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MyHeritage Launches Instant Discoveries(tm)

MyHeritage added a new feature to the service today that looks like a major step forward in family history searches. I have used it briefly and am impressed. I’ll use it more after I get off this cruise ship where I am at the moment (yes, it is a tough life). I will then have more reliable and much faster Internet connectivity. However, even my brief test looked good. I did talk on the phone a few minutes ago with a senior member of the MyHeritage staff and received a rather complete briefing. That, along with my short “hands on” test, tells me this is going to attract a lot of new people to genealogy.

Disclaimer: MyHeritage is the sponsor of this newsletter. However, I believe I would write the same or similar words even if they were not sponsoring the newsletter.

Today’s announcement concerns Instant Discoveries™, an extension to MyHeritage’s existing Smart Matching™ and Record Matching technologies. In fact, Fox News carried a video introduction this morning that you can watch at:

Instant Discoveries™ Should interest all genealogists but is especially appealing to to those who are new to genealogy. It can provide a faster and easier method of getting started in a family tree search.

Instant Discoveries™ is now available for all new MyHeritage users. Existing users will have to wait a little bit longer before they can use the same technology to fill out the holes (branches?) in their family trees.

World War II Enlistment Records Online

One great resource available from the U.S. National Archives is the World War II Enlistment Records. These records have been transcribed and made available on the National Archives web site. These records are especially valuable as many of the personnel papers of these soldiers and sailors were later destroyed in a fire.

The National Archives scanned War Department microfilmed punch cards on enlistments to support the reconstruction of the military personnel records at its National Personnel Records Center. That strikes me as a sad commentary about technology: the data was originally stored on punch cards which, once upon a time, could be read by machines. I haven’t seen a punch card reader in operation for many years, however. The cards were eventually microfilmed for long-term preservation.

Nine million records were later transcribed manually by humans who sat and read the microfilms and transcribed the information onto keyboards. Due to the condition of the microfilms, approximately 1.5 million records could not be scanned. Scanning problems when the microfilms were created also contributed to the errors. Despite these challenges, information about a majority of sixteen million World War II servicemen and women is available via the web site.

Homestead Final Certificate Land Entry Case Files of Nebraska are now Online

If your ancestors received homestead land, the Homestead Records may provide a wealth of information. Some case files include records of military service, evidence of naturalization, and much more. The files from Nebraska are now online. The following announcement was written by the folks at the Homestead National Monument:

Homestead National Monument of America is excited to announce that the Homestead Final Certificate Land Entry Case Files of Nebraska are online and available at

More than 3.4 Million British Trade Union Registers and More Released Online Today

The folks at Findmypast today announced the release of over 3.4 million British Trade Union Membership registers as part of this week’s Findmypast Friday. The company also released other UK, US, Australian and Irish records.

Newly-added resources include:

Biggest Digitization of Irish Genealogy Records to Begin

The National Library of Ireland is to digitise more than 400,000 images of Catholic parish register microfilms and publish them online for free. In what is being described as the most significant ever digitisation project for Irish genealogy, the microfilms will be available online for free from the National Library of Ireland (NLI) by the summer of 2015.

The records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,091 parishes throughout the island of Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.

“This is the most ambitious digitisation project in the history of the NLI, and our most significant ever genealogy project,” said Colette O’Flaherty, head of special collections at the NLI.

The Boston Directory, 1789 to 1900, to be Digitized and Placed Online

The Boston Athenaeum has digitized its collection of Boston city directories. John Norman published the first such directory in 1789 under the formal title of The Boston Directory. Containing, A List of the Merchants, Mechanics, Traders, and others of the Town of Boston; in Order to enable Strangers to find the Residence of any Person. The 1789 Directory also included a map of Boston, lists of public offices, lawyers, medical professionals, bankers, and lists of the names and homes of engine-men (firefighters).

The Boston Directory appeared in 1789 and was published irregularly until 1825, when annual publication started.

You can

New York State Military Museum is Digitizing World War I Harlem Hellfighters Regiment Records

The 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters, was an infantry regiment of the United States Army that saw action in World War I and World War II. The Regiment consisted of African-Americans and African Puerto Ricans and was known for being the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Details about the regiment may be found on Wikipedia at and at

The New York State Military Museum is now digitizing the unit’s post-World War I records. The cards are from 1921 to 1949 and include names, ages, addresses, birthplaces, occupations and enlistment dates.

Pembrokeshire is first Welsh Council to Add Burial Records to Deceased Online

The following announcement was written by Deceased Online:

Records for 11 cemeteries and crematorium now available online

All burial and cremation records for Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) have been digitized and added to the specialist family history website

Pembrokeshire County Council (Welsh language: Cyngor Sir Penfro) is the local government authority for one of the 22 principal areas of Wales with a rich cultural and social history. Located in the extreme South West of Wales, key towns in the county include Fishguard, Haverfordwest (the administrative centre), Milford Haven, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Tenby and Britain’s smallest city, the historic St David’s with its beautiful cathedral.

London Probate Search Rooms Closing December 2014 to be Replaced by New On-Line Index to Wills from 1858

The following announcement has been made by HM Courts & Tribunals Service. A response from the Society of Genealogists is also attached at the end:

London Probate Search Facility

“As of Friday the 12th December, the Probate Service will make available our records from 1858 to the present and the records of some soldiers who died on active military service between 1860 and 1982 (predominantly those who died in the First World War) for searching online.

You can search, order and receive copies direct from your own computer without waiting for the Probate Registry to send them to you.

You can search and if there is a match you will be informed straightaway. You then decide if you wish to pay £10 and order the documents.

Findmypast releases 953,000 District of Columbia birth, marriage and death records, 18 new US periodicals, new Irish Survey Maps & Plans and thousands of UK School & Prison Hulk registers

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

Every Friday, leading family history website Findmypast reveals thousands of new records to explore over the weekend on its dedicated Findmypast Friday page. This week’s new additions include 95,000 Griffiths Survey of Ireland records, over 953,000 US birth, marriage and death records for the District of Columbia, 18 new PERSI titles and thousands of new UK school admissions and Prison Ship records.

The new District of Columbia Births & Baptisms 1830-1955 contain over 109,000 records. These records provide information on births and baptisms that occurred in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, between 1830 and 1955. Although the district began officially collecting this information in 1874, many records are from years earlier and do contain some duplicates that often contain slightly different information. Each record consists of a transcript that lists the child’s name, date of birth, date and place of christening, parents’ names and ethnicity.

Wellcome Library funds a new Partnership to Digitize 800,000 pages of Mental Health Archives

The following announcement was written by the Wellcome Library in partnership with the Borthwick Institute for Archives, London Metropolitan Archives, Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives:

The Wellcome Library will partner with the Borthwick Institute for Archives, London Metropolitan Archives, Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the project, which will bring together documents from the York Retreat, St Luke’s Hospital Woodside, Crichton Royal Hospital, Gartnavel Royal Hospital and Camberwell House Asylum. These collections will be added to the Wellcome Library’s own collection of archives from public and private mental health institutions, including the records of Ticehurst House Hospital in Sussex, which provide a rare insight into the running of a privately run asylum.

The project will mostly focus on records dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, and will touch on the movement away from institutional care as the 20th century progressed. Patient records and case notes, photographs, administrative documents and registers will be digitised, creating an extensive online archive that will be a valuable resource for historical research.

St. John’s Cemetery, Albany, NY – Interments 1841-1887 now Online

The latest addition to the transcription projects on the website of the Troy Irish Genealogy Society, are the recently discovered interment records of 12,731 individuals from the long closed St. John’s Cemetery in Albany New York. St. John’s Cemetery was located on Delaware Avenue in Albany, New York. To see these records on the TIGS website, click on PROJECTS and then ST. JOHN’S CEMETERY, ALBANY, NY – INTERMENT RECORDS.

It had been widely reported that the interment records for this cemetery, covering interments starting over 173 years ago, had been lost or destroyed. However, in a recent chance conversation with the Historian at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, New York, it was discovered that the mostly intact St. John’s interment book was in the possession of a retired cemetery employee and the book was promptly recovered.

Twitter’s Entire Archive of Public Tweets is now Indexed and Searchable

Twitter has announced via its engineering blog that it’s making its entire public tweet archive searchable to everyone. Previously it had only made the archive accessible to select partners.

Twitter’s search engine will index roughly half a trillion tweets, including every public Tweet since 2006. The move means historic tweets will now be accessible to everyone through Twitter’s public search.

You can read the details in Twitter’s Engineering Blog at

Collin County, Texas, Clerk’s Office wins National Recognition for “Genealogy Corner”

Collin County Clerk Stacey Kemp and her staff have been awarded the 2014 Best Practices Award from the National Association of County Recorders, Elections Officials and Clerks (NACRC), according to county officials. The award was for Genealogy Corner, an online, publicly accessible archive that offers a wide variety of online research tools for anyone interested in the history of Collin County.

More than 8,000 licenses, dating from 1884 to 1949, have been scanned and indexed, and are now searchable online, including:

FamilySearch Adds More Than 3.7 Million Indexed Records and Images to Australia, Canada, Isle of Man, South Africa, and the United States

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch adds more than 3.7 million indexed records and images to Australia, Canada, Isle of Man, South Africa, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 1,395,009 images from the Canada, Nova Scotia Probate Records, 1760–1993 collection; the 396,405 images and 396,405 indexed records from the US, BillionGraves Index collection; and the 389,387 indexed records from the South Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801–2004 collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

Findmypast releases Pettigrew & Oulton’s Dublin Almanac & General Register of Ireland, over 1.7 million Devon parish records and over 250,000 Devon Wills

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

Every Friday, leading family history website Findmypast reveals thousands of new records to explore over the weekend on its dedicated Findmypast Friday page. This week’s new additions include over 1.7 million new additions to our collection of Devonshire parish birth, marriage, banns and burial records, over 250,000 Devon Wills Index 1844-1900 records and Pettigrew & Oulton’s Dublin Almanac & General Register of Ireland 1835-1845.

Pettigrew & Oulton’s Dublin Almanac & General Register of Ireland 1835-1845 has been added to our collection of Newspapers, Directories and Social History records. Pettigrew and Oulton’s was the first annual publication to include a street by street directory of Dublin. First published in 1834, the Almanac provided not simply a street directory but also an alphabetical list of inhabitants, grouped by profession. Pettigrew and Oulton’s was published until 1845. Now available on Findmypast, the index is fully searchable and contains over 6,000 search results.

The Essex Ancestors Wills Collection now includes 70,000 Documents Which Date from the 1400s to 1858

The following announcement was written by the Essex (England) Records Office:

Councillor Roger Hirst, Cabinet Member for Libraries, Communities and Planning said “We have in Essex Ancestors an amazing resource dedicated to showcasing the rich and fascinating history of our county. The digital images of these historic documents – some of them over 500 years old – are now available so that people all around the world with connections to our county can research their family history and even learn where their family heirlooms originate from.”

Click on the above image to view a larger version

Wills can tell us all sorts of things about the lives of people in the past. For example, in 1641, Elizabeth Fuller of Chigwell left her eldest son Henry her ‘longe carte’, ‘dunge carte’, ‘pondering crose’, ‘furnace’, and her ‘mault quarne’. We believe the cross would have been used for religious contemplation and the quarne for grinding grain. Her second son received ‘my best chest and my best brace [brass] pot’, to modern eyes this might seem the better bequest!

Fold3 Offers Free Access to the World War II Collection Until November 30

The Fold 3 Blog reports:

“In honor of Veterans Day, Fold3 is offering free access to our World War II Collection November 10-30. Explore the records of the war that shaped America’s “greatest generation”—and look for your family’s own WWII heroes along the way.

“Whether you’re interested in historical aspects of the war or are searching for specific individuals who fought in it, Fold3’s WWII Collection likely has what you need.”

You can read all the details at

Find Your Family’s World War I Veterans in New, Free Military Collections Online on FamilySearch

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 10, 2014 — Veterans’ Day is a time to recognize the veterans in our lives—to honor their service for our country and show them that we appreciate their sacrifices made in our behalf. “The Great War,” World War I, began 100 years ago and later ended on November 11, 1918. In commemoration of Veteran’s Day, has announced the addition of three free World War I collections containing information on the millions of American and British citizens who served and registered for military service between 1914 and 1920. These vital genealogical resources were made available in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington DC, The National Archives in Kew, Surrey, England, and

These resources include the free United States World War I Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918. This collection “acts like a national census,” notes FamilySearch collection manager Ken Nelson, “because it includes over 24 million records representing almost half of the male population of the United States at the time.” Out of those who registered, approximately 4.8 million served and 2.8 million were drafted.

Search Historical Newspaper Archives with

Elephind can be a great FREE resource for anyone who wishes to search old newspapers. The purpose of is to make it possible to search all of the world’s digital newspapers from one place and at one time. allows you to simultaneously search across thousands of articles using key words and phrases.

Elephind presently contains 141,831,915 items from 2,704 newspaper titles. You can find a list of libraries that have contribute their archives on the site by clicking on “List of Titles.” Clicking on any library’s name displays the newspapers in that collection. is much like Google, Bing, or other search engines but focused only on historical, digitized newspapers. By clicking on the search result that interests you, you’ll go directly to the newspaper collection which hosts that story.

Of course, newspapers can be a great resource of genealogy information. Birth announcements, marriage announcements, court news, and more can be searched within seconds. If your ancestor was a merchant, you probably can also find his or her advertisements placed in the newspaper.


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