Sorry for the large gap. I’m in the process of doing some experimental performance of this site which has demanded much of my attention in the past couple of weeks. Finally, though, here are the FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions to October 14, 2014.
FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions
FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions.
Press Release: Massive Online US Obituaries Project Will Help Find Your Ancestors
October 1, 2014
US obituary project to be made searchable online.
Volunteers making over a billion names from US death records searchable online.
Salt Lake City, Utah —October 1, 2014
In celebration of Family History Month, FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank (GenealogyBank.com) today announced an agreement to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. It will be the largest—and perhaps most significant—online US historic records access initiative yet. It will take tens of thousands of online volunteers to make GenealogyBank’s vast U.S. obituary collection more discoverable online. Find out more at FamilySearch.org/Campaign/Obituaries.
The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million US newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to present. The completed online index will be fairly comprehensive, including 85% of U.S. deaths from the last decade alone. The death collection will easily become one of the most popular online genealogy databases ever, detailing names, dates, relationships, locations of the deceased, and multi-generational family members.
Family history information from obituaries are being indexed by volunteers and made searchable online.
Obituaries can solve family puzzles, tell stories, dispel myths, and provide tremendous help with family history research. A single obituary can include the names and relationships of dozens of family members. For example, Alice E. Cummings’ obituary (See above) sheds light on where she lived during her lifespan, her personal history, and it provides information connecting five generations of ancestors and descendants in her family tree—14 people in all.
Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, explained that obituaries are extremely valuable because they tell the stories of our ancestors’ lives long after they are deceased. He invites online volunteers to help unlock the “treasure trove” of precious family information locked away in newspaper obituaries.
“Billions of records exist in US obituaries alone,” Brimhall said. “The average obituary contains the names of about ten family members of the deceased—parents, spouse, children, and other relatives. Some include much more. Making them easily searchable online creates an enormously important source for compiling our family histories. The number of people who will benefit from this joint initiative is incalculable.”
GenealogyBank has over 6,500 historical U.S. newspapers and growing, spanning over 280 years. The death notices in these publications go beyond names and dates. They can provide insightful first-hand accounts about an ancestor that simply are not available from censuses or vital records alone.
“Obituaries, unlike any other resource, have the ability to add incredible dimensions to an individual’s family history research. They contain a wealth of information including facts and details that help capture the legacy of those who have passed on,” said Dan V. Jones, GenealogyBank Vice President. “The unique life stories written, dates documented, and generations of family members mentioned are often only found within an obituary, which makes them such an invaluable resource. Obituaries have the unique power to both tell a story and enable individuals to learn more about their family relationships. GenealogyBank is proud and excited to partner with FamilySearch in bringing these obituaries to researchers all over the world.”
Volunteers Are Key
The success of the massive US obituary campaign will depend on online volunteers. The obituaries are fairly simple to read, since they are digital images of the typeset, printed originals, but require human judgment to sort through the rich, historic data and family relationships recorded about each person. Information about online volunteering is available at FamilySearch.org/indexing. A training video, indexing guide, detailed instructions, telephone and online support are available to help new volunteer indexers if needed.
FamilySearch.org volunteers have already indexed over one billion historic records online since 2006, including all of the available U.S. Censuses, 1790 to 1940. In 2012 volunteers rallied in a record-breaking effort to index the entire 1940 U.S. Census in just four months. Today, the US censuses, 1790 to 1940, are the most popular online databases for family history research. Indexed obituary collections can be searched online at FamilySearch.org and GenealogyBank.com.
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
GenealogyBank.com is one of the largest exclusive collections of newspapers and historical documents for family history research. It provides information on millions of American families from 1690–today. Over 6,500 newspapers provide first-hand accounts of your ancestors’ lives that simply can’t be found in other genealogy resources: obituaries, birth and marriage notices, photographs, hometown news and more. Over 380,000 historical books and documents from 1749-1994 include military records, widow’s claims, orphan petitions, land grants, casualty lists, funeral sermons, biographies and much more. Discover the stories, names, dates, places and events that have shaped your family story at GenealogyBank.com.
A very large part of my genealogical research over the past twenty years has produced thousands of photographs and other images and naming and cataloging these files required me to permanently label media files with identifying information.
Permanently label media files with identifying information. Insert cursor to the right of the ‘Comments’ line and a scroll box appears. Enter relevant data in the ‘Comments’ box and click ‘OK’ to save and exit.
I have developed a system over the past few years that has been invaluable to me.
I did not develop this universal system until many years after beginning my research. Therefore there are numerous files in my database that do not follow this, but as I edit individuals and data, I change the file names and comments entries as I go along.
Key points in this system are:
File Comments Section
On the file being named and labelled:
Right click on the file in the list
Select the ‘Details’ tab
Insert cursor to the right of the ‘Comments’ line and a scroll box appears.
Enter relevant data in the ‘Comments’ box and click ‘OK’ to save and exit.
Commas (,) separate data for an individual while a semi-colon (;) separates different individuals. The last name appearing first enables sorting file lists alphabetically with last name first. Otherwise, a file search can be done.
Last name, First and Middle Names, birth date (i.e. Smith, George Walter, b. 1961.jpg).
The addition of the birth date enables identifying an individual when there is more than one with the same name.
Husband’s last name, first name; wife’s last name (if different), first name (i.e. Smith, George; Christine.jpg; Smith, George Walter; Foster, Samantha.jpg).
In the comments section I list individuals from left rear to right front or clockwise, as they appear in the image.
Father’s last name, first name; wife’s last name (if different), first name; children’s last name (if different), first name (i.e. Smith, George Walter; Samantha; Grace; John.jpg).
In the comments section I list individuals from left rear to right front or clockwise, as they appear in the image.
If the group is too large to include all names, I list individuals in detail in the comments section of the file data in order from left rear to right front.
Groups of miscellaneous people.
Each individual’s last name, first name, b. date (if more than one with the name); last name, first name; etc. (i.e. Smith, George Walter; Davidson, Thomas; Foster, Helen).
If there are too many to include in the file name, start on the left rear and work to the front right or clockwise, with as many names as possible (i.e. Smith, George Walter; Samantha; Grace; John and family and friends.jpg).
If the group is too large to include all names, I list individuals in detail in the comments section of the file data.
Places, buildings, etc.
List the place data in the file name as follows: Country, State or Province, County, City or Town (i.e. Chilliwack Senior Secondary School; Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.jpg).
In the comments section, I list as stated followed by the street address and any other pertinent information (i.e. landmark name, owner, date, background information).
Individual records (i.e. birth, marriage, death, etc.).
For the file name list the last name, first name – record type, relevant date (i.e. Smith, George; Death Record; December 12, 1911.jpg).
In the comments section, also include all other relevant data for identification purposes (i.e. place, other people mentioned, etc.).
Group records that include several individuals (i.e. censuses, tax rolls, passenger lists, etc.).
For the file name list the head of household’s last name, first and middle names, birth date if more than one individual with that name – record type, country, state or province, county, city or town, street address, household (i.e. Smith, George A, b. 1872; 1850 US Census; Beekmantown, Clinton, New York.jpg).
Whatever does not fit in the file name can be included in the comments section of the file.
In almost twenty years of genealogy research, I have found a considerable amount of the sources, data and images on free genealogy databases online. They still exist in large numbers and can be very valuable.
Finding free genealogy databases.
The tough part in some cases is finding them, as most sites created by amateur genealogists and website owners are not optimized for the internet and therefore may not rank well in Google searches.
Be sure to sift through as many links as you can. If the site entered from a Google search result links to other sites, then by all means check them out. It’s important to bookmark any sites you find valuable as it’s very likely that days, weeks, months or even years down the road, you may never be able to find it again.
One tool I find very helpful for finding free genealogy databases is the Google Genealogy Search Tool at the Ancestor Search website. Scroll to the very bottom for the search tool, just one of many on the page. This tool incorporates most of all the search types above it. Just proceed to the next search results once you’ve waded through a set. This is very quick, easy and fruitful.
It is also important to search by other means than just names, such as location, topical sites (i.e. military service, war records, births, deaths, etc.) and dedicated surname websites.
When you begin to study genealogy, the resources that you have are few and far between. Most of us don’t go out and purchase expensive books or buy memberships in larger sites to get the information that we want. We tend to rely more on our own experiences and family members, but the truth is that those resources, while good, won’t carry you back through too many generations before you need some additional help.
Frustration can be an integral part of genealogy research. When it gets to the point where I’m very frustrated and feeling blocked, I create a ‘to do’ note on the person’s record in my genealogy software and turn to a different item. I find when I return later, either with a fresh, clear mind, or having given the database time to make updates, I will find something useful.
While you’re working online on your family tree, the free genealogy database will very often be a life saver. Those of us who don’t, or can’t buy the online access to the many paid databases, use the free ones religiously to find our way through family members. While you may not find all of the things that you want to know, you will find a great deal of information that will point you in another direction you weren’t even aware that you had to explore.
Even paid genealogy sites offer some specific databases for free access. These sites include Ancestry.com, and Fold3.com, amongst others. To search for free records on any given paid genealogy site, find the search link, go to advanced search, and enter the keyword ‘free.’ Most sites will produce a list of all free databases on the site. Also, try a general ‘free database’ keyword search on Google. Be prepared for thousands of search results, but at least it’s a place to start.
It is also important to subscribe to the blogs or newsletters to learn of any time limited free database promotions that may be coming up.
For all of you who thought the free genealogy search was a thing of the past, and that nothing worth having was free any more, take heart. There are literally thousands of free genealogy database sites out there that are waiting for you to come and pick through them and get what you can for your own genealogy.
This morning, I read the Archives UK blog headline “Reburial of King Richard III”, describing the circumstances and controversy surrounding the decision about the location of Richard III’s final resting place.
I proceeded to read the entire article with fascination.
I have written a couple of posts regarding the search for, discovery and excavation of his burial site under the parking lot of the Greyfriars Abbey in Leicester.
This article on the Archives UK blog does a great job of describing “the depth of feeling generated on both sides of the recent court battle over the re-burial of the body of King Richard III.”
The dispute arose between the University of Leicester and a group of Richard’s distant relatives, the Plantagenet Alliance, arguing over whether Richard III wished to be buried in York or the grounds where his remains were found.
The evidence brought forth on both sides is clearly described in the Archives UK post and since they have done such a good job, I feel it would be redundant and a huge waste of time for me to try to write a less informative article.
To read their detailed account, the blog post can be found on the Archives UK site.