There are a wide range of genealogical records newly available online. Here are new and updated collections as of this week. We’ve included important information about each collection that will help you determine whether it is suitable for your genealogical research. We include affiliate links for which we may be compensated, at no expense to you. Thank you for supporting free article like this by using our links.
The latest genealogy records from Genealogy Gems.
NEW: HALL COUNTY NEBRASKA NEWSPAPER DIGITIZATION PROJECT
About the collection:
“The Hall County Newspaper Digitization Project is a collaborative project supported by the historical and genealogical societies, newspapers, public libraries, and museums in Hall County. This project will digitize the 28 historic newspapers published in Hall County since 1870. The Grand Island Independent (up to 1924) is included in this project.”
Newspapers included in the first completed phase of digitization include:
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (Select Georgia towns and cities. 1923-1941)
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps at the Digital Library of Georgia
About the collection:
“The Digital Library of Georgia has just made Sanborn fire insurance maps produced between 1923-1941 for 39 Georgia towns and cities in 35 counties freely available online. The maps, which are now in the public domain, can be retrieved at dlg.usg.edu/collection/dlg_sanb, and complement the DLG’s existing collection of the University of Georgia Map and Government Information Library’s 539 Sanborn maps dating from 1884-1922 that have been available since 2005. The DLG has also upgraded its image viewer, which will allow better access and improved navigation to the new and older Sanborn images from this collection.”
“This collection consists of indexes of births from the state of New York between the years 1881 and 1942. The State of New York began statewide registration of births in 1881, supervised by the local board of health. A record may include the following information when it is available: given name and surname, birth date, town of birth, and gender. The images in this collection have been obtained through the outstanding work and efforts of Reclaim the Records.
This index does not contain lists of births from New York City. New York City is considered to be a separate vital records jurisdiction from the rest of New York state, and consequently the city has its own birth indices. However, a small number of New York City birth listings are found throughout this index. This is due to the births happening in towns that were previously independent before the consolidation of the city in 1898 (for example, a pre-1898 birth in a place like Canarsie [Brooklyn] or Flushing [Queens] might be listed here) or because there was a late birth registration.”
NEW: Minnesota, Death Index, 1904-2001
About this collection:
“This collection includes an index of death records from Minnesota, between 1904-2001. Information may include the deceased name, date of death, county of death, date of birth, county of birth and certificate number. It may also include the mother’s maiden name when available.
Information for the years 1908-2001 is recorded from death certificates as recorded by a physician or a mortician. Information in this collection for years prior to 1908 is taken from death cards. Unlike death certificates, many death cards were filled out very incompletely. Cards, especially for the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, frequently contain little more information than the name of the decedent, date of death, sex, marital status, birthplace, cause of death, and person reporting the death.”
Number of records: 4,460,579
NEW: Minnesota, Birth Index, 1900-1934
About this collection:
“This collection contains an index to birth records from Minnesota between 1900-1934. Information may include: first name, middle name, and last name of the child. It may also include the date and county of birth, certificate number. It may also include the mother’s maiden name when available.
Birth certificates were used to record birth information beginning in 1907. When a child was born, a physician or midwife compiled information about the child on a birth certificate. The certificate was registered with the local county registrar. Birth cards were used to collect birth information from 1900 to 1907. Unlike birth certificates, many birth cards were not completely filled out. 80% of this collection takes place between 1907-1937, 19% is from 1900-1907 and 1% is from before 1900.”
Number of records: 3,406,802
Updated: MyHeritage Photos and Docs
About this collection:
“This collection includes public photos, videos and documents posted by MyHeritage members on their family sites. You may contact a member who submitted a photo to get in touch or request additional information.”
Number of records: 141,129,707
U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995
About the collection: “This database is a collection of directories for U.S. cities and counties in various years. The database currently contains directories for all states except Alaska.
Generally a city directory will contain an alphabetical list of citizens, listing the names of the heads of households, their addresses, and occupational information. Sometimes a wife’s name will be listed in parentheses or italics following the husband’s. Other helpful information might include death dates for individuals who had been listed in the previous year’s directory, names of partners in firms, and forwarding addresses or post offices for people who had moved to another town.”
NEW: New York State, Address Notification and Absentee Ballot Application Cards, 1944
About the collection:
“This collection consists of notices received in 1944 by the War Ballot Commission from members of the United States Armed Forces, American Red Cross, and other service organizations serving in World War II that resided in New York requesting absentee ballots or notifying the office of a change in address. For more information on this collection, please visit the Finding Aid page on the New York State Archives site. There are two main forms present in this collection – pre-printed applications for war ballot, and postcards with change of address information.”
Updated: 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules
About the collection:
“The slave schedule was used in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.”
Updated: 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules
About the collection:
“The slave schedule was used in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.”
“These transcriptions of headstones from cemeteries in New Zealand typically include details such as name, birth date, death date, and the cemetery name and plot location. But they may also provide family relationships with name and other details about a spouse, cause of death, military dates, an epitaph, or even a description of the headstone.”
About the collection: “This database consists primarily of the voter indexes published every two years, including indexes to the Great Registers, to affidavits for registration, and to precinct registers.
Voter registrations were kept on the county level by the county clerk. Indexes to these records are organized according to county and voting wards and/or precincts. Within each precinct voters are listed alphabetically according to surname.”
The Genealogy Gems Podcast is the leading genealogy and family history show. Launched in 2007, the show is hosted by genealogy author, keynote presenter, and video producer Lisa Louise Cooke. The podcast features genealogy news, interviews, stories and how-to instruction. It can be found in all major podcasting directories, or download the exclusive Genealogy Gems Podcast app to listen to all the episodes and receive bonus content.
Do you love genealogy, mysteries and puzzle solving? Well in this episode we have not one but two tales of mystery.
The first has a Valentine’s theme centered around a mysterious love letter. Professional genealogist Kathleen Ackerman will be here to share how a love letter that was missing its last page took her on a genealogical journey full of surprises.
Our second story is a mystery full of twists, turns and murder that will ultimately resurrect your faith that what you think is lost, may still be found.
Frank recently wrote in saying that he listened to Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 227 and my conversation with Ran Snir, MyHeritage DNA Product Manager about their genetic genealogy tools The Theory of Family Relativity™ and AutoClusters. This got him thinking about his own test results and a frustration he has had trying to find matches and records in pursuit of this Galician roots.
“Ancestry’s records are almost non-existent, except for some parish records, but this is the region from which Cuba and Argentina were populated, and the ultimate ancestry of Cubans in the US. I have done the AncestryDNA test but my matches are few and far between.
On the other hand, I have worked with a Spanish genealogist and have some records that go back to the 17th century. Is there any program like Ancestry, 23andme, or My Heritage, that can do Galician (Spanish) genealogy well.”
Regarding DNA matches and testing pools:
DNA companies test all types of people and because testers can download their results and upload them to other companies, their pools of people are becoming more similar. Generally, they don’t focus on particular groups. They just report the results based on the pool they currently have.
Conduct a Google Search: Galician (Spanish) genealogy “Galicia”. Click here to see the Google search results.
The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Third Edition by Lisa Louise Cooke available in the Genealogy Gems Store.
Available in the Genealogy Gems Store.
Lisa’s video classes and handouts on Google search are included in Genealogy Gems Premium Membership. Learn more here.
Click to learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Membership.
“I am a regular listener to your podcasts. And I am the family historian. I recently received a trove of documents from my Uncle who had been working to chart the family for 25 years. He passed away last year. His most recent quest was to find as many old family pictures as possible and I have continued to reach out to distant relatives. I enjoyed the recent podcast about the New York photographer website and hope it will help me identify people in some of these very old pictures.
(Episode 236 – Interview with David Lowe, Specialist for the Photography Collection at the New York Public Library on a free tool they provide that can help you identify your old photos. Also a discussion of how to find unindexed records at Ancestry.com.)
My question: a friend of mine has inherited all of her family’s old family pictures. The pictures are from the late 1800’s. She doesn’t know who most of the people are. She is not interested in learning and apparently there aren’t any members of the family who have taken the role of family historian. Is there anything to do with these pictures other than to dispose of them? It makes me sad to know that no one is interested. When I learned a branch of my family tree had tossed all of their old family pictures, I felt awful and it has taken me some time to accept that I might not ever find replacements for this branch.”
There are ways to make real progress identifying photos. I’m going to be covering more of this on upcoming episodes. I would start by asking your friend to write down states / counties / towns where she thinks her family lived, as well as her direct ancestors as far as she knows (even if it’s just grandparents or great grandparents.) With some basic genealogical info on the most recent members of the family and some possible locations, you could then post at least some of the photos on Deadfred.com.
This is a site where people search on families and locations and other identifying information to find unidentified photos of their family members. Many, many photos have made their way to family historians through DeadFred.
If you don’t have time to post them on DeadFred, and you do know the county where some of the photos came from, you could offer to donate them to the local genealogical society. They might be willing to take them, and their volunteers might be willing to do it.
I agree with you, it would be such a shame to toss them because you can be sure there is someone out there who would treasure them and may even hold answers.
Kathleen Ackerman graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of General Studies: Family History degree in April 2012. She now has her own research company, Finding Ties that Bind. She is also working on a Master’s Degree in Genealogy, Paleography and Heraldry from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.
Kathleen is the director for the Cave Creek Arizona Family History Center. She loves to help others as they learn about their family history. For seven years, she served as the Treasurer and British Institute Director for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. Besides her volunteer and school work, she spends most of her free time either working on her husband’s English and Scottish lines or playing with her granddaughter.
“In 2010, my mother found three pages of a letter addressed to “Mamie” among my grandparent’s things. My grandmother has passed away and my grandfather did not remember who Mamie was or why they had the letter. My mom sent me the letter in hopes that I could figure it out.”
Miriam (Mamie) Smith Patelzick 1891-1911 (Photo courtesy of Kathleen Ackerman)
The last page which may have contained the writer’s signature was missing. This is where Kathleen’s search began.
The first three pages of the love letter. (Courtesy of Kathleen Ackerman)
Kathleen turned to census records from the time period, and Google Maps to verify where Medicine Lodge was in comparison to Small, Idaho, the place from which the letter was sent. No such town could be found.
She then turned to old maps to see if the town had once existed. She used maps on the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection website. She found a map of Idaho from 1909, that showed Small, Medicine Lodge river and Reno (all mentioned in letter). They were all in Fremont County, Idaho. Her confidence that she had the right person grew.
1909 Idaho map published by Geo. F. Cram, Chicago (DavidRumsey.com)
The search moved on into vital records. A marriage certificate for Mamie and William Patelzick in Dec 1910 was located.Perhaps they had eloped?
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t listened to the episode yet. The next image reveals the writer of the letter.
Later, Kathleen’s mother surprisingly found the final page of the letter:
Found! The last page of the love letter. (Courtesy of Kathleen Ackerman)
A surprise indeed, and a mystery solved!
Thank you to Kathleen Ackerman for sharing her story! You can visit her at her website, Finding Ties that Bind.
Announcing the Next Generation of Google for Genealogy
The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox By Lisa Louise Cooke
Discover the answers to your family history mysteries using cutting-edge Google search strategies. A comprehensive resource for all of Google’s free tools, this easy-to-follow book provides the how-to information you need in plain English. You will first gain a strong foundation in how to search quickly and effectively. Then you’ll dig deeper into solving real-life challenges that genealogists regularly face. This book will show you how to flex your new Google muscles by mining each of the free tools to deliver satisfying and enlightening results. You will develop a mastery of Google that will serve you now and for years to come.
This book features:
Step-by-step clear instructions and loads of images that help you easily follow along.
Tips for searching faster and achieving better results to solve the real challenges that genealogists face.
How to go beyond Google search by using the wide range of powerful free tools that Google offers.
Cutting-edge technology like Google Earth to tell your family’s stories in new and exciting ways!
Once again, this week’s newest genealogical records to come online don’t disappoint. As I compiled this list for you this week, I jumped with joy as I discovered records that confirm the stories of my youth.
Like many families, mine is complicated. After my paternal grandparents divorced in 1956, my grandmother married her ex-husband’s brother in 1958.
Uncle Elzie and Grandmother Pauline Moore
Elzie Moore was not only my great uncle, but my step-grandfather (if there is such a thing.) As a child all I knew was that I was lucky to have what amounted to three grandfathers, although we respectfully called him “Uncle Elzie”.
This photo very much represents how I remember him:
Pauline and Elzie Moore Thanksgiving 1974
He was devoted to my grandmother and ready to help whenever needed.
But well before I was born, he was ready to help his country when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941.
Elzie Moore in 1941.
He didn’t talk much about it, but I remember the day I was sitting on his lap examining his face. I asked him about the prominent scar on the side of his chin. He laughingly told me a variety of wild hair-brained stories as to how he got it. He then simply and quietly told me he had been shot during the war. That was that.
The story was later confirmed by my dad, who went on to explain that was just one of several wounds Uncle Elzie sustained through a heroic career.
And now, so many decades later, the details from the records themselves appear on my screen. In the WWII Hospital Admission Card Files released this month by Ancestry, I discovered not one but three different admission records.
The first was the admission record for that chin injury. He was admitted to the hospital in July of 1944 for a facial wound by a “bullet, missile” sustained in battle. He was discharged in September 1944 and sent back to the front line.
WWI Hospital Admission Records at Ancestry.com
The next record was an admission in November 1944 (although there appears to be a discrepancy in the transcription because the discharge date is listed as May 1944.) This time his injuries were shells and fragments to the thigh, buttock and hip in battle.
When working with these records it’s important to closely examine the service number listed. The third record had also matched “Elzie Moore” which you wouldn’t think was a common name. However, closer inspection revealed a different service number – he was not the same man.
Check the service number to confirm you have the right person.
Though the man himself rarely spoke of his service, the genealogy gems I found today in the records speak volumes. I’m grateful to have more of the story behind the “Purple Heart” inscription that appears on his grave marker.
Elzie Cecil Moore grave marker
I hope this week’s list below brings you new genealogy gems!
“The Household Examination Books are the primary source for researching the lives of individuals and families throughout the Parishes of Sweden, from the late 1600’s until modern times. The books were created and kept by the Swedish Lutheran Church which was tasked with keeping the official records of the Swedish population until 1991.
Each book or series of books represents a 3-10 year period of time within a parish. Every year until 1894 the Parish Priest would visit each home and test each individual’s knowledge of the catechism. They would also collect information about birth dates, marriages, deaths, where people had moved to or from, etc. Each year the priest would come back and update the information of the previous year, noting changes within the population of the home. After 1894 the examinations were less focused on doctrinal knowledge and more focused on enumerating the Swedish population.”
The British Newspaper Archive
“This week we are delighted to welcome 71,598 additional pages to The Archive, as well as five brand new titles. Two of these titles, the Wakefield Express and the South Notts Echo, originate in England, while the other three, the Leinster Reporter, the Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald, and the Times of India are spread out across Ireland, Wales and India respectively.”
Years added: 1897-1925, 1927-1928
Caernarvon & Denbigh Herald
Years added: 1850-1872, 1874-1877, 1897
Times of India
Years added: 1861-1865, 1867-1888
Years added: 1879, 1892, 1897-1898, 1902, 1911, 1918
South Notts Echo
Years added: 1919-1923, 1927-1939
What Have You Found this Week?
Did you find some genealogy gems in any of these new records? We’d love to hear your story. Please leave a comment below.
And if you enjoyed this article we’d be grateful if you shared it on Facebook and other social media to help other family historians. You’ll find convenient sharing buttons at the top of this article. Thank you!
The Genealogy Gems Podcast is the leading genealogy and family history show. Launched in 2007, the show is hosted by genealogy author, keynote presenter, and video producer Lisa Louise Cooke. The podcast can be found in all major podcasting directories, or download the exclusive Genealogy Gems Podcast app to listen to all the episodes and receive bonus content.
We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Genealogy Gems app. We blazed a new trail back in 2010 when we launched the app – apps were still really new back then. I loved the idea of having a way to deliver exclusive bonus content to you as well as the audio, the show notes and best of all an easy way for you to contact me and the show.
It’s more popular than ever, and as far as I know we are still the only genealogy podcast app available. If you haven’t already downloaded it just search for Genealogy Gems in Google Play or Apple’s App Store, or get the right app for your phone or tablet here.
In this episode I have two interviews for you on very different subjects. First up will be a follow up to last month’s episode where we focused specifically on the New York Public Library Photographers’ Identities Catalog.
Well, in this episode we’re going to talk to the genealogy reference librarian at the New York Public Library, Andy McCarthy. And as you’ll hear, there are a massive amount of resource available there for genealogists everywhere.
Then we’ll switch gears to Scandinavian genealogy with David Fryxell, author of the new book The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Click here to visit the New York Public Library’s Online Catalog.
While they subscribe to many genealogy databases, they don’t host many. Use the catalog to determine what’s available, and what to ask for. See if what you’re looking for exists. Pay close attention to subject headings to identify resources.
#3 The Digital Collections
Click here to visit the Digital Collections at the New York Public Library.
City Directory Collection up to 1933.
Manhattan is the largest and is coming soon. This collection was only available previously on microfilm. It is a browse-only collection (not keyword searchable)
The 1940 Phone Directory is online.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map collection is digitized and online.
The Map Wharper which is a crowd-sourcing project providing for historic map overlays, and super zooming in views.
They also have a massive collection available in house of books, pamphlets, newspapers, etc. There are research and photo copying services available.
#4 Research Guides online
Click here to view the New York Public Library’s research guides.
Before you go:
Definitely reach out before you go.
Provide them with specific questions and they can help you identify what to focus on while you’re there.
Visit the Milstein home page. They also have many public classes. Check to see what will be available during your visit.
One of Andy’s Favorites Collections
The Photographic Views of NYC Collection. Arranged by cross streets
David is an award-winning author, editor, speaker and publishing consultant. He founded Family Tree Magazine, the nation’s leading genealogy publication. As a writing expert, he wrote the Nonfiction column for Writer’s Digest magazine for more than a decade and served as director of the famous Maui Writer’s Retreat. He has authored countless articles for Family Tree Magazine, and is also the author of additional books including Good Old Days, My Ass and MicroHistory: Ideas and inventions that made the modern world.
Author David Fryxell
Here’s a brief outline of my Q&A with David Fryxell on his new book and Scandinavian genealogy research:
To understand the ties between the Scandinavian countries, and why countries like Finland and Iceland aren’t included, we have to learn about the cultures and languages, right?
Scandinavian countries are really tied by language. And at one point all the countries were united. Borders change. The records reflect these various changes.
What’s the timeline of Scandinavian immigration?
The First Wave, 1825–1860
The Second Wave, 1865–1880
The Third Wave, 1880–1924
What value do you think DNA testing provides, and what should we keep in mind if we do test?
DNA results are most helpful to find other relatives who may be able to assist in your research.
Let’s say we know we’ve identified the ancestor who immigrated. What else do we need to know before we can jump the pond and start digging into Scandinavian records?
In the case of Scandinavian ancestors, you may not have to find the U.S. passenger records. They have excellent passenger departure records.
Tell us about the census in Scandinavia. Is it consistent among all three countries?
Norway and Denmark have good census records. You can find them at:
Monday, January 13th. Today is the anniversary of the first radio broadcast to the public. It took place 110 years ago in New York City, engineered by Lee deForest, a radio pioneer and inventor of the electron tube.
The 1910 broadcast wasn’t made from a purpose-built radio studio, but from the Metropolitan Opera house. DeForest broadcast the voices of Enrico Caruso and other opera singers. A small but impressed audience throughout the city gathered around special receivers to listen with headphones.
Today, 95 percent of American households have at least one radio.
One-hundred ten years after deForest’s lonely effort, some 5,400 radio stations employ about 92,000 people.
Strategies for Finding U.S. Church Marriage Records
Marriage records are part of that genealogy trinity of U.S. vital records. In addition to documenting the wedding, marriage records may also serve up the equivalent of genealogical party favors, such as the birth dates, birthplaces and sometimes even parents’ names of the bride and groom.
Civil or government records are generally the first ones we turn to in the United States. These types of records are commonly referred to as “vital records,” since they document important events in a person’s life like birth, marriage, and death.
Civil marriage records can be fairly easy to find and access. However, that’s not always the case. There may be times you can’t obtain a civil marriage record. If you do find it, it may not include all the information you were hoping for. And sometimes you’d just like to find more corroborating evidence or additional clues about their lives. That’s when it’s a good idea to turn to church marriage records.
Though not all of our U.S. ancestors were married in a church or by a member of the clergy, many of them were, so church marriage records may exist.
In general, finding U.S. church records is a two-step process:
1. identify the right church
2. then find its records.
However, this may actually involve a few additional steps.
Identifying the church in which an ancestor married is key to locating any surviving record of it.
Let me give you the first and most important tip: the answer may be sitting under your nose.
What do I mean by that? Start by looking carefully back through other records you already have about the bride or groom. These types of records include obituaries, oral histories, county histories, tombstones, etc. Do they mention a church affiliation?
Example for Lisa’s family history
Even if they don’t mention a church, perhaps one of these records can give you a clue.
For example, let’s say the husband’s obituary mentions his lifelong religious affiliation, like Methodist or Catholic or Baptist, but not the name of the local congregation. My book offers several detailed strategies for tracking down the church name, but here’s one of the most helpful: Look at city directories, histories or maps from that time period to identify nearby churches of that denomination. Keep in mind that before the age of the automobile, people couldn’t travel far to attend church.
Let’s say you find both Irish and German Catholic parishes in the area. Based on what you already know about your family, with which did they likely affiliate?
If you’ve got the civil marriage record, look at the name of the officiator. Do you see a title hinting that this was a minister, such as “Rev” (short for Reverend)? (As an FYI, the initials “J.P.” stand for Justice of the Peace, a civil office.)
Occasionally you may even see the denomination written right in the record, as it is in the Colorado civil marriage record of Mike Fox and Mary Eiarrman:
Colorado civil marriage record of Mike Fox and Mary Eiarrman
Most marriage certificates don’t state a minister’s affiliation but searching with Google may be able to help you with that.
For example, the Indiana marriage certificate for another ancestral couple of mine identifies the officiator as “S.B. Falkenberg, Minister.” Googling that name, along with the keywords church and Indiana, led me to online books that identified him as a Methodist.
Additional digging revealed that “Somers B. Falkenburg”—probably the same guy—was specifically assigned to the Rushville Circuit of the Southeast Indiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1860. This was around the time and place I’m looking for that 1861 marriage record. (Learn to do this kind of digging yourself from my book. See Chapter 14 Methodist.)
Step 2: Find Where the Church Records are Located
Once you’ve identified the church, it’s time to search for congregational records that may document the marriage.
Your strategy may vary, depending on the denomination, the time and the place. Again, my book can help you: there’s a chapter with general strategies for finding church records and there are specific chapters on various denominations. Here are some get-started strategies.
Googling the Church
Find out whether the church still exists by googling the church name and location or using the online congregational locator tools I mention in the various denominational chapters.
If the church still exists, you’ll likely find a website, Facebook page, or other contact information. Reach out to their office and ask about their old records.
If you can’t find the church online, it may have closed, merged with another church, or been renamed.
Contact the Church Organization
You might turn to regional church offices or archives, such as those of a Catholic diocese or Methodist conference, to see whether they can tell you anything about that church or its records.
Each denomination has a different organizational structure. (See the 12 different denominational chapters in Part 2 of my book.)
An Example Search
Searching for church directories
Remember that 1889 civil marriage record for Mike Fox and Mary Eiarrman I showed you previously? Let’s take a look at the process I used to find their church marriage record.
Since the civil marriage record told me that the officiator Godfrey Raeber was a Catholic priest, I turned to the annual Catholic Directory for that year to see what parish (local congregation) he was assigned to.
I googled catholic directory 1889 and found that year’s edition online at HathiTrust Digital Archive.
Keyword-searching within the directory for Raeber didn’t bring up any results, but I didn’t stop there. I paged through it until I found the listing for the diocese of Denver (it is now an Archdiocese).
I found the priest listed at St. Ann’s, but his surname was spelled a little differently, which is why I couldn’t find him with that keyword search:
Immediately, I googled St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado. Nothing came up. So, I googled Denver Catholic diocese archive and found the archdiocesan archivist’s contact information. I called him and asked what he could tell me about St. Ann’s parish and its records. The parish had closed, he said, and he had the records right there. What did I need?
Hooray! I mailed him a check and emailed him the specifics of my request. He sent me back a copy of Mike and Mary’s entry line in the marriage register:
In case you can’t read it easily, the entry references their marriage on the 28th (the month and year, in preceding columns, are “ditto-marked” the same as the entry above it, which I can’t see, but I have the date already from the civil marriage record). Then Mike Fox’s name appears, age 23, “1” for his first marriage, Denver residence, son of Martin & Francis, born in Germany.
Similar information appears for Mary, the bride, though her surname is mostly illegible. These details (age, parents’ names, birthplace) were what I hoped to learn when I originally ordered the civil marriage record—but it’s not there. Only by taking the extra steps to find the church marriage record did I uncover these additional details.
I’m still looking for a Methodist record of that marriage recorded by S.B. Falkenberg. I’m guessing his was a traveling assignment covering many small towns, which means his own personal log book may have been the only place he would have created a record, if indeed he did. The records of itinerant ministers are not easy to find.
The Search for Church Marriage Records Can Lead to More Gems
It’s true that you won’t always find church records of ancestors’ marriages or other life events such as births, baptisms, deaths or burials.
Sometimes the records weren’t created; for example, Baptists didn’t generally record marriages, as they weren’t considered a religious rite.
Or perhaps membership records have been destroyed or lost.
Occasionally, you’ll track down the records only to find they aren’t accessible to researchers. That’s sometimes true for Catholic sacramental records, which are confidential—though many church or archive offices will release copies or transcriptions of older records.
But while following the process for church records, you may discover other gems that can add color to your family history stories.
For example, when I was looking for Catholic parish records in Olyphant, Pennsylvania, I found a short history of the church. It described the devotion of its earliest members, who raised the funds to erect their building and even helped dig its foundations. Though I can’t prove it, I have reason to believe this family was part of that devoted group.
Other times, you may find photos, directories, reminiscences or other records that give you a glimpse of your ancestors’ church community life.
A Genealogist’s Guide to Finding Church Records
While the 2-step process for finding church marriage records is straight-forward, each case requires unique resources. In How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide which I wrote with Harold Henderson, CG lays out a plethora of specific resources for the major Christian denominations in the U.S. before 1900:
• Dutch Reformed,
• Latter-day Saint,
• Roman Catholic,
• and various German churches.
More than 30 archivists, historians, and genealogical experts in specific faith traditions have contributed their knowledge to the book.
Church records won’t always be your genealogical salvation, but every so often—hallelujah!—they will prove to be your saving grace.
(Disclosure: Genealogy Gemsis a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Thank you for supporting articles like these by using our link.)