- Last Updated on Saturday, 04 January 2014 11:00
TIPS for your family history research
This page will provide some suggestions that may help you with your research. It will be updated regularly with new TIPS provided by our members as they find new lines of enquiry and from the various newsletters and web sites to which our members subscribe.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is continuously expanding its coverage of BC resources on its website at familysearch.org
Among the newer data sets are:
Images of British Columbia naturalization records from 1859 to 1926. These are especially useful if your ancestors came from non-Commonwealth countries.
Birth, Marriage and Death Notices from the Victoria Times Colonist from 1901 to 1939. You will need to know the approximate date of the event as there is no index.
Wills from 1861 to 1981. There is a complete index to the wills but those digitised go only to 1930 (as of June 25 2012). That is 31,200 wills.
- Images of the B.C. birth, marriage and death registrations that are currently indexed on the www.familysearch.org website.
The British Columbia Archival Information Network is a portal where you can access descriptions of archival materials preserved in nearly 200 repositories throughout the province. You can browse by subject, place, name or repository. For example, there are 29 entries from Qualicum Beach, including some family histories as well as church archives and material from local societies. Some of the material is digitized and available online by following links from this site to the archival repository's own website. Other material can be accessed by visiting the archival repository during its public access hours. This information, along with address, contact information, etc. is all provided at MemoryBC
Vancouver Public Library has digitised city directories from 1860 up to 1915. The directories contain detailed historical information about British Columbia communities, particularly about Vancouver and Victoria. They contain not only street and name listings for individuals and businesses, but populations, government listings, operating newspapers, schools and libraries from across the province.
Western Land Grants, 1870-1930 (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC).
Alberta and Prairie History
One of our members has been researching her ancestors in Alberta using Peel's Prairie Provinces, an on line data base at the University of Alberta. The site provides a searchable index to 2.5 million articles in almost 100 Alberta newspapers; city directories from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatoon; images of over 15,000 postcards of the prairies; over 1,000 photographs from the Magee photograph collection and over 7,500 digitized books. You may find useful information about your prairie ancestors.
Canadian Military Records
In a recent About.com: Genealogy newsletter, Kimberly Powell encourages us to discover details of your Canadian soldier ancestors' military service, with this collection of genealogical sources for military service and pension records, war memorials, military cemeteries and other military records and resources for the Canadian Armed Forces. In her list of 12 resources she includes some that are very useful but not well publicised such as the Last Post Death Notices in the Legion Magazine. Click on the titles to link to the databases.
Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War
If your family had anyone who served in the First World War you will be interested in this helpful new website. You will find step-by-step guides to finding the records as well as information about how to order a copy of a complete service file. There are the usual topics including the service record, war diaries and unit histories and unusual topics such as matching battlefield locations to the modern map.
Researching Canadian Soldiers of the Second World War
Records for WW2 personnel are not available online but they are available upon application. There are no restrictions on access to information relating to an individual who has been deceased for more than 20 years although proof of death is required. You can print an application form from http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/022-909.007-e.html
Immigration Heritage Online Kits
The Immigration Heritage Online kits provide easy and direct access to digital content related to immigration and allows you to access photographs, art, texts, music, and any other material that is available and associated with that group. To access the kit go to http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/immigration/Pages/immigration.aspx. There are kits for Chinese, Danish, East Indian, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish and Ukranian with more to follow.
Census Records - England, Scotland and Wales
The first place to search for your family in census records (free) is www.familysearch.org. You'll find images attached to the census records for England and Wales but indexes only for Scotland.
British Military Records
World War One
The National Archives has launched a dedicated First World War web portal www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war featuring podcasts, online records holdings, and more.
First World War Centenary has links to various websites www.1914.org/about/familyhistory
A gateway to a great deal of information about the British Army of 1914-1918 is http://www.1914-1918.net/army.htm
History - reliable in-depth information about the geography and historical context of the places your ancestors lived can be found at www.visionofbritain.org.uk
Since 1976, Price & Associates, Inc. has developed talented teams of professional genealogists in Salt Lake City to assist people in tracing their family history. This site gives an amazing array of links to all kinds of topics, although some of the links are out of date.
The British Newspaper Archive is a collaborative effort between the British Library and brightsolid online publishing (owners of FindMyPast, Genes Reunited) to digitise over 40 million newspaper pages at a rate of about 8,000 new pages each day. The main focus is on newspapers before 1900 although about 15% of the collection falls after this date (as of July 2012). Almost 200 newspapers have been indexed as of July 2012. It has a very powerful search engine that enables one to search by region, county, city, newspaper title and date (down to a single day for a single paper). It is a subscription data base but was offering a limited number of free credits for those registering. It is also available free at our Family History Centre.
Historical Directories is a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919. The project seeks to provide at least one directory, for each segment depicted on the geographical map, for each of the following decades: 1850's 1890s 1910s. The project ended in 2005 but the range of information available is useful for getting a picture of the countries during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many directories have been digitized and can be found online using Google Books http://books.google.ca/ and Internet Archive http://archive.org/index.php
Connected Histories currently includes 15 major digital resources (as of July 2012) for the period 1500-1900 . You can find information about all of them here, including their coverage, the technical methods used in their creation, their particular strengths and weaknesses, and any access arrangements which may apply.
Among the free resources are British History Online, a library of primary and secondary sources for British history to 1900; British Museum Images, a library of 100,000 photographs of early, modern and 19th century Britain; Clergy of the Church of England 1540-1835; Convict transportation registers; London lives 1690-1800 and Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913.
Primary and secondary texts and illustrations of all aspects of Victorian life in Great Britain are presented thematically. It is a wonderful place to browse and now includes some sound files.
London - anyone researching London can find up-to-date information at https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/London
Mocavo – Genealogy only Search Engine for the United Kingdom
While Mocavo.com searches sites and blogs from around the world, and will continue to do so, Mocavo.co.uk will focus specifically on the United Kingdom, giving those who wish to narrow their search to that region the ability to do just that. Their search tips suggest that like other major search engines, capitalization doesn‟t matter. Put names in quotes for best results. If you search for “John Smith”, Mocavo knows to also try “Smith John” so there’s no need to run two searches. This is critical as many sites put the last name first. Mocavo knows how to jump over middle names and initials. If you search for “Mary Carter”, you will also get results for Mary A. Carter and Mary Lynn Carter.
Wartime Memories Project
Thanks to our past president, Benita, for making us aware of this interesting project to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Great War. You can learn about the Wartime Memories Project at http://www.wartimememories.co.uk
Births/Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths/Burials
- Look at the free FamilySearch website to see if the family are included in the index. It is not complete but it is worth a look. https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/list#page=1&countryId=1986318
- The pay-to-view official website called ScotlandsPeople has indexes linked to images of the entry. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
- FamilySearch has indexes from 1841 to 1891. The pay-to-view websites Ancestry.co.uk and FindmyPast have indexes from 1841 to 1901.
- To view the actual census page you will need to go to the ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk website (pay-to-view).
The ScotlandsPlaces website is a good free resource for a description and photos of the place where your ancestors lived. www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk
Wills and Testaments - search the index from 1513-1925 at the ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk website.
Other useful sources of information for researching your Scottish ancestors:
- The Scotland wiki at FamilySearch.org. The first page gives general information about researching in Scotland with links on the left column to information by subject. Scroll down the page to link to information on each county with a further link from the county page to the parish. http://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Scotland
- Scottish Family History Societies and their websites can be found at http://www.genuki.org.uk/Societies/Scotland.html
- If you are interested in the history of your county and parish written in the 1790s and 1840s you'll want to read all about it from the website http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot You do not need to log in. Click the browse scanned pages link.
- Search the catalogues of over 50 Scottish archives via the Scottish Archive Network website http://www.scan.org.uk
- Free online videos by professional genealogists to give you tips about researching your Scottish ancestors https://www.familysearch.org/learningcenter/results.html?fq=place%3A%22Scotland%22
Welsh newspapers free online
The National Library of Wales has put an enormous collection of Welsh newspapers online at http://welshnewspapers.llgc.org.uk/en/home
World Wide Research
We will try to keep you up to date here on new happenings at this wonderful web site. To find out what's new in digitised records, indexes and digitised books vist their blog and click on the appropriate article.
www.FamilySearch.org has the largest collection of genealogical material in the world with billions of records available to the public free of charge. In most cases the people in their records lived before 1930.
FamilySearch has a 3 minute video titled, FamilySearch: Search Tips which focuses on providing search tips to help genealogists discover a variety of search strategies to find the greatest number of useful records.
When you look at the records listed in the indexes and the library catalog, the appearance of a small camera icon on the left of a record title indicates that access is now available to a free digital image of the original record.
The Research Wiki is an interactive online encyclopedia for family history research and contains research guides, links to instructional videos and advice from experts.
FamilySearch is in the process of digitizing its entire microfilm collection and making those images available online. The images and related indexes are published as they become available through familysearch.org so new information is released monthly.
If you are researching ancestors in the Republic of Ireland, the government has spearheaded a programme called Ireland Reaching Out, seeking to connect people of Irish heritage with their parish of origin. By joining any of the 2,500 + parish communities online, direct family history assistance is available from local people in the area, including volunteering to meet you if you visit. If you are interested, register at www.irelandxo.com and search for your people and parishes of origin. The steps are to register, login, find your parish or county and post a message. Good luck.
Births, Deaths and Marriages
Many of us had family members who emigrated to New Zealand. There is a 23 minute video by Jan Gow on the FamilySearch website. Jan gives an overview of the records available and how best to search the indexes. Their registration information provides good family history information. Records available to search for are:
- Births that occurred at least 100 years ago
- Stillbirths that occurred at least 50 years ago
- Marriages that occurred at least 80 years ago
- Deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago or the deceased‟s date of birth was at least 80 years ago.
Click this link to go to the web page and then click the title “New Zealand Births, Deaths, and Marriages Online”.
Probate Records 1878-1960
The records were created by local courts throughout New Zealand regions. An index is available on the Archives of New Zealand website which will give the probate file number associated with a name. Some records at the beginning of the file sets are out of numerical order. This collection is being published as images become available.
United States of America
1940 Census - the 1940 U.S. census has now been completely indexed and is free to search at https://familysearch.org/1940census