The information below has been compiled to assist you in your ongoing quest to find sites that may help you with your genealogy research. Good luck with your research and if you know of any other sites that should be included on this list, be sure to contact our webmaster.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is continuously expanding its coverage of B.C. resources on its website at familysearch.org. Some data sets of general interest 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 familysearch.org website.
MemoryBC is a portal where you can access descriptions of archival materials preserved in repositories throughout the Province of British Columbia. You can browse by subject, place, name or repository. 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.
Vancouver Public Library has digitized 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).
Other Canadian Resources
General Canadian Resource Links
Archives Canada – Gateway to Canada’s Past – A very comprehensive series of links to a variety of Canadian genealogy resources.
Alberta and Prairie History
Peel’s Prairie Provinces is a University of Alberta resource dedicated to assisting scholars, students and researchers of all types in their exploration of Western Canadian history and the culture of the Canadian prairies The site provides a searchable index to 2.5 million articles in almost one hundred Alberta newspapers; city directories from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatoon; images of over 15,000 postcards of the prairies; over one thousand photographs from the Magee photograph collection and over seventy-five hundred digitized books.
Canadian Military Records
- Canadian Military Project – Find Canadian ancestors in in free searchable military databases for each war and rebellion Canada has been involved in.
- Veterans Affairs Canada – Remembering Those Who Served – A comprehensive list of a variety of Canadian military databases on military and non-military records.
- 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 The Regimental Rogue 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 World War II 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. More information on what information is available and how to submit an application can be found at Library & Archives Canada.
Census Records – England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
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
- Two gateway websites to find and learn about all British Military Records are UKMFH.org.uk and http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/MilitaryRecords.html
- World War One – The National Archives has launched a dedicated First World War web portal featuring podcasts, online records holdings and more.
- The 1914-1918 web site, “Long Long Trail”, is a gateway to a great deal of information about the British Army of 1914-1918.
- Paul Nixon, a FindMyPast military historian, has two sites that will be of interest to those searching British Military records:
History – Vision in Britain has reliable in-depth information about the geography and historical context of the places your ancestors lived.
Price and Associates, Expert Links: English Family History and Genealogy, beginning in 1976, 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 may be 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 digitize 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 (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 local 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.
Connected Histories currently includes twenty-two major digital resources for the period 1500-1900 . Information includes their coverage, the technical methods used in their creation, their particular strengths and weaknesses, and any access arrangements which may apply.
Births/Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths/Burials – check the free FamilySearch website to see if the family are included in the index. It is not complete but it is worth a look.
The pay-to-view official website ScotlandsPeople has indexes linked to images of the entry.
Census records – 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 website (pay-to-view).
Places – The ScotlandsPlaces website is a good free resource for a description and photos of the place where your ancestors lived.
Wills and Testaments – search the index from 1513-1925 at the ScotlandsPeople 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.
- Scottish Family History Societies and their websites.
- 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 Statistical Accounts of Scotland website 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.
- Free online videos by professional genealogists to give you tips about researching your Scottish ancestors
Welsh newspapers free online – The National Library of Wales has put an enormous collection of Welsh newspapers online.
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.
As of June, 2015, the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has added recordings of its recent lecture series entitled Your Family Tree to its dedicated YouTube channel. Details of the talks, with links to each on YouTube, are located at www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/proni-on-youtube/your_family_tree_lecture_series.htm.
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.
- To find out what’s new in digitized records, indexes and digitized books visit the FamilySearch blog and click on the appropriate article.
- FamilySearch has a three- minute video, 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 continually 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.
Mocavo searches sites and blogs from around the world, and will continue to do so but it can be narrowed down to county-specific searches. 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, Mary Lynn Carter or similar versions of the name.