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6 Online Journals to Make Journaling Easier

FamilySearch - Fri, 10/15/2021 - 14:00

Keeping a personal, handwritten journal may be difficult in this busy time of your life. Why not give online journaling a try? There are dozens of apps, websites, and social media platforms that offer online journaling options. Let’s take a look at what online journaling is and a few terrific options to get started.

What Is Online Journaling? 

Online journaling websites are internet-based web pages that offer the ability to record journal entries and save them to their website. Usually, you have the ability to download, print, or even share your journal entries.

Online journaling websites have pros and cons. A pro might be that your journal is easily accessible anywhere there is a computer and internet access. Some might be mobile friendly or offer an accompanying app. It may also be free. A con might be that the website gets sold or becomes obsolete and you are no longer able to access your journal entries. Some services may also require a subscription to use.

Free Journaling Websites  

Here are some free options for online journaling: 

Penzu 

Penzu is an online journaling website and app with a free option and 2 paid upgrade options. The free version allows you unlimited journal entries that are kept 100 percent safe and encrypted. You can choose from several beautiful fonts and even customize your journal cover. 

Its free online journal options also include helpful prompts, the ability to insert pictures, sharing through email or a public link, and printing.  

750 Words 

750 Words is an easy-to-use website that helps you form the habit of writing every day. You can create a free 30-day account to see how you like it. After 30 days, you will still have access to your journal but will be unable to make additional journal entries unless you subscribe. If 750 Words is something you enjoy, you can subscribe for $5.00 [USD] each month. 

750 Words can be used to track a journaling goal or even as a game, using its point and streak system! You also get a look into your writing style and mindset with daily charts. 

750 Words also has an interactive option in which you can be part of a journaling community. You can participate in monthly challenges, share your entries with others, and more. 

Diaro 

Diaro can be used on your computer or smart device. Diaro Basic is free and includes the ability to write a short or lengthy entry, add a picture, sort your entries into folders, and record your current mood. Additionally, if you allow the location services, Diaro will add the current weather conditions of your area at the time you write your entry! 

One especially nice feature about Diaro is its ability to sync between your devices through your DropBox account. However, syncing does require Diaro Pro, which costs a one-time fee of $19.99. This upgrade also allows you the ability to search all your entries by keyword and add a Google Earth location. 

Using Social Media to Journal Online 

Have you ever considered how your social media accounts are similar to a daily journal of what’s been going on? Many people use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to do a type of journal online. The advantage is that it is free, and you likely are already using it!  

On Facebook, you can upload numerous pictures and videos and create quite a lengthy post of up to 63,206 characters. As you share your daily activities on Facebook, people often make comments. In this way, you create a type of interactive journal with your friends and family.  

You may not know about the ability to print your Facebook entries. You can use a paid service called My Social Book to “slurp” your Facebook content into book form. My Social Book allows you to choose what is included in your book, set date parameters, pick a paperback or hardback cover, and take advantage of several other customizing options.  

Instagram is another social media platform many use to record their personal and family activities. In comparison to Facebook, it is a little less robust. Instagram allows you to upload up to 10 images per post and you can create typed content up to 2,200 characters. 

You can use My Social Book to slurp your Instagram content as well, or you can try another similar paid service called Chatbooks. Chatbooks is another fun tool for creating journal-like books for your family and personal history. They come in 2 sizes, 6 x 6 and 8 x 8 inches. These fun little books hold up to 366 pages. Because these books are on the smaller side, your caption appearing under an image will need to be about 3 sentences or less. If you exceed 300 characters, additional words will be populated onto the next page. 

Using FamilySearch Memories for Online Journaling 

For an always-free, always-available journaling option, try FamilySearch Memories! If you have a free FamilySearch Account, you also have free access to FamilySearch Memories. Here, you can add pictures, stories, documents, and even audio to your family tree.  

The FamilySearch Memories story section is a great place to create a personal online journal. It is free and accessible to you anywhere in the world you have internet access. 

FamilySearch Memories allows you to create a title for your story or journal entry. You can share it publicly or keep it private. Additionally, you can add up to 10 photographs per story and add an event date, event place, and topic tags for easy retrieval. 

Your entries and uploads to FamilySearch Family Tree are safe and always accessible.  

What are you ready to share? Create your own free account on FamilySearch, and start creating your online journal using FamilySearch Memories today. Or give some of these other options a try as you look for the right fit. No matter how you choose to document your life, your future family will thank you! 

Keeping a Gratitude Journal

FamilySearch - Wed, 10/13/2021 - 15:00

Last summer, Camille Johnson was struggling. Her mother was dying, and the pandemic was raging. “I decided I needed to do something,” she recalls. “I didn’t have any energy; I wanted to sleep all the time.” 

“Then I remembered about a character in a book who was going through a depression,” she continues. “Her dad challenged her to write a thank-you note to someone every week. I started researching how gratitude can help us.” Camille was so impressed by her findings that she dedicated an entire episode of her podcast to gratitude—and began keeping a gratitude journal. 

Two months later, she reflected on the benefits of this practice on her social media account. “It has been such a fun thing to look at my day and see things that I appreciate. Even when I forget for a few days, I enjoy looking back, catching up and thinking about all the things … that I was grateful for.”  

Camille, who lives in Ohio, United States, has now been keeping a gratitude journal for a year. “I write in it at least once a week. It takes me less than five minutes, and it puts me in a good frame of mind for the day.” 

What Is a Gratitude Journal? 

A gratitude journal is where people record things they’re thankful for. Entries might be written out in paragraph form, but many are simple lists, like Camille’s entry from 21 July 2021: 

What sets gratitude journals apart from other kinds of personal records is that the content focuses specifically—even exclusively—on expressing appreciation. 

What Are the Benefits of a Gratitude Journal?  

As Camille researched gratefulness, she was impressed by its psychological and emotional power. “I learned that if you start having more gratitude and start writing it down, you start training your brain to find more things to be grateful about,” she explains. “This can help us overcome our natural negativity bias,” which is an instinctive tendency to dwell on negative things. 

“Keeping a gratitude journal has helped my brain make an effort to look out for things I’m grateful for,” Camille reflects. “When I notice something, I think, ‘I’ll have to write this down.’ Now, even when things feel hard or heavy, I am able to find something I am grateful for, like my favorite ice cream. It buoys me up. There were a couple of days after my mom died that I just had to be grateful for a good cry.” 

Scientific research supports Camille’s experience. Gratitude is associated with a better quality of life, more positive emotions, and healthy social activity. Being grateful can lower symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Gratefulness is even tied to a healthier resting heart rate, better heart and immune function, improved sleep quality, lowered blood pressure, and fewer physical symptoms overall. People who keep gratitude journals specifically have been shown to exercise more, make more progress toward their goals, and feel more optimistic about their lives.  

How to Start a Gratitude Journal 

When starting a gratitude journal, keep it simple. “At the beginning, I’d just write a couple of bullet points,” recalls Camille. “Something that happened that day that I was grateful for. You can always find one thing—or maybe three things—you’re thankful for.” For the most powerful experience, experts say, focus on specific things you appreciate in that moment—not “my children” but, more specifically, “the sound of my son’s laughter,” for example.  

Figuring out how journaling would fit into Camille’s life required experimentation. “I started writing every day, but sometimes I’d forget, so I’d catch up throughout the week,” she recalls. (As it turns out, writing one to three times a week rather than daily can actually be more impactful for some people.) “At first, I’d take five minutes at night, but I was too tired, so I started doing it more in the morning, when I have more time to reflect.” She paired her habit with an existing one so she’d remember it. For her, it was scripture study, but others may enjoy journaling after a walk or run, during a meditation, or while making a to-do list. 

What about the format of a gratitude journal? “I started in Google Drive, but sometimes it would be hard to get out my computer or do it on my phone, so I started using a journal,” she says. What’s important is choosing a format you’ll stick with, whether that’s an app, notebook, day planner, diary, or electronic document.  

If it would help to have some support when you start a gratitude journal, consider inviting a friend or relative to start one, too. You might search online for a gratitude challenge or explore gratitude groups on your favorite social media platform.   

How Can a Gratitude Journal Fit into Your Life Story? 

I haven’t been good at keeping a regular history of my life, but gratitude journal entries are a snapshot of my life,” reflects Camille. “They bring back the rest of my memories of that day.” Paired with photos, her memories become even more vivid, like this family reunion photo that illustrates her entry about “working with all the siblings to get more food made.” (Camille is third from the right, in the white shirt.)  

“Looking back this way gives me a broader view of my life,” she adds. “I don’t necessarily think everything is positive and happy, but I can see more clearly that things are working together for my good.” She likes the idea of leaving this kind of written legacy for her five children. “I think I would rather have them know me as someone who was grateful for a handful of things every day, instead of a person who was whining about a handful of things every day!” 

Start Your Own Gratitude Journal 

How could a gratitude journal work for you? Try it yourself! Start recording lists of things you appreciate in a notebook or electronically. Or capture your gratitude lists with the FamilySearch Memories app

What to Write in a Journal

FamilySearch - Mon, 10/11/2021 - 15:00

So you’ve decided to keep a journal—but you wonder what sort of things you should write about. After all, how can you fit everything you want you and your posterity to remember into so few pages?

Don’t worry—and remember that, first and foremost, your journal is whatever you want it to be. That means it can have as much or as little information as you want it to! If you’re still looking for places to start, consider the following suggestions.

Topics to Write about in a Journal  

As you get started, consider some well-known published journals and diaries, such as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl; such examples may help you think about what you want to record.

You might also think about what you wish your ancestors had recorded. Do you wonder what they thought about current events, who they socialized with, or what their favorite entertainment or music was? Even something as simple as what their favorite food was, what the weather was like, and how much everyday things cost can be interesting for future generations.

Keep a record of the main events in your life: family, school, work, and so on. Such a record will help not only you remember important dates, but your descendants will thank you as they learn about their family heritage.

Making Your Journal More Personalized 

In addition to recording main events from your life, consider sharing your day-to-day activities. For example, my paternal grandmother kept a short, 6-month journal that detailed her daily activities during the 1930s. One of my favorite entries in her journal says, “Great big washing! Nice day. … Picked flowers on the river bank after school.” Sadly, my grandmother died just a few years later, at a young age. This diary gives insight into who she was and what her life was like in a way I would otherwise never know.

Write about your struggles, frustrations, sorrows, and triumphs. Rereading your journals can be a source of comfort and reassurance to you when you are facing trials and can see how you overcame past hurdles.

Record uplifting thoughts and quotes that inspire you, both to remember them and to save them for others. If you are religious, record spiritual experiences you have had in your life.

Share some of the funny, embarrassing moments that happen along with the learning and growing episodes that make up your life’s journey.

How to Start Journaling 

You might ask, “But how do I start?” There are several ways to journal, but the important thing is to begin.

Set aside a few minutes every day to summarize events that happened. Don’t whitewash your experiences or worry about what others may think. Keep a balance of both the good things that happen as well as the challenging experiences.

Make your journal personal to what feels right for you. Because this is the story of you and your life, you may decide to share portions of it with family members. Or you may feel like burying some sensitive entries under your mattress! The important thing is to record your life’s experiences and learn from them.

Consider scanning and uploading your journals to FamilySearch Memories to preserve them for future generations—or, if you prefer, use it directly as an online journal to record your thoughts.

Remember what Anne Frank once wrote about keeping a journal: “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” (Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, p. 177)

Thomas MacEntee: The Abundant Educator

FamilySearch - Fri, 10/08/2021 - 15:00

Arising in the pre-dawn hours, Thomas MacEntee begins his day by checking in with MyHeritage in Israel. He enjoys the peace and solitude of the morning, says his daily devotional, and watches the sun rise over Lake Michigan. Then he dives into the all-consuming work of preparing or presenting genealogy webinars. He has 250 scheduled webinars this year and presents as many as 3 live webinars on some days. 

He enjoys interacting with other genealogists through social media and webinars. He ponders: What do they want to know? How are they approaching their own genealogy? What are the gaps in genealogy education? These answers guide him as he adds to his webinar topics list, which now exceeds 60. 

From the Country to a University 

Thomas MacEntee was born and raised by a single mother in Liberty, a small town in upstate New York. Liberty, considered “the country,” is located 90 miles from New York City, with a population under 5,000. As a child, Thomas gained his love of history by listening to the stories his great-grandparents told of how they grew up. He loved visiting their 1840s Dutch farm home in Grahamsville, New York, just 10 miles from his own home. There, he had lots of family to connect with—over 40 first cousins! 

Thomas graduated high school with honors and continued his education at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., with double bachelor’s degrees in art history and Spanish language and literature. In April 2010, Thomas received an online genealogy research certificate from Boston University, which he claims is some of the best adult education he has received, and he is extremely proud of this accomplishment. 

After college, Thomas landed his first career job working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an administrative assistant in educational programming. He spent the next 25–30 years educating and training others. In 2008, during the Great Recession, many information technology jobs disappeared. As he searched for something that would be sustainable, he began researching how to run a genealogy business. That turned into client research, which then led to writing and education, which now fills his days. 

His family is now spread all over, but he is still in touch with many cousins. They have children who are starting to get interested in family history themselves. He is hopeful he will have someone to pass the genealogy work along to—when he is ready to hand it off. 

Thomas MacEntee’s Introduction to Genealogy 

In February 1977, at age 14, the miniseries Roots came on television, and Thomas remembers watching it with his great-grandparents. After every episode, he would ask them questions about his own history. He knew then that researching his family history was something he wanted to do.  

Genealogy grasped Thomas personally when his great-grandmother, Therese McGinnes Austin, died in 1988. She had a positive impact on his life. She taught him a love of history, was great to talk to, and had amazing stories. She was the last of her generation, and there was no longer an outlet for interviews and more information. He had to do his own research to learn more. 

Thomas started to visit libraries to learn more. While in Washington, D.C., during college, he visited the National Archives and the Library of Congress and read through microfilms. He started to see that some of the family stories he had heard as a child weren’t always truthful. He wondered, “Do I approach my aunt and uncle about it?” His mother, the middle child of a dozen, was the peacekeeper of the family and shared Thomas’s fascination with history, and she provided him good counsel and would guide him on what he should or shouldn’t share about his discoveries.  

Thomas’s goal with his research was to give voice to his family’s ancestors who may not have had a voice. And through the records he finds, he has been able to tell their full stories. 

Turning Genealogy into a Profession 

Thomas created his first blog in 2006, called “Destination Austin Family.” He was in a race to preserve family history from his mother’s perspective, as she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia leading to Alzheimer’s disease in 2000 at age 59. 

Genealogy became a profession for Thomas in the summer of 2010 after participating in ProGen4 and the Boston University genealogy research program. Social media was taking off when he joined GeneaBloggers—a worldwide community of 3,000 genealogy bloggers—in 2008. He then reserved the domain and created the GeneaBloggers website in 2009. He used this website to teach others how to use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms for the purpose of genealogy.  

He soon created High-Definition Genealogy. He started with a vision of doing client research but soon found that it wasn’t satisfying for him. He pivoted and changed to teaching. Still today, he is always looking for new ways to educate people about genealogy and help them on their paths to success. Thomas also encourages his students to pivot in their research and learning. Just like his recommendations to them, he is changing and morphing his business all the time. 

By November 2010, Thomas MacEntee had given his first talk as a genealogy speaker at an event in Libertyville, Illinois, on the topic of social media. He quickly learned that you don’t need genealogy certification to be a genealogy professional. The genealogy field is broad, and it doesn’t involve just research. Education is key and needed. In addition to educating, he is now the author of 15 books. 

Thomas continued to grow and inspire the GeneaBloggers community until 2016, when he passed it off to others so he could focus more time on educational webinars. In addition to High-Definition Genealogy, where groups can book him for speaking engagements, he created the website Genealogy Bargains, where everyone can find the lowest prices on all items genealogy related. He also runs Abundant Genealogy, where he gives away free genealogy “cheat sheets” and more. And in 2015, he launched the Genealogy Do-Over, which now is a Facebook group with over 20,000 participants, where he teaches genealogy research methods by starting from scratch. 

RootsTech Early Adopter and Contributor 

Thomas was at the first RootsTech in 2011 and loves the energy the conference gives to the genealogy community. He believes that RootsTech has changed the educational landscape and was very impressed with the over 1 million worldwide audience RootsTech achieved in 2021. The shortened class model allows for more learning in less time and has helped Thomas pivot his own plans for his business ventures. 

Check out Thomas’s 2021 RootsTech contributions:  

Tips:  Classes:  Advice to You from Thomas 

As a genealogy educator, Thomas has lots of great advice for others—no matter where they are in their family history journey. 

For someone who is new to genealogy: “Start with yourself. Don’t bring in the family stories yet. Write down, in a fixed format, the stories that you personally have heard. Then slowly work your way back. Interview older relatives if they are still living.” 

For someone who is stuck or frustrated with genealogy: “Put it down and walk away. Then come back to it. Sometimes a brick wall is something we have constructed due to lack of education about the area or about record collections.” 

For someone who has been doing genealogy for a long time: “Participate in webinars to learn about new technologies and new ways of doing genealogy. Be open to change, especially with new technology.” 

For everyone: “Genealogy is not only charts and source citations. It is also about preserving stories, memories, and photos. Families want things that are memorable and sharable.” 

Thomas’s Favorite Resources 

In addition to sharing advice, Thomas MacEntee also shares his favorite resources to help you in your genealogy research. 

Conference Keeper—Keep track of upcoming genealogy educational events. 

FamilySearch Research Wiki—Use and contribute to the Wiki. 

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project—Learn how and when counties in the U.S. were formed. 

Trello—This project management tool can be used for family history research. 

What Does the Future Hold for Thomas? 

Thomas MacEntee loves what he does and loves to collaborate with others. He is planning to semi-retire from his historical 60-minute webinars in May 2022, but until then he is working on creating actionable education where the participants do the work beforehand and the webinar is a reveal or conclusion. He is also working on creating an online course for genealogy topics. 

Thomas’s inspiration throughout all of his genealogy business endeavors came from his mother, who passed away in 2015. She taught Thomas that “today is a gift and that tomorrow is just a promise.” She taught him how to be abundantly generous, that knowledge needs to be shared, to let go of what you’ve been given, and to hold your palm open and upright to receive what will come next from God. Every day is a new day. Thomas MacEntee is truly an abundant educator. 

Getting the Most from Your Search: Understanding the Search Records Page

FamilySearch - Thu, 10/07/2021 - 10:00

Finding a historical record with my ancestor’s name on it can sometimes be a challenge. Either my search terms bring back more results than I know what to do with, or I get only a handful of results, none of which is my ancestor. If you’ve ever had a similar experience, you’ll be excited to know that FamilySearch is working hard to improve the search experience—making it more intuitive and straightforward—for beginners as well as experts. All the tools you may have used in your research before are still there. But the search boxes, filters, and design have all been simplified to help people like myself find that first record and experience the joy that comes from connecting with ancestors.

Using Filters to Narrow Your Results 

Let’s start with the search box—the primary reason people come to the Search Historical Records page in the first place. To begin searching for your ancestor, all you need is a name. You can enter a place and year if you have them, but this information isn’t necessary.

Say, for example, I want to find a historical record about one of my great-grandfathers. I enter his name into the appropriate fields and click Search. The results page tells me there are at least 263,386 possible records with my great-grandfather’s name on them! Too many to examine or even browse, to be sure. But I can quickly narrow my search results by applying one or more of the search filters available to me near the top of the screen.

The Residence filter seems like a good way to reduce the results list. Maybe it’s because I’m not very good with dates, though I do know where my great-grandfather lived. The onscreen prompts help me choose the most specific, appropriate residence filter possible. First, I click United States of America, then Utah, and last but not least, the county where I know my great-grandfather lived for most of his life.

It won’t always be this easy, but in this case my great-grandfather is suddenly the first result on the page! He’s mentioned in the 1940 United States Census along with my grandmother, whose name I immediately recognize. I can access this record by clicking my great-grandfather’s name and following the links. When I do, I discover that my grandfather’s name was spelled differently in the census record, and I was off by one letter. No wonder I’ve been having trouble finding his records! (Good thing I didn’t have Exact Search turned on just then, or I might not have found this record. More on that feature later.)

Search by Collection 

The other filters on the records search page work the same as the residence filter, and more than one filter can be applied at a time. If there’s a specific type of historical record that you want to find—a birth certificate, perhaps, or a marriage certificate—try filtering by Collection. Then limit your search to a collection that contains the type of record you want to find.

We’ll use my great-grandfather as an example again. Let’s say I want to find his birth certificate. First, I’ll enter his name. When I get my search results back, I’ll set the Birth filter to United States and then Utah. After that, I’ll click the Collection filter. To the right of the screen, a menu opens with a list of all the different collections I can search. I can click as many as interest me, several of which are focused on births. Once I have the collections I am interested in checked, I click on the Apply Collection Filter button.

But wait—further down, I see a group of military collections. Did my great-grandfather serve in World War I? I’m not sure, but I could look for his draft card in United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918, if I wanted to.

Tips and Tricks for Experienced Researchers 

So far, we’ve talked about starting with a simple name search and applying filters to narrow your results. But if you have more information, you can enter it at the very beginning of your search and find the historical records even faster. At the bottom of the search box, next to the Search button, click the button labeled More Options. This will open the complete search template, where you can enter more concrete information about life events, spouses, parents, and even alternate names. You can also filter your records by country or state, so only records that were published in that location appear in your results. Just look under Records Options, and click the filter labeled Location.

You can also access this complete search template after you have started your search by clicking on the More Options button at the top of the results page and applying the filters in the pop-up on the right side of the results page. This option allows you to filter your results after the results for your search are shown.

Another way to limit your search results is to use Show Exact Search, which you’ll see near the bottom of the expanded search box. If you perform an exact search, only historical records that match your search terms exactly will appear in your results. This can be an important filtering tool when you know exactly what you’re looking for. If, on the other hand, you’re not sure, it’s probably best to leave this option turned off. In the case of my great-grandfather’s record, an exact search might have prevented me from finding information about him, since for much of my search I was spelling his last name incorrectly.

Also, keep in mind that clicking Show Exact Search doesn’t actually turn the feature on; rather, it opens up an Exact Search option for each individual search item, which you would then have to select. This means that you can do an exact search for your ancestor’s last name, while still being open to multiple versions of his or her first name. This tremendous functionality allows you to be both precise and flexible with your searches.

One last feature to help you organize and make sense of your results is the Preferences tab, located near the top of the screen on the results page. Hint: You may need to click More Options after you search, if you don’t see it. From the Preferences tab, you can choose whether to format your search results in a fixed table or data sheet. You can also control how much information the table or sheet controls. Too much information, after all, can be overwhelming and hard to decipher. Finally, you can choose to view records no matter their language, or only those that have been translated into the language specified in your account settings.

An Easy-to-Use Search Tool 

Discovering a historical record with information about your ancestor can be a thrilling experience. At FamilySearch, we want this experience to be available to everyone who comes to our website—from experts and amateur historians to beginners and even first-time visitors to our website. Our simple yet robust search page has been designed with this very audience in mind. If you have questions or feedback to give on this updated search experience, we offer multiple ways for you to give us feedback. We’d love to know what you think and are grateful for your suggestions!

Search Historical Records

Find Your Ancestors Quickly Using FamilySearch’s New Discovery Search Experience

FamilySearch - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 14:00

If you find yourself struggling to know how to find your ancestors, FamilySearch has a new search experience that can help you find your ancestors in a quick and easy way without having to sign in. The FamilySearch Discovery Search experience provides a way to quickly search select databases on FamilySearch—the tree, records, memories, and last name information—all at the same time. This is a great way to get started with your family history and connect with your ancestors quickly!

There are two ways to get to this search experience. You can either find it on the logged out FamilySearch home page, or you can click the button below. Then all you have to do is type the name of your family member and click Search. It’s really that easy! And you don’t need to provide all the information—just fill in what you know, and you will still find some cool results. Come try it out, share it with your friends, and see what you can find about your family!

Search for Your Ancestors

Monthly Record Update for September 2021

FamilySearch - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 14:00

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in September of 2021 with over 26 million new indexed family history records from all over the world. New historical records were added from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, England, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Guadelope, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Kiribati, Liberia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tuvalu, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the United States, which includes Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Washington. Records from the United States Bureau of Land Management and Find A Grave were 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. And if you want more exciting genealogy content, peruse over 1,000 free, on-demand sessions from RootsTech Connect 2021.

CountryCollection Indexed Records Digital ImagesCommentArgentinaArgentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981           17,1430Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Catamarca, Civil Registration, 1888-2000                      40Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Cemetery Records, 1882-2019         105,3580Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Corrientes, Catholic Church Records, 1734-1977             5,8160Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Entre Ríos, Catholic Church Records, 1764-1983             3,0690Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, San Juan, Catholic Church Records, 1655-1975             2,1180Expanded collectionAustraliaAustralia, Victoria, Wills, Probate and Administration Files, 1841-1926             4,8540Expanded collectionAustriaAustria, Carinthia, Gurk Diocese, Catholic Church Records, 1527-1986           14,5750Expanded collectionBoliviaBolivia Catholic Church Records, 1566-1996         431,4790Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Bahia, Civil Registration, 1877-1976                 2900Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Minas Gerais, Civil Registration, 1879-1949           36,2030Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Paraná, Civil Registration, 1852-1996           22,4420Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-1999             3,9120Expanded collectionCanadaCanada, Ontario Tax Assessment Rolls, 1834-1899           40,4950Expanded collectionChileChile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-1928             9,2350Expanded collectionChileChile, Civil Registration, 1885-1932           10,8200Expanded collectionCosta RicaCosta Rica, Catholic Church Records, 1595-1992                 9650Expanded collectionDenmarkDenmark, Military Conscription Rolls, 1789-1792             5,5030Expanded collectionEl SalvadorEl Salvador Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977         228,1620Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Cambridgeshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1538-1983             2,3660Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Essex Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1971             2,7520Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Gloucestershire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1642-1996                      70Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898             6,4720Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Lancashire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1647-1996           39,1380Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988         504,9930Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Northumberland Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1920           33,3850Expanded collectionFinlandFinland, Passport Registers, 1900-1920             7,4050Expanded collectionFinlandFinland, Tax Lists, 1809-1915           16,5160Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Charente, Parish and Civil Registration, 1550-1936     2,592,3860Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Mayenne, Parish and Civil Registration, 1427-1897     2,430,7840Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Saône-et-Loire, Parish and Civil Registration, 1530-1892                   180Expanded collectionFrench PolynesiaFrench Polynesia, Civil Registration, 1780-1999             2,1720Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Prussia, Saxony, Census Lists, 1770-1934           23,3070Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Saxony, Church Book Indexes, 1500-1900             4,8840Expanded collectionGuadelopeGuadeloupe, Church Records, 1639-1830                   470New collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977         228,7590Expanded collectionHungaryHungary, Jewish Vital Records Index, 1800-1945             4,5620Expanded collectionIndiaIndia, Madras Diocese Protestant Church Records, 1743-1990             1,4900Expanded collectionJamaicaJamaica, Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880             4,1910Expanded collectionKiribatiKiribati, Vital Records, 1890-1991             3,4870Expanded collectionLiberiaLiberia Census, 2008         447,9930Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Chiapas, Catholic Church Records, 1557-1978             1,3670Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Chihuahua, Catholic Church Records, 1632-1958             4,6650Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Coahuila, Catholic Church Records, 1627-1978             1,9710Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1514-1970           14,9840Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Guanajuato, Catholic Church Records, 1519-1984     1,535,6260Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Guerrero, Catholic Church Records, 1576-1979             4,0340Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Hidalgo, Catholic Church Records, 1546-1971                 4410Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Jalisco, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1979           89,1690Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, México, Catholic Church Records, 1567-1970         412,9700Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Michoacán, Catholic Church Records, 1555-1996     1,024,9180Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Oaxaca, Catholic Church Records, 1559-1988           39,4550Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Puebla, Catholic Church Records, 1545-1977           13,6860Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Sinaloa, Civil Registration, 1861-1929           30,4490Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Tlaxcala, Catholic Church Records, 1576-1994             2,0950Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Veracruz, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1978             3,5670Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Zacatecas, Catholic Church Records, 1605-1980             9,8780Expanded collectionNew ZealandNew Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1865-1957     1,234,6390Expanded collectionNicaraguaNicaragua, Catholic Church Records, 1740-1960           15,0590Expanded collectionNorwayNorway, Probate Index Cards, 1640-1903             5,1200Expanded collectionOtherFind A Grave Index     3,667,7580Expanded collectionPapua New GuineaPapua New Guinea, Vital Records, 1867-2000         128,0450Expanded collectionParaguayParaguay, Catholic Church Records, 1754-2015           82,4020Expanded collectionParaguayParaguay, Military Records, 1870-1965           18,2520Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-1992         798,4540Expanded collectionSamoaSamoa, Vital Records, 1846-1996           43,0260Expanded collectionSierra LeoneSierra Leone, Civil Births and Deaths, 1802-2016           47,5760Expanded collectionSloveniaSlovenia, Ljubljana, Funeral Accounts, 1937-1970             1,9180Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Cape Province, Civil Records, 1840-1972           31,2160Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801-2004           26,5910Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Registers (Cape Town Archives), 1660-1970           25,0700Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Vital Records, 1868-1976           47,0700Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Reformed Church Records, 1856-1988           18,8810Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Transvaal, Civil Marriages, 1870-1930           11,3790Expanded collectionSpainSpain, Catholic Church Records, 1307-1985             2,4560Expanded collectionSpainSpain, Diocese of Cartagena, Catholic Church Records, 1503-1969             3,4030Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Örebro Church Records, 1613-1918; index 1635-1860             4,4820Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records, 1546-1927             1,8070Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Västerbotten Church Records, 1619-1896; index, 1688-1860             8,3900Expanded collectionSwitzerlandSwitzerland, Catholic and Lutheran Church Records, 1418-1996     2,514,2580New collectionSwitzerlandSwitzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1850             2,5160Expanded collectionSwitzerlandSwitzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1880             1,5560Expanded collectionTuvaluTuvalu, Vital Records, 1866-1979             3,5800Expanded collectionUkraineUkraine, Western Ukraine Catholic Church Book Duplicates, 1600-1937             2,3640Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Archdiocese of Birmingham, Roman Catholic Parish Records, 1539-1910         589,8020New collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Devon, Plymouth, World War I Rolls of Honour, 1914-1918                 6650New collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Devon, Plymouth, World War II Records, 1939-1945             7,3510New collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Hertfordshire, Marriage Bonds, 1682-1837                   500Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Lancashire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1746-1799             2,9440Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Lincolnshire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1574-1885             2,0240Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Middlesex, Westminster, Poor Law Records, 1561-1883     1,678,5580New collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Yorkshire, Bishop’s Transcripts, 1547-1957     2,601,2050Expanded collectionUnited StatesAlaska, Vital Records, 1816-2005             1,3630Expanded collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Los Angeles, Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery/Crematory Records, 1884-2002             5,1640Expanded collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Tax Digests, 1787-1900         299,7820Expanded collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Honolulu, Voter Registration Applications, ca. 1920-1966             5,0280Expanded collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Kauai County, Obituaries, 1982-2010                 1640Expanded collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918         401,6030Expanded collectionUnited StatesMinnesota, Cottonwood County, Obituaries, 1850-1990             5,3210Expanded collectionUnited StatesMontana, County Voting Records, 1884-1992           73,4310Expanded collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Death Index, 1901-1903; 1916-1929             1,6950Expanded collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston District, Bill of sales of Negro slaves, 1774-1872             2,3990Expanded collectionUnited StatesUnited States Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1800-c. 1955           19,5330Expanded collectionUnited StatesWashington, County Death Registers, 1881-1979           18,8630Expanded collectionUruguayUruguay Civil Registration, 1879-1930           17,4370Expanded collectionUruguayUruguay, Catholic Church Records, 1726-2000         605,8400Expanded collectionVanuatuVanuatu, Vital Records, 1900-2001             7,3340Expanded collectionVenezuelaVenezuela Civil Registration, 1873-2003         144,6410Expanded collectionVenezuelaVenezuela, Catholic Church Records, 1577-1995         848,9230Expanded collectionZambiaZambia, Archdiocese of Lusaka, Church Records, 1950-2015             5,6670Expanded collectionZimbabweZimbabwe, Voter Registration, 1938-1973             3,3150Expanded collection

40+ Journal Prompts to Capture Memories and Discover Yourself

FamilySearch - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 15:00

Have you ever pulled out an old puzzle only to realize at the very end that you’re missing pieces? The same thing happens to memories over time. Bits and pieces start to fade as time passes. Journaling helps preserve those little details so you’ll always remember them.

Along the way, many people discover a sense of self and see improvements in their daily lives. Studies have found numerous benefits to journaling, including the following:

  • Better sleep
  • Relieved tension
  • Improved mental health
  • Increased awareness
  • Heightened immune system

How does it work? Writing out your thoughts and feelings gives you the opportunity to work through them. The process can stimulate your immune system and lighten your mental load.

Getting started can feel a little awkward, and forming a new habit takes practice. Try using these journal prompts to get you going. FamilySearch Memories also offers a free and easy platform to write your journal and preserve it alongside your favorite pictures.

Quick and Easy Journal Prompts

If you’re just getting started, these quick and light-hearted prompts might be the perfect place to try your hand at journaling. Or if you’ve had a long day, light topics can be just the thing to get your mind off things as you write.

  • What was the best thing that happened today?
  • What are your favorite and least favorite flavors of ice cream?
  • What are you excited about in the next week?
  • Create a list of your favorite foods, hobbies, movies, songs, and so on.
  • Name a place you hope to visit one day. What would you like to do there?
  • If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
  • Who’s your favorite character from a TV show?
  • What would your ideal pet be?
  • What’s your favorite season of the year?
  • If you could choose a fictional world to live in, which would it be?
Journal Prompts to Capture Your Early Memories

Nostalgia is a powerful force with many benefits. It can alleviate stress and anxiety and help you feel happier. Capture some of those early memories to strengthen your ties to your past.

Don’t shy away from difficult memories either. Working through those emotions can help you accept them and move on.

  • Describe your childhood home. Do you miss anything about it? What did your room look like? Did you move around?
  • What were your favorite meals as a child? Have you made any of them recently?
  • What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Include specific memories.
  • Who was your best friend as a child? What did you do together? Are you still in touch today?
  • What schools did you go to? What was your favorite subject? Did you have a favorite teacher?
  • What do you remember about your hometown? Do you still live there? If not, have you ever visited?
  • Who did you look up to as a child?
  • What’s your most embarrassing memory?
  • What was your favorite book as a child?
Journal Prompts to Capture Your Family

Exploring family memories and history opens avenues to discovering who you are. Finding family and cultural roots fosters a sense of belonging, which brings with it increased self-worth and resilience. Writing about your family is one of the many ways you can strengthen those ties.

If you’re interested in further exploring your family roots, try learning about your family tree.

  • Describe your parents. What did they look like? What did you do together? How do you feel about them?
  • Do you remember your grandparents? What type of relationship did you have with them?
  • What did your parents do for work?
  • If you have siblings, what memories do you share?
  • Describe your current family relationships. Who do you feel closest to?
  • What are your favorite family memories?
  • Did you ever have family reunions? Describe them.
  • Describe challenges you’ve faced with your family. How did your family navigate those challenges?
  • How does your family show love to one another?
  • If you could say anything to your family, what would it be?
  • What are your family’s cultural roots?
Personal Journal Prompts

Journaling provides an outlet to work through your thoughts and feelings. Try writing about what’s going on in your life right now and your feelings. You may find the experience to be a needed release.

  • What do you hope to accomplish this year? In the next five years?
  • When do you feel the happiest? The saddest?
  • Has anything bothered you lately?
  • What’s your current profession? Are you satisfied in your job? If not, what would you like to change?
  • What’s on your bucket list? How can you achieve those dreams?
  • What are your fears? Why do they scare you?
  • What is your favorite place in the world?
  • How do you make important decisions?
  • What is something you would like to learn to do? What’s holding you back?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Share any regrets you have and what you would do differently.
  • What motivates you?

Hopefully this list of journal prompts helps you get started on the path to recording your personal story. Journaling is a fantastic way to explore your past, your family, and your sense of self. This list just scratches the surface, so continue finding new topics to write about.

How to Start a Journal

FamilySearch - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 18:00

Knowing how to start a journal might seem a bit overwhelming. Maybe your mind conjures up the idea of long handwritten pages, daily written in a leather-bound book. Though that is certainly a way to do it, it is not the only way. There are literally dozens of ways to start and keep a journal. In fact, you can start today!

Why Should I Start a Journal?

Journaling, writing a diary, calendaring, scrapbooking…these are all words and phrases that mean similar things. They are ways to record your daily events, declutter your mind, or keep and share a personal history of your life. Some are created by your written words, some may be a list of activities you have done for the day, and some may be a book of pictures or memorabilia that represent your life’s happenings. But journaling specifically has a special relationship with the mind and body. Starting the habit of journaling can be life changing.

The benefits of journaling have been studied and written about for decades. Writing in a journal, also referred to as journaling or expressive writing, has been shown to reduce stress, improve memory, and create a greater sense of confidence. Writing your deepest thoughts and feelings has also been proven to make your body heal faster and helps the mind to overcome trauma and adversity.

The link between writing our thoughts and feelings and the healing of the mind is just one benefit of journaling. Writing in a journal allows you the opportunity to play around with language, create new ways of expression and communication, and invent. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers, like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie were also avid journal writers.

How to Start a Journal

Whether you are 5 or 95, anyone can start a journal. Keeping a journal can be done in many forms. It might be something as simple as a lined notebook and a pen with a few paragraphs of what you did today. Or perhaps you might like journaling online or using an app on your smart device. Even parents can help their young children to journal by helping them write a few sentences on a picture they drew.

Steps for How to Start a Journal
  1. Start with a goal. The first step in forming a habit of journal writing is setting a goal. Are you going to write each day? Each week? How long would you like to write? Many beginners find it helpful to start with 3 to 5 minutes of writing each day.
  2. Pick your type of journal. Will you be keeping a journal of your daily happenings, what you ate that day, or a gratitude journal? There are lots of different types of journals and you don’t have to pick just one.
  3. Be consistent. Any habit requires consistency. If you want to keep a journal, be consistent. You might even pick a certain time each day or week and set it aside just for journal writing. Place your journal somewhere you will see it often to help you remember to write.
  4. Preserve your journal. You might not think so now, but your journal is going to be very important to someone someday. You might consider digitizing your journal (if you are keeping a handwritten one) and backing it up to a thumb drive or the cloud. If you are using an online journaling site, remember to read over the fine print to make sure you can download, print, or save your writing if the website becomes obsolete. One of the best ways to preserve your precious memories and journal writings is to upload them to FamilySearch Family Tree Memories.
What to Write in Your Journal

There is no limit to what can be written in a journal. It can be a bullet list of what you did that day or several paragraphs about what you felt or experienced. You can write from your own perspective or the perspective of others. Christine shared,

“Our extended family met each Sunday for dinner. We would share the latest happenings of what was going on in our individual families, something funny one of the kids did, or challenges that had creeped up. I thought it would be a great idea to start recording these conversations, so I created a family journal! Each Sunday evening, I would go home and record in the journal what everyone had shared.”

Here are a few ideas of what you might write about in your journal:

  • The day’s events
  • How you felt about the day’s events
  • Who you saw today
  • What chores did you do today
  • Who did you serve today
  • What did you eat today
  • What are you grateful for

Journaling is a wonderful way to learn more about yourself and to preserve and share the important events in your life. Whether you use a simple or modern way to write, decide to write daily or weekly, it doesn’t matter. Journals are a piece of your personal history your family will treasure.

Middle Eastern Food from Etiquette to Recipes

FamilySearch - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 15:00

If you’ve ever enjoyed pita bread, hummus, or falafel, you’ve ventured into the wonderful world of Middle Eastern food. But there’s much more to the cuisine than these iconic staples—it has a range of flavors and styles to offer. 

If you have Middle Eastern heritage or want a deeper understanding of the region, a great place to start is the food. Authentic food from any given place packs with it more than just the flavors. It provides insights into the lives of the people and the history of the region. 

Explore and Share Middle Eastern Foods

But what exactly is considered Middle Eastern food, and why is it significant?

What Is Considered Middle Eastern Food?

Middle Eastern food stems from a variety of cultures around the Mediterranean, Red, Arabian, and Caspian Seas. It includes Arab, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian, and Turkish cuisines, just to name a few. In reality, a long list of countries and cultures are included.

While Middle Eastern food encompasses a variety of cuisines, it’s generally characterized by fragrant and copious spices, nuts, olive oil, and creamy elements. Mutton, lamb, and goat are traditional meats. Chicken, camel, beef, fish, and pork are also used, but less frequently. 

Traditional Middle Eastern Foods

Early civilizations in the Middle East paved the way for modern farming and cooking. This area of the world was among the first to keep farm animals and cultivate plants, including wheat, sheep, goats, and cattle. Middle Easterners also developed the process of fermentation, which has permeated worldwide cultures to leaven bread, make alcohol, and create unique flavors.

As a result of its unique location between Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Middle East became a hub for the exchange of goods and culture as international trade expanded through the ages. Spices, ingredients, and new dishes were all exchanged, shaping the food of the Middle East and surrounding areas alike.

Local ingredients and religion have also played key roles in shaping the food in the region. Dates, fava beans, chickpeas, and barley are staples as locally sourced ingredients, while lamb and mutton became the predominant meat as a result of religious laws banning pork.

Religious practices in the area also paved the way for a worldwide staple: coffee. The stimulating drink was brewed to help people stay awake for evening worships, particularly during Ramadan.

Ramadan: A Month of Fasting

Ramadan is a holy month of fasting in Islamic culture. It has deep ties to the Qur’an and holds spiritual significance for Muslims around the world. Throughout the month, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, only eating after a prayer at sunset.

The evening meal that follows is often a social event shared in homes or mosques. Shops and restaurants stay open late into the night to accommodate daily fasts, creating a lively nightlife. In the morning, drums and bells sound before dawn, warning Muslims to eat their last meals before the next day of fasting.

When the month ends, everyone celebrates with a large feast and festivities known as Eid al-Fitr. Pastries and sweets are served in abundance alongside other celebrations, such as gift giving and family visits.

Etiquette at Middle Eastern Mealtimes

Dining etiquette varies by region in the Middle East, so it’s difficult to pinpoint hard and fast etiquette rules. Generally, food is either shared from a central, communal plate or served by the host. If a host is serving you food, be prepared for second helpings the moment your plate is cleared. Leaving some food on the plate can signal that you’re full. 

Arab countries typically favor finger foods, so utensils are not always used. Areas such as Turkey do use utensils. Arab countries also avoid using the left hand while dining, as it is culturally the hand used to do unhygienic tasks. Floor cushions and low tables are also common in some regions.

Middle Eastern Recipes

Use these recipes to taste some of the best dishes of the Middle East from your own home. While there’s no substitute for actually visiting the Middle East, food can help you experience some of its elements from afar. Try this list to get started:

Hummus: Probably the most famous dish originating from the Middle East, hummus is a creamy and versatile dip made from chickpeas.

Manakeesh: This flatbread is a popular choice for breakfast. It’s topped with a flavorful heap of cheeses and spices.

Foul Mudammas: For this dish, fava beans are stewed with spices and herbs to create a flavorful and hearty meal.

Falafel: Falafels are fried balls made of chickpeas and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

Fattoush: This light bread salad is refreshing and flavorful, the perfect addition to any meal.

Umm Ali: This Egyptian dessert is similar to bread pudding and is served with nuts and other fillings.

Shawarma: Shawarma is a crowd favorite, the marriage of slow-roasted chicken and the famous pita bread.

Shish Tawook: Don’t miss out on this tender, marinated chicken skewer.

Dolma: These stuffed grape leaves can be filled with a variety of options.

Kofta: Skewers of meat are popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, and koftas are a great choice for beef and lamb kebabs.

Mansaf: The yogurt sauce for mansaf makes this dish. Lamb is cooked in it, and it’s often served over a bed of rice. 

Baklava: Baklava is probably the most famous dessert from the Middle East. It’s made with ground nuts, honey, and layers of filo dough.

Knafeh: Knafeh is another Middle Eastern dessert. It’s made with a cheese filling that’s surrounded by shredded filo dough and topped with a syrup.

Masgouf: This grilled carp dish is the national dish of Iraq.

Pita: The popularity of pita bread speaks for itself. It’s a flatbread characterized by a pocket of air in the center.

If you have Middle Eastern heritage, try looking for or sharing family recipes through FamilySearch Memories.

FamilySearch Completes Massive Microfilm Digitization Project

FamilySearch - Tue, 09/21/2021 - 08:00

Huge news: after 83 years of filming the world’s historical genealogical records, FamilySearch has completed digitizing its 2.4 million rolls of microfilm.  The best part? The archive, which contains information on more than 11.5 billion individuals, is now available for free on FamilySearch.org

Over 200 countries and principalities and more than 100 languages are included in the digitized documents. All types of genealogically significant records are included—censuses, births, marriages, deaths, probate, Church, immigration, and more. Now that the project is completed, it’s much easier for users to find members of their family tree and make personal discoveries within these records.   


Want to check out these digitized microfilms for yourself? Explore FamilySearch’s free collections of indexed records and images by going to FamilySearch.org, and then search both “Records” and “Images.” The Images feature will let you browse digitized images from the microfilm collection and more. You will need a FamilySearch account to access digitized records—but don’t worry, signing up is completely free!

Create a FamilySearch Account What Is Microfilm?

A microfilm is a roll of film, like what would be used in an old camera—it just holds a lot more images per roll. However, instead of storing photos of treasured memories and loved ones, microfilms are designed to store documents that are shrunk down into miniature. These historic records are captured on the roll of film and reduced in size for easier storage. Before digital preservation, microfilm was an effective and space-conscious way to preserve historic documents and make them widely accessible.

Microfilm has been used since 1839, but its biggest breakthrough and popularization occurred in 1928.

FamilySearch, back when it was still called the Genealogical Society of Utah, began microfilming in 1938. It was one of the first major organizations to embrace the use of microfilm imaging for long-term record preservation. FamilySearch’s microfilm collection eventually grew to more than 2.4 million rolls. 

FamilySearch ended its microfilm distribution to family history centers in September 2017 when it began its transition to a free, all-digital, online access approach. FamilySearch’s physical microfilm collection will continue to be preserved, but the information that the rolls contain can now be easily viewed and searched online. 

Technology Allows for Rapid Microfilm Digitization

In 1998, FamilySearch began digitizing its microfilm collection—a project that, at the time, was anticipated to take over 50 years to complete. However, advances in technology cut the estimated time to completion by nearly 30 years.

Microfilm scanning began with about 5 employees. As the process developed and evolved, it grew to as many as 30 employees using 26 scanners. This work continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

FamilySearch is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing access to the world’s genealogical records to help individuals and families worldwide discover and connect with their family histories. It continues to capture the images of original records at an ever-increasing rate—but digitally, bypassing the need to transfer the information from film.

  

Although the digitization of FamilySearch’s microfilm collection is completed, the digitization of new records worldwide continues. FamilySearch is also working to outsource the digitization of its large microfiche collection, which should be completed several years from now.

Check out FamilySearch’s digitized microfilm collection—and all of its other freely accessible record collections!

Explore FamilySearch Collections

NOTE: All of the microfilms are digitized and published on FamilySearch. However, they are not all “available” for viewing. While the majority are broadly accessible, some will have varying degrees of access limitations governed by contractual agreements or other restraints. Where access limitations exist, most will be available through the FamilySearch Family History Library, a local FamilySearch center, or a third party website. There are also some digital collections that are not currently available. We apologize for any inconvenience in these circumstances. 

Family History Can Be a Whale of a Tale—Just Ask Genealogist David Allen Lambert

FamilySearch - Mon, 09/20/2021 - 15:00

When renowned genealogist David Allen Lambert was a child, his grandmother gave him a gift that kept on giving—tales about his ancestors. These stories set a course for his life that combined his passion, hobby, and livelihood all in one.

Stories about his great-grandfather, who had been a whaler, hooked him in particular. In elementary school, David had read a child’s version of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. He comments, “I was intrigued with the idea that someone in my family had been like someone in a book.”

Family Stories Are What Make Family History Fun

David felt like a genealogist-in-the-making as soon as he was introduced to his family tree. “I started young to try to find where my family came from,” he says.

While finding the names and vital data about an ancestor is rewarding, it’s the details surrounding that individual that keep genealogists digging. Those details add something to the one-dimensional name. “Everyone has a story, and genealogy is like a 1,000-piece puzzle that you keep adding to bit by bit. [Those stories] are what keep our ancestors in our lives,” David continues.

One of David’s own family lines has been linked back to King Cerdic of Wessex, who reigned from 519 to 534 AD. He is considered by historians to be one of the most effective of England’s early rulers.

And note that it was genealogical researchers, for instance, who found that Prince Harry of England and his wife, Meghan Markle, are distant cousins. Their common ancestors are Sir Philip Wentworth, who died in 1464, and his wife, Mary Clifford. “We’re all cousins sooner or later,” notes David.

David’s Love of Genealogy Expanded to Helping Others

David was 11 years old when he began seriously looking into his own family genealogy. His passion for finding the bits and pieces of his family history led to a steady progression and then a dedication to help others do the same. David joined the Stoughton Historical Society, a local history and genealogy organization, and he was named assistant curator and vice president just 4 years later at age 15.

David’s current position is chief genealogist for American Ancestors by New England Historical Genealogical Society (NEHGS). Founded in 1845, New England Historical Genealogical Society is the oldest genealogical organization in the country. It is also regarded as a premier source of genealogical services.

David joined the prestigious nonprofit organization in 1993. He describes one of his early jobs of filling requests to borrow books from their genealogy collections as Amazon.com for genealogists. He adds, “The former circulating library gave me a strong understanding of our collections.”

One of his proud moments in a lifetime of notable contributions came when a small genealogical library in Brockton, Massachusetts, was named in his honor.

In addition to these accomplishments, David is an internationally recognized speaker and writer on the topics of genealogy and history.

Sharing Data and Technology Make Family Research Easier  

David says he has enjoyed congenial relationships with like-minded people in the FamilySearch community. Collaboration in finding data and sharing it with the ever-growing number of people seeking family history keeps him returning to Utah frequently. The strong connections between the NEHGS and the FamilySearch community include shared databases that bring billions of items of information within reach of even novice researchers.

The advent of DNA testing to establish a person’s genealogical past has also been a boon to those researching their own histories. DNA is one of many notable advancements and events that have contributed to David’s enthusiasm for family history. “It’s a never-ending story with you in the middle,” he adds.

Advice on How to Get Started Yourself 

When asked what advice David can offer those wanting to start learning about their family history, he suggests the following:

  • Start now.
  • Identify items with family relevance, particularly photos.
  • Identify someone to protect and cherish genealogical items so they are not “thrown out with the trash” upon your passing.
  • Interview yourself. You are an important part of your genealogy. 

If you do as David suggests, you will soon marvel at your own great family heritage.

David Allen Lambert Biography 

David Allen Lambert has been on the staff of NEHGS since 1993 and is the organization’s chief genealogist. David is an internationally recognized speaker on the topics of genealogy and history. His genealogical expertise includes New England and Atlantic Canadian records of the 17th through 21st centuries; military records; DNA research; and Native American and African American genealogical research in New England. He has also published A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries (NEHGS, 2018) and other titles.

David has published many articles in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, the New Hampshire Genealogical Record, Rhode Island Roots, the Mayflower Descendant, and American Ancestors magazine.

David is an elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston and a life member of the New Hampshire Society of the Cincinnati.

He is the state historian of the Massachusetts Sons of the American Revolution; state registrar for the Massachusetts Sons of the American Revolution; state registrar for the Massachusetts chapter of the General Society of the War of 1812. David is also the tribal genealogist for the Massachusett-Ponkapoag Indians of Massachusetts.

He is co-host for Extreme Genes: America’s Family History Radio Show. He is also co-host of the podcast Virtual Historians, which deals with history, technology, and virtual reality.