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The following is from Susan Laura Lugo, Territorial Archivist, DPNR/Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, U.S. Virgin Islands.
I am very pleased to announce the March 1, 2017, official launch of the searchable Web site by the Danish National Archives in commemoration of the March 31, 2017, Centennial observance of Transfer Day, the day on which the Danish West Indies were transferred to the United States of America as the Territory of the Virgin Islands of the United States.

All researchers everywhere now have free, online access to over 5 million scanned images (over 8.5 million pages) of original documents, maps and drawings from the records of the Danish West Indies held by the Danish National Archives.
  • Click on “Search the Records” at https://www.virgin-islands-history.org/en/ and a search screen will display.
  • Scroll down on the landing page to make use of the excellent search tips and guides provided before entering your search terms.
  • The Danish National Archives’ Web site, search guides and finding aids will also be linked this month from the Facebook page for the “VI Public Libraries DPNR” and from the Territorial Archives web page on www.virginislandspubliclibraries.org/archives.asp .
The Territorial Archives within the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources of the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States expresses its sincere thanks and gratitude to the Danish National Archives, the Danish Ministry of Culture, and A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation for General Purposes for supporting and carrying out this important digitization project to restore to the people of the Virgin Islands their Danish West Indian history and cultural heritage. 
When I emailed her for permission to post this on my blog, she also added the following information:
NARA [the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States] has about 4.0 million pages (2,313 cf) of material in RG55 from the Danish West Indian era (see the finding aid at: http://www.virgin-islands-history.dk/nara/danmark1.pdf), and we still have some DWI records in the Territory (about 1,000 lf).  Our hope is to provide access to ALL the records held across the US/DK/VI so that our history may be unified for the first time in over 100 years.
Note on picture: It is from the Record Series Copybooks of Letters Sent to the King in the Danish West Indies Collection mentioned above.
Written by Susan Laura Lugo, Archivist
Posted by vea/1o March 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

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Map that you see on the main wiki page at FamilySearch.org

Map from the main wiki page at FamilySearch.org

Our ancestors had a tendency to move around.  If they didn’t, we probably wouldn’t have so much trouble finding their records.  When you track people from state to state, you start noticing what holds true for finding records in one state is not necessarily true in another.  Different types of records were kept during different periods in different places.  For example, those who are used to the time frame of New England vital records, which can go back as far as the 1600s, are startled to find that New York state started saving birth, marriage, and death records at a far later date.  New York finally passed a law requiring the collection of vital records in the 1880s, but it was very slow to be implemented. You can still have difficulty finding them in a number of New York towns during the early part of the 20th century.

When you start to follow your ancestor into a new state, you need to do some homework or you may miss key information. Otherwise you could hit a brick wall that you’ve unwittingly constructed yourself. So how do you find out which records were kept when and where they are located? One very good source is Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. You can check information on the various types of records available under each of the fifty states. This book is available in the Newton Free Library’s Special Collections Room for quick consultation or a more detailed read. But if you are working elsewhere and you don’t want to interrupt your work to look for a book, you have a simple alternative.  Red Book is available online at the following live link. Click on it and read away.  http://www.ancestry.com/wiki/index.php?title=Red_Book:_American_State,_County,_and_Town_Sources

But what about records outside the United States?  There are a very large number of books on family history research that deal with specific countries and even areas within a country. But for now you want to know how much trouble you are going to have tracking your line back to another country. You just want to get a general lay of the land. This is where FamilySearch’s wikis are invaluable.

If you have done much research in genealogy at all, you learn that, besides Ancestry, FamilySearch.org is one of the most extensive databases for genealogical records. The nice thing about FamilySearch is that, unlike Ancestry, it is free. Upon first discovering FamilySearch you will no doubt zero in on searching for records and thus might be likely to miss all its other resources. If you focus on the very top of its home page (as of July 2016) and run your cursor over the word “Search” you will see a dropdown menu. At the bottom of that menu you will see the word “wiki.”  Click on it and you see a map and an invitation to search the wiki by place or topic. For countries such as England that have a huge amount of literature written about researching ancestors, the topic is made manageable by the way FamilySearch sets up its main wiki page for each country.

But where do you find information for other countries where the records may not be so easily accessible?  Anyone who saw America Ferrera’s segment on TLC’s cable program “Who Do You Think You Are?” understands how difficult such a search can be, even when you have help. She was searching for information on her father’s family in Honduras, a quest made especially challenging because of the problems of record preservation by both local as well as national governments.  Specifically, where do you find basic information on the existing records of countries whose history has been filled with internal conflict?  FamilySearch’s wiki is an excellent place to start. Check out Honduras, or any other country of interest, to see what FamilySearch has done with it.  There are a number of links to information, records, and online help. Just as you would consult maps before taking a trip, it’s a good idea to know something about where you are going before you get there.

 

vea/29 July 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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DSC06280I just received the June/July issue of Internet Genealogy.  One of the first sections I go to in each issue is “Net Notes.” It’s a series of short pieces covering recent website activity that may be of interest to readers. The first entry describes some online releases from the Library and Archives Canada (LAC).  I have a special interest in Canadian genealogy so I took a closer look — and came to an unexpected halt. One of the entries cites LAC’s release of a database consisting entirely of immigrants from the Ukraine (1890-1930) arriving in Canadian and American ports. I had just put together a list on Ukrainian genealogical resources for several patrons who needed help on this topic. This entry gave me another resource to add to my list that might help break down some of their brick walls. If it hadn’t been for this article, I might never have found this little gem.

Flipping through genealogy magazines can not only help to keep you up to date, but can unearth treasure you’d never find otherwise. Perhaps some of the following might help you. Do you have ancestors in the American colonies during the Revolution or in the United States during the War of 1812? The Canadian piece also includes references to databases on the War of 1812, and to the Book of Negroes (with 3,000 names of Black Loyalists who fled the Port of New York at the end of the Revolutionary War). It concludes with another database consisting of the recently digitized list of Loyalists and British Soldiers (for the period 1772-1784) from the Carleton Papers.

Other articles in this issue center around saving family stories. One describes what can be done with FamilySearch.org’s Memories section, which is devoted to researching and preserving family stories. Then there are related pieces, “Stellar Storytelling Apps” and “Recording Family Interviews with Audacity.”

DSC06341British genealogy is represented with two articles.  One lists seven websites relating specifically to the Victorian era. The second highlights three free UK websites run by volunteers.

The magazine rounds off with articles on “Researching the Great Depression,” “Supreme Court Cases and Your Family History,” and a review of Yale’s Photogrammar Project that digitizes photographs of the 1930s and 1940s and makes them available online. There are also the monthly features “The Back Page,” “Genealogical Society Announcements,” and additional short pieces in the Net Notes already mentioned.

DSC06342Perhaps I now have you curious, but frustrated because you don’t subscribe to the magazine. Not to worry. The Newton Free Library does. Pay us a visit. You can find this and other genealogy magazines just to the right as you enter the Special Collections Room on the first floor.  Take a few minutes to see what’s there.  Here there be discoveries to be made, brick walls to be dismantled, and gold to be found.

 

 

vea/16 June 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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American Ancestors NEHGS logo

Do NOT mistake this site for Ancestry.  American Ancestors is the web site of one of the premier genealogy societies in the country.  The New England Historic Genealogical Society (Newbury Street, Boston) has resources  that are unique. The NEHGS is opening up its website, American Ancestors, to everyone  for free for one week. From today, Wednesday, April 6th to April 13th, you can go to http://www.americanancestors.org/Free-Billion and hunt for your ancestors.  Though obviously an extraordinary site for New England research, check this out even if you have (as far as you know) no New England ancestors.  There is a reason why they changed the name of their website from New England Ancestors to American Ancestors. Check it out.

vea/6 April 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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How can I track down records?

How can I track down records?

I became aware of LDSGenealogy through a Dick Eastman post sent to me by a genealogy buddy.  Being a skeptical New Englander to begin with, I was suspicious when I saw the name.  I know that FamilySearch.org is the official LDS family history site.  What exactly was going on with this site? Luckily my skepticism was unwarranted. The site is completely legit. The people in charge of the site explain who they are and what they are doing in their “About” section. In it they state “As members of the LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), we originally designed the site to be helpful for LDS church members doing genealogy research. We have since expanded the site to include a lot of helpful information for everyone. We welcome any and all visitors who might find this site helpful.”

And helpful it is.  It is a directory of records useful to genealogists that can be found online. When you go into it, you will see a list of states, counties, and towns and cities.  You won’t waste a lot of time looking through individual subscription and free services to locate a needed record. Under each location listed there are groupings of records and where you can find them online.  If they are not online, of course, you will need to continue hunting.

There is another very good reason to take a look at the site — the articles.  They are excellent.  I’ve been doing family history research for awhile now, but each time I go into an article I learn something or sometimes remember a tip or caution that I had forgotten over the years.  Take a look at this site.  It will be well worth your time.  The home page is logically laid out, simple and straightforward.

LDS Genealogy: http://ldsgenealogy.com

 

vea/25 March 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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Newton City Hall 5 February 2016

Newton City Hall 5 February 2016

FindMyPast comes through again with something to keep us busy on a snowy New England day. Remember what I said just two posts ago about FindMyPast going aggressively after the American Market?  I just learned from a posting on Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter that FindMyPast announced at RootsTech that it is launching the largest online collection of U.S. marriages in American history with over 100 million records dating from 1650 t0 2010. The work on this project is not completed, but FindMyPast is making the first 33 million of these records available to anyone who wants to use them for free through February 15th.  To learn more details, click on the link above to Dick Eastman’s article. Once you take a look at the article, go to  http://www.findmypast.com and try out the records.

vea/5 February 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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Imagine having family and local history articles available online, at your finger tips.

Imagine having family and local history articles available online, at your finger tips.

I spotted this on several of my genealogy feeds. It’s a perfect way to spend a snowbound weekend (or to celebrate NOT getting snowed in). I’d like to share some thoughts about FindMyPast.  Although FindMyPast is a British company that has been emphasizing British genealogy, it is now going aggressively into the U.S. market, looking to acquire materials that will attract Americans.  It has established it’s American headquarters right next door to Newton in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

One of their impressive projects is connecting the PERSI Index to the actual articles cited and making it available online. PERSI stands for Periodicals Source Index and is considered to be the largest genealogy and local history periodicals index in the world. It covers a large number of American periodicals. The Allen County Public Library in Indiana has been doing this indexing project since 1986. The index covers articles published as far back as 1847.  Note that I said index. If you wanted an article, you could contact ACPL and pay to have the article copied for you. You could also use your own local library’s Inter Library Loan Service to obtain a copy of an article of interest. FindMyPast is attempting to connect the index to the actual articles online. This is a copyright nightmare.  They have to track down the owners of the copyright and then get permission to put it online — for every single article. This process becomes even more complicated when the periodical has gone out of business. How far have they gotten? You can find out for yourself free by checking it out over this free weekend.

So even if you don’t have British ancestry, you still  want to check out this site and not just for the PERSI information cited above.  I emailed FindMyPast last night to clarify some points and they answered by this morning.  At this point in time they make available over 2 billion records globally. 850 million of those are U.S. records. Sounds like enough to keep us all busy over a snowy weekend!  And the price is certainly right.

I am including additional material provided by FindMyPast below. It gives you a more detailed description of the range and types of records they offer.

From FindMyPast:

We’re delighted to announce that from 7am this Friday 22nd until 7am on Monday 25th (EST), our world records* will be available for anyone to view, completely free of charge.

You’ll be able to explore…

… As well as millions of other records that will give everyone the opportunity to explore their family history, and bring their past to life.

We’re here to help you every step of the way. If you’re just getting going, make sure to take a look at our failsafe interview to mine your relatives for clues. You’ll be able to begin populating your tree, and start your hunt for more names to add to it.

If you’re new to exploring our collections you might find our guide to Birth, Marriage and Death records a useful starting point, as well as our new video guides, which offer useful tips on getting started with records, building a family tree, getting started with hints, and much more!

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, or are curious to see what other explorers have discovered in their past, take a look at our discoveries for some ….

Tracing your family history with Findmypast offers you the chance to discover things about the past which shaped who you are today. Start this weekend, and see where your tree takes you.

*Please note that access to the 1939 Register has not been included and pay as you go credits will be required in order to unlock household records. Terms and conditions apply.

vea/20 January 2016/updated 22 January 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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