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Famous African Americans in FamilySearch Records

FamilySearch - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 16:43

FamilySearch’s African American records are filled with useful genealogical information. For example, FamilySearch has records supporting the family history of famous African Americans such as Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, and Harriett Tubman—and the records are readily accessible for no charge!

Records of Frederick Douglass on FamilySearch

Among the gems on FamilySearch is the marriage certificate and marriage register for Frederick Douglass’s second marriage at age 60 on 24 Jan 1884, to Helen Pitts, age 46, in Washington D.C. Images of records for Douglass’s son, Charles Ramond Douglass’s birth, marriage, and death record, are also on FamilySearch.

Born into slavery as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey—a dignified name his mother gave him—Frederick dropped his middle name and, like many of his contemporaries, adopted his new last name when he escaped to the North. His death certificate, also on FamilySearch, honored that last name, listing him simply as Frederick Douglass.

Learn more about Frederick Douglass.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was also born into slavery in Newton County, Missouri, sometime in the early to mid-1860s. He lived a long life, struggled against the odds, gained an education, and became a gifted plant researcher.

The 1870 U.S. census record for Newton, Missouri, available on FamilySearch, illustrates circumstances during his childhood. George Carver, age 10, and his 12-year-old brother, James Carver, lived with a family next door to their owners and adopted parents, Moses and Susan (Blue) Carver.

Census records are not considered final proofs, but they do provide a snapshot of a family. More importantly, they provide clues to other records, show family structure, and help establish approximate ages of birth and death. FamilySearch’s indexed census collections range from the inception of the U.S. census in 1790 to the last one available in 1940.

FamilySearch.org has a host of records useful for African American Genealogical Research. It also provides links to records on other sites. For example, Carver, famous for his innovative research on peanut uses, obtained a Land Patent in Ness County Kansas in December of 1889. He used it to build a conservatory and experiment with many kinds of plants.

FamilySearch has a record of the patent and provides a link to the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records, where the image of the actual certificate can be found.

Learn more about George Washington Carver.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery as Arminta Ross in about March of 1822, in Dorchester County, Maryland. She escaped to the north and took her mother’s given name, then courageously helped other slaves escape through the clandestine Underground Railroad. She was a social activist throughout her long life until she died in Auburn, New York, on March 10, 1913, at the age of 91.

She appeared on the 1910 U.S. census record as T. Harriet Davis, widowed, after her first husband died. The record is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The Family History Library has a digitized book online at FamilySearch containing her biography, titled Americana, by Charles Dennis. Americana was published while Tubman still lived.  Sources found through FamilySearch can trace the life of Harriet Tubman.

Learn more about Harriet Tubman.

Find Your Ancestors on FamilySearch

As with all genealogy, begin your African American genealogy with the known—then seek the unknown. Start with general records, and then focus on records specific to your family. The FamilySearch Wiki is an excellent place to begin. It can teach you about any research topic, available records, and where to find them.

One of the best FamilySearch Wiki helps is the African American Online Genealogy Records, accessible using a button on genealogy pages, for a collection of links to useful online researchable databases. Indexing is ongoing. Collections grow as new records are added, and other options are listed as they become available.

FamilySearch has more records than just those for famous African Americans; it’s highly likely that there’s information on your family, as well. If you know your ancestors’ names, try searching for them in FamilySearch’s records collections, and see what you can discover!

Three African American Stories

FamilySearch - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 16:41

Much of what we know about early African Americans comes from records. Such records are very valuable for tracing African American roots. By searching them and using additional sources, you can learn intimate details of the lives of your ancestors. The following three famous African Americans have records that can be found on FamilySearch.org. Read on to learn more about these individuals—Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and George Washington Carver — or learn how to find their records, and how to use those techniques to find your family.

Harriet Tubman (Araminta Ross)

Harriet Tubman, born Araminta (Minty) Ross, played a significant role in the American struggle to abolish slavery.

Harriet was born a slave in the early 1820s, well before emancipation. Her childhood was severely challenging, and she suffered greatly at the hands of cruel masters. In her late 20s she escaped slavery in Philadelphia. She returned and risked recapture many times to lead others to freedom as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. Because of her success as a conductor, she was known as “Moses.

Though Harriet never learned to read or write, we know many things about her life from two biographies written by Sarah Hopkins Bradford, a writer and historian who knew Harriet personally.

When the Civil War broke out, Harriet offered her services as a cook, nurse, and spy to the Union army. As an expert scout, familiar with nighttime travel, she recruited friends who reported Confederate troop movements. She became the first African American woman to guide an armed assault by a regiment of black Union soldiers in the Civil War in South Carolina. In her later life, records show influential friends worked to win a pension for Harriet for her war-time service.

Learn more about FamilySearch’s records on Harriet Tubman.

Frederick Douglass

We know a great deal about Frederick Douglass because he wrote several autobiographies. We also know he vigorously promoted his political views. His papers are part of the Library of Congress collections.

As a young boy, Frederick was introduced to reading and quickly grasped that education could be a road to freedom. He gained an education through his own initiative. It opened his eyes to the moral indefensibility of slavery.

After several failed attempts, Frederick succeeded in escaping bondage. He became a national leader in the abolitionist movement. Records from Genealogy Bank’s Historical Newspaper Archives add insight to Frederick Douglass’s fame and prominence as an orator, social reformer, and statesman.

Frederick Douglass continues to generate both admiration and controversy, but in the details of his life we see he was both human and relatable.

Learn more about FamilySearch’s records on Frederick Douglass.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver became one of the most well-known plant scientists of his day. He taught and researched alternative crops and crop rotation techniques that improved the diets of poor southern farmers and replenished soil depleted from years of cotton cultivation.

In 1922 George wrote a brief sketch of his life. George was the son of a slave named Mary on the farm of Moses Carver in Diamond Grove, Missouri, shortly before slavery was outlawed.

As an infant, George, along with his mother and sister, was kidnapped by outlaws and taken to be resold. George’s brother James was led to safety, and Moses Carver was able to secure George’s release through the help of a neighbor. George never saw his mother or sister again. His father, Giles, had died in an accident before George was born.

George and his brother were raised in the home of Moses and Susan Carver. They sent him to an all-black school some distance away. He achieved a Masters’ degree in agricultural science, and at the invitation of Booker T. Washington, he went to Tuskegee Institute, where he remained for his entire career.

The story of George Washington Carver is integral to Tuskegee Institute, where he had his laboratory and experimental farm. It is a human story that mirrors many lesser-known individuals who worked to better their circumstances before and after emancipation.

Learn more about FamilySearch’s records on George Washington Carver.

If You Are Searching

Genealogical research for African American ancestors, whoever they are, can be challenging. Records found on FamilySearch and other reliable sites can be a huge help. Within records, it is possible to find personal details that bring life to family connections from the past up to the present.

See How You Are Related to Other Users—FamilySearch Update

FamilySearch - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 14:52

One of the great things about using FamilySearch’s shared tree is that you can learn what others know about your ancestors.

This means that every time you visit FamilySearch, new information might have popped up from one of your distant cousins, or things may have been changed around. When this happens, FamilySearch creates a tag that shows you who made the change. Have you ever wondered why someone made a  change?—Or better yet, how you are related to him or her?

This is why we are excited to announce the release of a new relationship viewer feature. This release is an addition to the collaboration tools already in FamilySearch, like Messaging and Discussions, that allow you to contact other users who are contributing to the Family Tree.

Discovering Family on FamilySearch—How Related Are You?

If you have ever used Relatives at Rootstech to hunt down cousins at a conference or experimented with Relatives Around Me on the Family Tree app, then you already have a pretty good idea of how the new feature works. Each of these tools allow you to directly see how you are related to someone here and now, not just your past ancestors in the tree.

The difference? The new feature doesn’t require you to be within 100 feet of another person. It gives you the option to view your relationship anywhere you spot a contributor name on the Family Tree, so long as he or she has opted in to use the new feature.  

Excited yet? Try this for yourself on FamilySearch, or read more about how it works below.

How to Opt In and Try It Out

Start by logging in to FamilySearch or opening the Family Tree app. Explore your tree, and keep an eye out for contributor names. These are usually in a different colored font and can be found in the Vitals section, Latest Changes section, Sources, Memories, Messages—and other places too.

Note: On the FamilySearch website, you may need to toggle the Detail View, to see contributor names. On the mobile app, contributors don’t come up until you tap a specific piece of information or look at recent changes in the 3-dot menu at the top.

Pick a contributor name, and click on it. This will pull up a small window asking you to opt in to the new feature. Enabling the option to view relationships also allows others to see their relationship to you. This feature is entirely optional, so if you do not want others viewing how they are related to you, it can be toggled on and off in your settings.

From here, you should be able to view your relationship to any contributor that has also opted in.

And that’s all there is to it! So try opting in and giving it a whirl! You might find that you’re one of the first ones on the scene, since the feature is still new. But you can speed up the process and start connecting now by using the feature’s option to send someone a friendly request. You may be surprised to discover that the person isn’t so much a stranger after all—which could open new doors to connecting with your family.

RootsTech Is Coming to London

FamilySearch - Thu, 08/15/2019 - 11:48

RootsTech, the world’s largest family history conference and trade show, is rolling out the red carpet in London, England, for a first-time international event from October 24–26, 2019.

If you’ve participated in Salt Lake City, USA, tuned in to past conferences remotely, or just happen to be curious, this is a tremendous opportunity to brush shoulders with some of the best and brightest in the family history arena and meet and learn from experts in an epicenter of history and culture like no other.

Register for RootsTech London Where is the venue?

The conference is booked for the famous ExCeL London Convention Center, located in London’s Royal Docks area just 20 minutes from the city center and within walking distance of 13 hotels. If you plan to stay elsewhere in greater London, the Underground will be the quickest and most economical way to take in the conference and get just about anywhere else you need to go in London.

What should you expect?

RootsTech London has classes to help you discover more about yourself, your family connections, and your ancestral roots, no matter your skill level, age, or interest. Choose from dozens of breakout session topics over 3 full days, or take in a single day of the conference on a reduced rate pass.

Plan to linger and interact with vendors and product owners of family history tools and resources in the exhibition hall. Bring your family to the Discovery zone for interactive experiences, get help in the Coaches’ Corner, and sample Innovation Alley, which will showcase technological tools to help with discoveries.

Enjoy daily keynote speakers, entertainers, and celebrities, including the world-renowned singer, Donny Osmond, and international performers Tre Amici. They will dazzle you with their expertise and inspire you to find your own individual family story.

Find out more about RootsTech

Visit RootsTech London to register. Keep abreast of conference plans by submitting your email to conference organizers.

Make connections with new FamilySearch tools. Meet entrepreneurs and key people at the forefront of technology advances in searching and processing records related to family history. Discover new skills in telling your own story. It’s easy, it’s fun, and promises memories to last a lifetime.

Link to related articles:

Messages Feature Expands on FamilySearch

FamilySearch - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 09:00

Have you ever noticed a little red bubble by the word Messages at the top right corner of FamilySearch? When you see this notification, it means you have a new message awaiting that may help you discover more about your family.

The Messages feature on FamilySearch lets you talk to other FamilySearch users, points you to new records and discoveries, and gives you updates about FamilySearch records and tools. The recently updated messaging system is easier to use, and new types of messages can help you as you dive into your family history.

Try signing in now to check on your messages! You can also learn about 4 types of messages below.

When you click Messages to bring up the messaging window, 4 tabs will appear: Conversations, Discoveries, General, and Temple. These tabs filter your messages so you can choose what you want to read!

Conversations

While this feature has always been available in the mailbox, it has been greatly improved. Here you can converse with other FamilySearch users about records, dates, times, places, and whatever you would like. Many people use this feature to work with their family on finding and adding sources in the shared Family Tree.

Discoveries

This tab shows you messages from FamilySearch about record hints and other findings that can enhance your work on Family Tree. These messages are specific to you and can help you discover many new things about your family!

General

These are messages about feature updates on the FamilySearch site and other general subjects. If you are curious about what new records have been added to FamilySearch or want to keep updated about what is happening on the site, you will find those messages here.

Temple

Here you will see thank you messages, messages about reserved names being released, and other information relating to connecting your ancestors on both sides of the veil.

FamilySearch is committed to keeping you informed about all the things that might help you discover and connect with your family. So when you see a little red bubble, check out what new things are happening!

Messages Feature Expands on FamilySearch

FamilySearch - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 09:00

Have you ever noticed a little red bubble by the word Messages at the top right corner of FamilySearch? When you see this notification, it means you have a new message awaiting that may help you discover more about your family.

The Messages feature on FamilySearch lets you talk to other FamilySearch users, points you to new records and discoveries, and gives you updates about FamilySearch records and tools. The recently updated messaging system is easier to use, and new types of messages can help you as you dive into your family history.

Try signing in now to check on your messages! You can also learn about 3 types of messages below.

When you click Messages to bring up the messaging window, 3 tabs will appear: Conversations, Discoveries, and General. These tabs filter your messages so you can choose what you want to read.

Conversations

While this feature has always been available in the mailbox, it has been greatly improved. Here you can converse with other FamilySearch users about records, dates, times, places, and whatever you would like. Many people use this feature to work with their family on finding and adding sources in the shared Family Tree.

Discoveries

This tab shows you messages from FamilySearch about record hints and other findings that can enhance your work on Family Tree. These messages are specific to you and can help you discover many new things about your family!

General

These are messages about feature updates on the FamilySearch site and other general subjects. If you are curious about what new records have been added to FamilySearch or want to keep updated about what is happening on the site, you will find those messages here.

FamilySearch is committed to keeping you informed about all the things that might help you discover and connect with your family. So, when you see a little red bubble, check out what new things are happening!

Genealogy Made Easy: 16 Ideas under 20 Minutes

FamilySearch - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 16:49

Want to do genealogy but don’t have a lot of time? No problem! Genealogy is made easy with these quick activities. Learn more about yourself and your family history in just a few minutes.

2 Minutes 5 Minutes 10 Minutes 20 Minutes

New Records on FamilySearch from July 2019

FamilySearch - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 11:13

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in July of 2019 with over 7 million new indexed family history records from all over the world. New historical records were added from Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, France, Italy, Peru, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Venezuela, and the United States, which includes Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. United States Deceased Physician Files 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.

CountryCollectionIndexed RecordsCommentsAustraliaAustralia Cemetery Inscriptions, 1802-20051,988Added indexed records to an existing collectionAustraliaAustralia, South Australia, Immigrants Ship Papers, 1849-194021,817Added indexed records to an existing collectionBelgiumBelgium, Antwerp, Civil Registration, 1588-191376,699Added indexed records to an existing collectionBelgiumBelgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-191260Added indexed records to an existing collectionBoliviaBolivia Catholic Church Records, 1566-199680,866Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, São Paulo, Immigration Cards, 1902-1980406Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaNova Scotia Births, 1864-187735,132Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaNova Scotia Marriages, 1864-1918128,641Added indexed records to an existing collectionCape VerdeCape Verde, Catholic Church Records, 1787-19578,428Added indexed records to an existing collectionColombiaColombia, Catholic Church Records, 1576-2018147,944Added indexed records to an existing collectionCosta RicaCosta Rica, Civil Registration, 1823-1975157,208Added indexed records to an existing collectionDenmarkDenmark, Copenhagen City, Burial Registers, 1805-1968244,394New indexed records collectionDominican RepublicDominican Republic Civil Registration, 1801-201022,716Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-19571,534,323Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898202,499Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898188,093Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-189854,688Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance, Vienne, Census, 183632,012Added indexed records to an existing collectionItalyItaly, Pesaro e Urbino, Urbino, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-194218,855Added indexed records to an existing collectionItalyItaly, Udine, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1806-1815, 1871-191115,669Added indexed records to an existing collectionOtherBillionGraves Index442,424Added indexed records and images to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Áncash, Civil Registration, 1888-2005116,682Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-199238,736Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Cemetery Records, 1912-201328,371Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Tacna, Civil Registration, 1850-19989,551Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895-1972104,859Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Natal, Passenger Lists, 1860-191158,491Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Orange Free State, Probate Records from the Master of the Supreme Court, 1832-1989133,763Added indexed records to an existing collectionSpainSpain, Diocese of Cartagena, Catholic Church Records, 1503-196965,000Added indexed records to an existing collectionSpainSpain, Province of Gerona, Municipal Records, 1566-19562,127Added indexed records to an existing collectionSwedenScandinavia, Mission Emigration Records, 1852-192027,406New indexed records collectionSwedenSweden, Örebro Church Records, 1613-1918; index 1635-186045,137Added indexed records to an existing collectionSwedenSweden, Swedish Mission Emigration Records, 1905-19321,200New indexed records collectionUnited StatesAlabama Deaths, 1908-197419,615Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlaska, State Archives (Juneau), Military Service Discharge Records, 1898-19342,176Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesArizona, Gila County, Cemetery Records, 1927-19941,013Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesArizona, Yavapai County, Pioneers’ Home Resident Ledger and Index, 1911-20002,834New indexed records collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Northern U.S. District Court Naturalization Index, 1852-1989810,279Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Oakland, Mountain View Cemetery Records, 1857-1973129,172New indexed records collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Santa Clara County, San Jose, Oak Hill Cemetery Headstone Inscriptions, 1838-1985496Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesColorado Naturalization Records, 1876-1990158,496Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Church Vital Records, 1828-19918,086Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Grantor and Grantee Index, 1845-1909198,815New indexed records collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Naturalization Records, 1838-199110,343Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Passport Records, 1874-18986,575Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesIdaho, Bonneville County, Idaho Falls, Rose Hill Cemetery Records, 1800-2007281New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIllinois, Northern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-199495,590New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIllinois, Stephenson County, Cedarville Cemetery Record, 1850-200783New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIllinois, Stephenson County, Lena Park Cemetery Transcriptions, 1854-1983473New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIowa, Birth Records, 1921-194213New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMichigan, Church Records, 1819-199149,958New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMichigan, Civil War Centennial Observance Commission, Committee on Civil War Grave Registration, Burial Records18,638Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMichigan, Civil War Centennial Observance Commission, Committee on Civil War Grave Registration, Burial Records10,872Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMichigan, Civil War Centennial Observance Commission, Committee on Civil War Grave Registration, Burial Records17Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMinnesota Naturalization Records and Indexes, 1872-196288,691New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMissouri Deaths 1835-197639Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMissouri, Jackson County Voter Registration Records, 1928-1956101,417Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMontana Naturalization Records, 1868-199973,829Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMontana, Flathead County Records, 1871-2007376Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Death Index, 1901-190393,791New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNew Mexico Naturalization Records, 1882-198327,104Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNorth Carolina, Department of Archives and History, Index to Vital Records, 1800-200097Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio, Summit County, Coroner Inquests, Hospital and Cemetery Records, 1882-19495Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOregon, Multnomah County, Poor Farm Admissions Records, 1900-196218,060New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOregon, Multnomah County, Voting Registration Records, 1908-1958988,549New indexed records collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Huntingdon County, Delayed Birth Records, 1800-19354,921Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, Bexar County, San Antonio Cemetery Records, 1893-2007335Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States Deceased Physician File (AMA), 1864-196850,200Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States Deceased Physician File (AMA), 1864-196850,134Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUtah Naturalization Records, 1906-19302,961Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesVirginia Naturalization Petitions, 1906-192922,911Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesWisconsin Index to Naturalization Petitions, 1848-19904,866Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesWisconsin, Milwaukee Petitions for Naturalization, 1848-1991249,039Added indexed records to an existing collectionVenezuelaVenezuela, Archdiocese of Valencia, Catholic Church Records, 1760, 1905-2013224,998Added indexed records to an existing collection

The Research Wiki—Your Best Friend for Family History

FamilySearch - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 22:28

When searching for your ancestors, have you ever needed help finding a birth or military record? Do you know what types of records were kept in your ancestors’ birth country and how to find these records?

It would be great if you could look in one place to find the answers to these questions. Well, you can! The Research Wiki on FamilySearch makes it simple to find where and when records were kept and if they are online. 

What Exactly Is the Research Wiki, and Where Do You Find It?  

The Research Wiki is a free, online family history guide. It lists websites, shows different strategies to learn more about your family, and suggests records and resources to help you find ancestors from all over the world.  

Wiki articles explain how to use records, what the records contain, and how to find them—and it does that for countries all around the world. Although you do not search for an ancestor by name in the Research Wiki, you learn the best places to search. You can also use the wiki as a reference for learning which types of records will help you find your ancestor.

How to Locate the Research Wiki

From the main page of FamilySearch, click Search. Then choose the last option, Research Wiki. The main page of the Research Wiki will open.

Finding Records

Type in a country where you know your ancestors lived.

A landing page for the country should pop up or be in the first few search results. This landing page is like “one-stop shopping” for your family history research. It shows you how to get started and directs you to helpful research tools. The sidebar on the right lists record types and topics pertinent to research in that country.

Each country page also has a blue Online Records button that will take you to a list of record databases—places where you can search for your ancestors’ records online.

This list will often include places where you can find birth, marriage, and death records—but they might also include church, military, and immigration records and much more, depending on what is available for that country. To provide you with all available options, the wiki links to both free and subscription databases. Websites labeled with a ($) require a subscription to use.

To provide you with all available options, the wiki links to both free and subscription databases. Websites labeled with a ($) require a subscription to use.

The Research Wiki is a treasure trove for all research skill levels! It has over 90,000 articles with worldwide information and tools for beginners as well as for those who are more experienced.

Will the FamilySearch Research Wiki help you find your ancestors? Click to here to start your journey.

Others Also Read… All about the FamilySearch Family Tree

Mexican Last Names: Frequently Asked Questions

FamilySearch - Thu, 08/01/2019 - 17:12

There is one thing that is easy to see when researching Mexican names—everyone seems to have more than one. Understanding the reason for multiple Mexican last names (apellidos) and other naming conventions will help you do your Mexican family history.

What Does a Typical Mexican Name Look Like?

When looking at Mexican names, you will often see at least two given names (for example, Maria Angelica) and two surnames (for example, Rodriguez Lopez). All put together, a full Mexican name could look like this:

Maria Angelica Rodriguez Lopez

Why Do Mexicans Have Two Last Names?

Mexicans are given two first names for a variety of reasons that range from religious to cultural and family reasons. However, when it comes to the last names, there is a traditional system for passing down a surname, or “apellido.”

In the example above, “Rodriguez Lopez” are both surnames. According to Mexican naming conventions, a person’s first surname (Rodriguez, in this case) is the father’s first surname, and the second surname (Lopez, in this case) is the mother’s first surname. This graphic illustrates how parents pass on their first surnames to their children:

Does a Woman Take Her Husband’s Last Name?

Traditionally, Mexican women don’t lose their maiden names when they marry. However, some women add their married name to the end of their other names, often separated by the word de. A married woman’s name might look like the following, with “Vasquez” being her husband’s first surname:

Maria Angelica Rodriguez Lopez de Vasquez

Why Is There a Dash (—) in Some Last Names?

Some families create compound surnames. This compounding is done if a surname was considered too common, if the family belonged to (or wanted to belong to) an aristocracy, or if the family doesn’t want to lose the family name of the mother in the next generation. A compound surname could look like this:

Maria Rodriguez-Lopez Vasquez-Garcia

Mexican immigrants might also hyphenate their names so that others who don’t understand Hispanic naming conventions don’t think the first surname is a middle name. For example, you might see this sort of name:

Maria Rodriguez-Lopez

Why Is There a De, Del, or De La in the Name?

De, del, and de la are sometimes used in Mexican last names if the name comes from a certain place or recalls a common item. For example, if someone’s surname included the word Basque, which translates as “Forest,” a name could look like this:

Maria Angelica Rodriguez del Basque

As mentioned previously, the prepositions could also be used to add a married name.

Mexican surnames might also appear differently on records, dropping the de (meaning “of”) or de la or even del (meaning “the”) from the name.

Why Did My Ancestors Change Their Name in the United States?

It was common for people to switch their surnames when immigrating to the United States because of the way surnames work in the United States culture. So, when researching family history, watch for immigration records and the surname switching, and search under both surnames.

What Is an Apellido?

When looking at records, it is important to remember that Mexicans don’t refer to Mexican last names as “last names.” They refer to them as “apellidos.” This word may help in your research because the translation of “last name” in Spanish does not have the same meaning.

Being armed with the two-surname knowledge can help you trace your family history, especially when you are searching through records. Now that you understand Mexican last names better, check the FamilySearch wiki, and spend some time recording your own family names on the FamilySearch Family Tree.

Discover Your Mexican Heritage

Mexican Genealogy: Understanding Mexican Records

FamilySearch - Thu, 08/01/2019 - 17:12

Are you trying to find your Mexican ancestors and begin your Mexican genealogy but don’t know where to start? One way to learn more about your ancestors is to search records for information about them.

Thankfully, record keepers in Mexico have been recording information for centuries. Do you know the name of a Mexican ancestor? Search our indexed Mexican records, and see what you can find.

Search Mexican Records

Some records are especially helpful for Mexican genealogy. Understanding what these resources are—and how they can help you—can jumpstart your family history. Below are a few of these record collections and the information they can provide.
 

1930 Census—Basic Information

The 1930 census has proven to be a key reference for many families working to trace their Mexican family lines for their Mexican genealogy. It includes 13 million people, which was more than 90 percent of the Mexican population in 1930. Apart from the Mexico City records, which were lost, the 1930 census is one of the most complete Mexican censuses.

The 1930 census is a good place to find some of the following information about your family:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Head of household
  • Birthplace
  • Marital status
  • Address

Finding your family members listed here can help you anchor them to a certain location, solidify family relationships, and build your family tree. The census usually contains basic information as well as information about a person’s religion and occupation.

Search the 1930 Mexican national census.

Civil Registration Records—Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

Civil registration records include civil registers (registro civil) of births (nacimientos), marriages (matrimonios), and deaths (defunciones). These records are especially helpful because they usually list multiple family members.

Church Records—Baptism, Marriage, and Burial Records

Another good place to look for information, especially from before the 1800s, is Catholic Church records. Historically, most Mexicans were Catholic, so there is a good chance of finding your ancestors in church records.

In these records, you can find information from baptismal records that can include details such as the name of the child, date and place of the baptism, names of the parents, and names of the godparents and witnesses (who were often family members). Church marriage records and burial records can also provide valuable insights.

FamilySearch has a large collection of Catholic Church records, including 56 million indexed records, with around 14.6 million of them that include images of the actual records or documents. Find these records at the Search Historical Records section of our website.

Not all of our records have been indexed yet, so if you don’t find what you are looking for here, you can try our online catalog. Here you can search for the town in which your family attended church, and browse to discover additional collections.

Immigrants to the United States

If you are tracing your immigrant ancestors from Mexico to the United States, then it might be worth your while to start with learning about your family in the United States.

Take what your family already knows about your Mexican ancestors. Are there papers or documents your relatives have stored away in a drawer? Any missing United States documents could be a great starting point for your research. Or maybe your grandparents remember details and stories from their childhood. What part of Mexico did your family come from?

Border Crossing—Names, Dates of Arrival, Nationality

Border crossing records could offer just the boost you need in your research, particularly if your family immigrated to the United States between 1895 and 1964.

Ancestry has indexed 6 million border crossing records. FamilySearch has the index for many of these, including a 1903–1957 collection. These records cover several entry points in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

These records have a range of information details, but you can usually expect to find names, dates of arrival, nationality, and even the names of people traveling with them or relatives at home or in the United States.

If you have tried to find your Mexican ancestors before without success, now is the time to give it another go. With the availability of new records, you might be surprised to find something new.

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Discover Your Mexican Heritage

Discover Your Mexican Heritage

FamilySearch - Thu, 08/01/2019 - 17:12

When you connect with your Mexican heritage, you discover that your ancestors are people you are related to and you can relate to.

Your Mexican heritage could be eating pan de dulce together at the end of a long day, celebrating a Quinceañera in your family, gathering together at grandmother’s to enjoy her delicious food, or never being alone because your family always has your back.

In many ways, a Mexican heritage is a heritage of family, and one way you can connect to your heritage is by connecting to your family—past and present.

Genealogy Made Easy: 16 Ideas under 20 Minutes Find Your Mexican Ancestors Understanding Mexican Last Names Search for Your Mexican Ancestors

As you learn more about your ancestor’s life, you learn more about your own. To better understand your Mexican heritage, you can dive into Mexico’s colorful past or discover more about traditional Mexican food, Mexico’s renowned celebrations, and other uniquely Mexican customs.

The Colorful Tapestry of Mexico’s Past

In the Mexico City neighborhood of Cuauhtémoc, there is a public square called the “Plaza de las Tres Culturas,” or “Plaza of Three Cultures.” The cultures represented here provide a framework for understanding Mexico’s past, which can be divided into three periods: pre-Hispanic, colonial, and modern.

Pre-Hispanic

The pre-Hispanic period saw the flourishing of native peoples such as the Aztec, Maya, Olmecs, Zapotecs, Toltecs, and others. They developed writing and calendar systems, built large and beautiful cities, and engaged in trade.

Colonial

The conquest of Mexico by the Spanish in the 1500s began the colonial era and brought European influences and traditions to Mexico and surrounding areas. The introduction of Christianity resulted in most inhabitants embracing Catholicism, which remains the dominant religion of Mexico today.

Modern

Spanish rule lasted approximately 300 years and ended when Mexico gained its independence in 1821. The next several hundred years saw leaders such as Antonio López de Santa Anna, who created the constitution that established a federal Mexican republic, and Porfírio Díaz, whose policies promoted economic growth but tended to favor the rich at the expense of the poor. The economic imbalance and even corruption finally led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

Key developments after the Mexican Revolution included the growth of the oil industry, Mexico’s involvement in World War II, the lowering of trade barriers with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and continued progress toward the goal of political stability.

Mexican Traditions Traditional Mexican Food

Life in Mexico

For thousands of years, agriculture was a mainstay of Mexican civilizations, supplemented by hunting and fishing. Over time, other industries arose, such as oil and technology. Yet even today, the pace of life is slower compared to many other modern cultures. There is a strong belief that life is meant to enjoyed, even savored.

The music of Mexico is diverse, reflecting pre-Hispanic, folk, Spanish, European, and other influences. Traditional musical styles include:

  • Lively mariachi songs.
  • Corridos, ballads which feature legends of the past or other stories in song.
  • Banda, influenced by military bands.

Modern styles blend traditional and contemporary musical genres, as demonstrated by Mexican pop-rock singer Natalia Lafourcade. Natalia delighted audiences at RootsTech 2018 with a selection of her songs, including “Remember Me” from the movie Coco.

Folk dancing continues to be popular in Mexican culture. The Jarabe Tapatío, or Mexican hat dance, is perhaps the most widely known dance, but other dances include the concheros, sonora, and chiapas.

Most importantly, family plays a central role in Mexico’s culture. Families tend to be large and include multiple generations. Parents and elders are treated with respect, and duty to family is a strongly-held value. This love of family lends belonging and warmth to the entire community.

Are you interested in delving into your Mexican heritage?

Connect with your Mexican ancestors today!

Date Required to Reserve Temple Ordinances

FamilySearch - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:00

Ordinance reservations require a date for at least one of the vital events of the person’s life (such as a birth, death, or marriage).

Family Tree uses these dates—exact or estimated—to determine whether 110 years have passed since the person’s birth. (Learn more about the 110-year rule and whom you can reserve ordinances for.)

Your reservation list may not print cards for ordinance reservations with a missing date. Click here for help with estimating dates and entering them into FamilySearch Family Tree.

Read More about Updates to Temple Ordinance Reservations

Updates to Temple Ordinance Reservations

FamilySearch - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:00

Great blessings come from providing temple ordinances for our kindred dead. What follows are important updates to some of the tools, resources, and processes being developed to hasten this important, eternal work.

A Convenient Way to Find Ordinance Reservations Date Required to Reserve Ordinances Expiration of Ordinance Reservations  Easier Ways to Print Reservation Cards

We hope these adjustments will make it simpler and easier for Church members to participate in family history and temple service, as well as share the joy that comes from serving ancestors. 

Watch this post for continued updates to temple ordinance reservations. 

Ordinances Ready: A Convenient Way to Find Ordinance Reservations

FamilySearch - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:00

Ordinances Ready is an automated service that searches FamilySearch.org and the temple reservation list to identify ancestors needing temple ordinances. For more information about Ordinances Ready, see this recent blog post.

This service is now available on FamilySearch.org as well as in the Family Tree mobile app. This availability means that you can find temple ordinances using your own computer, phone, or other devices when you are planning to go to the temple.

Read More about Updates to Temple Ordinance Reservations

Easier Ways to Print Ordinance Reservation Cards

FamilySearch - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:00

You can now use your phone in the temple office to print ordinance reservation cards using a QR code or ID number found in the Family Tree app.

Cell phones and electronic devices will be allowed in the temple office so temple workers can assist you. All the temple worker needs is the QR code or ID number for your reservation. For help finding the QR code on a phone, computer, or mobile device, follow the instructions in this article.

Please remember to turn off your cell phone after visiting the temple office and to use electronic devices respectfully in the temple.

Read More about Updates to Temple Ordinance Reservations

Expiration of Ordinance Reservations

FamilySearch - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:00

When temple reservations expire, they are automatically shared with the temple and made available to other relatives through Family Tree and Ordinances Ready. A few changes to how expiration dates work are explained below.

Expiration Dates 
  • In general, ordinance reservations expire two years from the reservation date. 
  • Ordinance reservations you share with someone expire two years from the original reservation date. 
  • Ordinance reservations expire after 90 days if they were retrieved from the temple reservation list by Ordinances Ready. (Learn more about Ordinances Ready and how it searches for ordinances.)
  • When you reserve multiple ordinances for the same ancestor, the ordinance reservation will be extended for one year if at least one ordinance is completed before the expiration date. 
Expiration Notifications 

Your reservation list now shows an expiration date. Patrons will be notified of expiring reservations through the FamilySearch messaging system and eventually through email notifications (if an email address has been added).

Read More about Updates to Temple Ordinance Reservations

6 Unique Mexican Traditions

FamilySearch - Sun, 07/28/2019 - 06:00

Mexican traditions have become increasingly popular in regions well outside of Mexico, even inspiring the creation of popular films and other media. And it’s no wonder. These traditions reflect the rich history of Mexico and the fun personality of its people so well that it’s easy to fall in love with Mexican traditions.

Celebrations

If there’s one thing Mexico is known for, it’s the celebrations. Values such as family and friendship are deeply embedded in this country’s culture. What better way is there to celebrate both than to gather together for a healthy helping of music, dancing, food, and fireworks?

Learn more about some of the most popular celebrations in Mexico.

Día de Muertos Quinceañeras Piñatas

A popular Mexican tradition is the piñata. Today it is commonly used as a fun game at birthday parties, but its origins are very symbolic.

The piñata’s bright colors were designed as a symbol of temptation, with the stick representing the will to overcome sin. The blindfold symbolizes faith, while the candies and other goodies are added symbols of the riches of heaven tumbling down on the heads of those who defeated the evil.

Nicknames

In Mexico, people often give each other nicknames, all of which match the playful and endearing nature of the culture. Some of these include chaparrito, meaning “Short One,” or mi cielo, meaning “My Sky.” There is also chino, for “Curly One,” and abue, the abbreviated version of abuelo or abuela, meaning “grandfather” or “grandmother.”

In more rural areas of Mexico, nicknames are so big that you’re likely to have better luck asking for a person by nickname than by the person’s real name.

Alebrijes

Alebrijes are iconic of Mexican culture. This colorful tradition began in Mexico City in the early 20th century. An artist named Pedro Linares was known for his skill with pinatas carnival masks and other papier-mâché creations. During his career, he fell ill with a high fever and had several vivid dreams that eventually inspired the creation of these unique and brightly colored sculptures. You can now find them in many regions of Mexico, especially at street markets.

Meal Customs

A typical Mexican breakfast could include coffee and pan dulce (delicious sweet rolls). Snacks, or antojitos (“little whims”), are eaten at any time throughout the day. Tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas are some of the most common antojitos.

Lunch, or comida, happens between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. and is typically the main meal of the day. Supper, or cena, can be either light or elaborate and is typically eaten after 9:00 p.m.

Celebrate your heritage by discovering more about traditional Mexican food.  

Traditional Mexican Food Mexican Hat Dance

The Mexican hat dance, or Jarabe Tapatio, is Mexico’s national dance. It began as a courtship dance and dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, it is commonly performed by dance groups as a celebration of their culture.

The outfits of the dancers are beautifully decorated and represent traditional garb worn by Mexican men and women. The dance itself is intended to be lively, which is why the music is typically played by Mariachi bands or bands that use only string instruments.

Whether or not you have Mexican heritage in your family line, each of these traditions are fun to participate in and to explore. They offer a chance for loved ones to gather together and to celebrate the beauty of life—the sort of stuff that the people of Mexico have a talent for.

Discover Your Mexican Heritage

Traditional Mexican Food—A Treat for All the Senses

FamilySearch - Sun, 07/28/2019 - 06:00

Authentic Mexican food is more than just something you eat—it is something you experience.

Traditional Mexican food has a vibrant history and is tied to the heart of Mexican culture and values. Indeed, one of the best ways to understand your Mexican heritage is to understand its food.

History of Mexican Food

Many of the tastes, sights, and sounds of authentic Mexican food stem from three main Mexican cultures: Mayan, Aztec, and Spain, with Spain being the most heavily represented.

Mayan Influence

The Mayans were hunters and gatherers, and some of the most traditional foods come from the Mayan culture. Food made from corn was a staple, which is where corn tortillas derived. Mayans would often eat corn tortillas with a bean paste.

Aztec Influence

By the 1300s, the Aztec Empire was in full swing, but many of the Mayan foods were still at the forefront. The Aztecs would add salt, peppers, and even chocolate to their way of life. While the Aztecs often ate wild game, turkey and duck were domesticated by the Aztecs and more popular.

Spanish Influence

Two hundred years later, Spain invaded Mexico, and a whole flurry of new foods were introduced to Mexican culture. Dairy products, garlic, and many herbs and spices were introduced. New livestock—sheep, pigs, and cows—were also being eaten, with more emphasis on pigs.

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The Spanish invasion brought with it tastes from many parts of the world, including Caribbean, French, and West African cuisines. Dishes also vary between Mexican regions.

Mexican Food Staples Corn

Corn has been a main staple in traditional Mexican food for centuries. You can find it in some form at almost every meal in a Mexican home, whether in the form of a corn tortilla, tamales, a pozole (a rich and hearty corn stew), or countless other popular recipes.

One popular dish, elote, is made with grilled corn on the cob, chili powder, Mexican cheeses, and other seasonings.

Beans and Peppers

Beans and peppers are also widely served because they are inexpensive and grown natively, which means that they are easily accessible for almost everyone. It’s not uncommon for a Mexican household to always have a pot of beans cooking on the stove.

One common dish that involves both corn and beans is fresh, homemade corn tortillas served with homemade frijoles (beans).

Celebrations with Traditional Mexican Food

Delicious food traditions go hand in hand with Mexican celebrations. When the Spanish ruled over Mexico, most Mexicans converted to Christianity, making Christian holidays a big time to celebrate. Many distinct dishes accompany these holidays.

Among these religious holidays are Dia de los Tres Reyes (Three Kings Day) and Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), which both involve the making of special sweet breads.

Día de los Tres Reyes

Día de los Tres Reyes, or Three Kings Day, commemorates the wise men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus and is celebrated on January 6, twelve days after Christmas. Three Kings Sweet Bread is a traditional sweet made for the special occasion.

The bread is in the shape of a wreath, and baked into the treat is a small figurine of baby Jesus. Traditionally, whoever finds the infant figurine of Christ in their piece of the treat is supposed to host the party on Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas) on February 2.

Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos is a day for Mexican families to remember their dead by visiting and decorating graves, telling stories of their ancestors, and feasting on traditional Mexican foods. Pan de Muertos, another sweet bread, is made on this holiday.

The bread is made to represent a body, with the side pieces symbolizing the bones and the center piece representing the head.

Mexican Food Traditions—A Delight in Your Own Home

Cooking and celebrating with traditional Mexican foods is a great way to remember ancestors and understand your heritage. Eating recipes from your heritage while chatting around the dinner table is a tradition you can create in your home.

Discover Your Mexican Heritage

Quinceañera Traditions and History

FamilySearch - Sun, 07/28/2019 - 06:00

Quinceañeras mark a young woman’s transition from childhood to adulthood and often feature lively music, dancing, and food. These and other quinceañera traditions are celebrated on a young woman’s 15th birthday. The word quinceañera can refer to either the party itself or the young woman celebrating her birthday.

Quinceañera History

In early Mesoamerican and Spanish societies, quinceañeras marked a girl’s passage from childhood to becoming ready for marriage.

Girls were taught traditional homemaking skills, such as weaving and cooking, to prepare for marriage and children. When a young woman turned 15 years old, a celebration marked the occasion when she was considered an adult and was introduced into society in hopes of finding a husband.

Traditionally, the quinceañera was also the time when a young woman was given her first real jewelry, including a tiara, and officially allowed to wear make-up, dance in public, and make decisions.

As time passed, the focus shifted from finding a husband to celebrating the passage from childhood to adulthood. And the ways of marking this event are changing from a traditional religious celebration to requests for a smaller party, a vacation, a cruise, or even a new car.

Regardless of how the quinceañera is celebrated, formally or informally, it is a special occasion to be remembered and carried on as a link to cultural heritage.

Quinceañera Traditions

Though quinceañera traditions can vary from family to family, one of the most iconic aspects of the celebration is the pampering with hair styling, manicures, and photos taken in a formal evening gown. The dress is usually in the young woman’s favorite color and style and can be a traditional dress from her ancestral region.

Quinceañeras were traditionally separated into two parts: the Mass and the fiesta.

Mass

Many quinceañeras begin with a special Mass with her parents, godparents, and court of honor (damas and chambelanes, usually 7 to 15 pairs of her friends and peers) in attendance.

At this Mass, the girl receives Holy Communion and commits herself to God and the Virgin Mary. She might also bring a bouquet of flowers or other gifts to give to Virgin Mary (presenting the gift at the Church’s statue of Mary). Before the Mass ends, the priest will bless the quinceañera.

Although Mass was traditionally part of quinceañeras, some might choose to forgo this event and focus primarily on the party.

Fiesta

After the Mass, the party often begins with traditional dances and music. Some of the dances require months of practice and usually start with a father and daughter waltz, followed by a dance with the family and chambelanes, traditional waltzes, and includes modern dances and music chosen by the birthday girl.

In addition to the dances, there are gifts, dinner, cake, decorations, photos and slide shows, and music for the guests to enjoy as they visit together.

Sometimes local customs are included, such as the ceremony of the Change of Shoes, where the young woman is given her first pair of high-heeled shoes. There may also be a crowning ceremony, where a close relative places a crown or tiara on the young woman’s head, reminding her that she is a princess before God and the world.

Some observe a Mayan tradition, ceremonia de la ultima muñeca (ceremony of the last doll) where her father presents the quinceañera with a doll wearing a dress similar to her own dress.

Preserving Quinceañera Memories

However your family has celebrated this milestone, be sure to record the memory of your quinceañera and other momentous occasions on FamilySearch’s memory app.