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D-Day Invasion: What Happened and Why It’s Important

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 15:44

The D-Day invasion, or Normandy landings, were the landing operations of the Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord in World War II. The landings began on June 6, 1944, and they marked the beginning of the liberation of German-occupied Western Europe from Nazi control.

The invasion involved a series of military beach landings along the coast of Normandy and has since been known as the largest seaborne invasion in history. The battle also involved a massive airborne invasion.

Preparing for D-Day

The D-Day invasion took years of planning, and, in months leading up to it, the Allies began a military deception strategy known as Operation Bodyguard. This operation was intended to mislead German forces as to the exact day and location of the suspected invasion.

Those planning the invasion determined specific weather conditions based on moon phases, time of day, and ocean tides that would be most ideal for a successful invasion. When the appointed time of the invasion came, the weather was far from these conditions, and the invasion was pushed back a day.

What Happened on D-Day?

On the morning of D-Day, paratroopers and glider troops were sent behind enemy lines by the thousands to secure bridges and exit roads. Then, at 6:30 in the morning, the beach landings began. By the end of the day, over 150,000 Allied troops had successfully stormed and captured Normandy’s beaches—but at a high price. By some estimates, over 4,000 of the Allied forces lost their lives. Thousands more were recorded as wounded or missing.

The Importance of D-Day

The D-Day invasion is significant in history for the role it played in World War II. It marked the turn of the tide for the control maintained by Nazi Germany; less than a year after the invasion, the Allies formally accepted Nazi Germany’s surrender.

It was a day that cost many lives on all sides of the conflict, changing not only the future of countries, but of families as well. Because of that, there is much to be learned from those who experienced its victories and its horrors firsthand. Do you have D-Day veterans in your family? Record a memory or upload a photo to help preserve their legacy.

How to Pronounce Welsh Words

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:21

Have you ever thought you didn’t have it in you to learn a foreign language? Well, with today’s access to the internet, you can learn just about anything, including the language of your forefathers! If you have Welsh ancestry, even learning Welsh pronunciation and a bit about the Welsh language can be of great help to you as you begin to search for your ancestors.

Search for your Welsh Ancestors The National Languages of Wales

Wales is a bilingual country. Though most records are written in English, Welsh is an equally important language in the country. In fact, Wales recently launched a strategy to have 1 million Welsh speakers by the year 2050. Children up to the age of 16 are being taught the language alongside English in the schools, street signs are found in both English and Welsh, and there is even a radio station in the Welsh language!

Ifor ap Glyn, a writer and broadcaster, said, “We have a saying in Welsh, ‘Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon’ [which means] ‘A nation without a language is a nation without a heart’—and the Welsh language is still very much at the heart of our national culture.”

The History of the Welsh Language

The Welsh language has been around for at least 1,500 years, though some sources claim the language is 4,000 years old. It includes influences from Latin, Irish, Norse, Norman French, and of course, English, but its roots are Celtic.

Welsh (natively called Cymraeg or y Gymraeg) is a Brittonic language and has been spoken in Wales, some parts of England, and Y Wladfa (a Welsh colony in Chubut Province, Argentina) for centuries. The name Welsh is believed to have originated from the Anglo-Saxons word for “foreign speech.”

Welsh uses a Latin letter alphabet and contains 29 letters: a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h, i, j, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y.

Even though the alphabet looks much like English, the sounds and inflections are different.

As you study your Welsh heritage, you may wonder what your ancestors sounded like. You can watch all sorts of videos online at YouTube or even enjoy some TV programs via a Welsh broadcasting station called S4C.

Welsh Pronunciation

This graphic on Welsh pronunciation will help you learn how to pronounce Welsh words and may even teach you how to say your ancestors’ names! A printable version is included below.

Need a little extra help in your Welsh pronunciation technique? You can go to Google Translate and type in the word you wish to be translated. Then click or tap the audio button to hear the word spoken.

Now that you have a new understanding of the language of your ancestors, try looking through these Welsh records to see what clues and hints you can find for your family tree!

Download a Welsh Pronunciation Chart Welsh Pronunciation ChartDownload

Traditional Welsh Food

Sun, 11/17/2019 - 18:00

Many claim that the best way to experience a culture is through local cuisine. The same can be said of your heritage. The best way to experience a piece of your ancestors’ lives is through the food they ate.

Use to find family recipes that your relatives have shared, or start recording the family recipes you have saved.

Record Your Family’s Recipes Welsh Food Traditions

In many cultures, the cuisine reflects the tastes and trends of the higher classes. However, the wealthy and educated in Wales who had the ability to record recipes often followed English cooking styles. Consequently, they did not represent true Welsh cooking. 

Instead, traditional Welsh food largely represents working class in Wales. Welsh cuisine focuses on what the working class could produce or afford, and recipes were passed down orally in the families of the working class. As a result, you can learn a lot about your heritage through food if you have Welsh ancestors.

Wales is well known for its lamb and beef. The Welsh people relied heavily on their livestock to provide for their families, and winter cuisine often featured meats and dairy from the livestock. 

While meats and cheese were traditionally a highlight of Welsh foods, vegetables and herbs were less readily available. The most widely used vegetables and herbs were cabbages, leeks, thyme, savory, and mint. Over time, more variety was introduced as it became more accessible.

Variations in Traditional Welsh Food

Because Welsh food was historically limited by the availability of ingredients, there are variations in traditional dishes based on what could be grown in different regions. Higher elevations relied more on oats, while lower elevations used wheat and barley. Coastal residents often used seaweed to supplement their meals.

Interestingly, the Gower Peninsula features a flavor profile different from the rest of Wales. The peninsula was difficult to access by land and developed unique cuisines as a result of its isolation. 

Welsh Recipes

Welsh food represents the lives of the common people of Wales. Try the recipes below to get a taste of what life was like for your Welsh ancestors.

Welsh Rarebit Recipe

Also known as Welsh Rabbit, this traditional dish features a spicy cheese sauce over toast. You read that right—no rabbit is found in this dish!

Welsh Cake Recipe

Similar to a sweet biscuit or thick pancake, Welsh cakes rose to popularity as a tea-time treat. They’re delicious fresh and warm or on the go.

Shepherd’s Pie

This hearty dish was originally intended to repurpose leftover meat. It’s a meat pie, often made with lamb and topped with a mashed potato crust.

What Are Welsh Names About?

Sat, 11/16/2019 - 18:00

Names give us a way to identify each other and ourselves. Often, they are family names that have special meaning for us. Welsh names are no exception.

To understand Welsh names, it helps to know a bit about the Welsh language. Welsh came from early Celtic people who settled in the area of Wales. Welsh is a phonetic language, and each letter must be pronounced; there are no silent letters. For example, the place name Coed (meaning “woods”) is pronounced ko’ed.

It’s also useful to know that w and y are vowels.

  • W is pronounced “oo.”
  • Y is pronounced “uh,” unless it is the last syllable of a word; then it is pronounced “ee.”
  • F is pronounced as “v.”
  • DD is pronounced as “th” in “the.”
  • CH is pronounced as in the last letters in “Bach.”

Learn more about Welsh pronunciation, and download a handy graphic.

Welsh Family Names

The Welsh form of patronymics—or giving the son the first name of his father as his surname—uses the prefix “ab” or “ap,” which is a contraction for the Welsh word for “son.”

For example, “Dafydd ap (or ab) Owen” would be “David, son of Owen.” Sometimes the “a” in “ap” was dropped, so David’s last name could have become “Bowen.” In another instance, “Dafydd ap Hywel” would be “David Powell.” See the FamilySearch wiki for more information on how the Welsh patronymic system worked.

The patronymic naming system started to fade in the 1500s, when the Act of Union in 1536 required all official documentation be in the English language. Some border towns used English given names for patronymic surnames. For example, John became Jones, William became Williams, and David became Davis. Some last names also came from nicknames or place-names.

Because of the legal conversion from Welsh to English, the number of Welsh surnames today is somewhat limited. The most common Welsh surnames are Jones, Evans, Williams, Davis, and Thomas.

Welsh Girl Names

Traditional girl names tend to be descriptive. For example, Mali means “wished-for child” and is the Welsh version of the name “Molly.”

Some of the most popular Welsh girl names are listed below:

  • Seren means “star.”
  • Megan is the equivalent of the English name “Margaret.”
  • Ffion refers to the foxglove flower.
  • Lowri is the equivalent of the English name “Laura.”
  • Caron means “loving or kind-hearted.”

Other popular girl names include Nia, Cadi, Eria, Efa, and Elin.

Welsh Boy Names

Like girl names, Welsh boy names are also descriptive.

Some popular Welsh boy names include the following:

  • Dylan means “son of the sea.”
  • Owen means “young warrior.”
  • Gavin is a derivative of the name “Gawain.”
  • Kendrick means “hero” or “leader.”
  • Vaughn means “small.”

Some other popular boy names are Bryson, Maddox, Rys, Marvin, and Trevor.

Now that you know the basics of Welsh names and how to pronounce them, look through your family tree to see if you have Welsh ancestry. Using the birth country feature makes this search easy! Enjoy learning more about your Welsh ancestors!

The Significance of the Battle of Stalingrad

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 13:00

Of all the confrontations in World War II, the Battle of Stalingrad was the largest. Understanding what happened at this important battle will help you recognize the significance of the Battle of Stalingrad.

The battle took place when Germany and its allies sought control over this city in Southern Russia. The Germans targeted Stalingrad because of its industrial capacities and because of its proximity to the Volga River, which would allow German forces to cut off sources of trade and military deployment.

What Happened at the Battle of Stalingrad?

The battle started in August 1942, when the German forces began their attack with the 6th Army and parts of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by bombings that destroyed much of the city. Because of the city’s destruction, the nature of combat changed to urban warfare, and soldiers on either side worked to navigate their close-quarter surroundings.

Both sides in the battle pulled in heavy reinforcements, and by November of the same year, German forces succeeded in pushing Soviet defenders back along the Volga River. However, on November 19, the direction of the battle changed. Soviet forces launched an operation that involved targeting the weaker German armies protecting the flanks of the 6th Army. The force of this counterattack was underestimated, and the weaker armies were overcome.

Who Won the Battle of Stalingrad?

During the Soviet counterattack, the Soviet forces succeeded in cutting off the German 6th Army. Adolf Hitler ordered the army to remain in the city and to make no attempts at escape. Heavy fighting continued, but eventually the ammunition and supplies of the Axis forces were depleted. On February 2, 1943, what remained of the 6th Army surrendered. In spite of staggering losses, the Soviet army triumphed against the attack, marking a change in the tide of their conflict with Germany.

What Were the Fighting Conditions?

The urban setting for the battle added challenges not otherwise present in an open battlefield. It meant doing battle where territory was gained house by house in places where civilians were still present. Each side had to adjust their strategies for close-quarters combat. On top of these challenges, both sides were desperately short of supplies, which cost thousands of casualties almost weekly.

The bombing by the Axis forces had turned most of the city to rubble, but the Soviet soldiers turned the wreckage into places of defense. The time of year of the attack proved to be another benefit as the harsh Russian winter played a role in driving the remaining Axis soldiers to surrender.

How Many Casualties?

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the deadliest battles in the history of modern warfare, leaving an estimated 850,000 Axis soldiers as dead, missing, or wounded, and claiming the lives of over a million Soviet soldiers. Many of the city’s civilians were also killed during the fight.

The significance of the Battle of Stalingrad is often noted by the staggering number of casualties and by the visible destruction done to the city. The lives of those who survived the battle dramatically changed.

Perhaps what makes this battle the most significant is how it affected families. You can search World War II records and other records from that time period to discover what role your ancestors played during this crucial time of the world’s history and what their lives may have looked like because of it. Learning about the battles our ancestors faced can make it easier for us to face our own.

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English Genealogy: Finding Historical Documents in England

Mon, 11/11/2019 - 18:00

If you have English roots, you can search a variety of English historical documents to learn about your ancestors’ identities and stories. Since the 1830s, England has kept civil registration records of residents’ births, marriages, and deaths. Census records showing entire families exist as far back as the 1840s. Even further back, you may find relatives in parish registers and other kinds of records. Start with these three kinds of records to build your English family tree.

English Censuses

English census records provide glimpses into ancestral households every 10 years between 1841 and 1911. You can often follow a relative’s appearance in censuses from adulthood, living with a spouse and children, back in time to childhood, living with parents and siblings. These records may help you reconstruct entire family groups with their names and approximate places and dates of birth.

Though exact details may vary by census, the above example shows the contents of a typical census entry. James Firth Jr appears as “head” (of household) with his family: his wife, Hannah, and their children William, Ann, and Grace. Also listed are their ages, places of birth, and occupations. James was a master plasterer; his son appears to have followed him into this trade. Hannah was born in Idle; the rest of the family was born in nearby Eccleshill. Following this family through multiple census entries can help you identify any additional children (born earlier or later) and see what happened to the family.

It is easy to search digitized English census records for free on, as well as on subscription genealogy websites and The 1921 census, which contains additional personal information not included in previous censuses, is scheduled to be released in early 2022 and will be available on subscription website The 1931 census was destroyed in a fire, but a 1939 register, which was taken to document residents of England and Wales on the eve of war, can also be searched on genealogy websites. (Explore it for free on

Civil Registrations

Once you have found relatives in English census records, you will generally have enough information to search for records documenting their births, marriages, and deaths. Civil registration of these events began on July 1, 1837, and registration records are generally available after this date.

This sample birth registration for Ernest Whittam provides his exact birth date and place, parents’ names (including his mother’s maiden surname), and father’s profession. Marriage registrations generally include similar kinds of information about the bride and groom, with fathers’ names. Death registrations don’t usually give the identities of relatives; records usually include just the name, age, sex, and occupation of the deceased, as well as the date, place, and cause of death. However, the informant for any of these events (the person who registered the event) may have been a relative.

Online indexes to civil registrations can be searched for free at and FreeBMD, as well as at other major genealogy websites. But indexes do not have all the information contained in the original records. To learn all you can about your ancestors, order copies of the actual civil registrations, which are not available online. Purchase these for a small fee from the General Register Office of the United Kingdom.

English Parish Records

Local parishes of the Church of England began keeping baptismal, marriage, and burial records beginning in 1538. Many of the earliest records haven’t survived, and those that have survived may not be complete. But they are the next place to look for historical evidence about an ancestor’s life or family. In addition to original registers kept by parishes, bishop’s transcripts of those registers may also exist (between 1598 and about 1860). Look for both types of records, which may include unique details.

Sample marriage record from England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538–2010

Hundreds of millions of church registers are available to search on genealogy websites, including for free on and FreeREG. (Subscribers may also search major collections at and You may need to search on multiple websites to find the records specific to an ancestor’s parish. Consider also that ancestors may not have worshipped in the Church of England; if so, their life events may appear in the records of other churches.

More English Historical Documents

Censuses, civil registrations, and parish records are just three types of historical documents in which information about your ancestors may appear. As you learn more about the identities of your ancestors, you may also successfully discover information about them in other common records, such as electoral registers, various kinds of death records, and millions of digitized newspaper pages available on subscription websites or the British Newspaper Archives. Find free advice and instruction on tracing English ancestors in the FamilySearch wiki.

Start searching for your ancestors in English historical documents for free at

World War II Facts, Turning Points, Battles, and More

Mon, 11/11/2019 - 13:35

World War II happened on a global scale. It was so big and complex that it can be difficult to think about it in terms of actual people—mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles—families whose lives and relationships were never the same again.  

It’s likely that someone you are related to experienced a major upheaval in his or her life on account of the war. is a place to learn about these people, your ancestors of the 20th century. You can start by finding historical records that reveal where they were and what they were doing.

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World War II facts and figures can be impersonal, but they can still shed a light on the lives of those who came before us. Learn more about World War II to discover more about your ancestors’ lives.

World War II Turning Points

The following is an outline of crucial World War II facts and events to keep in mind as you search. Were any of your ancestors involved? How were their lives affected?

Germany Invades Poland

September 1, 1939 is the date most scholars give as the beginning of World War II in Europe. Led by its führer (supreme leader), Adolf Hitler, Germany had, for several years, been amassing a military powerful enough to conquer Europe and possibly even the world. Hitler chose Poland as a target for his ambitions and began the German invasion of Poland on September 1.

Both France and England had promised to help Poland should it ever be attacked, and so on September 3, 1939, the two countries declared war on Germany. In the months that followed, Germany troops either occupied or invaded Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, and eventually France.

Battle of Britain

By June 1940, nearly all of Western Europe was under Nazi control. In a speech to the British House of Commons, Prime Minister Winston Churchill told his fellow politicians, “The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin.” The fighting that followed took place mainly in the air.

Despite heavy losses, the British Royal Air Force defied the German Luftwaffe for three straight months and ultimately took the air battle to the skies above Germany. As summer turned to fall, Hitler had no choice but to call off the attack. 

Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor

While Hitler’s forces marched through Europe, Japan’s military was attempting something similar in Southeast Asia. The raid on the United States Navy base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 damaged or destroyed more than 20 American ships and 300 aircraft. More than 4,000 Americans were killed or wounded. The following day, the United States officially entered the war.

Battle of Midway

Japan’s military hoped to obliterate the United States Navy completely with a second surprise attack, on June 4, 1942, this time directed at the United States forces stationed on and around Midway—a small island located in the Pacific, halfway between Japan and the United States.

Unbeknownst to Japan, however, American cryptanalysts—code breakers—had cracked Japan’s communication codes. When the battle started, United States forces were ready for it. Japan suffered heavy losses as a consequence and spent the remainder of the war on the defensive.

Battle of Stalingrad

In 1942, Hitler sent an army south in an attempt to capture the Soviet Russian city that had been renamed after the Soviet leader Josef Stalin. Thus, on July 7, started the largest, deadliest, most destructive battle ever fought in the history of warfare. The number of dead, missing, or wounded was catastrophic on both sides. The German army, however, would never recover.

D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy

The plan to liberate Western Europe from Nazi control had been in the making for a long time. The German army had been expecting it and had built an intricate system of defenses. Historians estimate that more than 4,000 Allied soldiers were killed on June 6, 1944, alone, the first day of battle. Still, the attack on the German-controlled beaches of northern France was overwhelmingly successful. For the first time in the war, German soldiers in Western Europe were on the retreat. The end of the war was in sight.

Battle of the Bulge

For some historians, the Battle of the Bulge is “the greatest battle in American military history.” The Allies had successfully landed in northern France and were pushing east towards Germany. That was when Hitler ordered his last great offensive of the war.

The Nazi counterattack began on December 16, 1944, along an 80-mile front in the Forest of Ardennes. Snow was deep, and the American troops lacked experience. Given the chance to surrender, however, they refused. The fight lasted for several weeks, and the German army was forced to continue its retreat.

Nazi Germany Surrenders

As Allied forces drew closer to Berlin, they began to discover the full horror of the Holocaust. They liberated multiple concentration camps, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were still being held. For most, the rescue had come too late—an estimated six million of them had already been killed.

When Nazi leaders at last signed the document of surrender, on May 7, 1945, people around the world took to the streets to celebrate. United States President Harry Truman called it “a victory only half won,” however, as American soldiers in the Pacific were, at that very moment, engaged in one of history’s most vicious battles, on the island of Okinawa. 

Japan Surrenders

In August, the United States military dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, one over of the city of Hiroshima, the other over Nagasaki. They hoped the powerful new weapon would convince Japanese leaders to surrender quickly. It did. Emperor Hirohito made the announcement only a few days later over Japanese radio, and on September 2, 1945, the war that had engaged nearly every country on earth was officially over. For those still in uniform, it was time to go home and begin the process of rebuilding.

The war undoubtedly changed your ancestors—and in doing so, it changed you. How well do you know this story? How well will the people who come after you know it? Now is as good a time as any to discover it.

If one of these relatives is still living, consider interviewing him or her in person, figuring out the best way to record what is said, and then uploading those memories to Doing so would truly be a gift—both to your relative and to the generations who have and will come after.

7 Commonly Used England Death Records

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 19:00

Learning about an ancestor’s death can be key to learning about the person’s life. Records about death can help confirm someone’s identity and the identities of relatives. Some records may give you clues about a person’s circumstances or reveal stories about him or her.

At the recent BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference, British research expert Raymon Naisbitt outlined seven types of England death records. It’s worth looking into several of them for each ancestor, since they may reveal different details about your family history.

Newspaper Obituaries and Family Notices

Beginning in the 1700s, you may find family notices in British newspapers. Family notices of deaths were placed in local newspapers to announce the passing of relatives. Obituaries, or brief narratives about a person who has died, may also have been published.

FamilySearch has partnered with findmypast to provide free access to a growing collection of family notices from the British Newspaper Archive and a related collection of obituaries, both dated 1800–1900. Read more about finding family notices in England newspapers.

Civil Death Registrations

Beginning in July 1837, the British government began civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Death certificates generally included the deceased’s full name, sex, occupation (for adults) or a parent’s name (for children), as well as the death date and place, age at death, and cause of death. The identity of the person who provided information for the record was also often included, along with their relationship to the deceased. In the earlier decades of civil registration, not all events were recorded. Between 1874 and 1927, stillbirths were included in England death records.

You can search the England and Wales Death Registration Index, 1837–2007 for free. Here’s what a sample index entry looks like:

Use the information in this index to order a copy of the actual death registration, which may contain additional details about an ancestor. The registration record for the above person, shown below, includes a more detailed death date and place, his occupation and cause of death, and the informant’s identity.

Parish Burial Records

The Church of England began recording burials in parish records in 1538 and began sending copies to bishops in 1598. Either the parish record or the bishop’s transcript—or both—may survive. Records may include the name of the deceased, burial date, sex, and the name of a parent (for the deaths of children) or husband (if the deceased was a married woman). Beginning in 1812, parishes kept separate burial registers. These registers also included the age, residence, and occupation of the deceased.

The free FamilySearch index England Deaths and Burials, 1538–1991 includes more than 15 million names. A growing number of parish records and bishop’s transcripts are available online on and other major genealogy websites. Read these tips for locating the records you need.

Monumental Inscriptions

It’s not easy to find the tombstones of many ancestors, especially before about 1850. Many markers have worn smooth and are illegible. Others have broken. Some have disappeared into the ground or become covered by foliage.

Fortunately, many transcriptions have been made. Inscriptions may include information not recorded elsewhere, such as the relationships of several people buried in a family plot, a person’s military service, or childbirth as a cause of death.

Begin your search for English monumental inscriptions in the FamilySearch Catalog. If you know the name of the parish, you can also enter it in the name of your web browser, along with the phrase “monumental inscriptions.”

Civil Cemetery Registers

Cemeteries owned by local governments began operating in the 1850s. Public cemeteries created registers that recorded the purchasing and use of burial plots. Details about people interred in the cemetery may include the name, age, sex, residence, religious affiliation, date and place of death, date of burial, exact location of burial site, and the owner of the plot in which they were buried.

Deceased Online is a growing database of burial and cremation records for the British Isles. You may be able to find other registers through online searches, by contacting local archives and libraries, or by searching the FamilySearch Catalog.

Estate or Death Duty Records

Starting in 1796, when someone died and left behind an estate, a duty (or tax) had to be paid. These duties were noted in registers, along with the deceased’s name, address, occupation, death date, and names and relationships of all heirs—even heirs who may not be named in a will. You may also find follow-up notes pertaining to later residences, marriages, and deaths of spouses and other beneficiaries.

Search the Index to Death Duty Registers 1796–1903 on Note the name of the court mentioned in the index and the folio or entry number. If no number was given, no tax was due, so there won’t be a death duty register entry. But if there is and the record is from before 1858, search for original estate or death duty registers in the FamilySearch Catalog. In the keyword field, enter the words “death duty,” and look for the name of the correct court in the record title. Otherwise, you will need to visit the National Archives (in the United Kingdom) to see the register books.

Probate Records

Probate (or estate) records are some of the oldest England death records available. Some surviving records date back to the 1300s and 1400s. Probate records detail the division of a person’s estate after his or her death. You may find the date of death, names and relationships of relatives and heirs, a description of the deceased person’s effects, and more.

People didn’t have to be wealthy to leave behind estates, and English probate records are well-indexed online. However, it may require a little effort to find the records you want. Follow instructions for searching for English wills and probate records in the FamilySearch wiki. From 1858 onward, there was one national database for English wills. This index can be searched on

There are more types of England death records, but these seven are some of the most common. Start searching for your English ancestors’ death information in one of the record types listed above. Not sure where to start? Try typing a name in the form below.

Search English Death Records:

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The subject of this article and some of its material was taken from Raymon Naisbitt’s class, “England Records beyond the Grave,” at the 2019 BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy.

The BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy is held annually and offers classes for genealogists and others wanting to learn about their ancestors. Keep an eye on the BYU conference page for announcements about next year’s schedule and when registration opens.

FamilySearch Updates Enhance your Experience

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 14:30

FamilySearch is proud to have the world’s largest online family tree and thrilled to provide free family history experiences to millions. In order to give users the best experience possible, we are constantly working on updates and improvements to our online experience.

To keep you up to date on the latest FamilySearch experience changes, we will be listing them here chronologically. Check back often to see how your FamilySearch experience has improved!

Update: November 7, 2019—Control What You See in Your Feed

FamilySearch users will now be able to dismiss content from the feed on their signed-in home page.

When you first sign in to, you find an updating list of recent memories added to your ancestors’ person pages. In the bottom right corner of each memory, you can click the three dots and open a new menu. Here, you can choose to hide the memory, stop receiving update notifications from that ancestor’s page, or report abuse.

Update: November 7, 2019—Improvements to Family Tree Search

When you search the Family Tree to find a relative’s profile on, you can now add residence information to narrow your search. Also, to simplify the search, the options to add christening and burial information have been combined with birth and death event information.

To search the Family Tree, go to, and click Search and then Family Tree. In the search form, add your relative’s name.

  • How to add a residence: Under Search with life event, click Residence. Here you can add a place-name and a date range.
  • How to add christening and burial Information: You will no longer see an option in the life events section to choose christening or burial. Instead, simply enter christening information as a birth event,and burial information as a death event. The search will automatically include christenings and burials as it looks for birth events and death events.
Update: October 18, 2019—Changes to Reviewing Indexed Batches

We are announcing a change to the reviewing process that is designed to improve the quality of indexes.

Previously, when you opened a batch for reviewing, there was a green check mark prepopulated next to each indexed field. However, now the green check mark doesn’t automatically appear in each box. This change is meant to help prevent any confusion about whether a field has been reviewed.

Learn more here.

Update: October 8, 2019—Thank a Volunteer on

Many records on the FamilySearch website are available thanks to the hard work of volunteers. In fact, over 250 million records are indexed by 200,000 to 300,000 volunteers every year. Now it is possible for you to thank these volunteers for their hard work! The new Thank a Volunteer feature on is available for all records that have the name of a volunteer attached to them. Learn more here.

Update: August 16, 2019—See How You Are Related to Other FamilySearch Users

Have you ever wondered why someone made a change on the FamilySearch Family Tree? Or better yet, how you are related to him or her?

We are happy to announce the release of a new relationship viewer feature on and the Family Tree app. Unlike Relatives Around Me, this new feature doesn’t require you to be within 100 feet of another person. It gives you the option to view your relationship to another user anywhere you spot their name on the Family Tree, so long as he or she has opted in.  

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

Update: August 10, 2019—Messages Feature Expands on FamilySearch

The Messages feature on 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. Learn more here.

Update: July 12, 2019, 2019—Editing Names on Indexed Records

In the past, if you came across an incorrect index on, there wasn’t much you could do about it besides note down the error and perhaps grumble about it to yourself. That’s all changed now!

With this update to FamilySearch, you can now make corrections to names in the index—with the ability to edit other details in the entries coming soon. By editing the index, you can help other people locate records—and ancestors—they might not have been able to find otherwise. Learn more here.

Update: June 28, 2019—New Similar Historical Records Tool

You can search instantly among more than 7 billion names in old records with FamilySearch’s powerful Historical Records search—and now there’s an easier way to find similar historical records within your search. Learn more here.

Update: June, 24 2019—New Search Results Page

There’s a new look when you search for records on! On June 24, all FamilySearch users will see the system-wide update on the search results page. The update will help enhance the record search experience by making it faster and easier to view indexed records:

  • When you select a row on the search results page, a box pops up to display the detailed record information.  All the information is still there including who the source is attached to on Family tree, but now you can quickly move from record to record using the arrows on either side of the box.
  • The “number of results to show” option on the search results page has increased from a maximum of 75 to 100.  This also means that you can export up to 100 results at a time.
Update: May 30, 2019—Standardized Dates and Places

A system-wide update will standardize many dates and locations in the FamilySearch Family Tree. In the View Details section, these changes will appear with the contributor listed as “FamilySearch” and the date change starting on May 30, 2019. This will occur for vital and couple relationship conclusions only and will not trigger users’ Watch Ancestor notifications.

This update will help users by removing the data problem “Missing Standardized Date,” and “Missing Standardized Location”, saving the user time. It will also assist the site in providing more accurate record hints and creating more reliable data. Standardized dates will help you find ancestors more easily when you search the entire site.

This update will be applied to 15 percent of the dates and locations that are currently missing a standardized value. We will make the update only in cases where the standardized value very closely matches the value being replaced.

All about the FamilySearch Family Tree

Pilgrimage Places: Walk Where Your Ancestors Walked

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 13:00

Pilgrimages come in many shapes and sizes, and each has its own unique story. Some are exclusive to members of a religious group, and others are open to visitors from outside the group. Although most pilgrimages are extensive and can span several weeks or even months, many are split into manageable sections that you can participate in.

If you want to go on a pilgrimage but don’t know where to start, consider learning more about your family history. By creating a family tree on, you can discover where your ancestors came from and choose a pilgrimage that they might have gone on or lived along.

The following are just a few of the more well-known pilgrimages that are currently open to anyone willing to participate.

Pilgrim’s Way

Location: Southeastern England, United Kingdom

Distance: 192 kilometers (119 miles)

This pilgrimage begins in Winchester, Hampshire England, and leads to the Canterbury Cathedral and the shrine where Archbishop Thomas Beckett was buried.

Abraham’s Path

Location: Middle East

Distance: 1,078 kilometers (670 miles)

Abraham’s Path links ancient sites across the Middle East with the life events of the ancient biblical figure Abraham.

Via Francigena

Location: Rome, Italy

Distance: 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles)

The Via Francigena follows the ancient trail taken by pilgrims centuries ago to visit the tombs of Peter and Paul. It takes visitors directly through the heart of Europe.

Camino de Santiago

Location: Spain

Distance: 804 kilometers (500 miles)

Camino de Santiago has been a pilgrimage place for centuries. Many people travelled by land and even by sea to visit the shrine of Saint James the Great.

Kumano Kodo’s Seven Trails

Location: Japan

Distance: Trails range from 4.5–17 kilometers (3–10.5 miles)

These trails weave along beautiful landscape and ancient shrines. They have been traveled for over 1,000 years by pilgrims from all segments of society.

St. Olav’s Way

Location: Norway

Distance: 640 kilometers (400 miles)

People have been walking this trail since the Iron Age. It leads to Niadros Cathedral and the tomb of Saint Olav and has been named “The King’s Road” because nearly every king of Norway has traveled it.

Lagunas de las Huaringas

Location: Peru

Distance: 1,198 kilometers (1,929 miles)

This pilgrimage place is in the mountains of Huancabamba. There are a series of 14 lagoons that are believed since ancient times to bring healing and energy to visitors.

If you want to learn more about different cultures, geographies, and histories, visiting pilgrimage places is a very hands-on way to do it. A pilgrimage allows you to explore an area with the five senses rather than simply scrolling through online images or reading articles. You can experience the same climate and see the same sights that your ancestors may have experienced as part of their everyday lives. Whichever route you choose, we wish you happy travels!

What Is a Pilgrimage?

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 13:00

Throughout history, different cultures around the world have developed sacred journeys called pilgrimages. Pilgrimages are often long and end at a destination of great spiritual or cultural significance. 

These journeys are much more than physical, and a successful pilgrimage means more than reaching a specific destination. The journey allows the pilgrims the chance to focus inward and reach new destinations within themselves. For this reason, pilgrimages are typically centered on values such as sacrifice and reflection.

Does a pilgrimage have to be religious?

While the most well-known pilgrimages have religious roots and lead to destinations of religious significance, many individuals participate in pilgrimages to get away from the stress of day-to-day life. Some people take pilgrimages as an opportunity to learn more about their ancestry. It is also becoming increasingly common to go on a pilgrimage simply for the newness and adventure of the experience.

Where can I go on a pilgrimage?

Some pilgrimages permit only believers of specific religions, but because pilgrimages are a common practice worldwide, there are many locations to choose from.

Pilgrimage Places: Walk Where Your Ancestors Walked Why do people go on pilgrimages?

People go on pilgrimages for many reasons, many of which are unique and personal to the individuals themselves. Some of the most common reasons include the following:

  • Seeking miracles. Many people view pilgrimages as an act of devotion that can help them achieve or overcome something in their life that is difficult, such as an illness.
  • Finding forgiveness. Others may go on a pilgrimage to prove genuine sorrow for wrongdoings. It is an act of devotion and sacrifice that they hope will improve their spiritual standing with their deity and help them find peace within themselves.
  • Needing guidance. Pilgrimages provide much time for reflection. Many people go on a pilgrimage to receive insight and guidance for struggles or decisions they may face in life.
  • Wanting adventure. An increasingly popular reason for participating in pilgrimages is for a change of scenery. It is an escape from the everyday humdrum that offers the chance to clear the mind, exercise the body, and expand the horizons.
  • Making connections. Another reason for going on a pilgrimage is to visit the homelands of ancestors. These journeys allow people to experience the culture and climate of certain areas of the world in a unique way.

Every pilgrimage has its own set of experiences and atmospheres. Yet, regardless of the difference in religious focus, it is the embarking on a journey, whether physical or otherwise, that truly makes pilgrimages so significant. They offer hope and healing and a reminder that, in the rich and colorful human family, we are all travelers.

Have you gone on a pilgrimage or journey to discover yourself, seek a better connection with God, or connect with your ancestry and heritage? Write about it on FamilySearch’s Memories so you never forget the experience.

A Recipe for Shepherd’s Pie

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 18:00

Every country has its comfort foods—those dishes that not only satisfy, but also provide a sense of well-being. Shepherd’s pie is one such recipe. This traditional dish from the United Kingdom includes a mixture of vegetables cooked in gravy with bits of minced or ground lamb or mutton (hence the name “shepherd’s pie”) topped with savory mashed potatoes.

In the modern United Kingdom, the term “shepherd’s pie” is used only when the meat is lamb. Made with beef, it becomes “Cottage Pie”—but hungry families enjoying this delicious, simple dish may not differentiate. Perhaps it is that satisfying simplicity that has made it, in a host of variations, a favorite around the world.

To the Irish, it is known by the traditional Gaelic term “pióg an aoire” (pronounced pih-ogue on ee-ra).  Brazilians enjoy a similar dish called “escondidinho.” In the Netherlands, it is “philosopher’s stew.” Other variations appear throughout the world.

Traditional foods are part of what make your family who they are. If you have favorite traditional family recipes, share them and perhaps their significance in the FamilySearch Memories app.

Record your family’s recipes History of Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie, which originated in the late 1700s in the United Kingdom, was a way to introduce the potato as an edible crop for the poor. Although the potato was discovered in South America and introduced to Europe much earlier by Spanish conquistadores, it got to Ireland via Virginia colonists sent by Sir Walter Raleigh. He cultivated it in Ireland, where it eventually became a cheap, nourishing, primary food source. Shepherd’s pie probably originated in Ireland, where the bits of stewed meat and vegetables could be stretched to fill a hungry family by topping it with a generous portion of potatoes. But it was a favorite that soon spread to Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom.

The term “shepherd’s pie” appeared in 1854. Favorite vegetables include onions, peas, and carrots, but many kitchens have yielded the dish with other vegetables and topped the potatoes with cheese.

The years have produced variations of toppings for the meat and vegetable mixture—covering it with pie crust or dotting it with baking powder biscuits—but the original recipes demanded a mashed potato topping.

The classic shepherd’s pie below, from, makes a modern-day twist on the traditional recipe.

Classic Shepherd’s Pie Recipe Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup tomato ketchup
  • ¾ cup tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (such as peas and carrots)
  • 3 cups cooked, warm, mashed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and half the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
  2. Crumble meat into the pan, and cook until well browned. Sprinkle with flour. Stir in ketchup, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Simmer for five minutes. Stir in mixed vegetables. Transfer to a 9-inch baking dish.
  3. Whip potatoes with warm milk, the remaining salt and pepper, butter, and garlic until they are very fluffy. Spread the potato mixture evenly over the meat mixture. Bake for 35 minutes or until the potatoes are golden.

What Is Heritage? Discover Your Family Identity

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 13:59

Defining what is your heritage means understanding your inherited sense of family identity. Explore these questions and activities to strengthen and better express your own sense of heritage.

Defining Your Heritage

The word “heritage” brings to mind different ideas for different people—and it should. Heritage is a person’s unique, inherited sense of family identity: the values, traditions, culture, and artifacts handed down by previous generations. We absorb a sense of our heritage throughout our lives as we observe and experience the things that make our family unique. Although not every inherited trait, tendency, or tradition is positive, we generally consider heritage to be the positive and meaningful elements of our family’s identity that we incorporate into our own lives and pass along to succeeding generations.

Heritage can express itself in many ways. Some families define their heritage primarily as their ethnic, cultural, or national identity. Other families can point to values that have been passed on, such as a love for education, participation in community life, a strong work ethic, or religious devotion. People may feel that an inherited aptitude—such as for music or mechanics, athletics or art—is part of their heritage.

How to Discover Your Heritage

Some people have a strong sense of their heritage. They can point to a flag hanging proudly nearby or repeat stories and traditions shared by their parents or grandparents. Some have a confident sense of the unique interests, occupations, or values found in their family.

Others may have to look a little more closely to identify traces of heritage in their lives. Asking the following questions may help people discover elements of their family’s unique legacy in their lives:

  • How would I define my ethnic, cultural, or national identity? How does this identity shape my sense of who I am?
  • What traditions or rituals do I observe, either in everyday life or on special occasions? Where do those traditions come from?
  • What are my most prized values, hobbies, or interests? Did my parents, siblings, grandparents, or other relatives share these?
  • What positive traits, tendencies, or aptitudes would I use to describe my family in general? How do these traits manifest in my life?
  • What values, traits, interests, or hobbies do I have that I see in my own children or grandchildren or that I would wish to see manifested in younger generations in my family?

Another approach to discovering heritage is to search your family tree and family stories. What nations of origin or ethnic backgrounds are most prominent? If you participate in the FamilySearch Family Tree, it is easy to create a fan-chart view that highlights your ancestral birthplaces, such as the one shown below:

As you explore your family tree, identify patterns by asking these kinds of questions:

  • Do historical records show patterns in your family’s occupations, especially jobs relating to certain values, interests, or skills?
  • Do you see traditions or traits echoed in the kinds of photos your family takes or what objects they have chosen to keep?
  • What values or feelings do your most important family stories impart?

If you can attend a family reunion or meet with relatives, consider asking others what is meaningful to them about your shared heritage.

Some who seek a stronger sense of cultural or ethnic identity turn to DNA testing. Ethnicity percentages, while not always reliable or specific, may help you discover your ancestral places or cultures of origin.  Connecting with DNA matches can reveal heritage that has been passed down through other branches of the family.

What You Can Do to Honor Your Heritage

For many people, the most meaningful way to honor their heritage is to include elements of it in their own lives. They live the positive values they were taught and pass them on to others. They may choose activities or traditions that help them feel connected to their loved ones. Heirlooms, family photos, and other tangible reminders of their heritage may be displayed in their homes. They may also create new traditions that communicate the values they hope will outlive them.

Many who want to honor their heritage spend time learning about and expanding their family tree. They may interview relatives, label old photos, gather family recipes, and write down the stories they discover so as to preserve a more lasting legacy. Some even travel to ancestral hometowns or homelands to learn more about their heritage and feel more connected to past generations.

Start or explore your family tree for free on

Preserve Your Digital Legacy with FamilySearch and

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 14:43

Throughout our lives, we accumulate a lot of items—old journals, faded photos, treasured heirlooms, day-to-day documents. And in the wake of losing a loved one, it can be overwhelming to sift through all this information and try to preserve and share it.

As a way to help preserve these memories and artifacts, Permanent Legacy Foundation—an endowment-backed nonprofit cultural heritage organization—provides a service that allows people to upload document, photo, audio, and video files in a secure, permanent place for current and future generations to enjoy and cherish. Living family can also upload and share these important files with each other.

FamilySearch Integration is integrating with FamilySearch Memories. FamilySearch users will be able to connect their FamilySearch account to create a private permanent archive for any members of their family in their family tree. The first gigabyte of storage is free; additional gigabytes have a one-time fee of $10 per gigabyte. You can learn more about the pricing here.

If you are a public helper, gives you an additional resource with expanded capabilities for your patrons to consider.

Learn more about this partnership and how it can help you build and preserve your family’s digital legacy.

400 Years of Slavery: When International Slave Trade Reached Mainland North America

Sat, 11/02/2019 - 17:00

In 1619, a group of kidnapped Africans forcibly disembarked from ships on the shores of colonial Virginia. They were not the first people to be sold into slavery in the New World. But this date marked the first known sale of human beings on what would eventually become the United States mainland.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade Reaches North America

In 1619, about 350 people were forced aboard the Portuguese ship San Juan Bautista in the slave-trading port of Luanda on the West African coast. They had been captured by Portuguese fighters in Angola and marched up to 200 miles to Luanda.

The San Juan Bautista sailed across the notorious Middle Passage of the transatlantic slave trade triangle. Over the previous century, this route had delivered more than half a million captured Africans into slavery in the Caribbean and parts of mainland South America. But the passengers on this particular trip took an unprecedented, forced turn northward. As the San Juan Bautista crossed the Gulf of Mexico toward Veracruz, English privateers attacked. They captured around 50–60 enslaved passengers and transferred them to their own ships, the White Lion and Treasurer. The English ships set a new course for the British North American colonies.

This diagram of a ship shows the horrible, inhumane conditions enslaved people were subjected to through the Middle Passage.

The White Lion and Treasurer arrived a few days apart in what is now Hampton, Virginia. The privateers sold more than 20 Africans in exchange for provisions. At least one person, a woman named Angelo or Angela, was taken to nearby Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America.

Demand for Labor Leads to Slavery Laws

The labor-intensive nature of life in the British North American colonies, along with a high mortality rate, made the region hungry for workers. Tobacco farming in Virginia was an especially lucrative business, but it required enormous amounts of cheap labor, much of which was performed by indentured servants during the 1600s. During the mid-1600s, Virginia courts gradually created laws that trapped Africans and their offspring into lifelong slavery. Beginning in 1650, international slave traders brought increasing numbers of enslaved Africans to North America. A few came from the West Indies rather than directly from Africa, but most came from western Africa, largely from the coastal and nearby interior regions. More than 225,000 enslaved people arrived during the last half-century before United States independence. Natural increase boosted their numbers.

About 700,000 enslaved people lived in the United States when it became a nation. The vast majority of enslaved people lived in Southern states, where tobacco and cotton were important crops.

The United States and the Slave Trade

Importation of enslaved people dropped temporarily during and after the United States Revolutionary War. Certain states, most notably Georgia and South Carolina, opened their ports to the slave trade. The United States Congress abolished the importation of enslaved people from Africa beginning in 1808 and required ships transporting enslaved people within the country to document their passengers.

The law wasn’t fully enforced and did nothing to end the practice of slavery itself. A few states had begun that process, however. In 1777, Vermont abolished slavery completely; Pennsylvania followed suit three years later. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery in the new Northwest Territory.

In 1820, a new law effectively curbed United States participation in the international slave trade by imposing much stiffer penalties. As legal scholar Paul Finkelman has noted, “After 1820, participation in the African slave trade was to be considered the most heinous crime on the high seas. . . . Some slaves were smuggled into the United States after 1820 from both Africa and other places in the Western Hemisphere. But the risks were high and the numbers were relatively few. . . . After 1820 it is unlikely that more than 10,000 were successfully landed in the United States.”

Although the importation of new enslaved individuals from Africa largely ceased, slavery continued in the United States for nearly another half century. The process of ending slavery on a national level began in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation and concluded with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. However, other laws and practices continued to perpetuate injustices against people of African descent in the United States for decades to follow.

History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

5 Simple Tasks for Latter-day Saints to Try on

Fri, 11/01/2019 - 16:08

Wondering how to best use your new FamilySearch account? Here are five simple tasks you can try.

1. Find a family name to take to the temple.

Ordinances Ready is a feature on both the FamilySearch website and the FamilySearch Family Tree app. With Ordinances Ready, you can quickly find an ancestor in need of temple ordinances. Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign in to
  2. At the top of the page, hover the mouse over the Temple tab.
  3. In the drop-down menu that appears, click Ordinances Ready.
  4. Select an ordinance you would like to help with.

After that, simply follow the instructions that appear on screen. When you have finished, you will have the names of several individuals that you can take with you on your next visit to the temple.  

To learn about using Ordinances Ready on your phone or tablet, read this article in the FamilySearch blog.

Try Ordinances Ready 2. Explore family history activities.

Family history is more than just learning about the people who have gone before us. It’s learning about ourselves and leaving a record for those who come after.

A record could be anything—a journal, a photo album, a voice recording, maybe even a hand-drawn map of your home! Family history discovery activities are an aspect of family history work that is especially appealing to youth, who would usually much rather be doing family history than watching someone else give a demonstration about it.

If activities sound like something your own family might be interested in, be sure to explore online FamilySearch Discovery Activities.

Search Discovery Experiences 3. Record a Memory

Saving photographs to is a great thing to do, but don’t stop there. You can use your microphone to record stories, jokes, words of wisdom, your testimony, and anything else you would like—in your own words, with your own voice! You can also capture audio recordings of your loved ones. To preserve a voice recording, do the following:

  1. Sign in to Family
  2. Look for the box on the right of the screen labeled Family History Activities, and click Check them out.
  3. Click the activity titled Record My Story.
  4. Choose the type of story you would like to tell.
  5. Follow the instructions you see on screen.

It is also possible to add audio recordings directly to pictures in, or you can add a memory directly to you or your ancestor’s person page.

Once you have finished, make sure that you tag the memory to the profiles of any relatives you mention in the audio, especially if your recording mentions any family members who may already be deceased. These tags will link the memory to their profile pages so that more people can listen to it.

Record a Memory 4. Add a portrait for yourself or other family members.

A portrait is the picture that appears next to a person’s name in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

If you’ve just started your account with, then you probably don’t have a portrait photo. Other people in your immediate family might be missing one as well. This problem is easy to fix! Here are the steps:

  1. In the Family Tree drop-down menu at the top of the page, select Person to go to your own profile page.
    1. To go to the profile page for ancestors, click their names in Family Tree, and then click the person’s name or Person.
  2. Click the large green circle at the top of the page near the name.
  3. Follow the instructions for uploading a photo.

With portraits in place, FamilySearch Family Tree will start to feel much more personal to you.

Add Your Portrait 5. Help others by indexing a historical record.

When you index a historical record, you view the digital image of an actual document and enter the information you see into the indexing tool. The system can then make the information searchable for other users.

Indexing a single record takes only a minute or two, but that little bit of service can lead to a huge family history discovery for someone else.

To begin indexing, you need first to select a project:

  1. Go to, and hover the mouse over the Indexing tab.
  2. In the drop-down list, click Find a Project.
  3. Click Projects.
  4. Scroll through the list of available projects until you find one that interests you.
  5. Start Indexing!

For more on indexing, read this brief overview.

Index a Record What’s Next?

These five activities are easy ways to start using your FamilySearch account—and to keep using it.  (You have more than one family joke to record, right? Better start recording them!) You can repeat these activities as many times as you would like.

For example, you could choose a night each month for your family to participate in a FamilySearch discovery activity or try setting a certain amount of time aside each week, or even a day, to index. As you do, you will be inviting the blessings of temple and family history work into your life, which, according to President Russell M. Nelson, include increased access to the Holy Ghost and personal revelation.

In addition, consider exploring the FamilySearch blog, where you’ll find a veritable library of tips, strategies, and just plain fun ideas—such as this article on using Google photos to build your family history.

Connect with Your Brazilian Roots

Fri, 11/01/2019 - 10:57

Do you have a family brigadeiro recipe or love Brazilian cheese bread? Or maybe some of your ancestors came from Brazil but you don’t know much about them?

Knowing the history of our ancestors’ lives, the places where they lived, what they believed in, their customs, the occupation they had, and so on connects us to them, reinforcing our roots and helping us understand who we are.

Read more about how to find your family from Brazil, connect with your Brazilian heritage, cook Brazilian food, and even learn about dual citizenship.

Get Started for Free on Searching for Your Ancestors

FamilySearch International offers free family history services online and access to its genealogical database. On, you can track down your family names in historical records, work on your family tree with your family, preserve memories, and more.

How to Start Your Family Tree—First Steps

Learn about Your Brazil Ancestors with Historical Records

Learning about Your Ancestors

Since the beginning of its Portuguese colonization, Brazil has received people from all over the world. The Spanish, Dutch, and French, as well as Italians and Scandinavians were peoples who came to Brazil during the colonial period.

The influence of these different immigration cycles is the diversity and multiplicity of Brazil, which you can see today in the language, beliefs, behavior, customs, religion, folklore, and cuisine of Brazil, as well as in other ways.

Discovering Traditional Brazil Recipes Learn about Your Brazilian Last Name Do You Have Ancestors Who Left Brazil? has records from Brazil and all around the world! Search for your ancestor’s name in historical records, and learn more about your roots.

New Records on FamilySearch from October 2019

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 18:28

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in October of 2019 with over 14.8 million new indexed family history records and over 400 thousand digital images from all over the world. New historical records were added from American Samoa, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, England, France, Guatemala, Peru, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, Uruguay, Wales, and the United States, which includes Alabama, Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The United States Deceased Physician Files, United States GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries 1815-2011, and United States Census (Slave Schedule) are included as well. Digital Images came from England, Ukraine, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Wales.

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 RecordsDigital ImagesCommentsAmerican Samoa American Samoa, Vital Records, 1850-19722,8740Added indexed records to an existing collectionAmerican Samoa American Samoa, Vital Records, 1850-19721,0420New indexed records collectionArgentinaArgentina, Salta, Catholic Church Records, 1634-197298,9070Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, Pernambuco, Civil Registration, 1804-201670Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-19994,0720Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-19992,6160Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaManitoba Church Records, 1800-19598,0350Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaNova Scotia Deaths, 1864-18777490Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaNova Scotia Marriages, 1864-1918330Added indexed records to an existing collectionChileChile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-19284,1990New indexed records collectionChileChile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-19282,6700Added indexed records to an existing collectionColombiaColombia, Bogotá, Burial Permits, 1960-199149,2800Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Bedfordshire Parish Registers, 1538-1983376.9930New indexed records collectionEnglandEngland, Devon Bishop’s Transcripts, 1558-188733.1580Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Essex Parish Registers, 1538-19971,129,8990Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Oxfordshire Parish Registers 1538-19048260New indexed records collectionEnglandEngland, Shropshire Parish Registers, 1538-1918775,8550Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Warwickshire, Parish Registers, 1535-1963020,994Added images to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Yorkshire Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1613-1887960New indexed records collectionFinlandFinland, Tax Lists, 1809-191573,0070Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance Deaths and Burials, 1546-1960341,0460Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance, Marriages, 1546-19241,209,6150Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance, Vienne, Census, 187620,6380Added indexed records to an existing collectionGuatemalaGuatemala Civil Registration, 1868-200850,3910Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Ayacucho, Civil Registration, 1903-19996700New indexed records collectionPeruPeru, Cemetery Records, 1912-201310,8110Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Cemetery Records, 1912-20135650Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Diocese of Huacho, Catholic Church Records, 1560-19521,4230Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Huánuco, Civil Registration, 1889-199725,8350Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Huánuco, Civil Registration, 1889-19976,4800Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Junín, Civil Registration, 1881-20053650Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Lima, Civil Registration, 1874-19962790Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Prelature of Yauyos-Cañete-Huarochirí, Catholic Church Records, 1665-2018680New indexed records collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Transvaal, Civil Death, 1869-1954203,9800Added indexed records to an existing collectionSwedenSweden, Östergötland Church Records, 1555-1911; index 1616-186021,5200Added indexed records to an existing collectionSwedenSweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records, 1546-192722,9020Added indexed records to an existing collectionUkraineUkraine, Kyiv Orthodox Consistory Church Book Duplicates, 1734-1930089,059Added images to an existing collectionUkraineUkraine, Western Ukraine Catholic Church Book Duplicates, 1600-193726,3760Added indexed records to an existing collectionUkraineUkraine, Zaporizhia Poll Tax Census (Revision Lists), 1811-185832,8130Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama Deaths, 1908-197415840Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Church Records, 1831-199411,0480New indexed records collectionUnited StatesAlabama, County Birth Registers, 1881-1930220,3600Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, County Birth Registers, 1881-19306,6380Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Friends of Magnolia Cemetery, Funeral Books, 1911-196510,8390New indexed records collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Friends of Magnolia Cemetery, Funeral Books, 1911-19656,6060Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlaska, State Archives (Juneau), Naturalization Records, 1900-19728,9310New indexed records collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Lassen County, State Board of Health, Burial Permits, 1931-19888,8080New indexed records collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Lassen County, State Board of Health, Burial Permits, 1931-1988800Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Mendocino County, Ukiah, Russian River Cemetery District, Index to Burials, 1850-199011,0640New indexed records collectionUnited StatesConnecticut, Church Records, 1660-195516,7100New indexed records collectionUnited StatesDelaware Vital Record Index Cards, 1680-1934130,4700Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesDelaware, Church Records, 1707-193975,2820New indexed records collectionUnited StatesFlorida, Church Records, 1834-1997830New indexed records collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, County Delayed Birth and Death Records, 1870-196092,3540New indexed records collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, County Delayed Birth and Death Records, 1870-19607,6870Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Fulton County Records from the Atlanta History Center, 1827-1955107,6100Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Board of Health, Marriage Record Indexes, 1909-198910,8300New indexed records collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Board of Health, Marriage Record Indexes, 1909-198910,7290Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Death Records and Death Registers, 1841-1925104,0610New indexed records collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Tax Assessment Rolls, 1847-190355,1320Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Tax Assessment Rolls, 1847-190348,1330New indexed records collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Various Islands, Circuit Court Divorce Records, 1849-1915046,945New browsable image collection.United StatesIllinois, Church Records, 1837-199528,5990New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIllinois, Stark County Circuit Court, Stark County Naturalization Records560New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIndiana, Church Records, 1743-196617,9820New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIowa, Church Records, 1839-200419,0750New indexed records collectionUnited StatesKansas State Census, 190530,6720Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesKansas, Church Records, 1826-19926,9750New indexed records collectionUnited StatesKentucky, Church Records, 1818-19959,5360New indexed records collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Church Records, 1836-19383,7270New indexed records collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, New Orleans, Interment Registers, 1836-197248,0230New indexed records collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, New Orleans, Interment Registers, 1836-197212,7550Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Orleans Parish, Birth Records, 1819-190673,5330Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Orleans Parish, Birth Records, 1819-190630,8260Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Parish Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905132,8540New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMaine, Church Records, 1734-190757,1250New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMaryland, Church Records, 1668-199588,5740Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMaryland, Kent County, Voter Registration Records, 1853-189826,7570New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Church Records, 1630-19436,6060New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMinnesota, Church Records, 1798-19914,9770New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMississippi, Adams County, Natchez Death Index, 1835-190521,4740New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMississippi, Adams County, Natchez Death Index, 1835-19051680Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMississippi, Church Records, 1910-19192,8690New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951687,2710Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-195125,9690Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMissouri, Church Records, 1827-200430,7390New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMissouri, County Marriage, Naturalization, and Court Records, 1800-19911,346,1150Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMissouri, County Marriage, Naturalization, and Court Records, 1800-19915,6780Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMissouri, Jackson County Voter Registration Records, 1928-1956290Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNebraska, Grand Army of the Republic, Burial Records, 1861-19483640Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew Hampshire, Church Records, 1771-19054040New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey Naturalization Records, 1796-1991396,3730Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Church Records, 1675-197059,4670Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Death Index, 1901-19033010Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew York, Church and Civil Deaths, 1824-19621,4610Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew York, Church Records, 1660-1954106,9890New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNorth Carolina, Wake County, Death Records, 1900-19092,5370Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNorth Carolina, Wake County, Death Records, 1900-1909400Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNorth Dakota, County Marriages, 1872-19581,2240Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio, Church Records, 1762-200876,0390New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOhio, Clermont County Tax Records, 1816-1900116,1840New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Rose Hill Burial Park, Interment cards, 1917-198254,9050New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOregon, Church Records, 1853-18745430New indexed records collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Carbon County, Jim Thorpe, Cemetery Records, 1747-20070469Added images to an existing collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, Birth Registers, 1901-19261,9020Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, Birth Registers, 1901-19266010Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTennessee, Board of Health, Shelby County, Memphis Death Records, 1848-19131,0610New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTennessee, Church Records, 1816-19953,9090New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Church Records, 1852-19946,1070New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Harrison County Delayed Birth Records, 1860-19331960Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States Census (Slave Schedule), 18604,429,4080Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States Deceased Physician File (AMA), 1864-196858,2470Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-201198,2690Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-201122,9720Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, Iowa Naturalization Records, 1859-199055,1140New indexed records collectionUnited StatesUnited States, Louisiana, Passenger Departures from New Orleans, 1867-18715,1230New indexed records collectionUnited StatesUtah, Church Records, 1915-19728480New indexed records collectionUnited StatesUtah,Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia52,8290New indexed records collectionUnited StatesVirginia, Slave Birth Index, 1853-186613,1350Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesWisconsin, Milwaukee, Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery, Interment Records, 1880-197915,5690New indexed records collectionUnited StatesWisconsin, Milwaukee, Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery, Interment Records, 1880-1979300Added indexed records to an existing collectionUruguayUruguay, Passenger Lists, 1888-19801,017,7220Added indexed records to an existing collectionWalesWales, Anglesey, Parish Registers, 1538-1912281,418281,418Added indexed records and images to an existing collectionWalesWales, Marriage Bonds, 1650-19001,7710Added indexed records to an existing collectionWalesWales, Monmouthshire (Gwent) Workhouse Registers 1843-1929141,2110New indexed records collection

How to Use the Family Tree

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 14:12

The FamilySearch Family Tree is an incredible tool that can help you organize information about your family and learn more about them along the way. To help you make the most of Family Tree, we’ve provided several easy-to-follow guides on how to use the Family Tree.

For example, you can discover how Record Hints can tell you more about your family, or you can learn how to link to living family members. It’s easier than you think! Whether you are starting from square one with your family tree or your family tree goes back several generations, there is always more to learn about your family.

Correct Mistakes in the Family Tree Join the FamilySearch Family Tree Updates to the Family Tree Person Pages in the Family Tree FamilySearch ID Numbers Linking to Living People How to Use the Research Wiki How to Use Record Hints Merging People in the Family Tree Different Tree Views Using FamilySearch Lite All about the FamilySearch Family Tree

Correct Mistakes on the FamilySearch Family Tree

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 13:58

Our goal at FamilySearch is not only to connect individual families, but to connect the human family. In order to accomplish that goal, we need everyone’s help. For this reason, FamilySearch Family Tree is a shared tree, which means that it is open for users to contribute what information they have.

Why Are There Changes That I Didn’t Make in My Family Tree?

Using a public or shared tree means that other people can add to or even modify information about the ancestors or relatives that they have in common with you.

We believe that the more people work on FamilySearch Family Tree, the faster it will grow—and the more accurate it will become. However, sometimes well-meaning users make changes in the tree that are incorrect. Thankfully, you can correct mistakes that you see in your tree.

What If There Is a Mistake in My Family Tree?

Mistakes in your tree might include incorrect relationships, an incorrect record attachment, or—one of the more tedious issues—an incorrect merge. Thankfully, every change made in the family tree is archived, and mistakes made in the tree are reversible.

What If a Mistake Keeps Popping Up after I Fix It?

There are a few ways you can prevent individuals from creating these errors in the information once it has been corrected. FamilySearch provides tools that can help you clarify information and collaborate with others. These include the notes section, discussions, and FamilySearch Messaging.

Give Good Reason Statements

When you make a change, you can write a reason statement that lets people know why you’ve corrected the information. For example, the FamilySearch user below explained why she removed a mother relationship from one of her ancestors. She also explained why she merged this person with another.

You can find the history of an ancestor’s changes and corrections on his or her person page by navigating to the right of the page and clicking Show All under the Latest Changes column. When making changes to the person yourself, you have the option to write a reason statement for making the change. This reason statement will appear in the Latest Changes list for others to see.

A history of changes and reasons for these changes can help others see why you made the corrections that you did and prevent future mistakes.

Write a Life Sketch

Sometimes, writing a life sketch for your ancestor can help prevent any future errors or misconceptions about your ancestor. In this life sketch, you can paste in the person’s obituary or any other quick outline of the person’s life, explaining details that could prevent future incorrect changes.

For example, you could explain in your great-great-grandfather’s life sketch that he married a woman with the same name as his previous spouse. This explanation might prevent others from accidentally assuming that the two wives with the same names were the same woman and merging them.

How to Correct Mistakes

As for how to smooth out the wrinkles you’ve come across in Family Tree, here are some tools, tips, and tricks to help you maintain accuracy in the information about your ancestors.

Incorrect Merges Wrong Record Links Contacting Users

All about the FamilySearch Family Tree