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Top Black History Museums in the United States

FamilySearch - Mon, 10/26/2020 - 13:26

Stories of African American history and culture are told powerfully and authentically at many black history museums. Some focus on the brutal history of slavery and its legacy of racial violence. Many commemorate the efforts of human rights champions. Most celebrate the resilience, achievements, creative contributions, scholarship, and traditions of African American individuals and communities.

If you can’t travel or visit any of these museums and attractions at the moment, you can also explore your African American heritage right from home! You can read about and plan for future trips to the following top African American history museums.

African American Stories at Black History Museums National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of  National Museum of African American History and Culture, Credit by Alan Karchmer

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is a Smithsonian museum where visitors can explore in black heritage. History-themed galleries illuminate issues of slavery and freedom, the era of segregation, and change since 1968. Rotating exhibits, a theater, a research library and archives, an interactive gallery space, a media arts center, and a family history center round out the experience.

Courtesy of  National Museum of African American History and Culture, Credit by Alan Karchmer

In addition, museum staff members share Collection Stories online about their favorite NMAAHC collections. A digital resource guide, video-recorded curator chats, and the museum’s YouTube channel are also within reach of virtual visitors.

The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce, Ohio

The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center opened more than 30 years ago as one of the first national museums of its kind. Located near two historically black universities—Wilberforce University and Central State University—the museum houses thousands of artifacts, artwork, and a rich archive and hosts an impressive number of special programs and changing exhibits.Virtual visitors can enjoy hundreds of digitized artifacts, such as military unit photographs, football game programs, news clippings, letters, and more.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio Courtesy of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center sits near the banks of the Ohio River, which was crossed by refugees from slavery on their flight to freedom. Films, storytelling, and hands-on activities and exhibits recount the everyday experience of slavery and the heroic and harrowing efforts of those who attempted to free themselves—and those who helped them. One unforgettable artifact is an early building used as a holding pen for enslaved people.

Online learning experiences on the center’s website extend the center’s reach to virtual audiences. Learn the stories of an enslaved woman, view the pen used to imprison enslaved people, read about African Americans in World War I and World II, and see resources for combating the legacies of slavery today.

Whitney Plantation, Edgard, Louisiana Courtesy of Whitney Plantation

Before emancipation, the Whitney Plantation was a forced-labor sugar, rice, and indigo farm. Today, it is a museum. Tours lead visitors through original cabins in which enslaved people lived, as well as the outbuildings and enslaver’s home where they labored. Memorials honor the lives of those held in bondage in the state, representing over 100,000 enslaved residents of Louisiana.

A visitor’s center at Whitney Plantation hosts a “Slavery in Louisiana” exhibit as well as temporary, rotating exhibits. Learn more virtually via a series of articles on the Whitney Plantation’s website.

National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee

The National Civil Rights Museum shares the culture and lessons of the civil rights movement and explores its effects globally. The museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Visitors learn via films, oral histories, interactive media, and special events about the ongoing battle for civil rights.

Can’t visit in person? Take a virtual tour of the museum’s current and past exhibits.

The DuSable, Chicago, Illinois

The DuSable Museum of African American History, in existence since 1961, preserves and shares the achievements and culture of people of African descent through exhibits, workshops, and lectures. This Smithsonian-affiliate institution houses over 15,000 artifacts, artworks, and memorabilia. While national in scope, the museum also emphasizes stories local to the Chicago area. Virtual events reach those who can’t visit in person.

Black History Museums, Tuskegee, Alabama

The city of Tuskegee, Alabama, is home to several notable African American historical attractions:

  • Tuskegee University, a leading historically black college, is the only college campus designated by the National Park Service as a national historic site. Take a historic campus tour, or visit the university archives.
  • The National Park Service hosts the George Washington Carver Museum and the home of Booker T. Washington, the Oaks. The Carver Museum offers films about Carver and Washington, as well as exhibits about Carver’s career and the growth of the Tuskegee Institute. Guided tours are available of the Oaks.
  • The Tuskegee Airmen Museum honors the stories of men and women, mostly of African descent, who served in and supported the military despite segregation and racial injustice.
  • The Legacy Museum commemorates African Americans who were exploited in early public health experiments: Henrietta Lacks and men whose illnesses were deliberately left untreated.
Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery, Alabama

The Equal Justice Initiative operates two companion destinations for learning the history of racial injustice and violence in the United States.

  • The Legacy Museum sits atop a former warehouse where enslaved people were imprisoned. Visitors learn about the slave trade, the Jim Crow South, racial terrorism, and mass incarceration through video, interactive media, and other exhibits.
  • The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a six-acre site on a quiet hilltop that memorializes over 4,400 African Americans who were brutally murdered by white mobs between 1877 and 1950.

An online resource portal offers videos, articles, a timeline, and curriculum for virtual visitors.

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Houston, Texas Courtesy of Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture,
Gift from the Liljenquist Family Collection

The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum commemorates the history of African Americans in the United States military through exhibits, performances, reenactments, and other programming. Though named for the famous post-Civil War-era buffalo soldiers, the museum also highlights the participation of black Americans in other conflicts. Learn about the buffalo soldiers, and catch glimpses of the museum’s collections on its website.

International African American Museum, Charleston, South Carolina

The International African American Museum is scheduled to open in 2022. It is located on the site of Gadsden’s Wharf, where an estimated 100,000 kidnapped Africans were forced into lifelong slavery.

The museum will tell the stories of what happened at Gadsden’s Wharf—and beyond—with interactive, innovative exhibits and educational programs. The Center for Family History will help visitors explore their family trees. The African Ancestors Memorial Garden will commemorate the shoreline and wharf area in a quiet, contemplative atmosphere.

Until the museum opens in 2022, you can keep up with articles and news on the museum’s website.

Learn Your Own African American History

Learn the stories of your African American relatives through historical documents, family trees, and other resources.

Special thanks to Ohio Genealogical Society Trustees and African American genealogy specialists Stacey Adger and Deborah Abbott for their contributions to this article.

Feature photo courtesy of Whitney Plantation

How Machine-Learning and OCR Are Changing Family History

FamilySearch - Mon, 10/26/2020 - 11:55

If this article caught your eye, you probably have an interest in indexing or in online historical records. Maybe you’ve made indexing a part of your weekly or monthly volunteer efforts. If so, keep up the amazing work! You’re making it possible for people around the world to discover their ancestors and learn more about their family histories.

Still, our indexing volunteers have a colossal task in front of them. The world has billions and billions of records waiting to be indexed. Although we have hundreds of thousands of people willing to help out, we’re still outnumbered and it is clear that our volunteers will need help.

Enter optical character recognition—also called OCR, or computer-assisted indexing. Either name works—the more important thing is that the technology works. Thanks to OCR, we’re improving the quality of indexing, increasing the number of indexed records, and accelerating the speed at which historical records become available to the people who visit our website.

The result is more information for people to search and more documents to explore—in short, more opportunities to make that discovery about your family that connects you to your past.

What Is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

In simple terms, optical character recognition is a computer reading an image and trying to extract the information—names, dates, places, events, and other text—that it finds there. As you might expect, the computer can do this very fast—much faster than a person. In light of the many, many historical records needing to be indexed—now and in the future—optical character recognition is more than convenient. It’s miraculous.

The Special Case of Historical Records

Using OCR on records sounds great! You might ask, why haven’t we been using OCR to index every record out there? The problem is that a computer isn’t as precise as a human being or as good at figuring out conundrums. An unusual style of handwriting or a slight change in the structure of a printed form can throw the computer a real curve ball. The computer’s interpretation of an image is usually accurate enough to make the information available to our search engines. However, for the information to be really useful—and findable—we still need a human being to quickly review it and fix any mistakes.

How Indexers and OCR Can Work Together

Today, FamilySearch needs your help with indexing more than ever. As OCR technology develops, how you help with indexing may change slightly. Instead of indexing a record from scratch, you may review a record that the computer indexed, making sure that the information is correct and fixing any errors you encounter. At FamilySearch, indexed records have always been reviewed for accuracy, so this task is essentially what reviewers undertake when they review a batch of records that has been indexed by another volunteer.

FamilySearch and Computer-Assisted Indexing

So far, FamilySearch has employed optical character recognition to index a whopping 64 million historical records. The project in question involves a collection of Spanish-language records—namely christenings, marriages, burials, and other church documents. When the project is complete, nearly 900 million records will have been indexed and in need of review by an actual person.

Want to help with indexing records? Find an indexing project here.

Once you have experience indexing, you can also become an indexing reviewer.

Take Advantage of All These OCR-Indexed Records

Nine hundred million records. Almost a billion. And this number comes from only one project. If you’re wondering what you should do as a result of all this indexing, the answer is simple: take advantage of it. Continue searching for your ancestors and building your family tree on FamilySearch.org. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t give up! Come back in a few weeks or months, and try again. With computer-assisted indexing, more information is coming.

And remember, the more dates and places you add about ancestors, the more record hints we can send you. With 900 million new records to draw on, you can be sure that we will have a lot more hints to send out.

Don’t miss out! The FamilySearch computer-assisted indexing team will be live on Facebook this Wednesday, October 28, at 4:00 p.m. Learn more about OCR-indexed records and ask your questions in the interactive chat.

Join on FamilySearch Facebook

Finding Your Ancestors with Guided Research

FamilySearch - Sat, 10/24/2020 - 10:31

Wondering how to find the best places to search for your ancestors? Puzzling over where to begin and what to do next? FamilySearch is building and expanding on its Guided Research feature to show you step by step where to go and what to do.

Guided Research will lead you to successful results in less time and with less effort. It’s like having your own professional genealogist coaching you in a journey of discovery!

What Is Guided Research?

Guided Research outlines the most complete and comprehensive places to search for your ancestors’ records in a specific timeframe and area. If you are looking for help, the most promising sources are presented first. Then, Guided Research offers additional sources and resources to keep you progressing to successful results.

With this new emphasis, FamilySearch is expanding Guided Research to more countries. Guided Research is also being improved, with better workflows that will connect researchers and genealogy records in dynamic and exciting ways.

FamilySearch’s goal is to have guided research experiences for each country regardless of whether records exist online in FamilySearch databases or elsewhere online.

Expert genealogists and subject matter experts are working on the guided research experiences. They are prioritizing countries and customizing research for you, while building on existing guided experiences. That way, you can count on the most current and reliable information to help you find your ancestors.

How Do You Use Guided Research?
  1. Locate Guided Research in the FamilySearch Research Wiki (from the main Search menu) or find the link to Guided Research in the left pane from anywhere in the wiki. Hover over the map to find a location where your ancestor lived that has a guided research experience, or use the link at the top of the map to see an alphabetic list of all current research experiences.
  1. Pick a location, and begin answering guiding questions using what you already know or have learned about your ancestors. The process is built around finding birth, marriage, and death records, but the guide will also suggest other resources to help to bring you ever closer to finding the answer to your research question.
  2. Follow hyperlinks in the “What else you can try” section of the guided experience to locate additional online resources, substitute records, important tips, and supplemental information about possible missing records or additional places to look. Bear in mind that additional online sources may come from paid subscription services; these paid services will be marked with a dollar sign ($).
  3. Build on what you learn in one source to search other sources, following the prompts and suggestions. You will be led both to free FamilySearch collections and to subscription services. The process will take you to indexed records, unindexed collections, browsable images, and catalog sources with both digitized and undigitized records.
  4. Let the step-by-step flow guide you to the most productive sources first and then to other sources you might not know about.
How Do You Get the Most out of Guided Research?

You will want to start with a focused research question, such as locating a date for an ancestor’s life event. Keep on track by following guiding questions and making choices in the order prompted.

Make sure to write down where you look, what you find, and what you don’t find with the date you looked, so you don’t duplicate efforts and forget where you left off.

With your goal in mind, these tips will ensure a successful guided research experience:

  1. Use name and place variations in combination when searching records. Follow the workflow to learn why some records may not actually exist and to discover additional places where the same information may be found.
  2. Start out with broad searches, and then add or subtract details in search fields to see what you can tease out of the records.
  3. Try spelling variations and use wildcards to search within the same database in different ways. If you’re unsuccessful, look in adjacent locations in the same record set.
  4. Consider using known relatives, such as siblings or children. Use waypoints in records to speed up searching images.
  5. Be persistent, and use suggested tips to solve research problems.
What If No Guided Research Experience Has Been Built for You?

The development of Guided Research is ongoing, with more research experiences coming to FamilySearch.org based on best practices and best record sources. Watch the Guided Research introduction page for updates. Keep up with recent updates to collections and planned pages for countries around the world.

Don’t hesitate to get started with Guided Research to move you forward in your family history finds!

Related articles:

Indexing in a Second Language Made Easy

FamilySearch - Thu, 10/22/2020 - 12:43

Are you looking for more records to advane your family history research? If you have heritage from another country—and many people do!—chances are that just a few generations back, your ancestors’ genealogical records are in a foreign language. To be more accessible, these records will need to be indexed.  

If you have not considered indexing in a foreign language, you might be surprised; it’s easier than you might think!

Why Index in a Second Language?

One way to learn about where your ancestors came from, both geographically and historically, is to become familiar with the records for the place where they lived. Indexing in another language can also be a handy way to learn or relearn a language.

However, indexing is needed for another reason. More than 60 percent of FamilySearch indexing volunteers are from English-speaking countries. As a result, searchable records in English outnumber the combined total of searchable records in all other languages 10 to 1. Indexing in other languages is needed to help people all over the world find their ancestors!

What Is Required of Nonnative-Language Indexers?

All you need is a modest amount of free time, a decent amount of experience with indexing, and a willingness to learn basic skills. As you persist, the process becomes faster, the records become more familiar, and the language becomes easier to understand.

4 Steps to Get Started 1. Get acquainted with tools and resources for indexing.

The Indexing Help Center and the FamilySearch Research Wiki have numerous how-to guides, easy-to-follow instructions, instructional videos, common word lists, and handwriting samples. Especially helpful for language indexing is the Language Resources and Handwriting Helps for Languages page.

Every country has a wiki page with linked pages for provinces, location names, and terms you will encounter while indexing. Translated documents on wiki pages for a country, such as this one for Italy, help you learn how to read the records.

2. Choose an indexing project, and view project details.

To find current projects for indexing on FamilySearch.org, click Indexing at the top of the page, and then, in the drop-down menu, click Web Indexing. Click the blue Find Batches button, and then filter the results by the difficulty level and language of the projects you would like to index.

Choosing something clear and readable is usually best for a first-time language indexer. Preprinted forms are generally easier, but clear, legible handwriting is also a good option. 

3. Read project instructions, view samples, and review field helps.

Once you have selected a project, click the Index button. Before you begin indexing, take the time to look at the project instructions, which are found in a purple pop-up box.

Project instructions give you directions on what to index, what to remember while indexing this project, and general indexing guidelines.

Links in the instructions also lead to handwriting samples, and instructions for characters unique to the language (such as letters with diacritics).

After you close the instructions box, you can reopen it by clicking the icon farthest to the right on the indexing toolbar.

If the project instructions appear in the wrong language, click the Batches tab in the upper left corner; then click Settings and then Language to make the proper changes in the Field Name and Field Help and Project Instructions fields. Then click Apply.

In the project instructions, samples of the records you are indexing are also available to guide you as you begin. Look for the “How to Index a Record” links under the What to Index tab.

Field helps are also available to help you. This resource can be found by clicking the purple question marks found throughout the project.

Continue to refer to the instructions, record samples, and field helps as you work through the project. These resources are the best places to read the specific project instructions you need to complete the project.

4. Know where you can get help with indexing.

A good strategy is to have a handwriting guide, common word lists, and indexing diagrams in front of you as you work. The indexing toolbar has handwriting examples and international characters that you can use as you work. Plan to stay with the same record type through multiple batches.

A translation program such as Google Translate in a browser window can also help you quickly translate what you can’t read. Additionally, the toolbar at the top of the indexing page will help with handwriting, copying text, and marking fields.

Remember, anything worthwhile takes practice. Ask someone to help with handwriting, review help files, look again at the instructions, and don’t give up too quickly.

Be patient. Things will go slowly at first. Gradually, you will need to check reference materials less and less. Working on the same record type across many batches will become easier.

When you finish and submit a batch, a reviewer with more language ability will review your batches and make corrections if needed.

If you have questions that still cannot be answered through the project instructions or indexing toolbar, head to the FamilySearch Indexing Chat Community. There you will find additional resources as well as the opportunity to post questions to the community board.

Language Indexing Rewards

Indexing records in another language brings so many benefits! Those indexed records will become searchable for everyone, including yourself. You’ll become a better researcher. You will also help generate record hints, which lead to more sources and more records.

Head on over to FamilySearch.org today, and become a nonnative-language indexer!

RootsTech Connect: What It Is and How You Can Participate

FamilySearch - Wed, 10/21/2020 - 17:30

Every year, genealogists, family history enthusiasts, and industry-leading companies come together for the largest genealogy conference in the world—RootsTech. It’s truly a genealogist’s dream, with multiple days packed with hundreds of classes, thousands of participants, exciting events, and opportunities to connect with family past and present. 

This year, RootsTech looks a little different. To make RootsTech a safe and accessible experience for as many people as possible, RootsTech will go fully online and will be called RootsTech Connect.

Don’t worry, you won’t miss out on any of those amazing opportunities or immersive classes. It even comes with some major advantages! For one thing, RootsTech Connect will be completely free. You read that right—free. And as a fully online conference, RootsTech Connect also makes it possible for the first time to fully participate from anywhere in the world. 

Register for RootsTech Connect

Let’s take a closer look at what RootsTech Connect has to offer and what you can expect if you attend.

What to Expect at RootsTech Connect

Tyler Stahle, RootsTech marketing manager, has said about the online conference:

“RootsTech Connect is different than any other virtual event—no boring speakers or falling asleep at your computer screen. Rather, enjoy dozens of inspirational learning sessions, uplifting messages from celebrity keynote speakers, and hands-on activities to help you celebrate your heritage all year long.”

RootsTech Connect is aiming to make this year’s classes, speakers, and activities as engaging and interactive as possible. Here’s everything you need to know.

When Is RootsTech Connect?

RootsTech Connect will take place on February 25–27, 2021. A full schedule of classes, speakers, and events will be available in coming months.

The fun doesn’t stop there. After the conference, all videos and recordings will be available online for at least a year at RootsTech.org.

RootsTech Connect: A Multicultural Celebration

To celebrate worldwide cultures and family heritage, RootsTech Connect is also offering activities from around the world, such as cooking demonstrations, yoga, dance, and music. Attendees can submit videos sharing aspects of their lives, such as their hometowns, family traditions, cultural celebrations, or dances. It will be a unique way to honor homelands, people, and ancestors from all over.

Speakers and Classes

This year’s keynote speakers will join RootsTech Connect from all over the globe, delivering inspirational keynote addresses in their native languages. Stay tuned to learn about each of the speakers and their areas of expertise.

Over 150 classes will be available from experts worldwide. You’ll be able to dive in and learn about anything from DNA and research, to preserving family memories, to sharing your heritage. Ever want to learn about family traditions in Argentina? There will be content for that too, and much more! 

One major benefit to having RootsTech online is that it opens doors to having content available in multiple languages. Vlasses will be available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Korean, Chinese, and Russian. Hoping to see more languages on that list? As the event gets closer, more languages might be added, so keep an eye out for new information.

What Else Can You Look Forward To?

The Salt Lake City RootsTech events have had a huge showroom filled with vendors and products that can help you on your family history journey. This year, you’ll have access to a virtual marketplace where you can find ground-breaking innovations and resources to help you in your research. Plus, you’ll have the same access to experts and help with chat rooms and video calls.

You’ll also be able to connect with other attendees through messaging, social media, and video chats. Finding and connecting with cousins and relatives will be possible, just like at any other RootsTech event.

Prior to the event, RootsTech Connect will also host a song-writing competition. Submit a song you’ve written about family connections, and winners will be highlighted during the conference.

How to Participate in RootsTech Connect

Participating in RootsTech is easier than ever with RootsTech Connect. All you need to do to participate is register with your name, email address, and location. That’s it!

Once you have registered, you can attend all the classes, speakers, and activities offered during the conference on February 25–27, 2021. Join in from the comfort of your own home at RootsTech.org. And once the conference is over, you’ll have full access to all the recordings for the following year!

Register for RootsTech Connect

Free Online Consultation

FamilySearch - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 13:57
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Discover Your French Heritage

FamilySearch - Sun, 10/18/2020 - 14:00

What comes to mind when you think of France—the Eiffel tower, romance, and fashion? Or perhaps you conjure up images of the gorgeous French countryside. France has a rich heritage that has impacted people all over the globe. It has been regarded as a “center of high culture” for generations. 

If you have French ancestors or relatives, learning about French heritage can open doors to understanding yourself. Your ancestors’ beliefs, customs, and even cooking styles have probably influenced your family over the generations. Recognizing and celebrating those connections can strengthen your family roots and nurture a sense of self.  

Find Your French Ancestors

Discover more about the French influences in your life to help you connect with your French heritage. From cultural traditions and values to daily life, you can learn a lot about the lives your ancestors led and the impact they have had on you. 

Discover Your French Ancestors 

Between French colonization around the world and mass emigration caused by the French Revolution, many people can claim French ancestry. In fact, an estimated 30–40 million people have French heritage. Canada, the United States, Argentina, Great Britain, Switzerland, Brazil, and Belgium all have millions of people with French heritage. Even more countries have hundreds of thousands. Could you be part of the French diaspora too? 

Finding Your French Ancestors French History and Records

FamilySearch can help with your search. Free resources, such as a global family tree and historical records, can help you track down your family. Learn where your family is from or what occupations they held. You can even read or share family stories and photos to preserve memories of their lives.  

Learn about Life in France 

Has your family carried on French cooking traditions? Do French values resonate with you? French culture, traditions, and history have likely played an important role in shaping your family. Familiarizing yourself with aspects of French life can help you understand and celebrate your cultural heritage

Learn About French Culture 

Traditional French Foods 

French Influences in Everyday Life 

Even if you don’t have French ancestors, French culture has probably influenced you in subtle ways. French art, fashion, cooking, and more play an important role in global culture. Learn more about the intricate ways that French heritage has impacted you and your life. 

How Much French Exists in Your Life? 

The Fleur-de-Lis Found Around the World

50+ Things to Do in France to Discover Its Heritage

FamilySearch - Sat, 10/17/2020 - 18:00

France is chock-full of notable buildings, cities, historic sites, shopping districts, and more. It’s no wonder that France is a dream destination for many.

The chance to visit France can be even more meaningful if you have ancestors from France. Traveling to an ancestral location gives you the chance to learn more about your cultural heritage as you experience a new place.

Find Out if You Have French Ancestors

If you’re checking a trip to France off your bucket list, then here are some must-see destinations and things to do in France. But really, you can’t go wrong. No matter where you go in France, you’ll fall in love with the cultural history apparent throughout the country.

An asterisk (*) marks locations that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France, which are designated as culturally or naturally significant.

Picturesque Historic French Cities

These picturesque cities will place you at the heart of French history. From the clifftop village of Rocamadour to the riverside port of Bordeaux to the famous City of Lights, there’s no shortage of options. The experience will be particularly impactful if you visit one of the cities of your ancestors.

*Arles

Arles is home to impressive Roman monuments that span millennia, dating as far back as the 1st century BC. Don’t miss these examples:

  • Arles amphitheater: an AD 90 theater used for chariot races and battles
  • Roman theater: an outdoor theater used for theatrical performances
  • Thermes of Constantine: a Roman bathhouse 
  • Ramparts of the Roman fortress: an impressive example of Roman military fortifications
  • Alyscamps: an elaborate Roman cemetery
  • Church of St. Trophime: a 12th-century Romanesque church known for its sculptures
Rocamadour

Rocamadour, a cliffside village, could be right out of a fairy tale. Its historic monuments and spectacular setting attract visitors from around the world.

*Bordeaux

Known as the Port of the Moon, Bordeaux is home to more protected buildings (such as Place de la Bourse and the Bordeaux Cathedral) than any French city other than Paris. For 2,000 years, it served as a place of cultural exchange due to its trade connections.

*Albi

This red- and orange-stone city dates as far back as the 10th century. While you’re there, make sure you see the Pont-Vieux (“Old Bridge”) and the Albi Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cecilia, or the Cathedral Sainte-Cécile), known as the world’s largest brick building.

*Lyon

Lyon played an important role in the European silk trade. It’s also known for its vital contributions to film history. Make time for these stops if you visit Lyon:

  • Fourvière: The Roman district featuring ruins of Roman baths and theaters 
  • Vieux Lyon: The Renaissance district that was once the center of religious power
  • La Croix-Rousse: The silk district that was heavily impacted by the silk industry
  • Musée Lumière: A museum honoring French film history
  • Lugdunum: A museum focused on Roman and Celtic civilization, formerly known as the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière
  • Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière: A Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary as Lyon’s savior from the black plague
*Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a pristine example of a medieval fortress, probably exactly the kind you would picture or have seen in movies. Every summer, you can even attend music festivals in its ancient theater.

*Paris

Nicknamed the “City of Lights” and the “City of Love,” Paris is undoubtedly the most famous city in France and one of the most famous cities worldwide. You won’t want to miss some of its best sites:

  • Sacré-Cœur: a jaw-dropping Roman Catholic church resting at the highest point in Paris
  • Sainte-Chapelle: a 13th-century Gothic-style royal chapel containing one of the largest collections of stained glass from the time
  • Eiffel Tower: one of the world’s most recognizable monuments
  • Louvre Museum: the largest art museum in the world, with tens of thousands of pieces in its collection
  • Luxembourg Gardens: a 61-acre garden surrounding the Luxembourg Palace
  • Place de la Concorde: a large public square decorated with statues and fountains
  • Catacombs of Paris: underground ossuaries that are the final resting place of more than six million people
  • Panthéon: a monument alternatively used as a church and as a mausoleum
  • Grand Palais: an ornately decorated palace used today for art and science exhibitions
  • Notre-Dame: a medieval Catholic cathedral known for its fine architecture, rose windows, church bells, organ, and tragic 2019 fire
*Strasbourg

Because Strasbourg rests near the German border, you’ll find a unique blend of French and German architecture in the city. The Grande Île is an island forming the center of the city, where the Strasbourg cathedral and four other churches have stood for centuries.

Magnificent Cathedrals and Abbeys across France

France is teeming with impressive cathedrals and churches, each with a unique history. Several are even UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

*Amiens Cathedral

The Amiens Cathedral is the tallest cathedral in France, with ceilings reaching as high as 138 feet. The builders were intending to reach for the heavens.

*Bourges Cathedral

The Bourges Cathedral is considered a Gothic masterpiece, featuring striking sculptures and stained-glass windows.

*Chartres Cathedral

As another Gothic masterpiece, the Chartres Cathedral, offers sculptures and stained-glass windows that are still in remarkable condition centuries later.

*Fontenay Abbey

The Fontenay Abbey serves as a perfect example of the idyllic life in a monastery. The monks were self-sustaining, evident by the abbey’s bakery, ironworks, and other features. 

*Vézelay Abbey

After the Vézelay Abbey obtained relics of Mary Magdalene, it became a pilgrimage destination attracting visitors from around the world. It also holds beautiful examples of architecture and art.

*Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel is an island that is uniquely accessible from the mainland at low tide. The changing tides made it so the abbey was easily defended.

Impressive Palaces in France

Along with its collection of cathedrals, France offers a number of beautiful palaces. The following are prime examples:

*Palace of Fontainebleau

The Palace of Fontainebleau rests at the heart of vast forests, making it the ideal location for a royal hunting lodge. It is surrounded by a decorated park.

Château de Chambord

This palace also served as a royal hunting lodge. Now it’s highly recognizable for its medieval French architecture.

Château de Chenonceau

The Château de Chenonceau uniquely spans the River Cher, giving it a fantastical appearance. It was originally built over an old mill.

*Versailles Palace

The Versailles Palace first served as a luxurious countryside home and later served as a museum of French history. Some of the rooms are even open to the public today.

Historically Significant French Locations

Several monuments of French history survive today as a testament to the country’s rich culture. If you have French or European ancestry, these sites can help you envision the lives your ancient and more recent ancestors led.

*Canal du Midi

This 220-mile network of canals travels through the south of France. The canal was a remarkable feat of engineering for its time. To make it even more incredible, the canal blends in perfectly with its surroundings, making it both a scientific feat and a work of art.

*Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps

These hut-like homes have survived since as early as 5,000 BC. The area’s wet conditions have made it possible for them to last so long. Excavations have proved invaluable in efforts to understand ancient life.

*Lascaux II

Lascaux II is a replica of the original Lascaux, a cave that’s part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original cave was closed to the public to preserve the art after extensive damages were sustained from tours.

*Roman Theatre of Orange

This Roman theater and its accompanying triumphal arch are some of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture from the time (roughly AD 10–25). 

French Countryside and Breathtaking Sceneries

From beaches to mountains to limestone cliffs to impressive caves, there’s a variety of stunning landscapes in France. These are some of the most unique landscapes France has to offer.

*Chaîne des Puys

The Chaîne des Puys is a chain of volcanoes along the Limagne fault line. In total, there are 48 cinder cones (hills made of volcanic ash and other fragments), eight lava domes (mounds formed from slow lava flow), and 15 maars (craters formed by volcanic explosions).

Verdon Gorge

This stunning and incredibly deep river canyon is said to be the most beautiful in Europe, partially due to its clear, turquoise water. 

Aiguille du Midi

Aiguille du Midi is the tallest mountain peak accessible by cable car. The breathtaking views along with skiing, hiking, and rock climbing make it a popular destination.

Massif des Calanques

This French national park features dazzling limestone cliffs and hillsides—the perfect place to explore.

*Champagne Hillsides

The Champagne Hillsides are home to picture-perfect vineyards characteristic of the French countryside. There, you can also find Provins, a town built to support international trade and fairs.

Wherever you choose to go in France, you’ll find natural charm, history, and remarkable architecture. If you have French ancestors, take the opportunity to truly experience your cultural heritage. Which items are on your itinerary? 

Fashion and Its Significance in Puerto Rican Heritage

FamilySearch - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 16:00

Vibrant colors, bright whites, and flaring skirts all paint a picture of traditional Puerto Rican fashion. Despite the trends that unite traditional Puerto Rico clothing, there are two distinct styles—Jíbaro and Bomba. Both reflect native Taíno traditions as well as outside influences.

Throughout time, traditional fashion has been an important aspect of Puerto Rican history and family traditions.

If you have Puerto Rican ancestors, traditional clothing can provide powerful insights into your family’s cultural heritage. Exploring the history and traditions surrounding Puerto Rican fashion can help you appreciate the significance of traditional clothing. 

The Indigenous Taíno People

The Taíno were the indigenous people of Puerto Rico and the first people encountered when Europeans arrived. While their ancestors originated in South America, the unique Taíno culture developed in the Caribbean. 

Prior to European arrival, the indigenous Taíno people had their own unique clothing traditions that were influenced by their culture and the island’s climate. Fashion and clothing in Taíno culture bore significant symbolism. Jewelry, body paint, and garments projected a person’s social and religious status in society.

A Taino necklace on display in the Louvre. Image credit by Sailko, licensed under the  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported. Men’s Fashion in Taíno Culture

Possibly because of the island’s heat and humidity, Taíno men simply went without clothing. However, body paint and jewelry (including necklaces, bracelets, and earrings) were common and often bore meaning related to religion or social rank. Materials from rocks and bones to feathers and shells were often used to create their ornate jewelry pieces. 

Women’s Fashion in Taíno Culture

While men typically wore no clothing, women started wearing skirts called “naguas” when they reached adolescence or got married. The length of naguas was determined by social status, with higher-status women wearing full-length skirts and lower-class women wearing shorter skirts. 

In addition to naguas, women also wore body paint and jewelry in similar fashion to men. They also typically wore their hair long.

The Iconic Look of Jíbaro Culture

With the arrival of the Spanish in Puerto Rico, things began to change. The Spaniards wore their traditional clothing, and cultures began to mix.

“Jíbaro” refers to farmers or countryside people in Puerto Rico. As Jíbaro culture and clothing developed, both were heavily influenced by the Spanish arrivals. This formed a new prominent culture, blending native traditions with Spanish influences. Puerto Ricans today are proud of their Jíbaro heritage, and it is recognized as an iconic part of their culture.

As far as clothing goes, Jíbaro fashion strongly resembled the famous Spanish flare. Brilliant colors, flowing fabrics, and flowers made for a distinct and celebratory appearance.

Men’s Clothing in Jíbaro Fashion

In Jíbaro culture, men traditionally wore a simple cotton shirt and pants. Straw hats completed the look. Most men went without shoes, likely for the sake of comfort and convenience.

Some men also wore a colorful sash around their waist. When Jíbaro fashion is used for performances, the apparel often includes a matching neck kerchief. 

Women’s Clothing in Jíbaro Fashion

Women’s fashion tended to be more colorful than men’s fashion in Jíbaro culture. Vibrant, flowing skirts were worn with white blouses, which often left the shoulders and neck exposed. 

Women often decorated their hair with flowers or headscarves. Large pieces of jewelry and hoop earrings added the final touch. Like men, women often went without shoes.

Bomba and Its Rich Heritage

Bomba is a form of music and dance that developed as a result of the slaves brought over from Africa. African and Puerto Rican traditions blended to form Bomba. Today, it’s used to celebrate African and Puerto Rican heritage. 

While Jíbaro clothing had a distinctive Spanish flare, Bomba clothing tended to be a bit more subdued in nature. White was the dominant color, with brighter colors used as an accent.

Men’s Clothing in Bomba

In Bomba traditions, men often wore a colored shirt with white pants or a full white suit. Men could also be seen wearing a straw or white hat.

Women’s Clothing in Bomba

In contrast with the brightly colored Jíbaro dresses and skirts, Bomba skirts were often white with colorful accents. Blue and red accents were particularly common. Petticoats were used for a fashionable silhouette. Women typically left their hair unadorned or wore a turban.

Modern Puerto Rico Clothing

With the rise of global trade and communication, cultures around the world have blended and adapted at an accelerated pace. As a result, modern Puerto Rico clothing is largely similar to other Western countries. However, there are a few distinctive features even today.

One example is the guayabera, a traditional men’s shirt. These buttoned shirts, which are loose fitting with slits on either side, are still popular. Other examples of more traditional clothing still worn today are Pavas or Panama hats, both variations of a straw hat. 

Celebrations and special occasions also tend to bring out Puerto Rico’s fashion history. At an event like a wedding or a Quinceañera, you might find people dressed in traditional attire. 

Now that you know a bit more about the history behind Puerto Rican fashion, try searching FamilySearch Memories to find examples in your family photos. It might help you understand your family legacy. You can also try using Picture My Heritage to see what you would have looked like sporting traditional Puerto Rican clothing.

Picture My Heritage

The Pilgrims and the Mayflower—History and Facts

FamilySearch - Thu, 10/08/2020 - 13:00

Who were the Mayflower pilgrims, and why did they come to America? Here’s a summary of the life and facts of the English settlers, their voyage, and the Plymouth Colony.

Discover if You Are a Mayflower Descendant The Mayflower Pilgrims and the Voyage That Changed Their Lives

Some 100 passengers set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 to start a life in the New World. They landed in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and settled the first colony in New England, shaping the future of the American colonies. Who were the Mayflower pilgrims, and why did they come to America? 

Why Did the Pilgrims Come to America?

The pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom. At the time, England required its citizens to belong to the Church of England. People wanted to practice their religious beliefs freely, and so many fled to the Netherlands, where laws were more flexible. After several years there, fearing the loss of their native language and cultural heritage, they decided to set out for the New World and build a new life. With the help of the Virginia Company’s financing, the pilgrims boarded the Mayflower in 1620 and sailed to the Americas.

Not all the passengers on the Mayflower were seeking a separation from the Church of England. Some were merely sympathetic to the cause and seeking a new life. Others were skilled workers, such as craftsmen or soldiers, who served vital roles in the success of both the voyage and the new settlement.

Take a Virtual Tour
of the Mayflower Ship
When did the Mayflower Land? The Answer Might Surprise You! Who Were the Original Pilgrims?

The pilgrims of the Mayflower were a group of around 100 people seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. However, pilgrims were not the only passengers on the Mayflower. Other Mayflower passengers included servants, contracted workers, and families seeking a new life in America.

Among the notable Mayflower passengers were William Bradford and Myles Standish. Bradford was one of the founding leaders of the new colony, later serving as its governor for roughly 30 years. Standish, an experienced soldier, served as the colony’s military leader.

Learn about some of the other passengers aboard the Mayflower. Perhaps you can trace your ancestors all the way back to the Mayflower.

Mayflower Passenger List and Other Facts William Bradford—A Founding Leader The Life and Legacy of William Brewster What Did the Pilgrims Do on the Mayflower?

The Mayflower was a merchant ship that usually carried goods such as wine, but its most famous cargo was the group of pilgrims destined to settle in Plymouth. The ship first set sail in August 1620 alongside another merchant ship called the Speedwell. After the Speedwell sprouted a leak, both ships returned to port, and all passengers crammed into the Mayflower.

Because of the delays, the Mayflower left England in September, putting them in the middle of storm season for the duration of their voyage. With cramped quarters and rough seas, the trip turned out to be rather dreadful. Many on board were constantly seasick and rarely got up, but they held together with a sense of divine purpose as they approached their destination and withstood the storms.

After two long, hard months at sea, passengers were overjoyed to spot the coastline. For the following months, the Mayflower served as a source of shelter for many of the pilgrims during their first winter. 

Life in Plymouth

After a difficult voyage, the pilgrims were thrilled to land and start a new life. Together, they did just that as they founded Plymouth Colony.

How Did the Pilgrims End Up in Plymouth?

The Mayflower was intended to land in Virginia, but storms shifted the ship’s course north. As a result, they landed in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After exploring the area, the Mayflower pilgrims eventually decided to stay, partially due to harsh seas and dwindling supplies.

John Smith, the famous explorer, had previously named the area “Plymouth.” Having departed from the Plymouth port in England, the pilgrims decided to keep the name (which they likely found on their maps) and formed Plymouth Colony.

What Is the Mayflower Compact?

Because the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts, the charter allowing the pilgrims to join the Virginia colony became invalid. Naturally, passengers were not sure what to do, and confusion ensued. Fearing discord and mutiny, many of the men on board wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact.

Under the Mayflower Compact, the pilgrims agreed to work together toward the success of Plymouth Colony. The compact also established rules and voting practices that helped in founding the colony’s government. Notably, it served as the first form of self-governance in the colonies.

What Was Life Like in Plymouth?

When the Mayflower pilgrims arrived in Plymouth in November, winter was upon them. Finding food and shelter was difficult, leading to rampant illness. Sadly, only half of the pilgrims who traveled on the Mayflower survived the first winter.

Spring brought new hope, and the remaining pilgrims started to plant crops, hunt, and build their colony. Along the way, they met Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. Squanto proved invaluable to the survival of Plymouth Colony, serving as a translator, guide, and teacher in the New World.

By the time fall came around, the pilgrims were well on their way to starting a successful colony. They famously celebrated the first American Thanksgiving alongside the Pokanoket people to give thanks for their newfound success and the harvest. This celebration set the precedence for Thanksgiving as we know and love it today.

In the first years of the colony, the Mayflower pilgrims negotiated peace treaties with local Native American tribes. They were also able to secure their colony’s standing and establish a “self-sufficient economy” based on farming, hunting, and trading.

However, life was not always picture-perfect in the New World. While the pilgrims on the Mayflower set out to seek religious freedom, they were not the only ones seeking freedom. Some other groups weren’t as tolerant of differing beliefs. Religious persecution and tensions between different groups often led to violence in the colonies.

Complex relationships with Native American tribes also escalated tensions in the area as the colony expanded. Eventually, the conflict led to King Philip’s War, also referred to as the First Indian War. Some tribes fought to prevent further English settlement while others sided with the pilgrims. The result for both sides was devastating.

Despite facing trials, Plymouth continued to grow and flourish. Three additional ships joined Plymouth Colony, and over 1,000 Puritans formed Boston nearby. Eventually, Plymouth became part of the larger Massachusetts in 1691. The legacy of the pilgrims lives on today, as can be seen in the yearly celebration of Thanksgiving.

Are You a Descendant of a Mayflower Pilgrim? Find Out!

Related Articles:

Famous Mayflower Descendants The Mayflower’s Famous Love Triangle John Howland—The One Who Fell Overboard

Traditional Puerto Rican Dishes to Add to Your Table

FamilySearch - Wed, 10/07/2020 - 17:00

Traditional Puerto Rican food has been influenced by Spain, Africa and the Taíno and Arawak native peoples. The rich and vibrant cuisine is a mix of indigenous fruits, tropical tubers, and unique seasonings. Even the Puerto Rican cooking style is distinctive! They call it cocina criolla, which means “Creole cooking.”

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular traditional Puerto Rican dishes you have got to taste.

Arroz con gandules y lechon—Puerto Rico’s National Dish

It’s only appropriate to start with the island territory’s national dish!  Arroz con gandules y lechon, or rice with beans and pork, is made with yellow rice, pigeon peas, and roasted pork. The ingredients are cooked together in one pot with Puerto Rican sofrito. This special dish dates back to the 18th century, when the Moors were influencing Spain. Arroz con gandules y lechon is traditionally made for a Puerto Rican Christmas dinner.

Try the recipe.

Mofongo—A Delectable Side

This traditional Puerto Rican food is made from deep-fried green plantain pieces mashed up with garlic, pork, butter, and sometimes a salty broth. Other variations of this delicious savory dish include yuca mofongo and trifongo which is made with green plantain, sweet plantain, and yuca. Mofongo can be served as a side dish or stuffed into a meat.

Try the recipe.

Pasteles de Masa—A Family Matter

Pasteles de masa are a traditional dish often incorporating the whole family. Making pasteles de masa from scratch requires many hands. It’s a tradition in some Puerto Rican families to gather in the kitchen with a large pot of masa and make pasteles de masa in assembly-line fashion!

Similar to tamales, pasteles de masa are usually made with plantain leaves and masa and stuffed with stewed pork. Variations to this Puerto Rican dish might include yuca or other vegetables. To form pasteles de masa, Puerto Ricans press the masa into a plantain leaf and add a choice of stuffing. The leaf is folded, tied with a string, and covered with parchment paper. Pasteles de masa are boiled and served unwrapped.

Try the recipe.

Empanadillas—A Savory Beef Dish

Full of flavor and flaky fried goodness, empanadillas are a type of beef turnover. Empanadillas are similar to empanadas, but the dough is thinner. The beef is seasoned with adobo, which is a mixture of savory spices. Empanadillas can be eaten as a main dish—or, if they are made smaller, as an appetizer.

Try the recipe.

Tembleque—A Sweet Treat

One of the most popular desserts in Puerto Rico is tembleque, which is a coconut pudding. Tembleque means “wiggly,” which makes this dessert even more fun! Some people like their tembleque the consistency of Jell-O, while others prefer a creamy pudding consistency. This delightful coconut treat is often sprinkled with cinnamon and served with mashed plantains or other favorite fruit.

Try the recipe.

Pasta de Guayaba—A Versatile Puree

Puerto Rico has many delicious native fruits like guayaba (guava). A dense puree made of guavas and sugar, pasta de guayaba can be eaten by itself, with a dessert, or with cheese. Other indigenous Puerto Rican fruits include sugar apples, ambarella, mamey, papaya, plantains, breadfruit, and pineapple.

Try the recipe.

Tostones—A Puerto Rican Finger Food

Forget boring  french fries; try tostones! A mouthwatering Puerto Rican dish, tostones are made by slicing plantains, coating them with a batter, and then frying them. A favorite dunking sauce is a mayo-ketchup mixture seasoned with garlic and other spices. Tostones are quick and easy treat to make for any occasion.

Try the recipe.

Alcapurrias—A Fried Fritter

This favorite Puerto Rican treat is a ground beef-filled fried fritter! It is made with green bananas and taro root. Alcapurrias can often be found sold by street vendors, but they are a relatively easy dish to make at home. Though usually considered a Puerto Rican food, alcapurrias can vary by changing up your sofrito recipe or adding Cuban picadillo!

Try the recipe.

What traditional Puerto Rican dishes did your abuela (grandmother) make for you as a child? Have you recorded your favorite family recipes in the Memories section of the FamilySearch Family Tree? Do so today, and keep your memories of the Puerto Rican family table from fading.

United States Military and NFL—The Continuing Heritage of Samoan Warriors

FamilySearch - Fri, 10/02/2020 - 10:13
Photo credit by JJ Hall. Creative License.

Feature image credit by Mynameisben123, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

You might not know this, but many Samoans play in the NFL. Per capita, more Samoans play professional football in the United States right now than any other ethnic group. Here’s another fact you might not know—Samoans also have a higher rate of enlistment in the United States military than any other ethnic group.

Surely there are many reasons why Samoans are successful as football players and why so many of them choose to serve in the military. But one reason mentioned by nearly everyone who writes about the topic is the tradition of the Samoan warrior—a tradition that runs through Samoan mythology and family histories for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

American Samoans and the NFL

If you’re a Samoan male, your chances of playing in the NFL are 56 times greater than if you’re a male from some other cultural or ethnic background. ESPN, Forbes, The Wallstreet Journal, and even the culture and lifestyle website Salon have all published articles on this surprising phenomenon, attempting to explain it. Many of them come to a similar conclusion: a major cause is the heritage of the Samoan warrior in Samoa and American Samoa.

Today, Samoans take to the playing field with the same courage, intensity, and bravery that their ancestors took to the battlefield and the open ocean. “Their extraordinary internalization of discipline and warrior self-image drives them to play with no fefe,” says one well-known coach—in other words, “no fear.”

American Samoa and the United States Military

Samoan warrior culture emphasizes courage and bravery. And you can see these characteristics in the way Samoans play football. But discipline and loyalty are just as important to the warrior way—so too respect for one’s elders and love of family. Perhaps these characteristics are the reason so many Samoans are ready—and willing—to serve in the military. They see it as an opportunity to serve and protect the people they love.

A recent news story on a website for United States veterans highlighted a family of 41 Samoan first, second, third, and fourth cousins who are all stationed at the same base for training. As their training concluded, they would leave to various assignments. “I’m the first one who will leave the group,” one of the cousins said, “I’m not worried, because there are a lot us out there,” referring to the many other Samoans who currently serve in the military. “I’m bound to meet another relative somewhere. That’s for sure.”

Connect to Your Samoan Heritage

Do you have Samoan ancestors in your family tree? If so, your heritage is something to be proud of and something to share with others. How has the history of the Samoan warrior influenced your life, values, and traditions?

Pass on the warrior tradition. Save a photo to Memories that highlights your Samoan heritage. Or take a few moments to write down and save what being Samoan means to you. Future generations will be grateful.

You can also learn more about your Samoan and Pacific Island heritage by exploring the following resources.

Explore Samoan Traditions and Culture How to Start a Family Tree—A Simple Guide 16 Activities that Take Less than 20 Minutes How to Join FamilySearch Learn Fun Facts About Yourself and Heritage Beginner’s Guide to Search Records

Monthly Record Update for September 2020

FamilySearch - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 12:00

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in September of 2020 with over 29 million new indexed family history records and over 66,000 digital images from all over the world. New historical records were added from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Honduras, Italy, Kiribati, Luxembourg, Mexico, Micronesia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Zambia, and the United States, which includes Arizona, California,
Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia,  and Washington.

United States, Cemetery Abstracts, 1949-1969 and United States, Obituaries, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1899-2012, are included as well.

Find your ancestors using these free archives online, including birth, marriage, death, and church records. Millions of new genealogy records are added each month to make your search easier.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Check back next month and, in the meantime, search existing records on FamilySearch.

CountryCollectionIndexed RecordsDigital ImagesCommentsArgentinaArgentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981270Added indexed records to an existing collection ArgentinaArgentina, Salta, Civil Registration, 1880-20001,4770Added indexed records to an existing collection AustraliaAustralia, South Australia, Will and Probate Records1140Added indexed records to an existing collectionAustraliaAustralia, Victoria Coastal Passenger Lists, 1852-19243,244,6200Added indexed records to an existing collection BoliviaBolivia Catholic Church Records, 1566-1996630,7820Added indexed records to an existing collection BrazilBrazil, Bahia, Civil Registration, 1877-19761,0720Added indexed records to an existing collection BrazilBrazil, Civil Registration, 1860-200623,5160Added indexed records to an existing collection BrazilBrazil, Minas Gerais, Civil Registration, 1879-194925,4580Added indexed records to an existing collection BrazilBrazil, Paraná, Civil Registration, 1852-1996219,6650Added indexed records to an existing collection BrazilBrazil, Pernambuco, Civil Registration, 1804-2016120Added indexed records to an existing collection BrazilBrazil, Rio de Janeiro, Catholic Church Records, 1616-1980329,5610Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-199953,4330Added indexed records to an existing collection CanadaBritish Columbia Naturalization Records, 1859-192612,7180Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaCanada, New Brunswick, County Register of Births, 1801-192077,2770Added indexed records to an existing collection CanadaCanada, Prairie Provinces Census, 19263,9660Added indexed records to an existing collection CanadaNova Scotia Church Records, 1720-200128,3470Added indexed records to an existing collection CanadaNova Scotia Delayed Births, 1837-1904390Added indexed records to an existing collectionCosta RicaCosta Rica, Civil Registration, 1823-197542,7760Added indexed records to an existing collection CroatiaCroatia, Delnice Deanery Catholic Church Books, 1571-19264,6380Added indexed records to an existing collection DenmarkDenmark, Århus Municipal Census, 193614,1170Added indexed records to an existing collection Dominican RepublicDominican Republic Miscellaneous Records, 1921-198027,5550Added indexed records to an existing collectionEcuadorEcuador, Catholic Church Records, 1565-2011353,2220Added indexed records to an existing collection EcuadorEcuador, Cemetery Records, 1862-201970,4310New indexed records collection EnglandEngland, Cambridgeshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1538-198336,4800Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Cumbria Parish Registers, 1538-19907270Added indexed records to an existing collection EnglandEngland, Devon Bishop’s Transcripts, 1558-18874,7500Added indexed records to an existing collection EnglandEngland, Essex Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-197110,7550Added indexed records to an existing collection EnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-189816,0480Added indexed records to an existing collection EnglandEngland, Huntingdonshire Parish Registers1630Added indexed records to an existing collection EnglandEngland, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988344,2380Added indexed records to an existing collection EnglandEngland, Shropshire Parish Registers, 1538-19181,9530Added indexed records to an existing collection FijiFiji, Immigration Passes, 1879-191614,4260Added indexed records to an existing collection FijiFiji, Indian Death Records, 1899-19222760Added indexed records to an existing collection FranceFrance, Haute-Vienne, Census, 1891297,0390New indexed records collectionFranceFrance, Rhône, Military Registration Cards, 1865-193224,4410Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance, Vienne, Census, 18362390Added indexed records to an existing collectionGermanyGermany, Prussia, Saxony, Census Lists, 1770-1934274,1670Added indexed records to an existing collectionHondurasHonduras, Catholic Church Records, 1633-19783,1210Added indexed records to an existing collection ItalyItaly, Trieste, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1924-19440118496Added images to an existing collection KiribatiKiribati, Vital Records, 1890-19916900Added indexed records to an existing collection LuxembourgLuxembourg, Civil Registration, 1796-19418,8180Added indexed records to an existing collectionMexicoMexico, Baja California and Baja California Sur, Catholic Church Records, 1750-198454,6970Added indexed records to an existing collection MexicoMexico, Morelos, Catholic Church Records, 1598-19941,018,2820Added indexed records to an existing collectionMexicoMexico, Sinaloa, Civil Registration, 1861-192944,2370Added indexed records to an existing collection MicronesiaMicronesia, Civil Registration, 1883-198312,3570Added indexed records to an existing collection NiueNiue, Register of Baptisms, 1926-19471880Added indexed records to an existing collectionNiueNiue, Vital Records, 1818-1994180Added indexed records to an existing collectionPapua New GuineaPapua New Guinea, Birth Records, 1888-20045,1190Added indexed records to an existing collection Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea, Vital Records, 1867-200028,2930Added indexed records to an existing collection PeruPeru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-1992190Added indexed records to an existing collection PeruPeru, Huánuco, Civil Registration, 1888-19982,0660Added indexed records to an existing collection PeruPeru, Junín, Civil Registration, 1881-200567,2490Added indexed records to an existing collection PeruPeru, Pasco, Civil Registration, 1931-19966,9770Added indexed records to an existing collection PeruPeru, Piura, Civil Registration, 1874-1996252,8420Added indexed records to an existing collection PeruPeru, Prelature of Yauyos-Cañete-Huarochirí, Catholic Church Records, 1665-201832,8660Added indexed records to an existing collection PeruPeru, Tacna, Civil Registration, 1850-19984,5450Added indexed records to an existing collectionPolandPoland, Lublin Roman Catholic Church Books, 1784-19643,8100Added indexed records to an existing collection Puerto RicoPuerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1805-200138,1770Added indexed records to an existing collection Puerto RicoPuerto Rico, Naturalization Records, 1897-19851530Added indexed records to an existing collectionSamoaSamoa, Vital Records, 1846-19961,1920Added indexed records to an existing collection SlovakiaSlovakia Church and Synagogue Books, 1592-19354,0260Added indexed records to an existing collection South AfricaSouth Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801-20044,6240Added indexed records to an existing collection South AfricaSouth Africa, Civil Death Registration, 1955-196675,1190Added indexed records to an existing collection South AfricaSouth Africa, Civil Marriage Records, 1840-197375,0880Added indexed records to an existing collection South AfricaSouth Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Vital Records, 1868-197612,6250Added indexed records to an existing collection South AfricaSouth Africa, Natal Province, Civil Deaths, 1863-195522,5020Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Orange Free State, Civil Death Registration, 1902-195455,7360Added indexed records to an existing collection SpainSpain, Province of La Coruña, Municipal Records, 1648-194114,2650Added indexed records to an existing collectionSwedenSweden, Östergötland Church Records, 1555-1911; index 1616-1860560Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited KingdomEngland and Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1640-166046,0700Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesArizona, Birth Certificates and Indexes, 1855-193071,0860Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesArizona, Graham County, Voting Records, 1882-19201,3310Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesArizona, Mohave County, Voting Records, 1876-19201650Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesArizona, Navajo County, Voting Records, 1895-195449,3660New indexed records collection United StatesCalifornia, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994161,4560Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesCalifornia, Los Angeles, Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery/Crematory Records, 1884-200212,4870Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesConnecticut, Charles R. Hale Collection, Vital Records, 1640-1955978,7090Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesGeorgia Probate Records, 1742-19902840Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Collector of Customs, Ships’ Passenger Manifests, 1843-190062,2150Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesHawaii, Hawaiian Islands Newspaper Obituaries, 1900-ca.201096,6980Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesHawaii, Naturalization Records, 1838-19916180Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesIdaho, Southeast Counties Obituaries, 1864-2007732,6390Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesIndiana Marriages, 1811-2007113,6740Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesKansas, Lawrence City Cemetery Records, 1850-19882,7290Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesKansas, Riley County, Sunset Cemetery, Burial Index Cards, 1856-199810,8410Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesLouisiana, Ascension Parish, Index of Marriages, 1773-19631350Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, New Orleans Index to Passenger Lists, 1853-19521240Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918486,8570Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesMinnesota, Stevens County Genealogical Society Records, 1876-200632,0520Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesMississippi, County Marriages, 1858-1979196,7980Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesMissouri, Church Records, 1827-20042,0610Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMissouri, Confederate Pension Applications and Soldiers Home Applications, 1911-1938730Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMissouri, County Marriage, Naturalization, and Court Records, 1800-19912,2720Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMontana, County Naturalizations, 1856-1979560Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Death Index, 1901-1903; 1916-19291570Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesNew Jersey, Newark, Mount Olivet Cemetery Records, 1871-198478,0740Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesNew York, Church Records, 1660-19549,4870Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew York, County Naturalization Records, 1791-19802170Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNorth Carolina, Center for Health Statistics, Vital Records Unit, County Birth Records, 1913-192283,0370Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio, County Births, 1841-20031,0980Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesOklahoma, Noble County, Parker Funeral Home, Funeral Records, 1908-19823,7670Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesPennsylvania Cemetery Records, ca. 1700-ca. 1950116,9770Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesPennsylvania Delayed Birth Records, 1941-19761,7060Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Allegheny, Pittsburgh, Naturalization Card File Index, 1906-19903910Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesPuerto Rico, Agricultural Schedules of the 1935 Special Census52,94054,697New indexed records and images collection United StatesSouth Carolina, State and Territorial Censuses, 1829-1920630Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, Eagle Pass Arrival Manifests and Indexes, 1905-195485,3070Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesTexas, Grimes County, Probate Records of Births, 1939-195710,1380New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Hardin County Clerk, Death Records, 1908-19481,5690Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesTexas, Hardin County, Registers of Births, 1882-19391470New indexed records collection United StatesUnited States, Cemetery Abstracts, 1949-19695470Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, New York Land Records, 1630-19752,819,5570Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesUnited States, Obituaries, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1899-201238,3100Added indexed records to an existing colleUnited StatesUtah, Salt Lake City Cemetery Records, 1847-19765,4570Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesUtah, World War I Militia Lists, 1917-19181450Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesVirginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics, County Marriage Registers, 1853-193552,6710Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesVirginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Death Records, 1853-191259,7630Added indexed records to an existing collection United StatesWashington, County Birth Registers, 1873-196543,6600Added indexed records to an existing collection VenezuelaVenezuela, Catholic Church Records, 1577-19958430Added indexed records to an existing collectionZambiaZambia, Archdiocese of Lusaka, Church Records, 1950-201519,3070Added indexed records to an existing collection