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Monthly Record Update for July 2021

6 hours 34 min ago

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in July of 2021 with over 9 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, Croatia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Kiribati, Liberia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Samoa, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the United States, which includes Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, the Virgin Islands, and Washington. Records from the United States Bureau of Land Management 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 CommentArgentinaArgentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981                   1,164Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Capital Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1737-1977                      722Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Cemetery Records, 1882-2019              186,878Expanded collectionAustraliaAustralia, Victoria, Wills, Probate and Administration Files, 1841-1926                   4,448Expanded collectionAustriaAustria, Carinthia, Gurk Diocese, Catholic Church Records, 1527-1986                   7,443Expanded collectionBoliviaBolivia Catholic Church Records, 1566-1996              153,284Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Bahia, Civil Registration, 1877-1976                   3,415Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Ceará, Catholic Church Records, 1725-1971                   2,628Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Minas Gerais, Catholic Church Records, 1706-1999                   3,191Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Minas Gerais, Civil Registration, 1879-1949                23,356Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Paraná, Civil Registration, 1852-1996                11,200Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Pernambuco, Catholic Church Records, 1762-2002                   3,603Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Rio Grande do Norte, Catholic Church Records, 1788-1967                   2,804Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Catholic Church Records, 1714-1977                      964Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-1999                   3,587Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, São Paulo, Catholic Church Records, 1640-2012                      896Expanded collectionCanadaCanada, Ontario Tax Assessment Rolls, 1834-1899              929,646Expanded collectionChileChile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-1928              211,848Expanded collectionCosta RicaCosta Rica, Catholic Church Records, 1595-1992              282,922Expanded collectionCroatiaCroatia, Delnice Deanery Catholic Church Books, 1571-1926                   1,560Expanded collectionDenmarkDenmark, Århus Municipal Census, 1918                         28Expanded collectionDominican RepublicDominican Republic Miscellaneous Records, 1921-1980                12,526Expanded collectionDominican RepublicDominican Republic, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1955                96,719Expanded collectionEcuadorEcuador, Catholic Church Records, 1565-2011                14,851Expanded collectionEl SalvadorEl Salvador Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977                61,399Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Cambridgeshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1538-1983              179,948Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Essex Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1971                21,224Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Gloucestershire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1642-1996                      400Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898                      513Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Lancashire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1647-1996                31,970Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988              337,816Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Northumberland Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1920                21,779Expanded collectionFinlandFinland, Tax Lists, 1809-1915                12,034Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Haute-Garonne, Toulouse, Civil Registration, 1792-1893                      137Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Rhône, Military Registration Cards, 1865-1932                24,363Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Saône-et-Loire, Parish and Civil Registration, 1530-1892                   1,332Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Prussia, Saxony, Census Lists, 1770-1934                16,016Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977                   5,030Expanded collectionHaitiHaiti, Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince, Catholic Church Records, 1866-2017                      159Expanded collectionHaitiHaiti, Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince, Catholic Church Records, 1866-2017                         19New collectionHondurasHonduras, Catholic Church Records, 1633-1978                         32Expanded collectionHungaryHungary, Jewish Vital Records Index, 1800-1945                   1,177Expanded collectionKiribatiKiribati, Vital Records, 1890-1991                      902Expanded collectionLiberiaLiberia Census, 2008              523,982Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Coahuila, Catholic Church Records, 1627-1978              155,800Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Oaxaca, Catholic Church Records, 1559-1988              884,261Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Querétaro, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1970              146,571Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Tamaulipas, Catholic Church Records, 1703-1964                75,531Expanded collectionNetherlandsNetherlands, Archival Indexes, Vital Records, 1600-2000          1,247,846Expanded collectionNew ZealandNew Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1865-1957                30,054Expanded collectionNicaraguaNicaragua, Catholic Church Records, 1740-1960                26,883Expanded collectionNorwayNorway, Probate Index Cards, 1640-1903                   2,834Expanded collectionPanamaPanama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973              164,962Expanded collectionPapua New GuineaPapua New Guinea, Vital Records, 1867-2000                         25Expanded collectionParaguayParaguay, Catholic Church Records, 1754-2015              426,216Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-1992                20,919Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Diocese of Huaraz, Catholic Church Records, 1641-2016                   3,329Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Moquegua, Civil Registration, 1850-1996                20,523Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Pasco, Civil Registration, 1931-1996                         15Expanded collectionPuerto RicoPuerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969                35,528Expanded collectionSamoaSamoa, Vital Records, 1846-1996                   7,787Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Cape Province, Civil Records, 1840-1972                      938Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801-2004                   1,150Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Civil Death Registration, 1955-1966                           4Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Registers (Cape Town Archives), 1660-1970                 10,045Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Registers (Cape Town Archives), 1660-1970                23,579Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Vital Records, 1868-1976                24,914Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Netherdutch Reformed Church Registers (Pretoria Archive), 1838-1991                         83Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Reformed Church Records, 1856-1988                      292Expanded collectionSpainSpain, Province of La Coruña, Municipal Records, 1648-1941                   8,138Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records, 1546-1927                   1,277Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Västerbotten Church Records, 1619-1896; index, 1688-1860                   4,643Expanded collectionSwitzerlandSwitzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1850                   2,558Expanded collectionSwitzerlandSwitzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1880                   1,900Expanded collectionTuvaluTuvalu, Vital Records, 1866-1979                   1,229Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Hertfordshire, Marriage Bonds, 1682-1837                      134Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Lancashire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1746-1799                10,188Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Lincolnshire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1574-1885                      422Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Surrey Marriages Bonds and Licenses, 1536-1992                   6,197Expanded collectionUnited StatesAlabama Voter Registration and Poll Tax Cards, 1834-1981                13,200Expanded collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Tax Digests, 1787-1900                95,923Expanded collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Registrar of Bureau of Conveyances, Deed Records, 1846-1900                      563Expanded collectionUnited StatesIndiana Marriages, 1811-2019              114,104Expanded collectionUnited StatesIowa, Military Discharge Records, ca.1862 – ca.1976                      317Expanded collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905              380,832Expanded collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Orleans Parish, State Museum Historical Center, Cemetery Records, 1805-1944                   1,007Expanded collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918              547,542Expanded collectionUnited StatesMichigan, Saginaw County, Biographical Card File, ca. 1830-2000                         28Expanded collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, County Naturalization Records, 1749-1986                23,811Expanded collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Death Index, 1901-1903; 1916-1929                   3,276Expanded collectionUnited StatesNew York, Yonkers, Birth and Death Registration and Indexes, 1875-1916              115,291New collectionUnited StatesOklahoma, Military Discharge Records, 1898-1993                      515New collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston District, Bill of sales of Negro slaves, 1774-1872                   1,155Expanded collectionUnited StatesUnited States Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1800-c. 1955                   9,559Expanded collectionUnited StatesUtah, County Marriages, 1871-1941                         26Expanded collectionUnited StatesVirgin Islands US, Census Records, 1841-1911              363,176New collectionUnited StatesWashington Voting Records, 1876-1940                      266Expanded collectionUnited StatesWashington, County Death Registers, 1881-1979                20,749Expanded collectionUruguayUruguay Civil Registration, 1879-1930                   8,983Expanded collectionVanuatuVanuatu, Vital Records, 1900-2001                28,748Expanded collectionVenezuelaVenezuela, Catholic Church Records, 1577-1995              800,823Expanded collectionZambiaZambia, Archdiocese of Lusaka, Church Records, 1950-2015                27,121Expanded collectionZimbabweZimbabwe, Voter Registration, 1938-1973                   3,464Expanded collection

Researching Asian Ancestry Is Becoming Easier, Thanks to Those Like Derek Dobson

Fri, 07/30/2021 - 03:00

While Derek Dobson served a proselyting mission in Hong Kong from 1985 to 1986, he posed for a photo on a hillside overlooking the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. As a young man from rural Canada, this was an exciting new experience. Even with his love of the Chinese people and fluency in the language, Derek could not have guessed what powerful ties he would weave over his lifetime with people scattered throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Derek’s Early Life and Career 

Derek Dobson was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. At age 9, he and his family moved to nearby Okotoks, a small community just south of Calgary. Like many young boys his age, Derek enjoyed athletics and participated in local sports programs.

As a teenager, Derek was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through a friend who shared his enthusiasm for sports. It was during his first trip to the Cardston Temple at age 15 that Derek became fascinated with family history. Inscribed on a brass plaque in the entry were the words “Joined here by powers that past and present bind the living and the dead perfection find.” Those tender words stirred up deep feelings of love within him toward his ancestors. 

After graduating high school, he decided to serve as a missionary for the Church and was asked to serve in Hong Kong. While there, he met his future wife, Cynthia Jean Lund, a fellow missionary also serving in Hong Kong. Soon after their missions, they chose to marry. Today the Dobsons have 7 children, including 2 who were adopted from China. 

Derek obtained his bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from Brigham Young University with a minor in Mandarin. He then proceeded to work in Hong Kong as a country manager for WordPerfect and Novell and eventually pursued an MBA in international business. 

Every step of his education and career seemed to propel Derek toward a combination of three great loves—technology, Asia, and family history. Derek started with FamilySearch in 2003 and has filled a series of assignments that increasingly turned his attention toward Asia and the Pacific. Derek is knowledgeable about many of this region’s countries and cultures, including Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. He is fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin. 

Making Ancestral Research Easier Is the Goal 

Derek Dobson currently serves as a customer experience manager at FamilySearch with an emphasis in Asian ancestry. His team is presently working on making the website more culturally authentic and inviting for people from all over the world to use FamilySearch’s services and to feel comfortable sharing their information with FamilySearch. Derek explains, “It’s all about trust and willingness to share their data with us.” 

This is accomplished by offering different content to users based on language, country, or region. Derek states, “We try to make our website inviting based on the perceptions and practices of the people who are using it.”

“The pursuit of family history is deeply engrained in some Asian cultures,” says Derek. Historically, for instance, Chinese and Korean people have gathered and maintained family records over many generations. The Chinese collections, known as jiapu, are generally maintained by clans, which can be massive in size—millions of people. 

Record Indexing Is Vital for Making the World’s Records Accessible 

Another key factor to making ancestor research available on FamilySearch is its indexing projects. Indexing is a volunteer transcription effort that makes genealogical records freely searchable online. “The power of indexing drives part of our searching, matching, and hinting we now have on FamilySearch,” Derek explains. Through the selfless effort of countless volunteers, millions of people worldwide have found information about their ancestors. 

Derek enjoys reflecting on the original FamilySearch indexing project, one of his earlier assignments at FamilySearch. “Being able to index records has made today’s genealogy very different,” says Derek. He loves to recall how his small development team aimed to make the genealogical and vital records stored in the FamilySearch archives near Salt Lake City, Utah, within easy reach of researchers everywhere. 

This was a worldwide effort to index the names and data from 2.4 million rolls of microfilm and make it available digitally online. Genealogical data from 110 countries and principalities was included. Some of the original indexing participants were convinced they would never participate in active genealogical research, yet they found themselves immersed in this exciting activity. 

Derek’s Visit to the Philippines—Indexing Renews Records Destroyed in a Typhoon 

Because of indexing, the number of vital records available on FamilySearch continues to increase. Yet it is the personal impact of this effort that gives Derek a sense of satisfaction.  

Derek recounts a particular experience while visiting the Philippines in 2014. The country had been devastated the previous year by Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Super Typhoon Yolanda), the most severe typhoon to ever hit the Philippines. With winds sustained at more than 140 miles per hour and gusts up to 195 miles per hour, the lands were ripped to shreds and the storm waves were compared to tsunami waves. An estimated 9,000 people died, and property damage was set at nearly $3 billion. 

Three small villages on the shore of Eastern Samar, Philippines, were left in shambles. Their vital statistics archives for the local population were completely gone, literally with the wind. “We visited with a local mayor from one of the communities,” says Derek. “We told him we had put their records on microfilm 5 years earlier and had brought copies back with us. He didn’t seem impressed until I showed him a copy of his own birth certificate. Then he burst into tears. He had never seen it before.” 

The mayor’s story is one common to many people around the world who appear to go through life unaware of the written evidence of their existence. But FamilySearch is “bringing these records to life” through the efforts of those like Derek Dobson who seek to preserve vital records worldwide and make them accessible online. 

Stunning Old-Fashioned Names for Boys and Girls

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 15:00

There is a certain charm to vintage or old-fashioned names. They breathe a sense of ancestral strength and tradition into today’s modern world. This is especially true if the old name comes from a specific ancestor or from a family line’s homeland.  

A meaningful name can remind children of their deeper identity. It can remind them of their place in their family (such as patronymics) and of honorable values. To help you in your search, we have gathered thirty old-fashioned names from a variety of different cultures. Each has a unique meaning that can serve as a guide to your children and can also provide insight into the names of family members that came before you.  

15 Old-Fashioned Boy Names 

Historically, old-fashioned boy names were symbols of strength. After all, in most cases it was the young men who would become leaders, provide for the family, or march off to battle. Young men today face a myriad of challenges. They need just as much strength now as preceding generations. Here are some emboldening old boy names from all over the world. 


This Celtic name means both “bear” and “king.” Many associate the name with the Arthurian legends surrounding a king from the sixth century. The jury is still out on whether a figure like King Arthur actually existed, but the strong meaning of this old name still rings true.  


The Greek derivation of this name means “immortal” and is a name still used today. This powerful name belonged to Saint Ambrose, a charitable government and church leader in fourth-century Italy who courageously spoke up in defense of his beliefs.  


This short and sweet French name means “handsome,” or a masculine version of “beautiful” in the French language. It’s the perfect old-fashioned boy name if you are looking for something simple and unique.  


Byron is an English name. Originally, the name indicated that the person was from a farm or the “cow sheds.” However, more recently it has become more associated with the celebrated poet Lord Byron who, despite childhood hardships, later became a multi-talented and expressive writer. 


Charles comes from Germanic etymology and means “free man” or “warrior.” It is also a popular name among powerful leaders, writers, and thinkers such as Charles DarwinCharles Dickens, Charles de Guelle, and even Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz


The origins of this Scottish name are not as well-known as other vintage names included in this list, but it is believed to mean “keeper of the keys.” The name became popular in America during the nineteenth century and has belonged to many successful entertainers and athletes. 


Dimitri is a Russian name that comes from the name “Demetrius.” This old name is easily recognizable for any scholar or scientist. Historically, it belonged to Dmitri Mendeleev, the inventor and chemist who created the periodic table of elements that we still use today.  


Ezra is a Hebrew name from the Old Testament. The name means “help,” which is fitting since the author of the Book of Ezra sought to help God’s people to overcome obstacles and past mistakes in order to create a better future.  


Not all old-fashioned boy names need to sound classic or dusty. Felix is a Roman and Italian name meaning “happy,” “successful,” or “lucky.” This name is mentioned in the New Testament and became a popular name for parents to name their boys during the medieval era.  


Garrett is an English name that also derived from the medieval era. The name means “hard” or “brave,” which suits many of its popular bearers. Several professional athletes are named Garrett, and it was the last name of Pat Garrett, the sheriff who took down Billy the Kid. 


Josiah is an old name that dates all the way back to an ancient Hebrew dialect and means “God supports.” This name has a gentle sound to it, but it also carries the strength and gravity of generations. 


Louis is a French name that comes from the name Ludwig, meaning “warrior.” Over 15 kings of France bore the name Louis. It is also the middle name of Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote the loved classics Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 


Micah is a Hebrew name that is listed several times throughout the Old Testament, including the Book of Micah in which a prophet recorded many of his prophecies. It’s an ancient name that has only recently become popular and means “Who is like God?” 


The English version of this name would be “Michael.” In Spanish and Portuguese, Miguel actually has the same meaning as Micah: “Who is like God?” One of the most prominent bearers of this name, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, became the author of the famed Don Quixote novel.  


Nicholi is a Russian name that means “victorious” or “victory of the people.” It is the Russian or Bulgarian form of “Nicholas,” which has a similar meaning in English. This is a strong, masculine name that is both formal and unique.  


The name Owais comes from Arabia. In Urdu, it means “companion of the prophet” or “little wolf.” It comes from the name Uwais, which belonged to a sixth century scholar named Uwais al-Qarani.  

15 Old-Fashioned Girl Names 

Old-fashioned girl names also carry a sense of strength. They spell out themes such as light, influence, and wisdom. Each of these themes are a great testament to women throughout the ages for their ability to maintain hope and to make the world a better place, even during the darkest chapters of history. They were—and still are—a vital force in our families and communities. 


The name Ada is chiefly from Germany. It comes from other names you might recognize such as Adelaide or Adelina. One of the first inventors of the mechanical computer was named Ada, Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, to be exact. The name itself means “noble.” 


Annette is an old French name. It comes from the name “Anne” and means “mercy” or “grace.” This beautiful vintage girl’s name became popular after 1950s actress Annette Funicello began stealing the spotlight in film. Most of her audience knew her simply by her first name.  


This Scottish name carries a simple and peppy tone. It calls to mind the wildflowers and fields of Scotland itself, which is fitting since the name means “pretty.” This old-fashioned girl name grew in popularity when it was used as the nickname for Scarlett’s daughter in the film Gone with the Wind


Cassandra is an ancient Greek name that means “to shine” or “to excel” and was the name of a mythical Trojan princess. This powerful name carries a sense of grace and independence. Cute nicknames for Cassandra might include “Cass” or “Cassie.”  


Clarabelle has Latin origins and means “clear” or “bright.” The name has a pleasant and vintage ring to it, which could be perfect for your little one. It was especially a popular name in America during the 1920s and was even the name of one of Walt Disney’s earliest animated characters


The name Emilia spells success for any little girl. It has Latin roots and literally means “to excel” or “to strive.” It’s no wonder this old name has belonged to so many successful athletes and artists. Even Shakespeare chose this name for one of his characters in his play Othello


Florence is a Latin name meaning “flowering” and “prosperous” and has a long history dating back to medieval times. However, most will recognize this name from Florence Nightingale, a diligent nurse who helped save British lives during the Crimean War. Much medical progress that we have made today started with her efforts. 


The meaning of the Italian name Gemma is in the name itself. As you might have guessed, it means “precious stone.” Gemma also dates back to the medieval period and was the name of famed poet Dante Alighieri’s wife. This is a perfect old-fashioned girl name for reminding your little one that she carries great worth. 


Hannah is a Hebrew name that means “grace” or “favor.” This beautiful and historic name belonged to the mother of the prophet Samuel, as recorded in the Old Testament. She was a powerful woman who understood what it meant to trust God, even at great cost. 


The name Irina has Greek origins. It has a gentle sound to it and means “peace.” This name has grown in popularity, especially during the 2000s. It comes from the name “Irene” and is the perfect name to give your precious little one that will not become outdated. 


The name Leylah is actually a Modern English variant of the Arabic name “Leila,” which means “night” or “dark.” While this name may not historically be as vintage as some of the others on the list, it carries the same melodic tone. 


This cheerful and classic Greek name is a variant of the name “Margaret,” which means “pearl.” Marjorie has both a timeless and a unique tone, certain to help your daughter stand out—just like a shiny, beautiful pearl. 


While the name Penelope might be considered an English name, the name means “weaver” in Greek and comes from Greek mythology. Penelope is the name of the great hero Odysseus’s wife, a strong woman who worked to protect herself during her husband’s absence. It’s a great vintage name with some pep. 


Rosa is a name of Spanish origin. As you may have already guessed, it means “rose.” Rosa is an old name that has helped shape history, from Rosa Parks standing up for civil rights to Rosa Bonheur, a French painter who achieved a worldwide reputation, one of the earliest women to do so.  

Winnie (Winifred) 

Winnie, or Winifred, comes from the Welsh language as well as Old English. It means “holy,” “blessed,” “joy,” and “peace.” One particularly influential woman with this name was Saint Winifred, a Welsh princess who was martyred.  

Old-Fashioned Names in Your Family

Still struggling to find the perfect old name? Sometimes the best place to look is in your own family. Peruse generations of your family tree, and discover the names of individuals and stories nested there. You might be surprised by how much personal meaning—and unique, old names—you find.  

Bastille Day: A Celebration of French Unity

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 12:00

Friendships and family relationships are greatly strengthened by celebrating holidays together. This is especially true of Bastille Day, the holiday created to specifically honor and celebrate French unity. It takes its name after the Storming of the Bastille, an event that occurred more than 230 years ago. In 1880, Bastille Day was made an official holiday, and French people have been marking July 14th with concerts, speeches, fireworks, and other fetes ever since.  

These days, perhaps the most dramatic show of patriotism comes from the Air Force Patrouille de France acrobatic unit, with the trails of blue, white, and red smoke released by the fighter jets during the iconic Bastille Day military parade. This brief overview of how the holiday came to be should help get you in the Bastille Day spirit!  

What Was the Bastille, and Why Was It Stormed?

The Bastille was a gloomy but formidable government fortress built in the 1300s to protect one of the primary entrances to Paris. The immense stone building was surrounded by a moat and protected by multiple drawbridges. Chains clanked as the bridge was lowered and raised. The Bastille had an exterior wall more than 100 feet high, with crenellations that soldiers hid behind but could still point muskets at the enemy. Windows in the Bastille were tall narrow slits that soldiers could shoot out of, but enemies could hardly shoot in. The slits allowed only small amounts of light to penetrate in. Inside was a maze of dimly lit corridors and cold, dank rooms. 

It was probably inevitable that the Bastille, in time, came to be used as a prison—one where political prisoners were often sent and held for long periods of time without trial. Some of these prisoners had been sent to the Bastille by the king himself, who needed neither a reason nor a trial to imprison someone. If people didn’t agree with him, the King could send them to the Bastille.

Under King Louis XVI, the social and political situation in France was more than precarious. The government was in debt, unemployment was high, and years of bad harvests had led to massive food shortages. In an effort to raise money, King Louis raised taxes not on the wealthy but rather on the poor—a strategy that increased the turmoil most French citizens were already feeling.  

By July 1789, insurrection and revolution seemed unavoidable. On July 14, rioting Parisians who had had enough of the King’s oppressive behaviors stormed the Bastille, ousted the guards, and freed all the prisoners. This last action was perhaps less dramatic than it sounds, since at the time of the storming, the Bastille held only seven prisoners—four of whom had been convicted of forgery, and another who had been sent there by his own family.  

Still, the day was indicative of a much larger uprising. The Bastille symbolized an abuse of power, and it had just been overthrown!  

Why Is Bastille Day Important?  

The Storming of the Bastille marked the start of the French Revolution. It was the beginning of the end for the monarchy. It represented a call for liberty, equality, and a more democratic form of government. Today, the holiday is an opportunity to celebrate French unity and the French way of life. The Bastille Day military parade is the largest of its kind, with thousands of participants and millions of viewers. July 14 can mean many things to many people, but for French people around the globe, it is a day to celebrate their country! 

Save Your Bastille Day Memories to FamilySearch—Then Find Your French Ancestors! 

You can’t celebrate a big holiday and make new memories without taking a few pictures, right? Afterwards you need a place to store those memories. With your free FamilySearch account, you can save photos, family documents, and even voice recordings in FamilySearch memories. Your account is always free, and your memories will be safely stored for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. You can also search through your family tree to discover if you had ancestors who were alive during the French Revolution.

On July 14, take time to celebrate Bastille Day. Then come to FamilySearch, and see what you can learn about your own French family history! 

Discover Your French Heritage

Christine Chiang Discovers Living Chinese Relatives and Treasured Ancestral Jiapu

Fri, 07/09/2021 - 15:00

Christine Chiang didn’t grow up knowing her extended family. Her parents, who were each single children, left all family records behind when they moved from mainland China to Taiwan before Christine was born. The only relatives she knew were her parents, sister, and brother.

After receiving a university degree in Chinese literature, she landed her first job as an editor with one of the largest publishing houses in Taiwan. She was making a name for herself, but by age 25, she wanted more.   

“I had already accomplished a lot as an editor, receiving awards from the publishing world,” she said. “But I needed to learn more. I didn’t just want to be an editor, so I started applying to graduate schools.”  

Discovering a New Life in a New Country 

“In those days, my impression of the United States was either Gone with the Wind or a New Yorker,” Christine laughed. “My mother’s favorite movie was Gone with the Wind, so of course I chose the University of Georgia.” 

One year later, with a master’s degree in hand, she flew directly to Silicon Valley to start a new career in instructional technology. She worked nonstop, consulting with companies from start-ups to large dotcoms. After several years, her professional reputation was well-established, and she could choose where to work.  

But after getting married and having a child, she and her husband wanted to live in an area that was better suited to their family.  

 “Our motivation was our son. We needed to find an environment that would help him become a well-rounded person,” Christine said.   

As she searched for a new job, she discovered that her church had available openings in her field. Out of curiosity, she applied, and after interviews and negotiations, she was offered a job that meant a move to Salt Lake City, Utah. With her husband’s support, she accepted a position in Information and Communication Systems.  

 Christine later transferred to work for FamilySearch as a Unix user experience designer and eventually was assigned to Chinese projects.    

“It is such a miracle. It’s hard to find a job you really love, but God put me in a position that I am deeply passionate about. I didn’t know I’d be working on Chinese projects. I was just a regular Unix designer; I could work on any project. But it happened. Imagine! It’s not common to find someone who knows Chinese, is a Unix designer, and is also a Church member. Everything was just put together, and it was the right thing for me,” she expressed. 

Unexpected Messages lead to Discovering Family 

Working for FamilySearch, Christine often heard family history stories from team members, but she couldn’t share her own. She had submitted her first 4 generations to the Family Tree on FamilySearch, but her entries were the only records with her clan (ancestral) name. 

One evening Christine received a shocking call from the police in China informing her that her oldest brother had died. She was in the United States, yet she was the only Chinese family member the police could find. Christine had never met her brother; he was estranged from his family for about 30 years. Saddened that he died alone, she went to China to arrange for his burial. She said it was painful to know that if she hadn’t been contacted, it would be like her brother never existed. From that experience, she longed to make a connection with her living relatives and to discover her jiapu, the Chinese genealogy book of her clan—if it existed.  

The only clue she had was that her father was considered a celebrity in his tiny, extremely poor village. As a boy he travelled to a bigger town to attend a good school and then attained an influential military position. But she couldn’t find any records to verify the story.   

Feeling discouraged, Christine confided to her co-worker and friend, Eric Leach, a Chinese experience manager, that she couldn’t find a way to expand her tree. Eric was familiar with the difficulty of finding jiapu but assured her it would be worth the search and suggested creating a specific plan.  

Amazingly, before they could get started, Christine saw a message in her FamilySearch inbox from a great-niece in China. Though they were complete strangers, Christine’s great-niece found her name while using a promotional copy of FamilySearch and sent an inquiry to Christine. After several online discussions, Christine was overjoyed to be invited to go to China for a family reunion. She readily agreed. 

  Encouraged by Eric, Christine continued to search online for ancestral connections that she could share with her family when she visited China.  

“I found that my father was recorded in a local gazetteer. I also found more relatives,” Christine said. “I began exchanging email and texts with one cousin. He actually told me he had our clan jiapu.”  

When Christine discovered that her clan jiapu existed, she excitedly booked a flight to China for herself and her son.  

“As a first-generation immigrant to the United States, I wanted my son to learn who and where he comes from,” she explained.  

Upon meeting their Chinese relatives, Christine and her son were warmly greeted and immediately felt like part of the family. They spent a short week translating and helping her son learn some of the homeland traditions. 

“It was really something way beyond genealogy. That was the best time for my son. He was raised in the U.S., so before we went, he didn’t really care. At the end he was so proud of his Chinese blood that now he wants to change his middle name to my Clan name,” Christine recounted.  

Next, they traveled to meet her cousin who held the clan jiapu. He graciously presented Christine with a digital copy of her own.   

Discovering Jiapu Expands Desire to Help Others  

Christine couldn’t wait to share her success with her FamilySearch coworkers. 

“Before, I was a loner on my [FamilySearch] team with only 4 generations. There was no way I could find my genealogy. One day I surpassed everyone. I’m the winner with 134 generations!” she teased. “If it’s not a miracle, I don’t know what it is. I can’t say how much I appreciate what I have. It’s like a dream come true.”  

Her FamilySearch manager, Brian Edwards, couldn’t agree more.   

“Christine had a happy, moving experience—one that might be helpful to others,” Brian said. “I think it shows that, even if you have roadblocks, don’t give up, keep trying, and sometimes heaven opens the doors we need.” 

For her profession, Christine works on the cusp of expanding Chinese genealogical research. Her job is to talk to programmers and patrons of FamilySearch to find ways to improve the researching process.   

“As Unix designers, we need to understand the patron users to create an experience they expect. I’m definitely an advocate for both sides—always trying to strike a good balance. We want users to be happy and feel right at home when they come to our site. We don’t want the process to feel awkward or hard to use. That’s the goal,” Christine explained.  

 Since discovering her own family and jiapu, Christine hungers to help patrons find the satisfaction she feels. 

“The whole process of discovery was a miracle. The trip to my father’s hometown changed my mind about China forever. I found not only my family members and jiapu there, but also a newer and broader perspective that has been missing in my life,” she exclaimed.  

  With over 13 million digital images from mainland China, including more than 65,000 jiapu images and more to come, Christine’s work is never-ending. But she doesn’t complain.   

“I’m passionate about my work. I tell my son ‘to find a job you really love so every day when you wake up, you feel energetic, and you have so much you can contribute.’ That’s how I feel about my job,” she stated. 

RootsTech Connect Coming Back in 2022

Wed, 07/07/2021 - 14:50

Today, FamilySearch announced that RootsTech Connect 2022 will take place on March 3–5, 2022, as a fully virtual family history event. After welcoming over one million visitors from over 240 countries to its 2021 online event, RootsTech Connect 2021 was the largest in the history of RootsTech. The success of this online experience is spectacular proof of humanity’s interest in discovering our roots and connecting to each other.

RootsTech as a Free, Online Event

Building on last year’s success, RootsTech Connect in 2022 will remain completely virtual and free. Registration will open in September 2021.

“We were humbled with the response to an all-virtual RootsTech, and so grateful to all of our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, and attendees who participated,” said Steve Rockwood, FamilySearch International CEO. “We heard from thousands of people from all over the globe that the 2021 online experience allowed them to participate for the first time and enjoy the power of learning and connecting virtually. And it created an expansive online archive for learning that is now available for free all year long. It’s an incredible resource, and we are excited about what we’re planning for 2022.”

The in-person events anticipated for London this fall and Salt Lake City in 2022 will not take place. Rockwood said they are part of the RootsTech experience, however, and will be reevaluated each year as RootsTech continues to seek the best opportunities to expand connections with audiences worldwide. For future events, RootsTech plans on offering a hybrid online and in-person model with content that is expanded and accessed throughout the year.

“After RootsTech Connect 2021, we realized that we could bring the joy of family history to millions of people, no matter where they are, through an online, virtual RootsTech experience. As we continue to chart new territory with RootsTech, we plan to make the virtual event a regular part of the experience and look forward to all the new opportunities that will open to people everywhere,” said Rockwood.

The Global, Expanded RootsTech Experience

Continuing with the virtual model for RootsTech Connect 2022 will allow people across the globe to participate for free. Classes will have a mix of on-demand, livestream, and interactive sessions where people can socialize, ask questions, and learn from experts and enthusiasts. There will be engaging demonstrations and experiences for all ages and multicultural celebrations that will connect attendees to their family story and to each other.

As anticipation builds for RootsTech 2022, many are still taking advantage of all that RootsTech 2021 has to offer. With over 1,500 free, on-demand sessions available year-round at, the website offers a tremendous amount of family history learning and inspiration.

Keep an eye out for RootsTech registration to open in September 2021! For reminders and updates, visit, and click on Subscribe for Updates. You can also follow RootsTech on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.