New genealogical records this week include a big update to Genealogy Bank’s newspaper database, including titles from 31 states.
Also new are Massachusetts passenger lists, a Connecticut digitization project, and oral histories for WWII veterans and for Irish history.
Featured Genealogy Records: U.S. Newspapers
Genealogy Bank is a fantastic resource for newspapers and they’ve made a big update this week. New content has been added to 87 titles from 31 different states in the U.S. Some of the largest additions include:
To see all updated titles and states, click here. Discover family history in millions of historical newspaper articles from 1690-1980, including obituaries, birth records, marriage notices, and more facts about your ancestors.
More about Historical Newspapers for Genealogy: (Click on player to unmute sound)
Massachusetts Passenger Lists
Over at MyHeritage, you’ll find a new collection of Boston, Massachusetts Passenger Lists, 1891-1943. There are 4.8 million records in this data set, so if your ancestors immigrated through Boston, this could be a gold mine! Here’s a little bit of information about the collection from the description:
“Information available varies due to significant changes to immigration laws during the span of this collection. The most common information available includes the passenger’s name, sex, age, date of arrival, and name of the ship.
More detailed passenger manifests collected additional information including marital status, birth information (date and location), nationality, last residence, home city, port of departure, as well as the names and addresses of family members in the United States and home country. This collection is comprised of NARA publication T843.”
Connecticut Historical Footage Digitization
Tasha Caswell is the research and collections associate for the Connecticut Historical Society and thanks to her keen nose and film background, she was able to save valuable historical footage from being lost to decay. She noticed a smell reminiscent of vinegar that meant these films were in danger of deteriorating.
“She alerted the other members of the collections department, and soon afterward they applied for a grant to preserve and digitize the invaluable films — many of them home movies that had been donated through the decades.
“Thanks to that grant for about $24,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the society was able to loan approximately 75 films to a company called George Blood LP, which specializes in digitizing audiovisual media.
CHS has about 50 more films in its collection but will have to apply for another grant to complete the digitizing project. The grant, received in September 2017, also allowed them to digitize thousands of photos and negatives as well as maps, architectural drawings, lithographs and posters.”
We recently stumbled upon two fascinating oral history resources now available online that we think you might enjoy.
First is the Voices of Liberation project, which has been set up to commemorate more than 100,000 service personnel who died in 1944.
The voices of Second World War veterans and their relatives are being recorded to mark the 75th anniversary of some of the conflict’s most momentous battles. It was started by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which hopes the archive will be a fitting tribute to the dead and highlight its cemeteries and memorials across the world. The public can contribute to this project at https://liberation.cwgc.org/.
If you have Irish ancestors, you might enjoy exploring Irish Life & Lore‘s oral history collections, totaling 3,000 hours. It was founded by Tralee-based oral historians Maurice and Jane O’Keeffe.
From their website: “Through our decades of work in the compilation of audio recordings and books for educational and commercial purposes, thousands of Irish voices from all regions of the country have been captured and archived for the future.” You can browse their collections and listen to samples, and individual recordings are available for purchase.
Tapping into Newspapers for Genealogy
If you’re interested in learning more about your family history, you’ve probably heard of several people say “be sure to check old newspapers!” Sounds great, right? But which newspapers were around back then? And where are they now?
Lisa Louise Cooke’s hit book provides you with a fool-proof research process including step-by-step instructions, worksheets and checklists, and a case study that puts it all together. Her methodology applies to newspaper research no matter where your ancestors came from and settled.
Lacey has been working with Genealogy Gems since the company’s inception in 2007. Now, as the full-time manager of Genealogy Gems, she creates the free weekly newsletter, writes blogs, coordinates live events, and collaborates on new product development. No stranger to working with dead people, Lacey holds a degree in Forensic Anthropology, and is passionate about criminal justice and investigative techniques. She is the proud dog mom of Renly the corgi.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!
In the new Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 158, get an exclusive Chronicling America tutorial from the manager of this enormous, free historical newspaper website. Also: a loving daughter hears her father answer important questions 35 years after his death;, a fallen soldier’s remains are identified, a DNA question about Native American ancestry, and reading picks from the Genealogy Gems Book Club.
The newest episode of the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast has a headline-worthy interview for everyone with U.S. roots! Newspaper research guru Lisa Louise Cooke goes deep into the free, fabulous Chronicling America historical newspaper website with Deborah Thomas, Library of Congress manager for the sponsoring National Digital Newspaper Program. Premium eLearning members will get the scoop on how the site came to be and who chooses what content gets digitized. Hear about a lesser-known tool on the site that can help you find copies of your ancestors’ local papers. Best of all, get tips from both Deborah and Lisa on how to search the site for newspaper stories that reveal your family history.
Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast 158: More newsworthy highlights
Here’s what else Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning members will find in this exclusive podcast episode:
A family finally lays to rest their fallen U.S. soldier in Arlington National Cemetery–and solves the mystery of his fate after decades.
A listener writes in to tell us about a precious discovery, 35 years after she lost her father: recordings of his voice, telling the stories she always wanted to hear from him.
A fascinating DNA question about identifying Native American ancestry.
Great reading suggestions for fans of the Genealogy Gems Book Club–a listener recommendation and two more titles inspired by the episode itself.
Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning opens doors
The new Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning (previously known as Premium Membership) opens doors to new ideas and inspiration for your family history research. Premium Podcast episodes such as this one are published every month–and Premium eLearning has the entire archive. New Premium Videos publish regularly, and now include a full DNA tutorial series (click here to see a list of all the videos). All Premium eLearning materials are packed with genealogy strategies, tips, how-tos and links you can use right away. Click here to learn more about Premium eLearning and how it can help you open doors to your own family stories.
Learning about your African-American family history starts with asking questions, which can sometimes be challenging. Expert Angela Walton-Raji shares tips on talking to your relatives to uncover your family’s stories and heritage.
All of our relatives have unique stories. Like these young ladies at a Naval Air Station spring formal dance in Seattle, Washington, in 1944. (Click on the picture to learn more about it.)
Many African-American families share particular types of memories and experiences–for better or for worse–from having lived in the United States. Recently genealogy expertAngela Walton-Raji joined Lisa Louise Cooke on the Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 201 to share tips about researching these stories.
She especially talked about the importance of interviewing elders, and shared several questions she suggested asking. These will help you learn more about your relative’s own life and other family experiences with the Civil Rights movement, migration, and military service. These questions also delve deeper into passed-down family memories that may help you trace your family history back to the era of slavery.
What to ask in African-American oral history interviews
1. Do you know of anyone in the family who was born a slave? (If old enough: as a child, did you know anyone personally who was born a slave?)
2. Who was the oldest person that you remember when you were a child? And did that person ever talk about anyone who may have been enslaved?
3. What do you know about where the family was from? (Were we always from Georgia, or was there a time when we came from another place? Why did we move? Who remembers that journey?) These questions may help you trace your family during the Great Migration.
4. Were you (or other relatives) involved in the Civil Rights movement, in the Garvey era, with the Freedom Riders, or other important events in your lifetime? What kinds of things did you see?
5. Who in the family participated in the military (in World War II, World War I, or the Spanish-American War)? FYI: African-American military units through the mid-20th century were still referred to as Buffalo soldiers. (In the interview, Angela mentioned the Triple Nickel, a unit of all-black World War II paratroopers.
“If you just drop a couple of key words you might jar their memory and get an amazing narrative to come out.” -Angela Walton-Raji
How can you preserve a family’s history when it exists only in the memories of tribal storytellers? Visit the tribe and capture its oral history, as MyHeritage is doing with its Tribal Quest initiative.
MyHeritage recently announced a new global initiative to record and preserve the family histories of tribal people living in remote locations around the world.
Their first project is in Namibia. Next they plan to move on to Papua New Guinea. Check it out in this brief video:
MyHeritage is even recruiting volunteers who want to travel to these places and help out. You can learn more at TribalQuest.org.
FamilySearch published an article a few years ago about similar work they’ve done in several African nations. “Most African tribes have a designated ‘storyteller’ who is responsible to memorize the tribe’s oral traditions, including names of ancestors going back six to thirty generations,” it says. “FamilySearch works with chiefs and local volunteers to visit these storytellers and record the information they have been charged to remember in their heads. Sometimes the interview is audio or video recorded.” FamilySearch enters what they learn into a GEDCOM (the universal family tree file format) and put it on FamilySearch.org for others to use.
How far have YOU gone to capture your family’s oral history? Probably not to a remote tribal home! Why not use the resources below to help you with your next oral history project?