FamilySearch

Syndicate content
Stay current with genealogy and family history topics by reading the FamilySearch blog. Find out insights into our future and our past.
Updated: 4 min 19 sec ago

FamilySearch’s 2 Billion Digitized Records

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:56

FamilySearch recently published its 2 billionth digital image of historical records. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”

These digital images of records are an invaluable source for discovering new details about your family’s story. Access to the 2 billion images is organized in three main places on the site—the FamilySearch historical records collection, catalog, and online books. We’ve prepared a free guide that explains how to perform searches in these areas.

Give me a hint

The indexed portion of this massive record collection is also used by the site to automatically search for your ancestors. These searches result in “hints” that appear in the pedigree and person page views of Family Tree. They also appear in the Family Tree mobile app. Hints help you add ancestors to the tree and make connections that would have taken much longer if you were doing the searches manually. Learn more about Record Hints.

All digital, all the time

For more than 80 years, FamilySearch microfilmed historical records for use in family history research. These microfilmed records require an extra step—scanning—to make them accessible online. Starting in 2017, FamilySearch discontinued microfilm in favor of digitizing records using cameras.

This all-digital workflow has increased efficiency at a crucial time. Preserving physical copies of genealogy records in archives is, in many cases, a race against the clock. Poor storage conditions, world conflict, scheduled destruction, and natural disasters are just some of the threats that physical records face. Digital preservation ensures that more records can be saved as quickly, and as accurately, as possible (see FamilySearch’s Strategy to Help Preserve the World’s Archives).

The role of indexing

It’s important to note the difference between digital record images and indexed records. A large portion of the digital images on FamilySearch are unindexed. They can be viewed using an image viewer, but can’t be searched by name and other search variables like a fully indexed collection would be.

Anyone can help in the process of indexing record images like these after they are digitized. Learn more about how indexing works, and give it it a try.


New Records on FamilySearch: Week of May 21, 2018

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 16:09

Find your German ancestors on FamilySearch with 2 million new Baden, Germany Catholic Church records. You can also find ancestors from around the world by searching the new genealogical records added this week from Argentina, Benin, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, England, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Ukraine, United States (Iowa, Louisiana, and Rhode Island) and Venezuela.

See the official announcement to learn more or to search these new free records:

New Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of May 21, 2018

Over 6 billion searchable historic records are available from around the world on FamilySearch.org. Records are published with the help of thousands of volunteer indexers who transcribe digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. To help make more historical records from the world’s archives available online, volunteer with FamilySearch Indexing.


New Records on FamilySearch: Week of May 14, 2018

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 09:57

Discover your ancestors on FamilySearch this week records, including birth, marriage, death, and immigration records, from Australia, Brazil, Kentucky, Luxembourg, Oklahoma, and Peru. Research these new free records by clicking on the collection links below or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

See the official announcement to learn more or search these new free records:

New Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of May 14, 2018

Over 6 billion searchable historic records are available from around the world on FamilySearch.org. Records are published with the help of thousands of volunteer indexers who transcribe digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. To help make more historical records from the world’s archives available online, volunteer with FamilySearch Indexing.


New Records on FamilySearch: Week of May 7, 2018

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 11:08

New archived records from around the world are published on FamilySearch every week to help you find your ancestors. This week, the new additions include over 140,000 records from Panama, over 130,000 records from Brazil, plus more from Cape Verde, Guatemala, Denmark, Slovakia, Portugal, Germany, and Peru. Nearly 300,000 images and indexed records from BillionGraves Index were also added this week.

See the official announcement to learn more or search these new free records:

New Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of May 7, 2018

Over 6 billion searchable historic records are available from around the world on FamilySearch.org. Records are published with the help of thousands of volunteer indexers who transcribe digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. To help make more historical records from the world’s archives available online, volunteer with FamilySearch Indexing.


New Records on FamilySearch: Week of April 30, 2018

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 17:24

New archived records from around the world are published on FamilySearch every week to help you find your ancestors. This week, the new additions include 1.1 million records from Germany (Bavaria), plus more from Australia, Belgium, Hungary, Peru, and Russia.

See the official announcement to learn more or search these new free records:

New Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of April 30, 2018

Over 6 billion searchable historic records are available from around the world on FamilySearch.org. Records are published with the help of thousands of volunteer indexers who transcribe digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. To help make more historical records from the world’s archives available online, volunteer with FamilySearch Indexing.


Uses of Military Dogs in World War I

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 16:26

More than 50,000 military dogs served in World War I. They proved just how valuable canines can be on the battlefield and beyond. Here is how their service in the Great War differed from what military dogs had done before.

For centuries, dogs have protected their human companions. The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman armies all enlisted dogs to help fight their battles. Napoleon Bonaparte set strays around his fortifications. Dogs guarded troops on both sides of the United States Civil War.

Several European nations officially began training military dogs in the early 20th century. By the opening of World War I, Germany had trained thousands of German shepherds and Doberman Pinschers along with English dogs they had purchased, such as Airedales, sheep dogs, and collies. Both the French and the English established official war dog schools. Russian, Swedish, Italian, Albanian, Belgian, and Bulgarian troops also used military dogs.

Most dogs used by the American Expeditionary Forces came from their allies. However, a few dogs from the United States did end up on the front lines. Perhaps the most famous is Sergeant Stubby, who served in France for 18 months.

 
Search WWI Records
 

World War I was the first war in which military dogs were mobilized on a massive, organized scale. More than an estimated 50,000 dogs served. This war was also the first conflict in which most official military dogs received formal training. They learned to tolerate battlefield chaos and gear such as gas masks. They also learned to serve in highly specialized roles that saved thousands of human lives.

Major uses of military dogs in World War I Watchdogs: Sentries, scouts, and guards

With keen senses of sight, hearing, and smell, many military dogs were well-suited as watchdogs, especially at night. They were trained to raise alerts quietly. Rather than bark, as a domestic watchdog might do, military dogs growled quietly or stood at attention. This quiet signaling allowed soldiers to get ready for their foes without betraying their preparations. On patrol, military dogs could often sense an enemy presence—human or chemical—sooner than their human handlers.

Dogs were effective guards too. They defended railways, munitions and supplies, barracks, and trenches. They kept an eye on prisoners of war. On the front, guard dogs often prevented enemies from getting close enough to lob grenades.

Lifesaving ambulance dogs

Red Cross dogs or “mercy dogs” performed one of the most dangerous tasks on the battlefield: finding and assisting the wounded in the no-man’s land between the trenches. These ambulance dogs carried medical packs that men could use to treat themselves if they were able. Dogs would carry a wounded soldier’s cap back to the medics and then bring the medics to him. Compassionate canines even sat with the dying to comfort them.

Unfortunately, medics and their dogs were often killed in the line of duty. The casualty rate among dogs was so high that many units stopped using them. Ambulance dogs were highly effective on the Eastern front, though. During the Russian retreat, medical dogs reportedly saved thousands of German lives.

Messengers and couriers

In the trenches, communication was often a problem. Heavy shelling destroyed telephone lines. Human runners were easy targets for enemy fire. Even close-range communication became difficult or impossible in the smoke and thunder of the artillery.

Early in the war, dogs were trained to deliver messages in combat. Images from the time show them leaping over coils of barbed-wire fences and carrying messages tied to their collars. They also sometimes carried small packages of food, cigarettes, explosives, or other supplies to soldiers in the trenches. Their speed, size, and nimble feet helped them evade enemy fire over difficult and dangerous terrain.

Some military dogs pulled small vehicles packed with arms, equipment, supplies, and food. Sometimes they transported soldiers too, both wounded and whole.

Discover World War I heroes in your family

What can you learn about the World War I heroics of men and women on your own family tree? Discover your ancestors in FamilySearch World War I records. If you have World War I (or any other) stories, photos or documents, share them with others on FamilySearch Memories.

 

Sources consulted

 “Dogs’ WWI jobs uncovered in records,” BBC.com. 28 November 2013. Accessed 21 April 2018.

“World War I,” The United States War Dog Association, Inc. N.d. Accessed 20 April 2018.

Chaz, “War-dogs of First World War (WWI, First Great European War) 1914–1918,” Owlcation.com. Updated 7 March 2018. Accessed 20 April 2018.

Holly, “The dogs of war,” findmypast.com Blog, 28 November 2013. Accessed 21 April 2018.

Moore, Lucinda. Animals in the Great War. Images of War series. Barnsley, England: Pen & Sword Military, 2017.

Nalewicki, Jennifer. “The animals that helped win World War I,” World War I: 100 Years Later series, Smithsonian.com, 5 May 2017. Accessed 21 April 2018.

Richardson, Edwin Houtonville, British War Dogs, Their Training and Psychology. London: Skeffington & Son, 1920. Digital copy accessed at Internet Archive, 20 April 2018.

 

About the Author

Sunny Morton is an internationally-known, award-winning writer, editor and speaker for the multibillion-dollar genealogy industry. Her voice is heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast, which has more than 2.5 million downloads worldwide. She is a contributing editor at Family Tree Magazine and the NGS-award-winning coeditor of Ohio Genealogy News. She has been a popular speaker at events across the country, including RootsTech. Sunny is especially known for expertise in tracing U.S. ancestors; unique comparisons of the industry’s leading websites; and inspiring presentations on how to reconstruct meaningful stories from genealogy records.