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<2017 June>

More Links

# Wednesday, 05 April 2017
6 Records to Trace Ancestors Who Served in World War I
Posted by Diane

The United States declared war on Germany 100 years ago this month, on April 6, 1917, joining the side of the Allies in the Great War. See all the countries caught up in the conflict in our timeline of World War I war declarations.

More than 650,000 from Canada and Newfoundland and about 4 million from the United States served in the military. These are two of the US Expeditionary Force soldiers in my family:


On the left is Joe Seeger, who enlisted September 1917; and on the right is his brother Norbert (with their father), who enlisted July 1918.

Loss of WWI Service Records in NPRC Fire
When you go to research your WWI ancestors' military service, you'll make a sad discovery: More than 80 percent of US Army service records for those discharged between Nov. 1, 1912 and Jan. 1, 1960 (which includes WWI soldiers) were destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Archives' National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. (You can request surviving WWI service records following these instructions.)

But there are other ways to trace your ancestor's WWI service, including:

1. Draft Registration Cards
More than 24 million men (including immigrants who hadn't naturalized) registered for the draft in 1917 and 1918, although not all of them served. These are widely available on genealogy websites like and FamilySearch.

2. State Adjutant General Rosters
Most states issued a roster of soldiers in World War I. Both Joe and Norbert are listed in The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the World War, 1917-18, on as Ohio Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918. 

3. WWI Transport Service Records
Fold3 just published this collection of passenger lists of military transport ships. Norbert was listed with Supply Co. 336, leaving New York City Oct 27, 1918, and arriving in Liverpool Nov. 8. I had to scroll through the records to find a page with a date and ports.

He was on another ship Nov. 11, but I can't find a page noting where it took him. His last transport took him home: The USS Orizaba departed Brest, France, July 29, 1919, and arrived at Newport News, Va., Aug. 6.

4. Discharge Papers
Most discharged service members registered with their local courthouses on return to their communities. I can't find my WWI servicemen among the veteran discharges in FamilySearch's records for Hamilton County, Ohio, so here's the record for another man:

5. Veterans Surveys
Many communities asked local veterans to complete surveys about their service in the World War. My cousin three times removed Louis E. Thoss filled out this one for the Kentucky Council of Defense (it's now part of the Kenton County Public Library's genealogy database).

The US Army Military History Institute also has a collection of WWI veterans questionnaires completed in the late 1970s, along with photos, letters, memoirs and other materials.

6. Military Headstone Application
When Joe died in 1941, his sister applied for a military headstone based on his WWI service. These are on National Archives microfilm, and digitized on

You'll find more ways to research your World War I ancestors in these articles:
SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave | FamilySearch | Fold3 | Military records | World War One Genealogy
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 14:54:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [13]
# Thursday, 09 March 2017
9 Timesaving Hacks for Ancestry, FamilySearch & Other Top Genealogy Websites
Posted by Diane

These quick tricks for some of the genealogy websites you use most often will help you get to the records you want faster. You'll find even more genealogy website hacks in the March/April 2017 Family Tree Magazine, our special genealogy websites issue. Contributing editor David A. Fryxell shared these hacks:

Map your family tree locations in MyHeritage.
In the menu on the left side of your MyHeritage home page, select PedigreeMap, and the site generates an interactive world map of events in your online tree. Read more about PedigreeMap in this blog post.

Search GenealogyBank for all newspapers in a city.
Searching the entire site when you really want hits only from one place can flood you with useless results. To search all the newspapers from a single city, click on the state (on the map or text link) on the GenealogyBank home page. You’ll see a page with a map and list of links by city. Select a city, and the next page lets you search all the applicable titles.


See what’s new at your favorite genealogy websites.
It’s good to repeat searches to find recently added records, but annoying to slog through the same matches you’ve already seen. Here's how to check out the latest additions on several sites:

Find free records on Findmypast.
By registering for a guest membership at Findmypast, you can access 850 million free records, including US censuses, US and Canadian public records, family trees and Irish Catholic parish records—without paying a cent. You’ll find the Findmypast freebies listed here.

Review search results faster.

Once you’ve got some search hits on or FamilySearch, you can save time by not clicking through to review every possible result:
  • On your results list, hover your pointer over the blue, underlined collection title (such as “1940 United States Federal Census”). A window pops up showing key data from that record, so you can decide whether to investigate further.

  • On your FamilySearch results list, click in the area below the person's name and database name.

SaveSave | FamilySearch | findmypast | Fold3 | MyHeritage | Newspapers
Thursday, 09 March 2017 13:04:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 17 November 2015
Cousin-Finding Features on Genealogy Websites
Posted by Diane

Genealogy subscription site MyHeritage added a new feature this month called Search Connect, which lets you find other MyHeritage members who searched the site for people with the same names you're searching for.

Basically, Search Connect turns every search into a record that you can then search for. You can see the search criteria used and get in contact with the other member to exchange more information.

You don't have to do anything different to use Search Connect: Results are automatically included when you use the site's search engine (called SuperSearch). But you also can use a separate Search Connect search page. Learn more about this new feature from the MyHeritage blog.

This made me wonder how other genealogy data sites help you get in touch with potential cousins:
  • On subscription site, go to an ancestor's profile page and click the Tools menu, then select Member Connect. This shows you profiles in other members' trees that the site thinks match your ancestor. And if you view a record for which someone else has added alternate information, you can see who added the notes.
  • On Fold3 ('s military-focused subscription site), when you're viewing a record, look to the left side of the record viewer and click the Annotations tab. There, you'll see any notes other members have left on the record, and you can click to view the member's profile.
  • If you have a family tree on the free, you can email another contributor if he or she has a publicly viewable email address. | FamilySearch | Fold3 | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Tuesday, 17 November 2015 14:41:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 02 July 2015
Fold3: Search Revolutionary War Collection FREE to Celebrate the Fourth!
Posted by Diane

Military records site Fold3 (which also has some nonmilitary records from its previous incarnation as Footnote) is joining the ranks of genealogy subscription sites offering free access in commemoration of the July Fourth holiday in the United States.

You can search Fold3's Revolutionary War Collection free through July 15. That includes (but isn't limited to):
  • Revolutionary War Pensions
  • Revolutionary War Service Records
  • Revolutionary War Rolls
  • Final Payment Index for Military Pensions, 1818-1864
When you click to view a record image, you'll be prompted to start a free basic membership (or log in if you already have one). Start searching Fold3's  Revolutionary War Collection here.

This Fold3 blog post has more on the free access offer, as well as an example of how you can research an ancestor in the site's records.

Our Fold3 Web Guide has help navigating the site, step-by-step search strategies, tips, quick links and more. You can get it as a $4.99 download from and start using it today.

Fold3 | Military records
Thursday, 02 July 2015 09:45:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 05 May 2015
Free WWII Records on Fold3 Through May 15
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Fold3 is making its WWII content free  through Friday, May 15, in observance of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945.

Free records include:
  • Interactive USS Arizona Memorial
  • "Old Man's Draft" registration cards
  • Historical photos
  • war crimes case files
  • Army and Navy Judge Advocate General files
  • Holocaust records collection
... and others. Click here to see a list of WWII collection contents.

Click here to search Fold3's World War II collection. You'll be prompted to sign up for a free basic account before you can view a record. (I did run into a free trial signup a couple of times after modifying a search; if that happens, just return to the main WWII collection search page and run your search from there.)

Here's Fold3's blog post about this free records offer. If you have problems accessing the records, you can contact Fold3 here.

Fold3 | Military records
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 14:57:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 15 April 2015
Free Civil War Genealogy Records on Fold3 Through April 30
Posted by Diane

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War on April 9, Fold3 is making its Civil War records collection free to access through April 30.

Run a search in the collection, and when you click to view a record, you'll be prompted to set up a free basic Fold3 membership (or to sign in to your current account).

The Civil War Collection has 47 databases, including:
  • Civil War Service Records (this collection doesn't have the "Free" designation in the Civil War databases listing, but if you click it and select Union or Confederate, you'll see that the individual states are designated Free)
  • Confederate Amnesty Papers
  • Letters Received by the Adjutant General
  • Navy Widows' Certificates
  • Southern Claims (Approved, and Barred and Disallowed)
Start searching Civil War records here. Need step-by-step guidance? You can have it immediately with Family Tree Magazine's downloadable Web Guide, available in

Civil War | Fold3
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 13:20:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 02 February 2015
Fold3 Makes Its Black History Collection Free in February
Posted by Diane

To commemorate African-American History Month, genealogy website Fold3 is opening up its Black History Collection for free access during the month of February.

That includes collections from the slavery era, Civil War, Reconstruction, World Wars and Civil Rights Movement. Here's just a small sampling of records you can search for free:
  • Danish West Indies Slave Records
  • South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732–1872
  • Secretary of the Interior: Suppression of Slave Trade and Colonization records
  • Civil War Union and Confederate records
  • FBI Case Files
  • The Atlanta Constitution Newspaper
You'll need to sign up for a free Fold3 account (or log in if you already have an account) to access the records for free. Start searching Fold3's Black History Collection here.

Monday, 02 February 2015 15:58:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 14 November 2014
Genealogy News Corral: Nov. 10-14
Posted by Diane

  • Fold3 is offering free access to the site's WWII Collection through November 30. This includes Missing Air Crew Reports, US Air Force photos, Old Man's Draft cards and WWII diaries. You'll need to set up a free basic account when prompted to view records that match your search. Start searching here.
  • FamilySearch International, an important driver of progress in genealogy research, is celebrating its 120th anniversary. Nov. 13, 1894, the Genealogical Society of Utah held its first meeting. It became the Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1944. It was later renamed as the church's Genealogical Department, then the Family History Department. In the 1990s, as the concept of the website was being developed, it became known as FamilySearch.
The company has launched another advertising campaign in Norway.

Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Fold3 | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage
Friday, 14 November 2014 10:15:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 16 May 2014
Free WWII Records on Fold3 Through May 31
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Fold3 is opening up its WWII military records collection free through May 31, in honor of Memorial Day. You'll need to set up a free membership with the site to view the records.

Highlights of these records include:
  • draft registration cards
  • Army enlistment records
  • Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File
  • Navy muster rolls
  • missing air crew reports
  • casualty lists
  • photos
(WWII service records, available from the National Archives only to veterans and their next of kin for privacy reasons, aren't online.)

My grandfather and his brother served in WWII, and their Army enlistment records (taken from the National Archives' database) are on Fold3, with basic facts about them at the time of enlistment: birth year, marital status, education level, occupation category, enlistment date and place, and Army serial number.

I'll show you another relative's record—the "Old Man's Draft" card for my great-grandmother's brother (this is the front of the two-sided card):

The Old Man's Draft was the fourth registration for World War II, for men born between April 28, 1877 and Feb. 16, 1897. It's worth searching Fold3's WWII collection for relatives born during those years, even if you know they didn't serve. 

Search Fold3's WWII collection here. Learn more about this free records offer on the Fold3 blog.

You'll find search strategies and tips for Fold3 military, naturalization, city directory and other records in Family Tree Magazine's Fold3 Web Guide download, available at

Fold3 | Free Databases | Military records
Friday, 16 May 2014 09:50:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Free Civil War Records on Fold3 Through April 30
Posted by Diane

Historical military records website Fold3 is opening up its Civil War collection for free from April 14 to 30 in commemoration of the start of the war in April 1861.

The military collection includes

  • service records (Union and Confederate) for soldiers from more than 50 territories and states
  • Union pension index cards
  • some Union widows’ pension files
  • Navy survivors certificates
  • Army registers
  • court records of compensation to former owners of freed slaves in Washington, DC
  • Southern Claims Commission records
  • investigations into subversive activity
  • and other records

Read more about this offer on the Fold3 blog.

Click here to search Fold3's Civil War records collection.

Fold3 has records of US wars from the Revolutionary War up through Vietnam, plus nonmilitary records such as city directories, naturalizations, passport applications, Indian censuses and more. Get help finding ancestors on Fold3 in Family Tree Magazine's downloadable Fold3 Web Guide, available in

Find more resources for tracing Civil War ancestors in our listing on

Civil War | Fold3 | Free Databases | Military records
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 10:28:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Making the Most of My Relative's Civil War Service
Posted by Diane

Did Veteran's Day get you thinking about your ancestor's military service and how you can learn more about it?

One research option is the subscription genealogy website, which has records on conflicts from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Indian Wars, Civil War, Spanish-American War, world wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. (Although the site switched its focus to military records a few years back, it also has some nonmilitary records, such as city directories, American Indian censuses, naturalizations and more.)

When we started working on a webinar about researching on, I went looking for family members' records there. Here's a page from the compiled military service record (CMSR) for my third-great-granduncle Frank Thoss (brother of my third-great-grandfather Louis Thoss), a private in Co. A, 53rd Regiment, Kentucky Infantry.

Frank's widow filed for a pension in 1886, according to this pension index card, so I can send for a copy of the application from the National Archives (select widows' pensions are digitized on Fold3).

You can search Fold3 for your ancestors' names, and view records with a subscription (some libraries and FamilySearch Centers let patrons use Fold3 on their computers, so check out that option).

Free Fold3 collections are marked with a small green "Free" in the site's database listing.

Get help finding your ancestors' records on Fold3 in our Making the Most of webinar, on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 7pm ET (6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT). Presenter David A. Fryxell will show you
  • the site's collections, including lesser-known records that might have information on your family
  • how to navigate the site
  • the best strategies for searching it (the search works differently from other genealogy sites you might be used to)
  • when you should browse instead, and how to do it
  • how you can find records on ancestors who never actually served in the military
All webinar registrants will receive a PDF handout of the presentation slides, plus access to watch the recording again as often as you want.

Click here for more details on the Making the Most of Fold3 webinar, and to register for your seat.

Fold3 | Military records | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 14:45:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 22 May 2013
US Colored Troops Service Records Free Through May 31
Posted by Diane

Today—the 150th anniversary of the creation of the US Colored Troops (USCT)—the National Archives has announced the completion of the USCT Service Records Digitization Project.

The USCT Service Records collection is available free to everyone today through May 31 on Fold3, which was a partner in the project. 

The USCT was established May 22, 1863 by War Department General Order 143 to organize African-American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. Its members fought in 39 major battles and 400 other engagements. Sixteen received the Medal of Honor.

The collection holds nearly  4 million record images. The service records can include muster rolls, enlistment papers, correspondence, orders, prisoner-of-war memorandums and casualty reports. Some files include deeds of manumission and bills of sale for former slaves whose owners received compensation for freeing the slaves to enlist.

Search or browse the USCT records collection here.

African-American roots | Fold3 | Military records
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 16:29:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 01 February 2013
Genealogy News Corral: Special Black History Month Edition
Posted by Diane

In honor of Black History Month this month, today brings you a special African-American history-themed news roundup:
  • An interactive online map—a companion to the PBS "American Experience" documentary The Abolitionistslets you explore the story of the abolitionist movement in America. Powered by History Pin, the Abolitionist Map of America has images, documents and videos from dozens of libraries, museums and other institutions.

    Cincinnati, located on the boundary of free and slave states, was a major Underground Railroad stop. Our Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Genealogy Local History Department selected images and recordings on subjects such as the site of local antislavery newspaper the Philanthropist, the focus of two anti-abolitionist riots in 1836; and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, where the Uncle Tom’s Cabin author lived with her family for various periods of time from 1833 to 1836. 
To find African-American genealogy events near you, check with your local genealogical or historical society, or public library.

Check out articles on researching African-American roots here.

African-American roots | | Fold3 | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 01 February 2013 13:45:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Free Access to's Black Genealogy Records in February
Posted by Diane

Fold3 is providing free access to its Black History Collection of historical and genealogical records for the month of February—Black History Month in the United States. 

Those records document slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement. Here's a sampling of the record sets in the collection
  • Court Slave Records for Washington, DC
  • South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732–1872
  • US Colored Troops Civil War service records
  • Southern Claims Commission records
  • The Atlanta Constitution newspaper
  • WWII "Old Man's Draft" Registration Cards
Some of the record sets, such as the Southern Claims Commission records (Southerners' reimbursement claims for property Union troops seized during the Civil War) and WWII draft cards, also will cover non-African-Americans.

Visit the Black History Collection home page to see samples of the records and links leading to more information about each collection.

You'll need to set up a free registration to access the collections. On the Black History Collection home page, click on the link in the blue box to get started.

If you're tracing black ancestors, you'll find tips and advice in guides at, including:
Click here to see all the African-American genealogy research helps at

African-American roots | Fold3 | Free Databases
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 13:20:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 19 October 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 15-19
Posted by Diane

  • Look for a new blog soon from the Library of Congress: To complement its Civil War in America exhibition, the LOC will debut a new blog in November to chronicle more than 40 folks from the North and South whose lives were affected by the war.

    Posts will use first-person accounts such as diaries, letters and published memoirs. “Bloggers” will include people such as Robert E. Lee, Clara Barton, Stonewall Jackson, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant,  Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Keckley, Eugenia Phillips and John F. Chase. You can find the blog starting Nov. 12 at
  • Military records website Fold3 reached a milestone this week when when the site exceeded 100,000,000 images of historical records. Read more about this achievement on the Fold3 blog. The site, which launched in January 2007 as Footnote, has worked with partners including the National Archives, Allen County Public Library, FamilySearch and others to digitize records. purchased the site in 2010 and last year rebranded it

Got Iowa ancestors? Our Iowa Genealogy Crash Course webinar, happening Tuesday evening, Oct. 30, will help you find their vital records, US and state censuses, land records and more. Learn more about the Iowa Genealogy Crash Course in | Civil War | Fold3 | Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | Military records | Newspapers
Friday, 19 October 2012 15:08:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 27 September 2012
Find Your Ancestors' Military Records Online
Posted by Diane

Just about everyone has an ancestor (or more) who served in the military, and the records of their service can be rich with genealogy answers: compiled military service records (aka CMSRs), pension applications, bounty land warrants, draft registrations, discharge papers, citations, regimental histories, burial records, veterans questionnaires—the list goes on.

Our upcoming webinar Online Military Records: Document Your Family's Service will help you use online resources to find your family's US military records. You'll learn:
  • what types of military records might exist for your ancestors and where to find them
  • how to track down draft registrations (even if your ancestor never served)
  • how to trace ancestors' service in the American Revolution, Civil War, World Wars and other US wars
  • the best websites for finding military records, including Fold3, the Daughters of the American Revolution genealogy database and more
Plus you'll be able to submit your own military research questions to presenter David A. Fryxell both when you register and during the live webinar.

The hourlong Online Military Records webinar is Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. ET (that's 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT and 4 p.m. PT).

Your registration includes access to the webinar recording to watch again as often as you want, a 25-page handout of the presentation slides, and a six-page handout of additional information on finding online military records.

Click here to lean more about our Online Military Records webinar (and save $10 on your registration with our early bird discount).

Fold3 | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | Sales | Webinars
Thursday, 27 September 2012 09:59:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 27 July 2012
Genealogy News Corral, July 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • I wanted to point you to the Ancestry Insider's interesting post about indexing errors on 1940 census websites. The Ancestry Insider has seen more user complaints about's index than FamilySearch's, and I'd have to echo that observation (mostly in blog comments and on Facebook). His post includes's answers to questions about its indexing and auditing processes, and the index augmentation that helps users find records despite indexing difficulties.  
  • This fall, the National Archives will open its new New York City location in Lower Manhattan, in the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House at One Bowling Green (the former facility was on Varick Street in Greenwich Village). The new location will expand the facilitiy's usefulness for research and education, with a welcome center, research center, learning center for school groups, exhibition space and public programs area. Read more about the new location here.
  • Military records subscription site Fold3 has released a new collection of Navy Casualty Reports, 1776-1941, documenting deaths of US Navy personnel in wartime and in accidents outside of war.

    The casualty reports include records of those who were killed, injured, wounded, diseased or imprisoned, but most report only deaths.The records include four titles: Deaths Due to Enemy Action (includes deaths during the Civil War aboard the Cincinnati and in Andersonville prison, and more), Drowning Casualties (1885-1939), Lost and Wrecked Ships, Explosions and Steam Casualties (1801-1941), and Ordnance Accidents, Aviation Accidents, and Miscellaneous Records. This collection is currently free to search. | census records | Female ancestors | Fold3 | Genealogy books | Military records | NARA
Friday, 27 July 2012 14:36:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 06 July 2012
Genealogy News Corral, July 2-6
Posted by Diane

  • The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum has launched a new website hosted by Southern Methodist University, where the library will be located. The site features highlights from the library's collections, as well as online exhibits about President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. You'll also get an early look at the still-under-construction library and museum, scheduled to open in Spring 2013.
  • Princeton University has posted online the Sid Lapidus '59 Collection on Liberty and the American Revolution, more than 150 digitized pamphlets, books and prints from the American Revolution era. They include Thomas Paine’s pamphlets “The Age of Reason” and “Common Sense,” and John Adams’ essay "A defence of the constitutions of government of the United States of America." Use arrows to turn each document's pages like a book.
You can find Princeton's other digitized materials (which include historical postcards and photos of the university—interesting if an ancestor went there) in its digital library, too. | Fold3 | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives | Social History
Friday, 06 July 2012 13:34:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 03 July 2012
Free Early American and Revolutionary War Genealogy Records on and Fold3
Posted by Diane

In honor of the Fourth of July, you're getting two free opportunities to search for early American and Revolutionary War ancestors on subscription genealogy websites (you'll need to set up a free account on each site to view records).

Now through July 8, has made 65 million records free,  including:
  • US Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970
  • Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books
  • Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900
  • Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage & Death Announcements, 1851-2003
Start searching the free Early American records here.

On, you have through July 15 to search through these and other Revolutionary War records for free:
  • Revolutionary War Pension Files
  • Revolutionary War Service Records
  • Bounty Land Warrants
  • Revolutionary War Muster Rolls
Start searching the free Revolutionary War Collection here.

Also don't miss our post with even more online Revolutionary-era history and genealogy resources—or our Ultimate USA Genealogy Collection, featuring expert genealogy advice and tools for researching family in US states, counties and cities. | Fold3 | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 11:30:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 18 June 2012
ISGS Will Match Donations to War of 1812 Pension Digitization Projects
Posted by Diane

The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) has pledged to match donations to the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Preserve the Pensions campaign up to $10,000.

Preserve the Pensions raises money to help digitize War of 1812 pension records, now on paper at the National Archives, and make them free to access online. The archives has more than 180,000 pension files totaling 7.2 million pages.

You can see War of 1812 pension records that have already been digitzed on genealogy website

ISGS will match any contribution made to the Preserve the Pensions project before Dec. 31, 2012, up to the first $10,000. For instance, if you donate $100, the ISGS will match it for a total of $200.

 In addition, will also match all ISGS contributions, which means any contribution you make will be quadrupled: Your $100 contribution would become a $400 contribution.

A $10 contribution to Preserve the Pensions allows about 80 pages of pension files to be digitized. A total of $3.7 million is needed to digitize the entire collection.

You can donate via Paypal or by check. See the ISGS website for details on making a contribution.

Fold3 | Free Databases | Genealogy societies | Military records
Monday, 18 June 2012 15:31:58 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 01 June 2012
War of 1812 Genealogy Records Free on Fold3 in June
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website Fold3 is opening up its War of 1812 records for free access during June.

This is prime time for researching ancestors who were soldiers in the War of 1812. The war started 200 years ago June 18 when the United States declared war on Great Britain.

Fold3's collection has more than 400,000 record images. That includes 233,000 images of War of 1812 pension files never before available online. Here's an overview of the free databases:
  • War of 1812 Pension Application Files: These pension and bounty land records are being digitized as a project with the Federation of Genealogical Societies. So far, only 3 percent of the records are digitized in Fold3's collection—but who knows, you may get lucky.
  • War of 1812 Service Records: These records consist of cards compiled from muster, pay, receipt and other rolls for soldiers and sailors who served in the war. For each person named, you'll usually learn his service dates, terms of service, monthly pay, where he served, and other notes.
  • War of 1812 Prize Cases, Southern District Court, NY: These records relate to British vessels seized by American privateers and US Navy vessels. "Prize courts" helped dispose of the ship and its cargo as war prizes, and the records document questions asked of sailors, witnesses and others.
  • Letters Received by the Adjutant General, 1805-1821: This correspondence came from Army officers and enlisted men, the Secretary of War, President and other officials, and it deals with Army personnel and administrative matters.  The records are part of NARA record group 94.
Start searching Fold3's War of 1812 collections here. You can search them all at once using the search box at the top of the page, or scroll down and click a collection title to search just those records.

For more help researching your War of 1812 ancestors, look for our how-to guide by David Allen Lambert in the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine (it starts mailing to subscribers in early June).

The War of 1812 is also covered in our guide to researching ancestors in 10 of America's "lesser-known" military conflicts.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Fold3 | Free Databases | Military records
Friday, 01 June 2012 13:09:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 21 May 2012
Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Paula Deen
Posted by Diane

On Friday's final episode of the NBC genealogy show "Who Do You Think You Are?" TV chef Paula Deen crisscrossed the state of Georgia tracing her maternal roots.

Deen's parents died when she was a young woman, so not much family information had made its way to her. The show focused on her third-great-grandfather John Batts, a slaveowning planter and member of the Georgia legislature from 1857 to 1860.

Batts' son William (brother to Deen's great-great-grandmother Eliza Batts) fought for the confederates in the 12th Georgia regiment during the Civil War. The Georgia Archives actually had letters he'd written home, as well as letters from his commanding officer. These missives gave Deen an intimate view into William's experiences and his family's reaction after he was killed in action.

At Fold3—the first time I can remember this subscription site being shown on WDYTYA?—Deen finds John Batts' application for a pardon from the US government. Most of the South was covered by President Andrew Johnson's blanket pardon, but wealthy planters like Batts had to swear loyalty and provide documentation they'd freed their slaves.

Tax records at Emory University show John Batts' fate. Things went downhill for the family after an economic depression in 1873. Deen and a researcher note declining values of John's personal and real estate until 1879, when the records show all zeros. A newspaper article reveals that John, sadly, had committed suicide.

Although "Who Do You Think You Are?" won't be returning next season, GeneaBloggers reports that for the first time this season, the episode came in first for viewership in its time slot and was the third-most-watched show for the evening.

These two short videos show research not included in Friday's episode, about Deen's fifth-great-grandfather Joel Walker, an early Georgia settler in the Savannah area.

You can watch the full episode about Paula Deen's family history journey here.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Fold3
Monday, 21 May 2012 09:27:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 16 May 2012
150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act: Genealogy Resources for Land Records
Posted by Diane

homestead act post Were your ancestors among the millions who claimed federal lands under the Homestead Act of 1862?

We're coming up on the 150th anniversary of this groundbreaking (pun intended) legislation that accelerated the country's westward expansion. Look for opportunities to learn more about your homesteading ancestors.

President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law on May 20, 1862. Beginning Jan. 1, 1863, a homesteader could receive up to 160 acres of public domain land by applying for a claim (which required a filing fee), improving the land, living on it for five years, and then filing for a patent.

Anyone who was 21 or older or the head of a family—women, immigrants and freed slaves included—who'd never taken up arms against the US government could file an application to claim land.

The first person to claim land under the act was Union Army scout Daniel Freeman on Jan. 1, 1863. The story is he'd met some officials of the local land office at a New Year's Eve party and convinced them to open the office shortly after midnight so he could file his claim before reporting for duty.

Homesteading ended in 1976 in most of the United States and 1986 in Alaska. The last claimant under the act applied for 80 acres on Alaska's Stony River and received his deed until 1988.

Only about 40 percent of those who ever filed completed the application process and received land titles. More than 2 million homesteads were granted, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Between 1862 and 1934, 10 percent of land in the United States was privatized under the act.

Use these links to research your ancestor's homesteading experience:

General Land Office Records Online
The BLM's General Land Office (GLO) was charged with overseeing the homestead application process. It's free to search for and view more than 5 million federal land patents issued since 1820. (If your ancestor applied for a homestead but never received title to his or her land, there won't be a record here.) You'll also find a reference center with a land records glossary, FAQ and more.

Using Land Patents
This free article has tips for using the GLO online records website.

Nebraska Homestead Records
Fold3 is digitizing the National Archives' homestead records for Nebraska. You can search the collection, which is 39 percent complete, for free. The files, from the Records of the Bureau of Land Management, consist of final certificates, applications with land descriptions, affidavits showing proof of citizenship and more. And here's a video about the homestead records digitization project.

Homestead National Monument of America
This national monument near Beatrice, Neb., explains the Homestead Act and its impact on the United States. Click the History and Culture link to learn more about the act, see its text, view maps, "meet" well-known homesteaders and more.

BLM: Commemorating 150 Years of The Homestead Act
This BLM site has a Homestead Act timeline; videos about historic homesteads, building a frontier home and more; and a Q&A.

National Archives: Ingalls Homestead Records
This article from the National Archives' Prologue magazine (Winter 2003 issue) discusses my favorite homesteaders—the Ingallses and Wilders of Little House on the Prairie fame—and shows portions of the families' homestead records.

Family Tree Magazine resources to help you research your ancestors' land records (whether federal records such as land entry case files or  local records such as deeds) include:

Fold3 | Genealogy Web Sites | Land records | NARA | Research Tips
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 10:36:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 20 April 2012
Genealogy News Corral, April 16-20
Posted by Diane

  • Military records subscription site Fold3 has added records relating to the Sultana disaster. That's the steamboat whose boilers exploded April 27, 1865, killing 1,700 (mostly Civil War Union soldiers recently released from Confederate POW camps). The ship was carrying 2,200 passengers—far more than the 376 she was built for. Records include lists of former prisoners who survived and those who died. The records are free to search, at least for the time being.

  • The Center for Jewish History (CJH) has announced a partnership with Jewish genealogy expert Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots Foundation (RTRF). CJH will incorporate RTRF’s Eastern European Archival Database and Image Database into its online catalog, expanding access to genealogy resources from Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. Weiner will serve as senior advisor for genealogy services at CJH's Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute.

  • Besides adding 1940 census records and coordinatng the 1940 Census Community Project, FamilySearch has continued adding other records to the free The new resources include seignorial records from the Czech Republic; city records from Nördlingen, Bavaria, Germany; church records from Estonia, Portugal and Slovakia; and marriages from New Jersey. See the updated colelctions and click through to them here.

  • Remember to watch "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on PBS, which will feature actors Robert Downey Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The European-immigrant stories in both stars' pasts are common to many Americans.

  • NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" tonight will repeat the popular Reba McEntire episode. Next Friday will be an all-new episode featuring actor Rob Lowe.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | FamilySearch | Fold3 | Jewish roots
Friday, 20 April 2012 12:41:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, 30 March 2012
Genealogy News Corral, March 26-30
Posted by Diane

  • More than a million Westminster Parish baptism, marriage and burial records dating back to 1538 now available on subscription and pay-as-you-go site The records come from 50-plus Westminster churches. More Westminster records will go live over the coming months, along with cemetery registers, wills, rate books, settlement examinations, workhouse admission and discharge books, bastardy, orphan and apprentice records, charity documents, and militia and watch records.
  • The 2012 Houston, Texas, Family History Expo takes place Friday and Saturday, April 6 and 7. The keynote speaker is Family Tree Magazine's own podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke, and instructors include frequent contributor Lisa A. Alzo. You can register online or at the door, for the whole conference or just one day, or even a single class. Learn more on the Family History Expos website. | census records | Fold3 | Footnote | Genealogy Events | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 30 March 2012 11:49:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 16 March 2012
Genealogy News Corral, March 12-16
Posted by Diane

  • Genealogy and family network website MyHeritage now has a feature that lets members easily create family calendars. You can choose from 15 designs and 28 languages, and create a calendar in one click. It's automatically decorated with your family photos and populated with birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other events from your family site. You can add or change events and photos, too, and purchase your calendar for as low as $19.95 plus shipping.
  • Family tree wiki site has started a Genealogist-to-Genealogist Sharing Network (aka G2G). It'll allow researchers (whether or not they're WikiTree members) to ask other genealogists for help on topics such as general genealogy, research brick walls, or how to use WikiTree.
  • FamilySearch added 20 million new, free records to this week for Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, and 13 US states. The release includes 9 million California death records and 5 million Nevada marriage records. See the list of updated databases and link to each one here.
  • Florida International University (FIU) has acquired Felix Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza's collection of thousands of books, handwritten and typed letters, photos and other primary documents relating to Cuba and Cuban genealogy. They include rare 17th- and 18th-century books, out-of-print publications, and thousands of unpublished genealogies and family manuscripts. FIU is now raising funds to create a Cuban center for genealogy centered around this collection. Read more about the Felix Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza collection here.

FamilySearch | Fold3 | Hispanic Roots | Military records | MyHeritage | Social Networking
Friday, 16 March 2012 09:54:45 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Black History Records Collection Free on Fold3 in February
Posted by Diane

Genealogy subscription site Fold3 (the former Footnote) is making its Black History Collection free during February in honor of Black History Month.

Among the records in this collection are:

  • Danish West Indies Slave Records
  • the 1860 US Census
  • US Colored Troops Compiled Service Records and pension files
  • Southern Claims Commission files (petitions by Southerners—including many African-Americans—who lost property to Union troops during the Civil War)
  • Military Intelligence Division—Negro Subversion (1914–1941)
  • Vietnam War Marine Corps Photos

You'll be prompted to register for a free Fold3 account when you click to view a record.

African-American roots | Fold3 | Military records
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 15:44:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 27 January 2012
Fold3: Military Service Records 1784-1811 Free Through Feb. 5
Posted by Diane

Check this out if you have Revolutionary War or War of 1812 ancestors: Subscription genealogy site Fold3 is making its collection of Service Records of Volunteers, 1784-1811, free through Feb. 5, according to a post on the site's Facebook page.

These images come from 32 rolls of NARA microfilm publication M905. Each soldier's "jacket" typically contains cards abstracting entries for the soldier in original muster rolls, payrolls, receipt rolls, and other lists.

Go here to search this collection. You'll need to register for a free account with the site to view records.

Need research guidance for Revolutionary War and War of 1812 ancestors? Both conflicts are covered in our guide, Research Strategies: 10 Lesser-Known Military Conflicts. It's a $4 download from

Fold3 | Free Databases | Military records
Friday, 27 January 2012 15:54:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 11 October 2011
"War of 1812" Premiere on PBS
Posted by Diane

The War of 1812 is sometimes called “the forgotten war.” Though it inspired the “Star Spangled Banner,” this war is often overshadowed in American minds by the longer Revolutionary and Civil wars.

A PBS film called "The War of 1812" is demystifying this conflict with re-enactments, exlanatory animation and the commentary of history experts. That’s a trailer for the show, above.

It premiered on TV last night, but you can watch it online here if you missed it. 

If you have a smartphone, you also can download a mobile app with more videos, guides to battlefields and historic sites, and more. 

Those with War of 1812 ancestors also will be interested in the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Preserve the Pensions project to digitize pension files for War of 1812 soldiers. Many of these records are already available at

You can get more help finding War of 1812 ancestors with these related resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Fold3 | Genealogy societies | Military records
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 10:13:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Thursday, 18 August 2011
New Name, New Content Focus for
Posted by Diane

The subscription genealogy website formerly known as will now be called Fold3., which acquired the site along with its parent company, iArchives, last year, is rebranding it with the new name and a new focus on military-related content.

Historical military records have always been one of the site's strengths. The name Fold3 refers to the third fold of a flag in a traditional flag-folding ceremony, which is said to represent the sacrifices of military veterans.

Military records currently on Fold3 come from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War and others.

“We have already begun expanding Fold3’s robust military collection to include new pension application files and draft cards,” says Brian Hansen, Fold3 general manager.

Don't worry—'s nonmilitary records, such as city directories, naturalization documents, the Pennsylvania Archives collection and more, will remain on Fold3. spokesperson Heather Erickson tells me they'll be in an “Other Collections” category. | Fold3 | Footnote | Military records
Thursday, 18 August 2011 14:02:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]