his tattoos, and while you might not find this amount of background about a tattoo in most other records, there are some records that will tell you if your ancestor had tattoos, and if so, what they were.

This Seaman’s protections certificate from the collection of U.S., Seamen’s Protection Certificates, 1792-1869 even goes so far as to illustrate a couple of John Seisinger’s tattoos.

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Jacob Gaune’s record in that same collection, doesn’t mention a tattoo, but does reveal that he had “both ears bored.”

Declarations of intent to naturalize for some time periods also asked about specific markings. Alfred Maynard Sillence’s declaration doesn’t give us much of a description, but does say he has a “Tattoo on ring finger.”

Of course if your ancestor ran afoul of the law, his (or her) tattoos could be noted in prison records. David Beaudry imprisoned in the McNeil Island Penitentiary (Washington) for three months for “selling liquor to an Indian” and had “Tattooed ‘D.B.’ & “David” on left arm” and “on right forearm “D” & an anchor.”

The words “Hope,” “True,” and “Love” probably aren’t what you’d expect to find tattooed on a “confidence man,” but nonetheless, that’s what we find in the 1906 U.S. Album of Criminals for Harry Homer.

Keep an eye out for notations about your ancestor’s tattoos and unusual physical markings and characteristics. Not only can they help identify him (or her) in other records, they may include clues to their “interesting past.”

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]]> http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/04/17/tattoos-signs-of-an-interesting-past/feed/ 4 Local Histories: Let it Snowhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/02/23/local-histories-let-it-snow/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=local-histories-let-it-snow http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/02/23/local-histories-let-it-snow/#comments Sun, 23 Feb 2014 17:17:06 +0000 Lou Szucs http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=15001 Read more]]> Being a history lover, I subscribe to a whole lot of paper and online newsletters and magazines. A few weeks back, an item in the Wisconsin Historical Society weekly email caught my eye – reservations were being taken for old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh rides. How fun would it be to feel, hear, and see what our grandparents did before sights and sounds like snow blowers and snowplows took over? I love modern conveniences, but the idea of a romantic sleigh ride in the quiet countryside sounds wonderful.

The description of the sleigh ride reminded me of a letter that my grandfather saved. In the letter, dated February 7, 1895, the writer is trying to organize a sleigh ride for a group of friends that included my grandfather and the girl he would marry later that year—my grandmother.  From the letter and penciled math on the back of it, apparently they needed ten couples to make it economically feasible.

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Letters, journals, and mementos that our ancestors saved may not yield hard evidence of births, marriages, and deaths that we can pin to our family trees, but they can provide personality insights that can’t be found elsewhere. Why did my grandfather save this letter? Was there special sentiment attachment to it? Might he have proposed to my grandmother on that sleigh ride? I’ll never know, but these things serve to tickle our curiosity about our people, prompting us to scratch around until we learn more about their lives and the times and places where they lived.

I’ve done a lot of scratching around in my efforts to learn more about Brooklyn, New York, where almost all of my American ancestors lived and died. As I was thinking about the snowy conditions challenging so many of us lately, it seemed like a good time to look at one of my favorite books on Ancestry.com: The civil, political, professional and ecclesiastical history and commercial and industrial record of the county of Kings and the city of Brooklyn, N.Y.: from 1683 to 1884, by Henry Reed Stiles. This time, I thought I’d see how our ancestors handled winter’s wrath—and even made the best of it. For example, Stiles describes the winter of 1757–58, when the court house in Flatbush was saved from a fire “by the energetic efforts of the people, who extinguished the fire by throwing snow-balls upon it.”

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By the time my ancestors had arrived in 1820, Brooklyn had trained firemen who presumably had more than snowballs to fight fires with.

Stiles also included a reproduction of a snow scene painted by Francis Guy. I especially love that he provided a key to the image so we can see who was who, who owned the buildings, and what each one was.

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The reproduction below is a rare pre-camera view of Brooklyn that gives us a sense of what a snow-covered Brooklyn was like. For more colorful views of paintings by Francis Guy, see this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum website.
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Anyone who has been stranded in a snowstorm might feel special empathy for 600 people who were “forced to remain all night in the street cars” in Brooklyn on February 6, 1882, because of a “great fall of snow,” also noted by Stiles.

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All of these insights came from a search of Stiles’ book using the keyword “snow.” There are thousands of local histories on Ancestry.com that could contain insights on your ancestors that are just waiting to be discovered. The trick to uncovering them is to navigate to the collection and search it directly. Here’s how:

  1. Click on the Search tab and scroll down to the map at the bottom of the page.
  2. Select the state where your ancestors lived.
  3. Scroll down the list of collections by category to the last one: Stories, Memories, & Histories.
  4. Browse through the titles on the state level, or select a county from the box on the right side of the page.
  5. Search for a topic of interest by entering a term in the keyword field (e.g., drought, winter, epidemic, flood, market, etc.). You could also search for a year that was significant to your ancestors, perhaps the year the family arrived, the year a child was born, or the year a couple married.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the names and dates that we forget to do a little digging for the stories. And those stories can make for some darned interesting reading on a snowy evening.

 

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Can’t find a marriage? Check for marriage millshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/02/14/cant-find-a-marriage-check-for-marriage-mills/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cant-find-a-marriage-check-for-marriage-mills http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/02/14/cant-find-a-marriage-check-for-marriage-mills/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 21:06:34 +0000 Juliana Szucs http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=14909 Read more]]> 20140214Lake_County_Indiana_Courthouse

The genealogist in us diligently records the marriage date and place, and the family historian wonders about the story behind that date. If we’re fortunate, we may have a photograph of the happy couple on their wedding day, or some other memento of the occasion. A story may have been passed down through the family. Or not.

Sometimes the story may lie in some of those seemingly uninteresting facts. Have you ever wondered about the “where” of your ancestors’ marriage? Or perhaps you are wondering why you can’t find the marriage record in the county where you suspect it should have taken place. If you’re not finding a marriage record you may want to investigate whether there was a “marriage mill,” or “Gretna Green” in the area.

For centuries, prevailing laws (and disapproving parents) have thrown up barriers to young lovers wishing to marry. But when Cupid’s arrow strikes, those determined young lovebirds often fly off to a location where laws are less stringent.

In the late 17th and the first half of the 18th century in England, couples were required to post an announcement of their impending marriage in the form of banns. Banns could be waived by obtaining a license, but church officials could also dictate where and when a couple could marry. Residency requirements, although at times loose, had to be met, and there were certain times during the ecclesiastic calendar when marriages were not to be performed. There were also age restrictions; parental consent was required if either party was under the age of 21. Many opted for a path of less resistance on the road to marital bliss in the form of clandestine marriages.

The demand for clandestine marriages in London was met by institutions that considered themselves exempt from church canon and in some cases, like that of May Fair chapel, by a cleric who simply flouted the regulations. Prisons like the Fleet and the King’s Bench Prison became popular destinations for couples interested in quick, no-questions-asked nuptials because of the number of clerics imprisoned for debt who had nothing to lose and welcomed the income. Many of them lived in the “Rules” or “Liberties,” which were areas around the prison where prisoners could pay for the privilege of living outside the gates. (You can search London, England, Clandestine Marriage and Baptism Registers, 1667-1754 on Ancestry.com.)

With the passage of Lord Hardwicke’s Act in 1753, clandestine or common-law marriages in England were made illegal. Couples wanting to get around restrictions often fled to Scottish border villages in order to get married where the English laws did not apply. Gretna Green, Scotland, was one such destination. Located just over the border, it was one of the first villages encountered by elopers heading north. (Search Gretna Green Gretna Green, Scotland, Marriage Registers, 1794-1895.)

We see the same type of thing to this day. With no waiting period and no required blood test, Las Vegas, Nevada, has been a popular wedding destination for couples looking for a quick, no-hassle marriage. (Looking for a record? Check this index, 1956-2005.)

And there have been plenty of marriage mills in the U.S. You might not think of a small town in Lake County, Indiana, as a destination for marriages, but between 1915 and 1939, Crown Point drew the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Red Grange, and two of the Mills Brothers, thanks to some marketing savvy justices of the peace known as the “marriage squires.”

With its close proximity to Chicago, the famous were joined by many not-so-famous Chicagoans to be married in Crown Point, but the town had competition. St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan, also lured Chicago couples in the 1920s with a four-hour steamboat ride and less restrictions than the big city.

Less stringent age restrictions, medical test requirements, and waiting periods were among the reasons your ancestor may have chosen to marry someplace they didn’t call home. When you’re not finding the record where it “should” be, try looking into the prevailing laws of the time for the places they lived, and in surrounding areas. You just might find that marriage record—and a bit of a story to boot.

What marriage mills (and stories) are in your family tree?

 

 

 

 

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New Content: Probates, School Girls, BMDs, and Airplane Snackshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/10/18/new-content-probates-school-girls-bmds-and-airplane-snacks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-content-probates-school-girls-bmds-and-airplane-snacks http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/10/18/new-content-probates-school-girls-bmds-and-airplane-snacks/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 16:38:43 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=12467 Read more]]> Family historians love wills and probate records for the light they can shed on family relationships. This month, we’ve added two probate-related collections from the southern hemisphere:

New South Wales, Australia, Index to Deceased Estate Files, 1923-1958

New Zealand, Notices of Deceased Estates, 1880-1950

NZ trust notices

 

U.S., School Catalogs, 1765-1935, is a fun hodgepodge of everything from course catalogs to commencement addresses from just about every sort of institution of higher education you can think of. Such as the venerable Pennington Female Institute (class of 1858):

Penn institute

 

You’ll find name, age, and date and county of death in the California, Death Index, 1905-1939. And if your Oregon ancestors only set foot in church long enough to be baptized, married, or buried, you may still be in luck with Oregon, Church and Cemetery Records, 1840-1965.

 

Finally, just last week, a message in a bottle washed up on Guam after a three-year journey. The folks in the Agana, Guam, U.S., Passenger and Crew Lists of Arriving Vessels and Airplanes, 1948-1954, database were in a bit of a hurry, so they all took a boat or a plane. Some of their luggage is interesting, though. One group of passengers brought along 1 tall box and some crabs, yams, and corn.

guam

 

Sure beats a little bag of pretzels.

 

 

 

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Major Milestones in Family Historyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/10/10/major-milestones-in-family-history/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=major-milestones-in-family-history http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/10/10/major-milestones-in-family-history/#comments Thu, 10 Oct 2013 20:32:53 +0000 Crista Cowan http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=12369 Read more]]> This month we are celebrating Family History Month. I hope you have enjoyed the tips, tricks and insider secrets we’ve been sharing here on the blog, on our Livestream broadcasts, and on our Facebook page. Look forward to even more genealogy goodness as the month continues. In the midst of all this celebrating, I thought I would add one more thing to celebrate.

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Ancestry.com reached a major milestone in the past few weeks. There are now 12 billion searchable records online for you to discover even more about your family history. That’s billion – with a B. And we continue to add new records to the site almost every single day.

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In the spirit of reminiscing – which I always do in my own life when I reach certain milestones – I thought I would share with you a little history and a few of my favorite record collections on Ancestry.com.

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The Ancestry.com website went online in 1996 (check out our original homepage on the WayBack Machine) and by the summer of 1997 there were more than 80 searchable databases. The most notable database at the time – and still one of our most popular – is the Social Security Death Index. One of my favorite databases in that original collection is the Geographic Reference Library. It contains more than one million entries. Search for any town, church, cemetery or populated place in the United States – forgotten, hard to find, old or new – and discover what state and county it was in, what other names it may have been known by, and what other locations are in the county.

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In 2000 Ancestry.com began adding images of U.S. Federal Census records and creating an every name index to these very valuable genealogical records. By 2001, Ancestry.com reached the one billion record milestone. Five years to reach our first billion records and now here we are, twelve years later, with 12 billion records online.

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If you were to ask me which of those 12 billion records was my favorite, I’d be hard pressed to make a decision. I can’t even pick a favorite among our 31,389 databases – California Death Index (because it lists mother’s maiden name), U.S. City Directories (because I can trace people’s movement in between census years), Happy Homes and How to Make Them (because I am fascinated with what life was like in mid 19th century England). I could go on and on.

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Instead I’m going to invite you to explore the Ancestry.com collection on your own in a different way than you might used to exploring it. On this morning’s episode of my bi-weekly show, The Barefoot Genealogist, I shared my favorite tips and tricks for using the Ancestry Card Catalog.

Watch the video below:

When you have 12 billion records at your disposal it’s nice to have a few tricks for making the most out of the time you have to access them. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what changes come about with the next 12 billion records.

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Have fun climbing your family tree!

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P.S. – In case you didn’t quite catch it in the video, here’s that trick for filtering your hints to a specific record collection: Add &hdbid=xxxx to the end of your record hints URL and hit enter. (Where xxxx is the database id of the collection you are interested in.)

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New Content: Nonconformists, Military Registers, Cali Marriages, and the Baker Rollhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/09/13/new-content-nonconformists-military-registers-cali-marriages-and-the-baker-roll/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-content-nonconformists-military-registers-cali-marriages-and-the-baker-roll http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/09/13/new-content-nonconformists-military-registers-cali-marriages-and-the-baker-roll/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2013 15:17:45 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=11621 Read more]]> Not everybody comes to the U.S. via New York. Maryland, Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes, 1910-1954, is just that, an image-only collection of crew lists for both ships and planes that arrived in Baltimore during the first half of the 20th century.

If your English ancestors were nonconforming types—you know, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and the like—they may turn up in this extensive collection of England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970.

noncom burial

 

You can find out who got what (and who didn’t) among your First State ancestors in Delaware, Wills and Administrations, 1683-1947, or whether they were working on the railroad in U.S., Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1960.

U.S., Cherokee Baker Roll and Records, 1924-1929, is an important database for Native American researchers, the final official list of recognized members of the Eastern Band of North Carolina Cherokee.

baker inset

 

The California, Marriage Index, 1949-1959, provides a decade worth of names and ages for bride and groom, along with a date and county.

My favorite record in U.S., Military Registers, 1862-1970, is Herbert Victor Wiley, on blimp duty in L.A.:

us military dirig

 

And once the gold rushes started, Sydney became a boom town that didn’t stop booming. The New South Wales, Australia, Sydney Improvement Board [1871-1896] was formed to keep the city’s buildings ship shape.

 

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Ancestry.com and FamilySearch to Make a Billion Global Records Available Onlinehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/09/05/ancestry-com-and-familysearch-to-make-a-billion-global-records-available-online/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ancestry-com-and-familysearch-to-make-a-billion-global-records-available-online http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/09/05/ancestry-com-and-familysearch-to-make-a-billion-global-records-available-online/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 19:15:37 +0000 Crista Cowan http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=11538 Read more]]> The following press release was issued this afternoon by Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.

Groundbreaking Agreement to Deliver Valuable Historical Content Over the Next Five Years

PROVO, Utah, September 5, 2013 – Ancestry.com and FamilySearch International (online at FamilySearch.org), the two largest providers of family history resources, announced today an agreement that is expected to make approximately 1 billion global historical records available online and more easily accessible to the public for the first time. With this long-term strategic agreement, the two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records from the FamilySearch vault.

The access to the global collection of records marks a major investment in international content as Ancestry.com continues to invest in expanding family history interest in its current markets and worldwide. Ancestry.com expects to invest more than $60 million over the next five years in the project alongside thousands of hours of volunteer efforts facilitated by FamilySearch.

“This agreement sets a path for the future for Ancestry.com and FamilySearch to increasingly share international sets of records more collaboratively,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry.com. “A significant part of our vision for family history is helping provide a rich, engaging experience on a global scale. We are excited about the opportunities it will bring to help benefit the family history community and look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch to identify other opportunities to help people discover and share their family history.”

The organizations will also be looking at other ways to share content across the two organizations. Both organizations expect to add to the already digitized records shared across the two websites in addition to new record projects to be completed over the next five years.

“We are excited to work with Ancestry.com on a vision we both share,” said Dennis Brimhall, President of FamilySearch. “Expanding online access to historical records through this type of collaboration can help millions more people discover and share their family’s history.”

This marks a groundbreaking agreement between the two services. But the two organizations aren’t strangers to working with each other; hundreds of millions of records have already been shared and are available on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. The companies also announced in early 2013 an additional project where they plan to publish 140 million U.S. Wills & Probate images and indexes over the next three years—creating a national database of wills and other probate documents spanning 1800-1930 online for the very first time.

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