Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Records Added at FamilySearch Records

The FamilySearch Records site ( has added the indexed Arizona Death Certificates (1870-1951) and images for Hungary Funeral Notices (1840-1990). The Brazil Rio de Janeiro Civil Registration has also been significantly expanded and the West Virginia births, deaths and marriages has added 3 counties. 

If you want to see the Arizona Death Certificates you can look at the link I highlighted in my article on Arizona a few weeks ago (

Every record you index adds that much more to the records we can access. Make Indexing one of your New Year's Resolutions.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Europeana Digital Library is back up for testing

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the Europeana Digital Library. This site crashed almost as soon as it went live due to high traffic volumes. Well, now they have come back online with the test site. You can access it at: This site has over 2 million digital items including images, text, sound and video from museums, archives, libraries and other collections across Europe. This is your chance to try it out. A final version is expected to be available in 2010 with over 6 million digital objects cataloged.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Finding Records Online – Indiana

I took a few days off for the Christmas holiday, but now I am back again. We had wonderful weather here even though it was quite warm. It was in the upper 70s to low 80s everyday. It was perfect weather to do yard work and wash the car. Looking out my window right now I have chickadees, warblers and tufted titmice sitting at my bird feeder. 

Today’s blog will be back on my topic of state records. Indiana has a wealth of records online. Many of these records are available through the Indiana State Library. These databases can be found on the Indiana Memory Project website at There is a Genealogy section under the Collections site. The Genealogy Collection includes several useful online databases such as Indiana Marriages Database pre-1850, Indiana Marriages Database 1993-2002, Indiana World War II Servicemen, Indianapolis Newspaper Index 1848-1991, Logansport Newspaper Index 1848-1855, Marion County Death Index 1925-1945, New Albany Newspaper Index 1849-1889, Vincennes Newspaper Index 1804-1827, and the Vital Information Exchange Database.  

In addition to the Indiana State Library databases, there are many that focus on specific counties or events. Some of the site I have found include: 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Relatively Speaking – Developing a Family Medical History

It is amazing where you will run into family history related materials. Today I was grocery shopping at my neighborhood Publix. I always go to the advertisement display to grab their sales ad, store magazine and any coupons they might have setting out. As I went through their store magazine I ran across an article titled “Relative-ly Healthy”. You can read the article on their website at This article discussed the importance of learning about your family medical history. This time of year when we get together to celebrate the holidays is a perfect time to work on gathering the information we need to compile a family medical history. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 96 percent of Americans believe it is important to know their family history, but only one-third have ever tried to gather and record this information. Many people feel uncomfortable asking for this kind of personal information. If this describes you then maybe you can blame it on your doctor. You can always say, “My doctor wants me to ask so he can take better care of me.” 

Another problem that may arise during the collection of this information is a denial or refusal of some family members to discuss their personal medical histories. Some families may associate shame with certain disorders or may have painful memories associated with a condition. You will have to take this into consideration as you prepare. Make sure you explain your purpose, emphasize that this information is useful in determining whether you, or other family members, may be prone to certain conditions. Give them options on filling out the information. Some people may be more comfortable doing it face-to-face while other might prefer to fill out a form. Start with general questions then lead to more detailed personal questions as they become more comfortable. Be a good listener, you may get more information on other family members by just listening to them talk about their histories. And most of all, respect their privacy. 

As genealogists and family history researchers we may already know something about our family medical histories. We may have come across information in death certificates, newspaper articles, or old letters and journals. Bring this information along with you when you do the interviews, it may spur someone’s memory. Once you have gathered the information, you should add it to your family tree or use a tool such as My Family Health Portrait which can be found at the US Surgeon Generals website at

If you need an idea of the questions you should ask, I have developed a family medical history form that is available in Excel format on my website at You can select the family member and fill the form out on your computer or have the family member fill it out and e-mail it back to you. Once you have gathered the information you should provide copies to your health-care providers as well as to your relatives so they can provide copies to their health-care providers.

Try it out and learn more about your family as well as providing you a better idea of your chances of developing various diseases. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Well, it has been a few days since my last blog again. It is hard to keep up during the holidays, between the parties and shopping and everything. But tonight I am going to highlight a website being developed by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership with the Library of Congress. The Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers website is currently in beta testing and can be found at This site allows you to search a variety of newspapers published between 1880-1910. Additionally, you can read up on American newspapers printed since 1690.

Currently there are a limited number of newspapers which are searchable. In May 2005, the NDNP began its development phase by making awards to six state projects that were selecting newspapers published in California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah, and Virginia from the decades of 1880 to 1910. Since then thay have added newspapers from Washington DC, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Texas. These projects have digitized over 100,000 pages, according to the guidelines outlined by the Library of Congress. I decided to search for some of my Tervort relatives in the Utah newspapers. There is an interesting story of how this family ended up in Utah but I will not go into the details. For the search I chose Utah as the state and entered Tervort as the search term. I ended up with 12 results. These results included the marriage of Moroni Tervort and Rosa Hiatt from the Deseret Evening News; a listing of Frank and Henry Tervort as Republican delegates in the 1896 election from the Salt Lake Herald; and I found out that Moroni Tervort was selected in a lottery as one of 714 Utah citizens to fight in the War with Spain in 1898. He was one of the 4 men selected from Payson. All of these articles add just that much more context to my understanding of the life of my ancestors.

The second part of the database is the chronicling of American newspapers published since 1690. I found this database to be very interesting. I decided to do a search on my hometown newspaper, The Community Post of Minster, Ohio. What I found out was that the paper started out as a German paper called the Minster Volksfreund in 1894. It changed names to The Minster Post and continued as a German paper until 1918 but then changed to an English paper until 1964. After that, they again changed the name to The Community Post which is still being printed. I remember as a child visiting my grandmother and having her read the German articles from the old newspapers. I invite you to check out your local newspapers and learn more about the history of the papers in your area.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Finding Records Online – Illinois

As I continue to focus on the availability of online records for specific states I noticed that Diane Haddad has also written about the Illinois records today on her blog at I guess great minds think alike, or maybe it is just a coincidence. But before I start the list of databases available online for Illinois, I wanted to add a mention of the 25,000th record digitized at the FamilySearch website at These records are wonderful resources and can be found when you do a search of the Library Catalog. As you search for the microfilm, fiche or book that you need you may come across a document marked “To view a digital version of this item click here.” These records are viewable online and have an every word search capability. This is a wonderful resource so make sure you try it out. 

Now, on to Illinois. There are a huge number of records that have been indexed and placed online for the state of Illinois. The Illinois State Archives records are found on two identical sites. One site is located at while the other is found at

Land Records - The Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales database includes nearly 550,000 land sales records from the land sold within Illinois for the periods of 1817-1819 and 1847-1877. This database is searchable and provides information such as the purchaser's name, purchase date, number of acres, price per acre, numeric code indicating the county in which the land is located, legal description (township, section, range), volume and page numbers of original entry, and variously, the sale type, and the purchaser's sex and residence. Photocopies of these records can be ordered from the state for a fee of $10 for 2 record copies. 

Slave/Servant Records – The Database of Servitude and Emancipation Records includes 3,400 names of African and Indian servants from 1722-1863. The names of servants, slaves, or free persons and masters, witnesses, or related parties are listed in this database. These records may include bills of sale, birth information, census records from 1810, 1818 and 1820, divorce information, donations of property or chattel, emancipation records, estate records, guardianship records, indenture agreements, inventories of slaves, leases of services, marriage contracts, mortgages of slaves, registrations such as receipts, contracts and other agreements, and wills. Photocopies of these records can be obtained from the State Archives. 

Veterans Records – There are a variety of veterans records available on the Illinois State Archives website. These databases include indexes of the War of 1812, Winnebago War, Black Hawk War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, and an index of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home Residents between 1887-1916. Again, copies of all of the actual records can be requested from the State Archives. 

Marriage Records – The Illinois Statewide Marriage Index is a record of more than one million marriages within the state between 1763 and 1900. There are a few records up through 1920. These records include the name of the groom and bride, date of marriage, certificate number and county. 

Death Records – The Illinois Statewide Death Index includes an index of records from the 1870s to 1916 and currently contains over 1.1 million records. Additionally, there is a second Statewide Death Index that covers the years 1916-1950. These records include the name, date of death, location, age and sex of the individual as well as the certificate number. 

In addition to these statewide databases there are a number of county indexes listed on the Illinois State Archives website. These local records indexes include death, birth, naturalization, almshouse, homicide, coroner’s inquest, will, court, probate, farm, guardianship and other record types. This is a great site for anyone who has ancestors in Illinois.

And now I am off to open the Family History Center and to set up for our Cub Scout Space Derby. Another busy night ahead of me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding Records Online – Idaho

Well, it has been over a week since I wrote my last blog entry. It has been a busy week. I was sick for a few days, had a couple holiday parties at work, my students had final exams which I had to grade, had to build my new treadmill that I got for Christmas (a little early) and this week I am busy getting a rocket project ready for our Cub Scouts and I have to travel to the other end of the state for some office meetings. So, now that you know what I have been up to, I can get started on tonight’s blog entry. I will continue with my theme of highlighting some useful web pages for a state. Tonight I will discuss Idaho’s online records. 

There are a variety of websites that are very useful for researching Idaho records. One of these sites is the Idaho State Historical Society Digital Collections at This collection includes documents pertaining to mining in Idaho, the Idaho Capitol Commission and several photograph collections. I did a quick search and found records which included copies of diaries and historical photographs. 

For those of us who had ancestors of ill repute you might want to check out the Idaho Penitentiary Files found at This document includes the timeframe of 1864-1947 with an additional list of inmate names from 1947-1975. You can download a copy of the index and see if any of your family were horse thieves or crooks. This index may include the inmate’s name, age, birth date, location, file number and a description of the crime they were convicted of. 

Another useful database is the Obituary Index found on the Boise Public Library website at This site includes an index of obituaries from The Idaho Statesman from 1970-73 and 1977-present. This index includes names, dates of publication and page the obituary was found on. They will send you copies of the documents for $5.00. 

BYU Idaho hosts several databases that are useful in researching Idaho records. One of these databases is the Idaho Death Indexes at These records include the time period from 1911-1951. Another is the Eastern Idaho Death Records at Both of these sites will provide results with names and dates of birth and death. The Eastern Idaho Death Records give an added bonus with pictures of the gravestones associated with the names. 

The Western States Marriage Database is also found at the BYU Idaho website. This database can be found at You can search by groom or bride and view the extracted information from the marriage records. These records range from pre-1900 to the 1930s. 

An additional database that I found to be very interesting is the Historical Ricks College/BYUI Scroll database. I happened to show this site to a patron a few months ago and she asked me to type in her husband’s name. We found him in several yearbooks and she really enjoyed seeing the pictures of him in college. This site can be found at These records cover the time frame of the early 1900s to the 1970s. 

The last database I will discuss is the Southeast Idaho Oral Histories Collection at The transcripts are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the person interviewed, followed by the topic that each interview covers. Many of these transcripts cover the time period of the early 1900s to 1930s. It is just interesting to read these to get a feeling of what life was like during the early part of the last century. 

Well, that is all I have time for tonight. I will try to continue to blog on a regular basis through the holidays but will probably miss a few days here and there for various reasons. 

Have fun with your research and have a Happy Holiday Season.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

As I mentioned a few entries ago, I was going to work on listing important websites for state records unless something interesting popped up. Well, two things have popped up. First of all, new FamilySearch has released a new update v 0.95. There are some minor changes in the database including the requirement to certify that you are complying with Church policy in submitting names for the Temple including not submitting names of Jewish Holocaust victims and it is now more compatible with Firefox and Safari browsers.  But I am not going to spend time discussing those. I am sure some other blogger will address them in more detail. 

What I will spend a little time discussing tonight is a new database called Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database at This site was launched on Friday in conjunction with a conference at Emory University marking the bicentennial of the official end to the slave trade in 1808. The database documents the slave trade from Africa to the New World between the 1500s to the 1800s and includes searchable information on about 35,000 voyages and the names of over 67,000 Africans aboard these ships. It includes the name, age, gender, origin, and ports of embarkation and landing. The database includes information on 95% of all voyages that left from ports in England, the country with the second largest slave trade. 

Many of the slaves’ names were westernized after their sale while their names in the database are more closely related to their African names. So therefore this database may not list a specific ancestor of a slave descendent but it will give context about their voyage. For someone who knows that an ancestor was enslaved in a certain location, the database might help them trace from where in Africa they most likely came. 

There are two main parts of the database that can be searched in many ways. One part is known as the Voyage Database. The other is called the African Names Database. If you are looking for a specific vessel, know the name of the captain or crew, know the ports of departure or arrival, or know the nationality of the ship, you can use this database to get more information. The African Names Database is a listing of names of a small percentage of the individuals who were shipped to the New World as slaves. All of these search results are linked directly back to a more detailed description of the vessel, its cargo, and trade route. Since there are only a few websites that specialize in this part of our history, it is a major addition and should be used as one more tool in researching African-American roots.

Finding Records Online – Georgia

There are several places online that house records from Georgia. First of all let’s look at the records that have been completed by the FamilySearch Indexing project. One of the first groups of records that were placed online at was the Georgia death certificates. These death certificates cover the time between 1914-1927. Additionally the FamilySearch website has various US census records that also cover the state of Georgia.

The state of Georgia has been putting some of their records online at the Georgia Virtual Vault at This site has a variety of records including the same death certificates as found on the FamilySearch website, Confederate enlistment and pension records, wills and deeds from several counties, Spanish-American War records, militia enlistment papers, trademark papers, historic maps and photographs and several other types of records. You can search all of these databases at the same time and download copies of all the documents for your own records. Searching through the Civil War pension records may result in finding other documents. A quick search led me to copies of marriage records, funeral home records, handwritten letters, and other documents used to prove widow’s rights or pensioner's service. The Virtual Vault also has some older records, including colonial wills from 1733-1779.

Another site for Georgia records is the DocuWeb database found at This site has indexed records from various counties as well as Civil War Pension Records. To use this site select Browse, then select the record type you want to view. A list of names will appear and you can select the names you are interested in. This site has been glitchy lately and it may take several visits to it to get the records you are looking for. It appears that this site is being abandoned for a new system that is currently not active in the public web.

I hope some of these sites are helpful in your search for Georgia ancestors.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finding Records Online – Florida

Florida has a wealth of records for you to find online. Many of these records are housed at the Florida Memory Project. The Florida Memory Project is a collection of historical archives, photographs, and government documents. This site can be found at Some of the documents that can be searched from this webpage include Spanish Land Grants, Confederate Pension Applications, World War I Service Records, as well as others. All of these records are free to download digital copies. This is a great resource for finding your southern ancestors. 

The Spanish Land Grants can be found at These were land claims filed by settlers in Florida after the transfer of the territory from Spain to the United States in 1821. These grants were used to prove ownership of lands that were granted to settlers by Spain beginning in 1790. These records include descriptions of the property claims and land uses. Some records may include supporting records such as wills, deeds and other correspondence proving ownership.

Florida Confederate Pension Files can be found at  These records include the complete veterans’ pension request files as well as the widows’ applications. These records start in 1885. The veterans’ claims usually include full name, date and place of birth, unit of service, date and place of enlistment, date and place of discharge, any wounds or outstanding service, place of residence, and other pieces of information needed to verify their service. The widows’ applications include the same information plus date and place of marriage, date and place of husband’s death, and her place of residence. 

The WWI Service Cards is located at These are index cards with the name, age, serial number, race, place of birth, and residence for those service men and women from Florida during WWI. Additionally, these cards have dates of service, where served, and rank during that period. There are over 42,000 Floridians included in this collection. 

Another potentially useful site is the Florida Department of State Library and Archives. This site can be found at  This site allows you to search over 40,000 cubic feet of state and local government records from 2,700 collections. The search results will link to the collection that is housed in the State Archives. If you get some good hits here you might want to think about making a trip to Tallahassee to check out the archives. You can also search the Archives collection at

The Florida Electronic Library is another potentially useful site.  This site is found at You will need a library card from one of the libraries in Florida to access this database. Once you are able to access it you will find records such as newspapers, including obituaries, magazines, journals, books and other resources. 

In addition to these sources, FamilySearch is beginning to place more Florida records online at Currently, parts of the 1885, 1934 and 1945 Florida State Census are available to browse.

Well, that should keep all the people in Florida busy for a few days. I think tomorrow I will talk about the records from Georgia.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Finding Records Online – Colorado

Colorado has a huge number of records available online. There are literally hundreds of different types of records totaling over 565,000 individual records which can be found on the California State Archives website.  A list of the indexed records can be found at

The Historical Records Index Search page can be found at This page has a database of over 50 types of records including professional licenses, court cases, military records, wills, voter registration, tax lists, naturalization, Indian records, census, birth, death, divorce, and many more. You can select the records that you want, fill in the form and electronically submit it to the Archives for them to research. There are fees associated with getting the actual records but even just searching the indexes can provide some useful information such as name, record type, county and date of event. More information on the record types that have been indexed can be found at  Another way to search this site is through the Colorado State Archives Search page at I would run a search on each of these links because they display the results differently and sometimes additional information can be found.

Another useful site is the Denver Public Library’s Western History and Genealogy site at Like most libraries, many of their databases require a Denver Public Library card for access. However, you can use the search bar located at the top of the page to search the indexes that are available for free.

I hope these free indexes are useful. Tomorrow I will talk about records from the state of Florida. Have fun digging through all the records.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Finding Records Online – Arizona

I decided to start a series of discussions on finding free online vital records for each state. I started a list of the websites for each state a little over a year ago and decided that I should share this information for those of us looking for our families. I will try to keep it in some semblance of alphabetical order but since some states have not yet adopted the internet as a place to store records I will have to skip them for now. I may also decide to periodically interupt the state list with some other topic that I feel like writing about.

The topic for today is the birth, death and marriage records of Arizona. The state of Arizona is currently hosting birth and death records on their website at  For privacy reasons the records found on this site are restricted to birth records at least 75 years old (1855-1932) and death records at least 50 years old (1844-1957). The site will be updated yearly by adding the next year to the searchable records and older records will be added as they are indexed. The information found within these records was extracted from photo reproductions of the original certificates by volunteers from the Mesa Regional Family History Center.

The search screen for this site is easy to navigate. You can search by name for both birth and death records or you can select either the birth or death records. Birth records are shown in blue font while the death records are shown in red font to make them easy to distinguish. The search results link directly to the images of the records in pdf format. That makes it easy to download and print copies of the documents. This site was first posted in February, 2004 and has had almost 6 million records requests since then.

Marriage records for Arizona and other western states can be found on the BYU Idaho Western States Marriage Record Index web site at The site provides an index of extracted records but does not currently host the digital copies of the records. Arizona marriage records start with pre-1900 records and continue through the 1930’s. Some states have records going back to the 1700’s. There are currently close to 700,000 records from all the western states housed in this database and more records are being added daily. They are currently beta testing a new enhanced records search feature.

Each entry on this site may contain names of bride and groom, marriage date and place, county where the marriage is recorded, residency of the bride and groom and other miscellaneous comments. Anyone interested in adding names to the index can contact the Idaho Falls Regional Family History Center.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Europeana Digital Library Opens And Then Closes Again

Well, I took a few days off for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Thursday was spent with family and eating way too much food. Friday was spent hitting all of the deals during Black Friday. For those of you who have not happened to go shopping on Black Friday it is an experience. We slept in this year and hit the stores at 8:00 am instead of the usual 5:00 am but we still found some incredible deals. Saturday was spent cleaning the house trying to find room for the tree and the items that we bought on Friday. Sunday was spent at church and choir practice getting ready for the Christmas program. But now I am ready to get back into the blogging again and boy do I have a great website to talk about today (even though it is currently crashed).

The Europeana Digital Library is an online depository for over 2 million digital objects, including film, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers collected by the various European Union member countries. This project was started in 2007 and opened its web database on November 20, 2008. However, the site is currently down due to overwhelming traffic. The site was originally designed to handle 5 million hits per hour but on opening day it received approximately 10 million hits per hour. They expect to have the site back up and running by early 2009. Once the site has added the upgrades necessary to handle the traffic you will be able to visit it at The site will be in several languages, including English, French and German. For those that are interested in seeing what the site will have available, you can visit their development site at Once the site is up and functioning it should be a great source for historical information in Europe.