Saturday, April 29, 2006

American Merchant Marine at War

American Merchant Marine at War is a website dedicated to a service often misunderstood and neglected in genealogical research. Since the commission of privateers during the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Merchant Marine has been involved in every major conflict in American history. This site gives historical background, and information on obtaining service records and records of medals and decorations. Casualties from World War II are listed, including mariners killed in action and taken prisoner. Queries may be posted by those looking for shipmates. The FAQs are excellent, and shouldn't be missed.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Norway Heritage

Norway Heritage is the best place on the web to find information on Norwegian emigrants and the ships they sailed on. The passenger list database (1825-1873) contains 62,121 entries from 425 voyages, and elsewhere you can search or browse for ship names, shipping lines, and Norwegian agents. If you know only the year your ancestors departed, browse through the Ship Index (1825-1925) to narrow down the possible vessels. Vessel information and pictures are available for dozens of foreign lines, so check here for details even if your relatives didn't pass through Norway.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

FamilySearch Indexing

The next great thing in Internet genealogy is on its way, and you can help speed it along. FamilySearch Indexing is home to a project that will make the digitized records held by the Family History Library more accessible. Volunteers will be asked to download the Indexing Program and a batch of records to work on. The only records currently available are Georgia Death Certificates (1919 to 1927), Ohio Tax Records (Post 1825), and Ohio Death Certificates (1945 to 1953), but the selection should broaden considerably when the project hits its stride. Register now to hear about future indexing opportunities.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Buffalo Roots

Buffalo Roots was recommended to me as a "no nonsense web site," and that's just what it is. Part of, this subsite offers categorized links to hundreds of scattered online genealogical resources for Erie County, New York. If you don't find what you need—and there's a good chance you won't—the site points the way to hundreds of offline resources. I like any website that seeks to be comprehensive, and Buffalo Roots appears to both seek and meet this goal.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 is a good way to quickly review genealogy headlines and product listings. The site is built from RSS feeds generated by blogs, news outlets, message boards, and businesses. Click on a headline and the external site will open in a new window. Note that there is a lag before new articles appear: fresh items may take a few days to show up.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Northern New York Historical Newspapers

Northern New York Historical Newspapers has more than 290,000 scanned and OCRed pages from eighteen Upstate New York newspapers dating from 1811 to 2002. Pages are available as large PDF files, which means that Adobe Reader is required and broadband access is highly recommended. Search results appear in a too-narrow sidebar that you will probably want to resize. Some advanced search options are available, and the FAQs include one other useful tip: Include the newspaper name and year in your query (e.g. "elizabethtown-post-1912") to limit your search to a single year.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Legacy Project: Letters on Display

The Legacy Project: Letters on Display is a volunteer effort to collect, preserve, and display letters and e-mails from American soldiers at war. Links are given to websites featuring letters gathered by the project, as well as preservation advice like this:
Troops are very modest about what they write and might not think that their messages are significant. But even their most seemingly "mundane" e-mails might offer some small insight into what they are going through while far from home.
What is most admirable about the Project is that it is both retrospective and ongoing—something we family historians should appreciate.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Federal Township Plats of Illinois (1804-1891)

Federal Township Plats of Illinois (1804-1891) is a very attractive site with crystal-clear, full-color images of 3,457 plats from the Illinois State Archives. Like the Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records I blogged about in February, these maps can be used with the Federal Land Patent Records Site (try also the Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database.) In just a couple of minutes, I was able to find a particular land patent and call up a beautifully rendered image of the plat. Plats are also available on CD-ROM—one CD for each county, with full-size printable images.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Slaveholders and African Americans 1860-1870

Tom Blake's Slaveholders and African Americans 1860-1870 seeks to make a tricky genealogical situation slightly less tricky. As a first step, the site cross-references the standard 1860 census schedules with the 1860 slave schedules to show who the slaveholders were and what were their holdings. Blake lists the 16 largest slaveholders in America, and the 1,555 slaves aged 100 and up whose names and ages enumerators were required to record. He also has matched surnames of slaveholders in 1860 with those of free African Americans in 1870, and provides statistics that could suggest possibilities for future research.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

San Francisco Genealogy

With the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake fast approaching, it seems appropriate to mention San Francisco Genealogy—a clearinghouse for free genealogical and historical information about San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, and the rest of California. Scroll down the list of Online Genealogy Databases and you'll begin to appreciate the effort that has gone into the site. What I like most are the obscure lists found here—listing members of a bowling association in 1949, and guests to the Hotel Bella Vista in 1905. And, yes, there's plenty of information on the 1906 quake and its marital consequences.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sök på gravsatta i Stockholm

Researchers with Swedish ancestry will want to check out a brand-new website called Sök på gravsatta i Stockholm—which is probably not as unintelligible as it appears. The site has information on half a million graves in Stockholm's eleven public cemeteries. Even someone with no knowledge of Swedish should be able to use the search engine ("Förnamn" and "Efternamn" are self-explanatory; for the other words, use your imagination or an online dictionary). In case you're ever passing through Stockholm and want to pay a visit, each search result comes with a map showing where the grave is located.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Missouri Death Certificates, 1910–1955

At a time when vital records are being locked away from public view, Missouri Death Certificates, 1910–1955 comes as a pleasant surprise. Thanks to the efforts of 600 volunteers and students, over two million death certificates are now searchable by name, county, or month and year. Better still, the certificates are being digitized and linked to search results. Images are now available for the years 1910-1920, with more on the way. If a record is not yet digitized, a photocopy may be ordered for the whopping sum of $1.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

19th-Century Indiana Physicians Database

Medicine was among the more mobile professions in the 1800s, which makes the 19th-Century Indiana Physicians Database all the more useful for researchers with a doctor in the family. Records of over 15,000 self-proclaimed physicians and midwives are included—culled from census schedules, town and county histories, obituaries, and the files of the State Board of Public Health. Entries range in detail from just a single reference to entire biographies, spanning several written pages. For the best-documented individuals, genealogical data is often given in addition to medical curricula vitae.

Sure, sells old yearbooks, but—more importantly—they scan and index old yearbooks, and place the information online for all to see. As of today, you may browse through 228 yearbooks, graduation programs, class rosters, and reunion booklets, or search through the indexed text for your surnames. Scans are in full color, and are always legible. Links are given for free and not-so-free resources elsewhere—including the more extensive US School Yearbooks collection at

Monday, April 03, 2006

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

Despite its name, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is in fact a premeditated effort to match up volunteers with needy genealogists. Researchers from throughout the United States and 48 other countries and territories have agreed to share their time and talents with at least one lucky genealogist per month. Volunteers may charge for out-of-pocket expenses (copies, postage, etc.), but are not allowed to charge for their time. In case you're stumped, the link to "Go Find a Volunteer!" is intentionally placed at the bottom of the Frequently Asked Questions page—a friendly reminder to learn the rules before making a request.