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Finding Family History in Freedmen’s Bureau Records

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 12:00

The Freedmen’s Bureau records were created more than 150 years ago and are a wonderful resource for anyone searching African American ancestors, especially for the difficult pre-1870 years.

Although the Freedmen’s Bureau records have been available to the public for many years, they used to be housed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., making them difficult for most people to access. Now they have been digitized and indexed, making them easily searchable here on

What Was the Freedmen’s Bureau?

Near the close of the Civil War in 1865, the United States government created a commission to help formerly enslaved persons navigate their new freedom. The bureau was tasked with supervising relief efforts for education, health care, legalization of marriages, employment, bounty payments and pensions, and banking needs. The collection of records covers the years 1865–1872.

The Freedmen’s Bureau assisted over one million African Americans, which was 25 percent of the population of formerly enslaved persons in the United States. The reach of these records makes this collection a go-to resource for African American family history research.

Separate from the Freedmen’s Bureau was the Freedman’s Bank. Originally called the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, this bank assisted newly freed slaves and African American soldiers. Sadly, the bank failed in 1874, and many people lost their savings. The records from the bank still exist, however, and provide a great deal of genealogical data.

What Are the Freedmen’s Bureau Records?

The Freedmen’s Bureau records contain more than just names; they include details about formerly enslaved persons and their families, births and deaths, previous owners, and residences.

The Freedmen’s Bureau records on include 31 searchable collections. Here’s a quick peek at just a few of the collection titles:

More about the Freedman’s Bank Records and the Vital Information They Hold

Although the Freedmen’s Bureau bank and trust ultimately failed, the records created by it are filled with documentation for many African American families. Thousands of signature cards contain personal information about individual account holders, including name, age, birthplace, spouse’s name, children’s names, parents’ and siblings’ names, and residences.

More about the Freedmen’s Bureau Records and the Vital Information They Contain

You might be surprised to learn that the hospital and medical records are filled with genealogically relevant information too! They include indexes of patient names, ages, dates of admission, discharge or death dates, names and locations of the cemetery where the deceased were buried, if applicable, estimated date and place of birth, marital status, and sometimes the names of family members.

The Freedmen’s Bureau records for marriage contain information to legalize marriages entered into during slavery.

These marriage records include all or some of the following key information:

  • Date the marriage was registered.
  • Names and residences of groom and bride.
  • Age, race, and parents’ race for both groom and bride.
  • How many years the groom or bride lived with a former companion, if applicable.
  • Cause of separation.
  • Number of children by former companion.
  • Number of children with present companion.
  • Names and ages of children.
  • Name of officiator of marriage.
A Personal Story of Using Freedmen’s Bureau Records

Judy Williams of Ohio found a record of her ancestor dated September 13, 1871, in the Freedmen’s Bureau bank account records. It was a record of her second-great-grandmother Jane, who was opening an account. Jane listed her spouse as James W. (deceased) and gave her own maiden name as Ford. She listed her minor children as Margaret Frances and Mary Ellen and then named her own mother as Judy Robinson.

Of finding this amazing genealogical record, Judy Williams says, “This record was invaluable for me in terms of researching my female ancestors. Not only did I discover Jane’s maiden name [Ford], I also learned that her mother, my third-great-grandmother, had apparently remarried and was now a Robinson. The record also mentioned the child Margaret Frances, my great-grandmother. That was three generations of my direct female line in one document. Hooray!”

Did You Know?

You may not know that the United States Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, shortened to the Freedmen’s Bureau, was created to help formerly enslaved individuals and Southern white refugees. For this reason, its records are a great resource for many of us with ties to the South. Try looking for your ancestors in the Freedmen’s Bureau record collections today!

All about the FamilySearch Family Tree

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 23:07

The FamilySearch Family Tree allows you to discover more about your family, keep track of your family tree, and share what you know with other family members—all for free!

Millions of people have used Family Tree since it was launched in 1999 and have discovered and recorded information for over a billion ancestors.

With the links below, you can learn how to use the FamilySearch Family Tree, how a shared family tree works, and how to add to the tree on FamilySearch. You can also find easy ways to search for records, tips and tricks for finding family information, and more.

A Shared Family Tree Join the Family Tree Family Tree Updates How to Use the Site Record Hints Person Pages Different Tree Views Merging Duplicates Using ID Numbers Fix Incorrect Merges Create a Free FamilySearch Account

Getting Started with FamilySearch’s Shared Family Tree

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 17:20

The FamilySearch Family Tree is the world’s largest online family tree. It is a cooperative, public tree, where participants can see how they connect to each other, learn their lineage, and share what is known about deceased relatives.

When you connect to the FamilySearch shared tree, you may discover ancestors you didn’t know about and learn more about those you are already familiar with. You can even see photos and read family stories uploaded by other descendants. As you build your ancestors’ profiles in the FamilySearch Family Tree, you also create a foundation for other family members to learn more and share what they know about your ancestors.

How to Get Started

To join the FamilySearch Family Tree, go to Sign in or create a free account. Under the Family Tree tab, select Tree.

Next, click  Add Father or Add Mother, and enter what you know about your parents.

Living versus Deceased Ancestors

If a parent or another relative you add is living, FamilySearch will create a private, protected profile that only you can see. Once you add death information to a profile, that person’s profile becomes public. This change means that the profile can be seen by others who are using the shared family tree.

Matching an Ancestor’s Profile with One Already in the Shared Tree

When you try to add a deceased relative, FamilySearch will first check to see if a profile for that person already exists among the 1.2 billion profiles on the Family Tree. You will be shown any profiles with similar information. For example, let’s say you want to add a woman named Opal Collins who was born in 1918 in Kentucky, United States. As shown below, FamilySearch tells you that a similar profile is already in the Family Tree.

It is up to you to decide whether the existing profile shown under “Possible Matches Found” (with a 1917 birth in Kentucky to the parents shown) is the same Opal Collins you want to add.

  • If the profile information matches what you know about your ancestor, accept it by choosing option 1, Add Match or Add Couple Match.
  • If you are sure none of the profiles matches, create a new profile using option 2, Create Person.
  • If you are not sure whether one of the profiles matches, you can try clicking the profile name to get more information. (Tip: Use Ctrl+click or Command+click to open the person’s page in a new browser tab to avoid interrupting the process of adding your relative.) If you want to add more details to your search to better identify your relative’s profile, you can also choose option 3, Refine Search.

If you take the time to check for a correct match and add it to your tree—instead of creating a new profile for that relative—you may discover more about your relatives, and you can share what you know with other descendants of that person. If you add a match that already has parents and other ancestors attached, you will also make the process of filling in your family tree a lot easier. When a duplicate profile is created for an ancestor who is already in the Family Tree, the profile will later be merged with the existing one.

Adding More Ancestors

After creating or finding profiles for your parents, use the same method to create or find profiles for your grandparents and additional relatives. Note that you can add multiple sets of parents, including stepparents, biological parents, and adoptive parents. Here is how to do it.

Making the Shared Tree Grow

When you connect to existing profiles in the Family Tree, additional deceased relatives who are already connected to them on the tree will automatically appear. The sample diagram below illustrates the process of connecting to the FamilySearch Family Tree on different branches of your tree:

  1. Add profiles for living relatives, which remain private.
  2. Add information about deceased relatives and review possible matches from the shared Family Tree. Deceased profiles will be publicly viewable.
  3. If you found a match in the Tree, additional profiles for other relatives may automatically appear!

You may find mistakes in deceased relatives’ profiles or in the ways they are connected to others. We hope you will help fix them!

What to Do If You Can’t Find a Match

Some people may not find that their relatives are already in the FamilySearch shared tree. If this is the case for you, you have the challenge and privilege of adding what you know. Then you and your living relatives can collaborate to learn more about them. Others around the world who are related to those same people may eventually discover and connect with you on the FamilySearch shared tree.

Go to FamilySearch and create your place on the FamilySearch Family Tree today!

How to Connect to a Family Member’s Tree

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 17:19

FamilySearch’s Family Tree is all about discovering and making connections. Many people on FamilySearch find these connections by uncovering records and finding new ancestors or finding new information others have posted. But you can also make connections to your living family on FamilySearch—especially as it grows!

When you add new members to your family, such as spouses, in-laws, stepparents, etc., these new additions can come with their own separate family trees. Connecting to the tree information for living family members on the FamilySearch Family Tree isn’t difficult—but it does require a little different approach.

Protecting the Privacy of Living Family Members

FamilySearch Family Tree is a shared, public tree. Information about deceased relatives can be seen by anyone who searches for that relative on FamilySearch. To protect privacy, any information about living people on the Family Tree can only be seen by the person who entered it, in his or her private space.

As an example, I entered my husband, children, and parents on my family tree. Nobody else can see the information I entered because they are all living.

Information added to a living relative’s profile will only become public after he or she is marked as deceased. At that time, duplicate profiles may appear and can be merged to group that person’s information into one shared profile.

This means that if my siblings want to see our parents (who are living) on their own tree, they have to enter our parents themselves.

Connecting Trees of Living People

Because of this respect for privacy, connecting to information in the tree about your spouse or other living family members works a little differently than connecting to deceased ancestors in your direct line. The key is adding information about your living relatives until you can connect to the profile for a deceased person.

Below is an example of how to connect a spouse’s tree—but the steps would work for connecting to the tree information for any living person.

1) From the Family Tree screen, find the place you want to add a living relative.

In this example, I want to connect Heather to her living spouse, John, so I can see his family line that stretches back many generations. So I navigate to Heather’s profile in my Family Tree.

2) Add information about the living relative.

To do this for John, I start by clicking Add Spouse next to Heather’s name. (If the option to add a relative doesn’t appear on the tree view, I can also add family members on Heather’s person page and then come back to the Tree.)

I then fill in basic information about him and click Next. On the summary screen that appears, I click Create Person to add John to my tree view. On Heather’s family tree, John will now appear as her husband.

Remember that even though John can already see his information in his own tree view, creating a duplicate profile is necessary because living information is not shared. The record of John I create will only be visible in my own private space—so long as his status is marked as living.

3) Add information about other living relatives.

John’s parents, Liam and Emma, are still alive, so I click on Add Mother and Add Father to create new records and add these relatives to Heather’s tree in my private space. I can also do the same for John’s other living relatives.

4) Connect to deceased ancestors.

Once I have entered in the information for the living people on this branch of the tree, I am ready to connect to deceased relatives. In our example, Emma’s mother is deceased and already in FamilySearch. I click Add Mother and type in Margaret Brown, born in 1924 in Kentucky.

Note: If I already know the ID number of the person I am searching for, I can choose to enter that instead.

Once I click Next, FamilySearch shows me possible matches that it finds in the Family Tree.

One of these possibilities is a match, so I could click Add Match. Before I do, I also notice that one option allows me to add Margaret Brown and her husband, Soloman, at the same time, so I choose Add Couple Match to add both relatives to my tree view. Once I do that, FamilySearch will connect them to Heather’s tree information—along with all their ancestors.

Now John’s family tree on his mother’s side is successfully connected with Heather’s family tree. To add John’s father’s side, I can repeat the same steps.

Ready to do this on your own? Go to the FamilySearch Family Tree, and give it a try!

Celebrate Pioneer Day with New Online Pioneer Children Activity

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 17:00

What was it like for a pioneer child to trudge more than a thousand miles across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley? For the first time, you can get a glimpse into the lives of hundreds of pioneer children through a new FamilySearch interactive online experience.

Try the Pioneer Children Experience

The free web feature is available to everyone, including those without a FamilySearch account. Those with pioneer ancestry can celebrate ancestors who made the treacherous journey; those without pioneer heritage can also gain insight into a valuable part of history, allowing them to celebrate Pioneer Day in a new way.

Young and old alike can play the Pioneer Matching Game by taking a three-question quiz to select interests from four categories. Each time they take the quiz, users are matched with a pioneer child with characteristics similar to the answers given to the quiz questions.

For example, after you take the quiz, the result may show that you are creative and explain what that means.

The quiz results then include the name of a pioneer child and a short story of his or her experience, the child’s age (0–18), the length of time he or she was on the trail, and the trek company he or she traveled with.

The difficult journey of crossing the plains was especially hard for children. Many faced pain, hardship, and even death. One child, Heber Robert McBride, said of his family’s journey:

“It was not long before our provisions began to get short. We were reduced to one-half pound of flour and the children to one-fourth per day and nothing with it except water and sometimes a very little tea. The food we had was not enough to support nature. Father began to fail rapidly and got so reduced that he could not pull any more at the handcart but could manage to walk along for a few days. Then he and Mother would start out in the morning and walk as far as they could along with the others who were sick and tired. . . . No tongue nor pen could tell what my sister and I went through, our parents both sick and us young. It seemed as though death would be a blessing.”

Heber was only 13 at the time his family traveled to the Salt Lake Valley.

Not every experience was difficult, however. As always, children need to find time for fun—and children like Ann Agatha certainly did. Ann Agatha described a time she played a joke on some of the men in her company. When they settled down for lunch, she hid and bleated like a sheep. The men scattered and began looking for the animal they heard—until they caught on.

Knowing the stories of the pioneer children who crossed the plains can bring them to life in a completely new way. Click the button below to try out the new Online Pioneer Children Activity! 

A Beginner’s Guide to Searching Records

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 15:45 is bursting at the seams with great records—some of which almost certainly have new information about your family. Learn from this beginner’s guide how to search these records and find your ancestors.

Start by going to FamilySearch’s main search screen, which you can find by selecting Search in the bar at the top of the screen and then, in the drop-down menu, Records. From here, you can see multiple ways to search.

The Basic Search: Search by Individual

There are a few ways you can search records on FamilySearch, but one of the most basic ways is to search by individual.

To search this way, focus on the Search Historical Records box on the left of the main search screen, and follow these simple steps:

  1. Fill in information about your ancestor. It’s easy to assume that the more detailed information you put in about your ancestor, the better. Actually, the opposite is generally true. Put in as little information as possible that brings up a reasonable amount of results.
  2. Click Search to get a list of results. In the example here, we entered information for Charles Mulford. Results look like this (only the top match is shown here):

If you think one of the items on the list is a match, select anywhere in the row to see the record details. A transcription of the document opens on the left, with a link to the document image on the right. Choosing View the original document below the thumbnail of the document image in this example brings up the 1910 census with Charles and his family.

Another Quick Way to Search

There’s also another way to search for individuals. If you are using Family Tree, go to the person’s page. On the right side of the page, in the Search Records box, select FamilySearch. The details of this person will automatically be used to fill in the search fields.

Once you find the individual you’re searching for, you can add the information to Family Tree so you can expand your family tree and find the record easily in the future.

Keep in mind that only indexed collections are searchable in this way. FamilySearch has many online records that aren’t yet accessible from this kind of search.

The Sad Case of Unsuccessful Searches

Not every search will yield the results you are looking for—but have no fear! A record with information about your family might still be out there. Learn how to refine your searches, or try different search methods.

Record Search Tips: Find Your Family

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 15:45

It is frustrating when we search for that one record we just know will have the answer to our brick wall family history problem, and we can’t find it! Here are some tips to improve your searches and discover those hard-to-find records.

Search by Last Name or Place Only

On the home page, you can search for indexed records by clicking or tapping Search and choosing Records from the drop-down menu.

You are likely familiar with a traditional search for records using a name and a place and year of an event. But have you tried the following ideas?

Search by last name only

For example, perhaps your ancestor has a digitized birth record available online, but the record was indexed as “Baby Phillips.” By searching by last name only, with a county and state for a place of birth and a birth year range of at least 2 years, you may find what you are looking for!

Search by event place and year only

Do you have an ancestor whose name is always being misindexed because it has an unusual spelling? Try searching with no name at all! Search with the name field blank, but add an event county, state, and year range. See the example below:

With this kind of search, you will be given a list of all indexed records for your targeted area and birth year range. Then, you can look down the list, and see if anything looks similar to your ancestor’s often misspelled name.

Search using a wildcard

You use a wildcard by putting an asterisk (*) in place of a letter or letters. By using a wildcard, you are telling the system there are multiple spelling variations and you would like them all to be considered.

In the example below, the surname “Nimeth” is sometimes spelled “Nemeth” or “Nameth.” We could do an individual search with each spelling (which is always a good idea) or we can use a wildcard in place of the “i” in Nimeth. As you will see below, the results list includes different spellings.

Search Unindexed Records

When we search FamilySearch records as shown in the examples above, we are searching only those records that have been indexed. But millions more records are available online at that have not been indexed and can be found only by searching or browsing a record collection image by image. Let’s take a look at the following example.

I would like to find vital records for my Hungarian ancestors. Many of those records have not been indexed. I am going to search the catalog to see what records are available. First I click or tap Search on the home page, and then I choose Catalog from the drop-down menu.

On the next screen, I am able to search the catalog by location. My search location is Körmend, Hungary, so I would type in that place-name like this:

Then, I click or tap Search in the blue box.

The results list shows three kinds of records collections available for Körmend, Hungary—church records, civil records, and Jewish records. I am going to click Civil registration.

A list of civil registration record collections appear, and I can choose to look at any of them. For this example, I will click “Hungary, Vas, Körmend, Civil Registration, 1909–1980.”

The next screen shows a description of the record collection. From here, I can see that some of these records have been indexed, but not all of them. For this reason, I want to search or browse through the digitized images record by record.

I do that by finding the specific record collection I want in the Film/Digital Notes section and then clicking the camera icon at the far right. I am then taken to a digital image viewer screen like the one you see below.

I can click an image to zoom in, and I can click the right arrow key to go from one page to the next. Other helpful tools allow me to save images to my source box, print the image, download an image to my computer or thumb drive, and even attach the record directly to my family tree.

Check Back Often

If your ancestors don’t materialize from these searches, all is not lost! Remember that FamilySearch doesn’t have every record out there, but the holdings available on are constantly growing. So who knows? Maybe the record offering the key to figuring out your family tree is in the record group coming online tomorrow. 

History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 13:02

The transatlantic slave trade was responsible for one of the largest forced migrations in recorded history—and for dooming millions of people and their descendants into lives of slavery. Here’s a summary of how early transatlantic traders began trafficking in humans and a glimpse of what that experience was like for those who suffered it.

Transatlantic Trade Turns to Slavery

In the 1500s, Africa was a continent of diverse cultures, languages, and political structures. Its people were similarly diverse, but many had knowledge of metalworking, medicine, mathematics, or astronomy. Trade with other lands thrived along the West African coast. African merchants traded handmade luxury goods for manufactured items from Portuguese seafarers and eventually from other Europeans as well.

Slavery existed within Africa during this period, and at times enslaved people were sold to European traders too. Some people were enslaved due to debt or crime or as prisoners of war.

During the 1600s and 1700s, sugar and coffee plantations in the New World demanded ever-increasing numbers of enslaved workers. European traders purchased slaves from the regions of Senegambia and Ghana. As time passed, the slave trade expanded south and east. By the 19th century, people were being captured from a wide swath of central and south-central Africa, from Kongo east to what is now Somalia, and south to modern-day Mozambique, and sold as slaves. About 65 percent of those taken were male; on average, one in five was a child.

From Capture through the Middle Passage

Upon capture from their homes, the fields of battle, or other situations, African men, women, and children were chained and forced to march toward coastal areas, where they could be sold. This overland journey could take weeks or months. Their bodies suffered from exposure, thirst, hunger, and relentless walking. After arriving at the coast, the prisoners awaited sale and deportation in comfortless holding cells. Once sold, they boarded ships to travel the infamous Middle Passage of a triangular trade route—from Europe to Africa and then to the New World.

Enslaved adults and children who traveled the Middle Passage endured conditions so brutal that between 10 and 15 percent of them didn’t survive.  They were often forced to lie or crouch in a tiny space, crowded alongside others to whom they might be shackled.

Olaudah Equiano, captured into slavery in the 1700s, later recalled such vile stench from bodies and seasickness that he couldn’t eat; his captors force-fed him just enough to keep him alive. Some captives, especially women, suffered additional abuse along the journey.

Enslavement in the New World

The vast majority of ships in the transatlantic slave trade landed on the isles of the Caribbean.  A relative few ships deposited their enslaved passengers on the shores of Spanish South America and even fewer in British North America.

At any point along the path into enslavement—capture, forced march, initial sale, or subsequent sale in the New World—people were wrenched permanently from parents, spouses, siblings, and other loved ones. Enslavers deliberately stripped them of their identity and dignity in a conditioning process meant to ensure that they would be more compliant workers.

Equiano recalled his arrival at Bridge Town, Barbados, as an experience akin to being purchased like livestock. Merchants examined him and kept him in a pen with other enslaved people. On a given day, buyers thronged noisily into the pen and selected the people they wanted to purchase. Many of those bought were branded with hot irons and kept in chains or subjected to other tortures. The slaves then began a new life of hard, continuous labor that would generally end only with their deaths.

By the time the last known slave ship delivered its passengers in 1859, an estimated 12.5 million African men, women, and children had been abducted from their homes and forcibly transported to the New World as part of the transatlantic slave trade.

Records of the Transatlantic slave trade are difficult to find, but resources such as the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database are available. FamilySearch can teach you how to connect these kinds of records to your ancestors and how you can use them to grow your family tree. Sign into your FamilySearch account to get started.

What Was Life Like for My Ancestors?—Brad Westwood at RootsTech 2019

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 11:26

What was life like for our ancestors?

Brad Westwood, senior public historian at the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, attempted to answer this very question in his presentation “What Was Life Like for My Ancestors?” which he gave on Access and Preservation Day at RootsTech 2019.

Celebrating the Past

Westwood is involved in a number of projects that help him and others both understand and celebrate the past. For example, Westwood worked on the initiative, which celebrates the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Point, Utah, through a year-long series of events across Utah and the nation.

Westwood also works on “Better Days 2020,” which will celebrate the 150th anniversary in 2020 of women voting in Utah elections. Included in this celebration is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote nationally, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

Relying on Good Sources

Westwood’s work has taught him the importance of seeking out valuable, valid, and authentic historical sources. “When it comes to sources, take your eyes off the center circle of the bull’s eye,” Westwood said.

He explained that people often only look for the bullseye—historical materials from those who are in the center of the action or who played a key role in an event or historical setting.

Westwood urged listeners to find sources about places or people who were included in an event but who may not have been key players in the event. These border sources—the neighborhood, the extended family members, and others who are part of the larger context—can help shed light on the surrounding setting.

These peripheral, extended bullseye sources are often ones with a human element.

The Need to Work with a “Shaman,” or Guides in Archivists and Librarians

Westwood spoke of what he called “shaman archivists and librarians,” who have no written evidence of their invaluable collection of knowledge. Instead, people must consult these individuals as a sole source or as a guide to their search for meaningful historical materials.

The more sources that are online, the less likely you will need to consult with a shaman. However, vast amounts of historical materials are not available online, so you may still need to work with these guides.

It is best to get acquainted with these guides, understand their interests, and stay engaged with them. It will likely take more time than one email, call, or visit.

Be Specific in Your Searches

One way to make the most of these interactions—and this principle also applies to online inventories—is to make more requests and more specific requests as you get to know your subject matter. Unfortunately, people aren’t always specific.

Westwood described most history reference staffs as overworked and deluged with vague requests, which pushes archivists and librarians to give the minimal amount of information possible or hand over long-held general reference materials when requests are vague.

Westwood encouraged individuals to get all the contextual information they can gather and know as much as possible about the subject matter and materials you are asking about before making a request. The more you know, the more help you can get—provide more information, and you will have more success.

Lastly, if you are working with private archives, there may be a desire to save face or “put the best foot forward” regarding a difficult historical context or event. Being exact and explaining that you know someone or something was involved—and including other details such as specific dates and circumstances—will likely give you better primary-source outcomes.

In closing, Westwood commended the genealogical community. “You have taken over the [history] universe,” he said. Genealogists are now the primary client base for most history agencies; their needs are driving archives and libraries to make their records available.

Brad Westwood is currently senior public historian for the state of Utah and served previously as director of the Utah Division of State History and as a manager for the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Finnish Culture and Your Finnish Heritage

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 10:40

Finland is known for its many lakes, breathtaking scenery, northern lights, and reindeer. If you have Finnish ancestry, the culture and customs of Finland can create lasting impressions and important family connections.

Finnish Lifestyle

If you were to ask a Finn what it’s like to be Finnish, they would probably use the term “sisu”—a term that is ingrained and understood, but hard to translate. Sisu is having great courage or persistence in the face of opposition, and the tenacity to follow through, in spite of circumstances. It may explain why Finns have a strong national pride and value their freedom while granting tolerance and equality to those who have differing lifestyles and values.

Despite many myths that Finns are reticent or shy, most Finns are friendly, open, and genuine, though perhaps reserved until they become comfortable socially. Typically, when speaking about themselves, Finns may joke around and say the opposite of what they really mean. Their unassuming and sometimes self-deprecating sense of humor is meant to put others at ease. They don’t take things too seriously.

Festivals, Food, and Families

Many of Finland’s observances center around holidays and holiday food, while others revolve around religious events or family occasions.

 During (Juhannus), the Finnish Midsummer, many Finns travel to summer cottages (mokki) on one of Finland’s many lakes or to the seashore to celebrate the year’s longest days, when the sun hardly sets.  Family gatherings include bonfires, spending time together and visiting the sauna, and eating sausages (nakki), new potatoes, and bread.

The Finnish yuletide or Christmas (Joulu) follows traditions that include candles, Christmas trees, and advent calendars. It’s common to sing Christmas carols at church and watch the “Peace of Christmas” broadcast at noon on Christmas Eve day. Gift giving and a visit from Father Christmas (Joulupukki) occur on Christmas Eve. Families may also take a relaxing trip to the sauna on Christmas Eve day. A traditional Christmas meal includes ham, rutabaga casserole, beetroot salad, and traditional pinwheel pastries filled with apricot or plum jam. Holidays end after St. Stephen’s Day (Tapaninpäivä), on December 26.

Easter (Pääsiäinen) is a combination of Christian and pagan customs. A week before Easter on Palm Sunday or Holy Saturday, children dress up as witches (noita) and go from door to door. The children give away willow twigs adorned with ribbons, feathers, and other decorations in exchange for sweets, Easter eggs, or coins. Mämmi pudding is a traditional Finnish Easter dessert.

Shrovetide (Laskianen) is a festive time leading up to Lent. People eat laskiaispulla, buns filled with almond paste or jam, and a slow-simmered split pea soup.  It is a time for winter sports such as sled riding, piling on a toboggan, or taking to the slopes, followed by a trip to the sauna.

Vappu, or May Day, is a national holiday. Families come together from all over Finland for a street carnival on the eve of May Day, which marks the beginning of spring. It is a time to picnic and party while donning your graduation cap and sashaying about town. Treats for these celebrations include munkki, a type of donut sprinkled with sugar, and tippaleipä, a funnel cake cooked in hot oil.

Independence Day, on December 6, is a day to commemorate war veterans and those who died fighting for Finland’s independence. It is common for families to gather at home or meet for a meal in a restaurant. Young people take part in a torchlight procession, churches have special services, and candles are placed in windowsills.

Finland’s most popular sweet doesn’t need a holiday. It is literally salty licorice (Salmiakki). Finns love the flavor and put it in just about anything. Karelian pastries (Karjalan piirakka) are also a staple for just about any occasion. They are oval-shaped pastries filled with rice, potato, or carrot and usually topped with egg butter. 

Finnish Saunas

Sauna, a type of dry-steam bath, defines what it is to be truly Finnish. Nowhere else does a sauna have mainstream integration in everyday life. To be invited to join a host in a sauna is a supreme compliment that indicates acceptance. Almost every home has a sauna, and an apartment building often has a shared sauna.

One addition to the sauna in Finland that you won’t find elsewhere is a bundle of birch leaves, which a person traditionally taps or brushes against the skin while in the sauna to improve circulation. This practice is both relaxing and refreshing.

Your Finnish Heritage

By learning the culture and traditions of your Finnish ancestors, you can learn where you come from and ways that you can connect with your ancestors—and how they connect to you. If you know or suspect you have Finnish roots, find your way to  Sign in with a free FamilySearch account, and discover your ancestors in excellent Finnish historical record collections.

Finding Your Finnish Ancestors

Editing Names on Indexed Records—FamilySearch Update

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 22:51

Everyone can agree that indexed records make life easier. Instead of having to scroll through image after image to find information about your ancestor, you can use an index of searchable information to quickly find the person you’re looking for.

Unfortunately, indexing errors sometimes make the search process more difficult. Hard-to-read handwriting, damaged records, language barriers, and simple human error mean that no index is guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate. If you add the fact that sometimes the original documents had errors in the first place, it’s easy to see how complications seep in. Errors in the records or index can render the index useless for finding certain ancestors and can even cause a researcher to skip over important records. 

In the past, if you came across an incorrect index on FamilySearch, 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 the newest update on FamilySearch, you can 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.

When to Edit an Index

The purpose of editing an index is to enable other researchers to find their ancestors more effectively. There are two main scenarios where edits could be helpful—when records were indexed incorrectly and when the original records contained incorrect information.

Indexed Incorrectly

You may find cases where an index does not accurately reflect the information in the original document. This kind of error can be seen in the example of Merry Christmas Jacobson in the 1930 United States census. The index on FamilySearch lists her as Mary Jacobson:

However, a look at the document shows that in the record she was correctly listed as Merry Jacobson. After the recent update, the index entry can now be corrected.

Wrong in the Document

In some cases, the record has been indexed correctly, but the document itself is incorrect. This other kind of error can again be seen with Merry Christmas Jacobson, but this time in the 1940 United States census. This index lists her as Mary C. Jacobson.

This time, when we check the original document, we see that the indexer read the record correctly, as it too says “Mary C. Jacobson.” With our deeper knowledge of Merry and her family though, we know that this name is incorrect. This example is also a case where we can correct the index to reflect the correct spelling of the name.

Note: Not all indexed entries can be edited. The record must have an image available so that you can compare the index entry to the actual record. If you see a page and a camera icon by the record, the camera icon means that an image of the record is available.

How to Edit

The process of editing an index entry is simple. After searching for an ancestor on FamilySearch, look through the search results for a promising record, and click your ancestor’s name. A box will pop up with the indexed information on the left and the record document on the right. For indexes that are editable, you will notice the word Edit next to your ancestor’s name.

When you click the Edit button, a new box opens on the left with the document still displayed on the right. Here you can type the name as you believe it should appear in the index. Choose one of the two reasons for your change from the drop-down menu: Indexed Incorrectly or Wrong in the Document.

Next, zoom in on the record, and click the Highlight the Full Name button. Highlighting the name in the document will help others see which name you are correcting. There is also space to add additional notes you may have. When you are finished, click Save. After you submit your edits, they should be searchable within a few minutes.

Keep in mind that your edits do not override the information already on FamilySearch. Instead, you add new information. The old indexed information remains. Now your change and the original information are both searchable. There could even be several edits to the same record, helping others to find their ancestors more easily. Please edit carefully, however, since multiple edits can also muddy the waters!

Now that you know how editing index entries works, it’s time to give it a try. Go to FamilySearch, and search for your ancestors. When you find incorrect information in the index, take a moment to carefully and thoughtfully make corrections. Your actions can help others have success in finding their ancestors.

Family History and a Full Tree. What Now?

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 15:10

How do you tackle family history when it seems as though you have a full tree and all the work is done? This problem proves to be frustrating for many who want to engage with family history and try out

With innovations and technology improving every day, this problem is quickly disappearing. There is always something that can be done with your family tree.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started right away.

 Discover and Connect

At RootsTech 2019, Bradley D. Foster shared some great advice for those who say their family history work is done. “Until you know a story or connect with your ancestors, your work is never done,” he said.

Search for stories that can be shared on One way is to read the weekly messages that come from FamilySearch with facts about family members. If you’re registered on, these messages come either to your email or your Facebook messenger account.

Tell YOUR Story

Your own story is family history! FamilySearch’s Memories app is a perfect way to get you started. The app contains prompts for you to add a document, write a story, add photos, or record audio. (It can even provide you questions to consider or ask!)

This is an easy way to do family history because you know your own story—it requires no extra research! Don’t be afraid to start small. Start with the last three to five years—gather photos, stories, and thoughts, and start uploading them to

You can write about your first love, your first job, being a parent, your faith—the list goes on. Once those documents are uploaded to, they are there for your future generations to see.

It’s not just your own profile page that you can attach memories to; you can add your memories of your parents, your grandparents, and any other members of your family!

A picture really does tell a thousand words. Find the photos lurking in yours or your grandma’s basement, upload them to, and talk about them.

You can now record a description of photos. Your voice, not just your words, can tell the story. Imagine if you had one of your children describe the first time they met Mickey Mouse or jumped off the diving board. These are precious family memories!

Learn how to use FamilySearch Memories, and record your own history.


If you feel your tree is full and just want a quick way to do some family history work, indexing is the answer. Indexing helps create searchable digital indexes of scanned images of historical documents.

This effort may not be for your own family line, but it will definitely help someone else’s family. To learn more about indexing and how it works, click here.

Add to the Tree

With more people indexing nowadays, there are always more sources you can add to your tree. Add those sources on your tree to give more information and depth. Plus, don’t be afraid to go sideways, researching cousins, aunts, and uncles of your ancestors. You can add sources to the sideways work you find too. Your work is almost never done!

Family History Activities

Activities are a fun, hands-on way to create your family history now and discover the past. This is a great way to get your children involved. Games, dress-up activities, creating a time capsule, or staging plays about the experiences of your ancestors fall into this category.

While you are doing these activities, take photos and upload them to—by doing this, you’ve created a double dose of family history. The FamilySearch site has a whole slew of ideas for family activities.

Family history work is never truly done. There are always exciting discoveries to be made. They are fun and interesting. This is not your grandma’s family history of the old days; it is yours for the taking. Reach out, and grab it!

Incorrect Merges on FamilySearch Family Tree

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 13:38

Have you accidentally merged two people together on FamilySearch Family Tree and then later realized you shouldn’t have? Or has an ambitious relative gone on a merging spree and you have been tasked with fixing the incorrect merges? Well, this article will help you through that process.

Finding Merges on Family Tree

There is an easy way to determine if your targeted person has had any merges.

When two records have been merged, one of them remains in Family Tree while the other is archived. These changes and others are collected and can be viewed.

On the person page of any deceased individual in Family Tree, you will see a Latest Changes drop-down menu on the right side. Under Latest Changes tool, you can see changes to this person’s profile. Changes might include sources being attached, children being added, couple events, residences added, and merges.

The most recent changes can be seen from this screen. However, all changes can be seen by clicking Show All.

Further, you will be able to see when a specific change was made and by whom.

From the full list, merges are quickly located because they are outlined in a green box.

Fixing Incorrect Merges in FamilySearch Family Tree

If a merge has taken place recently, it will show up in the Latest Changes section.

To unmerge, click on Merge Completed. At the next screen, simply click Unmerge to the right. Be sure to include a reason statement for unmerging the records.

All the old information will then be restored for both the surviving and deleted person.

Merging or unmerging records can be a complicated but necessary process, and not all merges are undoable using this method. For more help on the merging process or cleaning up your family tree, check out these helpful articles:

Merging People in FamilySearch’s Family Tree

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 13:37

It might be exciting to find your great-grandmother in FamilySearch Family Tree. But what about finding her four times—each record with a little different information?

These multiple entries and records for the same individual are called duplicates. Duplicates happen because information in the Tree comes from a variety of sources and because users can enter their own information directly into the Tree.

What Do I Do If I See a Duplicate?

While looking at multiple versions of your great-grandma can be confusing, there is a solution to the duplication problem: merging the duplicated records.

Merging, although not difficult, can feel intimidating—particularly if you are new to it! But no worries, finding and merging duplicates can be a relatively easy process. Here are a few simple steps to get you started.

How to Merge

The most straightforward way to locate duplicates on your tree is from a person’s details page using the Possible Duplicates tool. To find duplicates this way, do the following:

Step One: Find Possible Duplicates
  1. Go to an ancestor’s person page. (You can do this by clicking on the person’s name on your family tree and then, in the pop-up window, clicking Person.)
  2. On the person page, you will see on the far right column a Tools box. From this Tools menu, click the Possible Duplicates option.
    1. Note: Not every ancestor will have duplicates. There will be a number beside Possible Duplicates that represents the number of potential duplicates for this ancestor. Click through different ancestors until you find one where the Possible Duplicates number is above 0`.What is the mark after the 0 for?

A new page will open. If there are possible duplicates, you will see a red bar labeled “Data Problems” and below it a red exclamation point icon that signals each possible duplicate.

Possible Duplicates search doesn’t catch everything. If you suspect an ancestor has duplicates, try searching from the Find option located in the Family Tree menu at the top of the screen. If you find possible duplicates, you can use Person IDs and the Merge by ID tool to resolve duplicates.

Step Two: Review Merge

Now that you’ve found possible duplicates, you are ready to review the information for a potential merge. Click on the blue Review Merge button to the right of the possible duplicate. A Merge Persons screen will open.

On the top of the screen, you will see the overview of the two records being compared. You will merge the record on the right into the record on the left. If you would like to use the record on the right as the primary record, simply click Switch Positions

Scroll down the screen, comparing each piece of information as you consider the following questions:

  1. Is this person a match? If you do not think the person is a match, scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and click Not a Match. If you are unsure, don’t merge the two records! Simply cancel the process.
  2. For each field, do you want to add, replace, or reject the information? Arrows offer you choices for each field. You have three options to choose for each item of information:
    1.  Replace—The information on the right will replace the information in that category on the left.
    1. Reject—The information on the right will be deleted when the records are merged.
    1. Add—If there is no information in the corresponding field on the left, you can choose Add to add the information.

Some pieces of information are automatically merged into the preserved person, and both sets of information are kept. This information includes sources that are shown at the bottom of the comparison.

 If you don’t want that information saved, in the Sources box, click Undo. Also, although anything stored in Memories (including photos, audio files, and stories) is not displayed on the Review Merge screen, this information is automatically stored with the preserved record.

Step Three: Merge Duplicates, and Provide a Reason

When you have finished choosing which information to accept, reject, or add, from the bottom of the screen, click Continue Merge. Before you can complete the process, you will be required to fill in a box labeled “Reason This Merge Is Correct.”

 Although it may be tempting to simply type “Same person” or something similar, take a moment to give a more thorough explanation. For example, Including the Person IDs of both records can be helpful.

When You Can’t Merge

FamilySearch does not allow you to merge:

  • Records of two living people.
  • Records of one living person and one deceased person. If needed, change the information on the living person’s record to indicated that he or she is deceased, and then merge the two records.
  • Records of two people whose information came from Latter-day Saint membership records.
  • Records of people of different sexes.
When Not to Merge

Not all records can or should be merged! For example, be wary of merging children of the same parents who have different birth dates. Sometimes the family wanted to ensure a family name survived and would give more than one child the same name to increase the chances of the name continuing.

It’s important to check each possible match carefully. If there are records you aren’t sure about, do some more investigation before moving forward.

How to Unmerge

If you merge two records and then later learn you shouldn’t have merged them, all is not lost! You can undo merges.

Now that you know how to merge, visit your family tree, and click through your ancestors’ person pages to find possible duplicates!

Discover Your Family History and United States History at the Sons of the American Revolution Genealogical Research Library

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 14:45

A young boy holds up a 200-year old first edition of a book about the American Revolution.

Two complete strangers, one from Virginia and the other from Montana, discover a common ancestor.

A man becomes emotional as he reads about a battle in the American Revolution—a battle his ancestor fought and died in.

These moments of discovery all happened at the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Genealogical Research Library. The library is dedicated to connecting its patrons to the past, whether it be the nation’s past or their own past—or both.

SAR Genealogical Research Library

Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the SAR Genealogical Research Library is part of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR). The organization began in 1876, one hundred years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Although members of NSSAR are those who can prove direct descendancy from someone who fought in the American Revolution, the library is open to the public.

One misconception is that you can use this library only to research the American Revolution or an ancestor. However, as library director Joe Hardesty said, “You can research all you want to do or have time for.”

What matters most to Hardesty is that patrons are given the opportunities to understand their family history or United States history in more personal, meaningful ways. The library provides several resources to do just that, including a collection of materials that are as much historical as they are genealogical.

The Marquis de Lafayette Collection

The SAR archives include 64 rolls of microfilm of correspondence, notebooks, writings, speeches, and other records pertaining to the Marquis de Lafayette, a French statesman who became a major general in the Continental Army.

The George Rogers Clark Collection

George Rogers Clark was a major during the Revolutionary War. This collection includes approximately 85,000 images of original documents dated from January 1778 through November 1834.

Other Items

Along with these special collections, the library displays the original 1774 Articles of Association, one of many important documents that led up to the Revolutionary War.

 The library also has several rare first-edition biographies of George Washington and histories of the American Revolution. With these rare resources, the library is a great place for anyone wanting to research and write the next biography of George Washington or a history of the American Revolution.

“We are not just a genealogical library. We are truly a history research collection as well,” Hardesty said.

The library’s collection of colonial-era newspapers on microfilm (ranging from 1760 to 1820) is yet another window to the past that patrons have access to.

“You can read a newspaper of the day your ancestor was alive and walking the streets in Boston. Their life just comes alive!” Hardesty said.

Genealogical Resources

At the SAR Genealogical Research Library, Patrons can use a number of premium research sites to help them with their genealogy. The library is also an affiliate library with FamilySearch, giving it access to millions of records available only at family history centers or FamilySearch affiliate libraries.

From home, people can visit the library’s website and explore its extensive catalog or watch helpful genealogical video tutorials.

“More to the Story”

According to Hardesty, it’s not uncommon to hear a “Yippee!” bouncing off the walls of the SAR Genealogical Library as another patron makes a research breakthrough. As the library director, Hardesty makes it a personal mission to give researchers ideas and information that can help them break through their brick walls.

“It might be an idea they never thought of or a resource that they never knew existed before. I pull it up, dust it off, and when it works, they’re just giddy with joy,” Hardesty said.

For Hardesty, family history is more than just finding the names, dates, and places. “There is more to the story,” he said.

“There’s a difference between being just a genealogist and gathering facts and the interpretation of those facts in a historical and social and economic context,” Hardesty said. “That’s what turns you into a family historian.”

The Sons of the American Revolution Genealogical Research Library is located on 809 West Main Street, Louisville, Kentucky. The library is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on the third Saturday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit the library’s website or call (502) 589-1776.

Serving as a Ward Temple and Family History Consultant

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 14:10

Perhaps the greatest thing ward temple and family history consultants can do to help gather Israel is to create personalized family history experiences for others. But what exactly is a personalized family history experience, and how does a consultant go about creating one?

A personalized family history experience is a simple activity or lesson that helps another person or family feel closer to ancestors and to each other. This is the spirit of Elijah, a manifestation of the Holy Ghost testifying of the divine and eternal nature of families.

Building Blocks of an Experience

A recent class on serving as a ward temple and family history consultant highlighted six key elements or building blocks that consultants can choose from to create a personalized family history experience.

  • Help—answering specific temple and family history questions and needs
  • Discovery—uncovering new and uplifting information about family, ancestors, and homelands
  • Family Tree—sharing, preserving, and building the FamilySearch Family Tree
  • Memories—preserving photos, stories, audio recordings, and other family memories
  • Records—finding, interpreting, and attaching historical records
  • Temple—contributing to the completion of an ancestor’s gospel ordinances

Of the six building blocks mentioned here, the discovery and temple building blocks are foundational—meaning that consultants should try to incorporate these elements whenever possible. Discovering something new about one’s family or ancestors inevitably invites the spirit of Elijah into a person’s heart.

Personalized Experiences in the Book of Mormon

Learning about ancestors isn’t enough. We have a divine responsibility to help, when possible, with their temple ordinances.

Consider the prophet Lehi in the Book of Mormon. He had a personalized family history experience when he searched the brass plates that Nephi and his other sons had obtained from Laban.

And what was the result of this search? Almost immediately after receiving the plates, Lehi participated in a temple service of his day—he built an altar and offered sacrifice. Then he gathered his family and shared with them what he was learning. He reminded them of the promises Heavenly Father has in store for those who love and honor Him.

Lehi’s experience demonstrates the profound relationship between temple and family history, as taught by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “The home, the family, and the temple are inseparably connected. . . . Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple.”

Guiding Principles

A few basic principles will help consultants create more meaningful personalized family history experiences and bless the lives of the people they serve.

  • The first principle is to pray. God knows who is prepared for a personalized family history experience. He knows too the story, activity, or even photograph that could soften that person’s heart and turn him or her to God. Consultants can pray to be led to ancestors waiting for their temple ordinances and ask that the person or family they are helping do the same.
  • The second principle is to prepare. Getting things ready for a personalized family history experience takes time—time to pray, time to plan, and time to talk to the other person or family and find out what they are interested in learning about.
  • The third principle is to minister. Consultants serve people one-on-one, as the Savior did. They meet in homes and in meetinghouses—wherever is most convenient. They likewise adapt their teaching methods to the other person’s physical or spiritual circumstances.
  • The final principle is to invite. Following a personalized family history experience, the consultant invites the person to build on what he or she has discovered. These invitations are simple and achievable. They point towards a particular task that the person can do on his or her own or that a family can do together.
Personalized Experiences Today

Unlike the prophet Lehi, people today are unlikely to find their personalized family history experience in a collection of brass plates, although the consequences of the experience can be very similar! Here are a few examples of what a modern personalized family history experience might look like:

  • Reading stories about ancestors on
  • Using online tools to explore a specific homeland—Google Earth, for example, to see images of an ancestor’s birthplace.
  • Creating an audio recording of family members sharing memories, and then uploading the recording to
  • Finding the birth or marriage certificate of a particular ancestor and attaching it to his or her profile page on
  • Completing the necessary tasks on so that an ancestor’s gospel ordinances can be reserved and completed.

Experiences such as these will strengthen families and point them to the temple. But this list is just a short one. In practice, consultants will need to be creative and observant as they search for the activity that is just right for the person or family they are helping!

For a more detailed description of tools and ideas that ward temple and family history consultants might find helpful, be sure to watch Serving as a Ward Temple and Family History Consultant.

New Records on FamilySearch from June 2019

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 13:09

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in June of 2019 with over 15 million new indexed family history records from all over the world. New historical records were added from American Samoa, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, England, Germany, Lesotho, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United States, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

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 RecordsCommentsAmerican Samoa American Samoa, Census Records, 1900-194553,680New indexed records collectionAustraliaAustralia, South Australia, Prison Records, 1838-191281,971New indexed records collectionBelgiumBelgium, Antwerp, Civil Registration, 1588-191314,758Added indexed records to an existing collectionBelgiumBelgium, Hainaut, Civil Registration, 1600-191310,288Added indexed records to an existing collectionBelgiumBelgium, Limburg, Civil Registration, 1798-19065,143Added indexed records to an existing collectionBelgiumBelgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-191219,950Added indexed records to an existing collectionBelgiumBelgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-1912402Added indexed records to an existing collectionBoliviaBolivia Catholic Church Records, 1566-1996485,600Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaNova Scotia Births, 1864-1877183,455Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaNova Scotia Marriages, 1864-191818,885Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898594,707New indexed records collectionGermanyGermany, Baden, Stebbach, Church Book Extracts, 1675-195111Added indexed records to an existing collectionGermanyGermany, Saxony-Anhalt, Halberstadt, Civil Registration, 1874-198212,060Added indexed records to an existing collectionLesothoLesotho, Evangelical Church Records, 1828-2005302Added indexed records to an existing collectionLiberiaLiberia, Marriage Records, 1912-20152,475Added indexed records to an existing collectionLuxembourgLuxembourg, Civil Registration, 1796-194173,901Added indexed records to an existing collectionMexicoMexico, Sinaloa, Civil Registration, 1861-192954,875Added indexed records to an existing collectionOtherBillionGraves index526,365Added indexed records to an existing collectionOtherFind A Grave Index2,263,221Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Amazonas, Civil Registration, 1935-199920,013Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Áncash, Civil Registration, 1888-2005110,456Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Cemetery Records, 1912-201342,164New indexed records collectionPeruPeru, Diocese of Huacho, Catholic Church Records, 1560-195232,657Added indexed records to an existing collectionRussiaRussia, Samara Church Books 1748-1934510,726Added indexed records to an existing collectionScotlandScotland Presbyterian & Protestant Church Records, 1736-1990109,064New indexed records collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895-1972432,092Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Natal, Passenger Lists, 1860-191195,069New indexed records collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Orange Free State, Probate Records from the Master of the Supreme Court, 1832-1989325,690New indexed records collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Transvaal, Civil Death, 1869-1954226,877Added indexed records to an existing collectionSpainSpain, Aragón, Electoral Censuses, 1890-19344,972,408New indexed records collectionSwedenSweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records, 1546-1927231,732Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Confederate Pension Applications, ca. 1880-1930’s51,219New indexed records collectionUnited StatesArkansas Confederate Pensions, 1901-192933,779Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesArkansas, Church Records, 1922-1977306New indexed records collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Church Records, 1864-19851,941New indexed records collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Santa Clara County, San Jose, Oak Hill Cemetery Headstone Inscriptions, 1838-198561,966New indexed records collectionUnited StatesColorado, Church Records, 1692-194235,030New indexed records collectionUnited StatesConnecticut, Vital Records, Prior to 18508Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesGeorgia Probate Records, 1742-1990133Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Confederate Pension Rolls, 1879-19205,245Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesKansas State Census, 19051,514,837New indexed records collectionUnited StatesKansas, Swedish Church Records, 1861-191818,381New indexed records collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Ascension Parish, Index of Conveyances, 1770-1957178,953New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, City of Boston Voter Registers, 1857-192032,996New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMichigan, Civil War Centennial Observance Commission, Committee on Civil War Grave Registration, Burial Records15,951New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMinnesota, County Deaths, 1850-20018,672Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMinnesota, County Deaths, 1850-20018,580Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNebraska, Box Butte County, Funeral Home Records, 1919-19763,491Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNebraska, Church Records, 1875-1899151New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNew York, Cemetery Abstracts175,959New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNorth Dakota, Cemetery Records, 1877-1999234,725New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNorth Dakota, Red River Valley Genealogical Society, Pioneer Files, 1880-19535,520New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOhio, Athens County, Deceased Veteran Grave Registration Card File Index, 1819-1936323New indexed records collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Berks County, Reading, Charles Evans Cemetery and Crematory Burial Records, 1887-1979106,043New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Bexar County, San Antonio Cemetery Records, 1893-20074,981Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, El Paso, Applications for Non-Resident Aliens Border Crossing Identification Cards, 1945-1952141,366New indexed records collectionUnited StatesUnited States Deceased Physician File (AMA), 1864-196878,215Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, California, San Francisco, Records of Chinese Laborers Returning to the US, 1882-188844,940New indexed records collectionUnited StatesUnited States, New York, Index to Passengers Arriving at New York City, compiled 1944-19481,125,332New indexed records collectionUnited StatesVirginia, Danville City Cemetery Records, 1833-200659,458Added indexed records to an existing collection

New Temple and Family History Callings Page

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 16:59

A Temple and Family History Callings page has been created for members of the Church serving as a temple and family history leader or temple and family history consultant in their ward. Visit this page to learn about the responsibilities of your calling and the blessings and doctrines associated with gathering Israel on both sides of the veil.

Serving as a Ward Temple and Family History Leader

A ward temple and family history leader is a Melchizedek priesthood holder who coordinates the ward’s temple and family history efforts. On the temple and family history leader section of the callings page, you can find possible topics for a ward temple and family history plan, guidelines for holding a temple and family history coordination meeting, and information to help you support and lead the ward’s consultants.

Serving as a Ward Temple and Family History Consultant

Ward temple and family history consultants create inspiring experiences that bring joy to all people as they discover, gather, and connect their families on both sides of the veil. On the temple and family history consultant section of the callings page, you can learn how to create these experiences and find options for reaching out if you have questions or need help.

How to Find the Temple and Family History Callings Page

Record Searches Easier with New Tool!—Now You Can See Similar Historical Records

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 16:01

Learning more about your ancestors’ lives often requires searching for their names in historical records. This is where you might find where and when they were born, marriage and death information, and even their relatives’ names.

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.

FamilySearch Similar Historical Records Tool Simplifies Searching

A new FamilySearch tool streamlines the record searching process. It’s called Similar Historical Records, and its purpose is to help you find additional records that may belong to the same person.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say I’m searching for historical records about James Ottie Riser. From his page, I click the option to search records on FamilySearch (found in the right side bar). My search results look like this:

The fourth result I found is a census record. I click on the name or the page icon to see the record details:

I check the record information to see if it matches what I know about James. It does! Now I take a look at the Similar Historical Records suggestions in the bottom right corner.

The new  tool has found other records that appear to belong to the same person mentioned in this record. (It’s as if the Similar Historical Records tool is saying, “If you like this record, you may also like these other records.”) This helps me find out more about my ancestor with a lot less searching.

As it turns out, both of the Similar Historical Records suggested do pertain to James Ottie Riser. Here’s what I saw when I clicked on the birth record:

  1. A summary of James’s tree information, for my reference.
  2. A transcript of key information from the birth record.
  3. The option to view the digitized record image. (Always do this, if you can. In this case, the image had James’s exact birth date and his parents’ names and occupations. This is more than the transcript shows!)
  4. The option to attach this record to James’s person page. I did this after confirming it belonged to him.
  5. Another set of Similar Historical Records! I repeated the process of reviewing each one carefully and attaching relevant records to James’s person page.

The Similar Historical Records tool simplifies the process of searching for ancestors’ names in historical records. I found 3 new records for James without having to go back to the search results.

Important Note: The Similar Historical Records tool does not replace the need for careful review to confirm whether each suggested record pertains to your ancestor. That’s still your job!

Try It Yourself

New records are being added all the time on FamilySearch! First, log in with your free user account at FamilySearch. Next, search for records about your ancestor, and view the search results. See whether any Similar Historical Records appear in the bottom right corner of the screen. Not every search result will suggest Similar Historical Records, but many do.

Join the FamilySearch Family Tree

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 12:04

You have decided to learn about your ancestors and contribute to the FamilySearch Family Tree. Congratulations! 

Discovering your ancestors can be filled with unexpected twists and turns, kind of like working on a mystery or a jigsaw puzzle. And, as with a puzzle, it helps to know where to turn to get answers to your questions.

Once you create your tree, you might wonder where to get answers to your questions and may want to know what to do next. 

Several questions may arise while you work on the FamilySearch Family Tree. You might ask yourself: 

  • How do I link to my relatives’ trees?
  • There’s so much information available. Where do I start?
  • What if I can’t find any information?
  • How do I contribute if family members have done all the work?
  • How do I use the partner sites and other family history apps along with

These questions and others like them can make getting started with family history feel overwhelming, even confusing at times. But help is available!

Several features are available on that can help your family tree grow. For instance, when you go to the Help drop-down menu on the main page, you will find the Help Center for step-by-step instructions on using and the Getting Started menu to help answer basic questions, along with several other resource pages that give additional information.

In addition to the Help drop-down menu, the pages below are filled with insightful advice and helpful how-to instructions. Check them out and see how easy it is to get started on your family history! 

Adding the First Four Generations FamilySearch Person Pages Using the Different Family Tree Views My Tree is Full