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All about Black History Month

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 19:00

Since 1976, every United States president has observed Black History Month each February. This time is dedicated to celebrating African American heritage and the achievements of people of African descent. 

Starting as a week-long celebration in the 1920s, Negro History Week and Black History Month have inspired numerous events and communities over the last century. Today, museums, college campuses, government agencies, and nationwide communities rally together to recognize contributions that people of African descent have made throughout American and world history.

How will you celebrate Black History Month this year? If you have African ancestors, it is the perfect time to honor your ancestors and to learn more about your African and African American heritage. 

Search African Heritage Records

To celebrate Black History Month, FamilySearch has added 29 new record collections specifically containing information on individuals of African descent. Try finding your ancestors within these collections using the search form below!

First Name Last Name Place Year   function doSearch() { var base = ""; var first = document.getElementById("firstName").value; var last = document.getElementById("lastName").value; var place = document.getElementById("place").value; var year = document.getElementById("year").value; var collections = "(3326815 3161105 3438747 3460988 1919699 3459909 1915987 1457854 2524910 3326982 3326846 3163398 3326775 1414908 1926701 1880968 2377565 1856425 2028680 1949206 2834217 1320976 1463134 2240477 3326847 3335352 1674670 1417492 3460987)"; var url = base+'%2Bgivenname%3A"'+first+'"~%20%2Bsurname%3A"'+last+'"~%20%2Bany_place%3A"'+place+'"~%20%2Bany_year%3A'+year+'~&collection_id='+collections;, '_blank'); } .javascript-form label { color: #666662; display: block; font-size: 1rem; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.35rem; margin-bottom: 5px; cursor: pointer; margin-top: 5px; } .javascript-form input { background-color: #fff; border: 1px solid #ccc; border-radius: 4px; box-shadow: inset 0 3px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.05); box-sizing: border-box; color: #333331; font-family: inherit; font-size: 1rem; height: inherit; line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 5px; padding: 0.429rem 0.714rem; transition: border linear 0.2s; width: 200px; } .javascript-form input::placeholder { font-size: 11px; } .javascript-form input[type="button"] { color: #fff; border: 0; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px; padding: 10px; font-weight: 700; cursor: pointer; background-color: #85B807; width: auto; box-shadow: none; font-size: 11px; }
Black History Month Activities

Black History Month has inspired new clubs, college lectures, celebrations, and performances. There are bound to be local events near you, or you can simply take the time to learn about African American history.

Black History month isn’t just for black people; it is for everyone! Use this time to learn as much as you can about the positive contributions and legacies of many African Americans and of those of African descent. Or record and share your experiences today to expand a community of sharing and mutual understanding in the United States.


Influential African American Women

Despite the barriers in their way, many African American women have had a significant impact on culture and history. Women such as Ida B. Wells, Ella Jo Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and many others have left their mark and changed the world for the better.


Black History Month Calendar

FamilySearch and its partner, the International African American Museum (IAAM), are highlighting different African American record releases for every week of Black History Month. Check back every Monday to see the release of additional blog posts that give an overview of each of the following collections and how you can use them!

See a full schedule of the events below:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday             1
Virginia Slave Birth Index, 1853-1866 2  
United States 1860 Census Slave Schedules   3  
US, Georgia — County Delayed Birth and Death Records, 1870-1960   4  
US, Texas, Harrison County–Delayed Birth Records, 1860-1933   5  
United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934   6  
Descriptive recruitment lists of volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri,1863-1865 : NARA, RG94, M1894   7  
Alabama State Census, 1866   8
Florida State Census, 1885   9  
South Carolina, State and Territorial Censuses, 1753–1920   10  
North Carolina, Voter Registration, 1868–1898   11
US, Florida — Voter Registration Records, 1867–1905   12
US, Texas–Voter Registration, 1867-1869   13
Louisiana, Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905   14  
United States, Freedmen’s Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872   15
Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936   16  
Virginia Funeral Programs   17  
Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987   18  
Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957   19  
United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946   20
North Carolina, Wake County, Death Records, 1900-1909   21  
US, South Carolina, Charleston–Birth Registers, 1901–1926   22  
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915   23  
Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994   24  
New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949   25  
Louisiana, Orleans Parish, Birth Records, 1819–1906   26  
US, Alabama—County Birth Registers, 1881–1930   27  
Alabama Deaths and Burials, 1881-1952   28  
South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1965   29  
Tennessee, Shelby County, Memphis, Board of Health Death Records, 1848-1913  

3 Easy Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:00

Black History Month is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of African Americans both past and present. Individuals of African descent have made their mark on the world in every industry—academics, sports, government, and literature, to name a few. However, black history month extends beyond public recognition of well-known individuals. It includes recognizing the heritage of our family and personal ancestors. As a way to celebrate, here are some Black History Month activities with a focus on family history.

1. Share Your Story

Family history begins with you! Begin making a record of your life by starting a journal. Not only will your future family thank you for taking the time to record your life, but reviewing what you have recorded can cause greater introspection. This type of reflection will allow you to live your life with greater purpose.

Possible activities:
  • Start a journal in a way you enjoy, and try adding to it once a week. Ideas include:
    • A written journal where you write down stories, thoughts, or experiences.
    • A drawing journal where you draw pictures of what happens in your life.
  • Go digital.
    • Start a photo journal. Take a photo every week.
    • Start an audio journal. Record yourself talking about things that happened that day or that week.
    • Consider adding important photos or recordings from your journal as Memories to
2. Connect with Your Family

Connect with your living ancestors to save memories that might otherwise be lost. A memory is lost when a family member passes away before his or her story has been shared and saved. Don’t wait another day. Talk to your parents, grandparents, and other extended family members so you can collect their stories and preserve them forever.

Possible activities:
  • Record (audio or video) older family members talking about their life events.
  • Digitize a photo, and have a family member tell the story behind it. Who is in the photo? What is happening? Then upload the photo, tag it, and save the story as a memory on
3. Search Record Collections

Take the time to search for deceased ancestors in FamilySearch’s vast records collections. Not only does FamilySearch have nearly 5 billion searchable records, but this month FamilySearch has released 29 collections specifically containing information on individuals of African descent. Search these collections, and if you find your ancestors, attach the records to your family tree.

Possible activities:

Learning more about your family is a perfect way to honor family members and their contributions. It is a perfect way to celebrate black history. Remember, Black History Month isn’t just a celebration of famous people; it is a celebration of everyone with African descent.

Light Keepers: Empowering Women with Family History Experiences

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 11:42

Light Keepers 2020 | February 28, 2020, 1:00–5:00 p.m., and February 29, 2020, 1:00–5:00 p.m. | Salt Palace

Since its start in 2018, Light Keepers has been a favorite event at the RootsTech conference. It is a joy-filled, inspirational workshop for Latter-day Saint women and women of all faiths who are looking to learn the basics of family history.

Attendees will hear inspiring stories from family history experts. These stories help women spread the light of family history in their homes by recognizing their current family history efforts and expanding their knowledge.

Finding Your Part

“[The] whole event is about finding your part and what you can do to keep the light in your family,” said Rhonna Farrer, one of the founders of Light Keepers. “And it’s going to look different for everybody. That’s what I think is so awesome about family history. It’s just as unique as we are as individuals and families.”

Attendees from past Light Keepers events have shared how Light Keepers inspired them personally. “I learned just how important it is to keep those memories, even when my family makes fun of me for making them take pictures all the time and making books for them,” Arlene Haymond said. “I kind of feel validated a little bit for what I thought was ‘fluffy stuff,’ but it really is worthwhile” (“Women Connect with Family History by Learning to Be Light Keepers,” Deseret News, March 2, 2018).

Light Keepers in 2020

This year at RootsTech, Light Keepers will be available on two days: Friday, February 28,from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 29, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Registration for Light Keepers is $49, which pays for an exclusive Light Keepers workbook and access to all the Light Keepers events on the day of your choice (Friday or Saturday). On the day they register for, Light Keepers attendees will also be able to visit the RootsTech Expo Hall (filled with hundreds of exhibitors and new technologies) and attend the RootsTech general session.

Grab your mom, sisters, cousins, or best friends, and sign up for Light Keepers at RootsTech! To register, visit Space is limited, so those interested should register as soon as possible. RootsTech 2020 will take place at the Salt Palace Convention Center (100 South West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) from February 26 to February 29, 2020.

Register for LightKeepers

Outstanding African American Women in History

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 11:00

As we remember our history, it is important to consider those who have made meaningful political contributions, oftentimes fighting for the rights of all people—including those historically placed on the margins of society. To commemorate some of these individuals, FamilySearch has compiled a list of remarkable African American women in history, naming just a few of these remarkable women who have made the world a better place.

Ida B. Wells (1862–1931)

Ida B. Wells dedicated her life’s work to protesting lynching, calling for the establishment of antilynching legislation, and exposing racial injustice. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Wells eventually made her way to Memphis, Tennessee. There, she became the part-owner of the newspaper The Memphis Free Speech. Her provocative and truth-filled articles exposed the oppressive nature of lynching African American men and women and how the very act protected white power and white supremacy.

These articles eventually sparked enough outrage that a mob of white men burned her place of business to the ground, forcing Wells to flee to Chicago for safety. Wells put down roots in Chicago and began her family there. In Chicago, she continued to advocate for people of color and for all women as she established several women’s civic and suffrage clubs and helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

A record of Wells’s time in Chicago can be found in one of the 29 collections highlighted in the FamilySearch campaign Finding Black Roots: 29 ways in 29 days. The death certificates of two of her four children, Alfreda Duster and Charles Barnett, can be found in the collection “Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878–1994.”

Everett Collection / Courtesy Everett Collection – stock.adobe.comElla Jo Baker (1903–1986)

Ella Baker participated in the grassroots efforts of the civil rights movement as she organized the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She also became a key contributor to the NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through the leadership and advisement of Baker, the SNCC organized waves of nonviolent student sit-ins to protest racial discrimination in restaurants and to advocate for voter registration among people of color.

The SNCC also played a key role in recruiting students to participate in Freedom Rides, a protest to desegregate interstate transportation. Baker believed in the power of youth to create social change and worked behind the scenes during the civil rights movement to ensure the success of these initiatives, which helped to change the course of the movement and achieve greater racial equality.

Baker can be found in the 1910 United States census in the household of her parents, Blake and Georgianna Baker, at age 6.

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977)

Born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer got her start with civil rights activism through her participation in the SNCC. She eventually became a community organizer as she led the efforts to fight against voter registration barriers for African Americans. Black men and women received the right to vote with the passage of the 15th and 19th Amendments. However, literacy tests, poll taxes, and the threat of violence from white supremacy groups such as the Ku Klux Klan often prevented African Americans from exercising their right.

As a community organizer, Hamer led groups of people to register to vote, often facing opposition; during the course of her activism, Hamer was threatened, brutally beaten, sent to jail on spurious charges, and shot at.

Despite opposition, Hamer continued in her activism as she established the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, ran for a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives, and helped to organize Freedom Summer, a project that brought hundreds of college students to the state of Mississippi to help in voter registration efforts.

Hamer can be found in the 1940 United States census.

Shirley Chisholm (1924–2005)

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman to run for Congress and win, becoming the representative for New York’s 12th Congressional District from 1969 to 1983. The daughter of immigrants, Chisholm was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received a Master’s degree from Columbia University in elementary education. Though she primarily worked in the field of education, Chisholm actively participated in organizations such as the NAACP, League of Women Voters, and Brooklyn’s chapter of the Democratic Party.

In 1972, Chisholm launched her campaign for president of the United States, becoming the first black person to seek a presidential nomination from one of the two major political parties. In her book The Good Fight, Chisholm stated, “I ran for the Presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.” She did not win the nomination, but her life and legacy have inspired many black women to run for office.

The words “Unbought and Unbossed,” her slogan during the presidential campaign, can be found on her tombstone. Links to a picture of her tombstone and to obituaries can be found under the Sources tab of her individual profile on

5 Facts You May Not Know about Martin Luther King Jr.

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 19:00

Each January, we celebrate the extraordinary life of Martin Luther King Jr. His life and legacy changed not only the United States of America, but the entire world, as he led the fight for equal rights for all individuals regardless of race.

Dr. King is most famously known for his “I Have a Dream Speech” given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. But what are some lesser known facts about Dr. King that bring a greater understanding to his work and his legacy?

FamilySearch has compiled five interesting facts about Dr. King’s life and legacy that you may not know. We hope this list can be a starting point in your celebration of Dr. King on this day.  

1. He held a doctorate in theology.

Dr. King earned the title of “Doctor” through a PhD in systematic theology, which he earned at Boston University in 1955. Prior to his doctorate degree, Dr. King earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Morehouse College at age 19. He was also awarded a bachelor’s degree in divinity in 1951 from Crozer Theological Seminary.

Dr. King followed in the footsteps of his father by becoming a pastor. After he earned his PhD, the King family relocated to Montgomery, Alabama, where Dr. King became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church at age 25. Dr. King’s leadership and gift for oration eventually led him to be recruited as the leader and  spokesperson for the Montgomery bus boycott at age 26, an event inspired by Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white person.

2. He was jailed 29 times.

Dr. King was thrown into jail nearly 30 times over the course of his lifetime as he advocated for civil rights. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience as well as for such things as “loitering” and minor traffic violations.

3. A memorial stands in Washington, D.C., to honor him. People at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial opened to the public in 2011.  It was the first memorial to honor an African American on the National Mall, and the only major memorial located on the National Mall that isn’t dedicated to a former president.

The main feature of the memorial is a 30-foot high relief sculpture of Dr. King cut out of a mountain. It is symbolic of Dr. King’s remarks during his “I Have a Dream Speech” where he stated the dream of hewing “out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope”; Dr. King symbolizes the stone of hope.

4. The cause of Dr. King continues through the efforts of his family. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

The work of the civil rights movement extended beyond Dr. King into his own family. Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s wife, worked alongside King as a leader of civil rights and actively participated in the women’s movement during and after the assassination of her husband. She founded the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change and is the individual credited with making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a reality.

Dr. King and Coretta had four children: Martin Luther III, Bernice, Yolanda, and Dexter. Each of them have found their own way to contribute to the quest for civil rights, social justice, and the improvement of society. Just last year, Martin Luther King III attended RootsTech, an annual genealogical conference hosted by FamilySearch, as an honored guest. He spoke during the announcement of a $2 million donation to the International African American Museum by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

5. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a not a day dedicated to leisure, but to action and service.

The Corporation for National and Community Service states that the holiday, observed on the third Monday in January, is “a day on, not a day off.” It notes that the holiday is the “only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.” Every year, communities come together and organize service projects to commemorate Dr. King’s life and mission. You and your family can make service a part of your celebration as well. To find volunteer opportunities in your own community, click the button below:

To find volunteer opportunities in your own community, click the button below:

Find Ways to Serve

New Planner Limits Announced: Help Up to 300 People

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 15:05

On 30 January 2020, the Planner on will be updated with a capacity limit of 300 people on the People You Are Helping list. This adjustment means that you can have a maximum of 300 people in your Planner at any given time. If the Planner currently has more than 300 people, you will need to remove some of the names before adding any more.

Understanding the Names List

When you sign in to and then go to Helper Resources, you see a list titled People You Are Helping. These are the people you have invited to the Planner. Their names fall into one of three categories:

  • People who have received but not yet accepted your invitation
  • People who have accepted your invitation
  • People for whom the invitation and helper access period have expired.

The capacity limit is for the Planner as a whole and not for any of the individual categories. In other words, if you have 300 expired invitations, you won’t be able to send a new invitation until one of the expired invitations is deleted.

Removing People from the Planner

You—the person helping—can remove a person’s name from the list at any time. Just go to Helper Resources, and view the list of people you have invited to the Planner. Hover the mouse cursor over a person’s name, and you will see an option for deleting that entry from the list.

Unaccepted Invitations

The Planner deletes some people automatically under certain conditions. An unaccepted invitation, for example, will stay in the Planner for 30 days. After that, it gets deleted. You can still attempt to help the person, but you will need to send a new invitation to do so, which the person would need to accept.

Expired Names

An expired entry is likewise deleted from the Planner after 12 months. An expired entry is the name of an individual who accepted your invitation. You then had access to that person’s ancestor information for 12 months.

After 12 months, the access expires, but the name of the person stays in the Planner for an additional 12 months—in case you want to send that person a new invitation and begin helping him or her a second time. Any lessons you may have created for the person would be restored.

As you can see, once a person accepts an invitation, he or she remains in the Planner for a combined total of two years—plenty of time to think about ways to help him or her experience the excitement, as well as the blessings, of serving his or her ancestors.

The Greatest Work

If you are still reading this article, then you must be someone who uses the Planner to create meaningful, personalized family history experiences for others. Thank you for your service! As you help others discover their ancestors and connect their families in the temple, you are helping to gather Israel. As President Russell M. Nelson has said, “There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important” than helping to gather Israel. So please—keep up the good work. Your friends and neighbors are counting on you. And so are their ancestors!

How to Search United States World War II Military Records

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 16:46

With over 16 million Americans who served in some capacity during World War II, you are likely find an ancestor or two in the records that were created. You can use the World War II military records search form below to find records of your ancestors’ service.

World War II U.S. Military Records Search First Name Last Name Place Year   function doSearch() { var base = ""; var first = document.getElementById("firstName").value; var last = document.getElementById("lastName").value; var place = document.getElementById("place").value; var year = document.getElementById("year").value; var collections = "(2028680 2127320 2039747 1875142 1880573 1916286 1861144 3031542 2043779 2729264 2821287 2821288 2691991 2684865 2515876 2515885 2695954 2759143 2759156 2729393 2548056 2517337 2659404 2659405 2659406 2659402 2710650 2515880 2548055 2695955 2709452 2709446 2568865 2759155)"; var url = base+'%2Bgivenname%3A"'+first+'"~%20%2Bsurname%3A"'+last+'"~%20%2Bany_place%3A"'+place+'"~%20%2Bany_year%3A'+year+'~&collection_id='+collections;, '_blank'); } .javascript-form label { color: #666662; display: block; font-size: 1rem; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.35rem; margin-bottom: 5px; cursor: pointer; margin-top: 5px; } .javascript-form input { background-color: #fff; border: 1px solid #ccc; border-radius: 4px; box-shadow: inset 0 3px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.05); box-sizing: border-box; color: #333331; font-family: inherit; font-size: 1rem; height: inherit; line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 5px; padding: 0.429rem 0.714rem; transition: border linear 0.2s; width: 200px; } .javascript-form input::placeholder { font-size: 11px; } .javascript-form input[type="button"] { color: #fff; border: 0; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px; padding: 10px; font-weight: 700; cursor: pointer; background-color: #85B807; width: auto; box-shadow: none; font-size: 11px; }

If you don’t know of anyone in your family who served during the war, consider asking your family or looking at your family tree for those who would have been the right age to have registered for the draft or who may have served. Men born between about 1877 and 1927, including residents of the United States who were not yet citizens, were within the traditional age range to have registered for the draft.

Learn more about different types of military records and what they can tell you about your ancestors.

Records at Home

The best place to start your search is right at home. Ask relatives what they know about members of the family who served in the war. Try to identify what kind of military service your ancestor was in—this will be especially important to know for when you start looking for records outside of home.

See if you can find pictures, letters, a discharge certificate, or even an old uniform or victory medal. You may even want to visit the ancestor’s tombstone.

As you begin your search for more information about your ancestor, you may want to explore our article on Basic Military Search Strategies.

United States World War II Records: Draft Registration

On September 16, 1940, the United States Congress passed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. This law instituted a national draft that required all men ages 21–65 to register. Men who were selected were required to serve for at least one year. When the United States entered the war, the draft was extended.

There were seven draft registrations during World War II. They included the following:

Draft Registration 1: October 16, 1940; men ages 21–31 were required to register.

Draft Registration 2: July 1, 1941; men registered who had reached age 21 since the last draft registration.

Draft Registration 3: February 16, 1942; men ages 20–21 and 35–44 were added to the register.

Draft Registration 4: April 27, 1942; men ages 45–65, who were not previously eligible for military service, were now required to register. This registration is sometimes referred to as the “Old Man’s Draft.”

Draft Registration 5: June 30, 1942; men ages 18–20 were required to register.

Draft Registration 6: December 10, 1942; men who turned 18 since the last registration were added to the register.

Draft Registration 7: November 16–December 31, 1943; men ages 18–44 who were United States citizens living abroad were required to register.

The World War II draft records in the United States are not complete; however, many are available. One thing to keep in mind is that even if your ancestors didn’t serve in WW2, you may still find them in the draft. All resident males were required to register for the draft, even those who were not yet citizens. Not everyone who registered was drafted.

Official Military Personnel Files

If a family member served in World War II, the next step in your research is the National Personnel Records Center and Military Personnel Records in St. Louis, Missouri. It is the repository of personnel files for discharged and deceased veterans of all branches of service.

A wonderful guide online will walk you through the process of requesting your loved one’s military service file. For a quick overview, here’s what you need to know.

A military service file is called the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). It contains much information about your ancestor’s time in service, such as unit assignments and transfers, awards, and discharge papers, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, on July 12, 1973, a fire nearly destroyed the building that housed the OMPF. The fire destroyed and damaged many of the records of people who served in the United States Army during World War II. Because the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard records were stored elsewhere, they were not affected.

Persons who wish to obtain a military service file have three options.

1. Visit the archive at 1 Archive Drive, St. Louis, Missouri (by appointment).

2. Employ an independent researcher.

3. Submit a written request for the records.

Fees are associated with requesting records from the archive so be sure to check out the fees before submitting your request.

Individual Deceased Personnel Files

Your military records search might turn up an Individual Deceased Personnel File. An Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) is a personnel file created by the military. It documents the death of a military person and includes information associated with the disposition of the remains. The IDPF is sometimes referred to as a “Mortuary File” or a “Casualty File.”

This file would be particularly important to those researching ancestors who were killed or died during service. These records were not part of the fire of 1973, so they can be used as a way to reconstruct the service record of a veteran who died.

The IDPF may contain information such as the following:

  • Correspondence
  • Memorandums
  • Documentation relating to the death of the service person
  • Service member’s rank and serial number
  • Service member’s date of birth
  • Brief description of the circumstances of death

If you would like to obtain a copy of your ancestor’s IDPF, you can contact the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri. IDPFs held there cover the years 1939–1975 and include records of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

You may also find valuable information about your ancestor from the relative’s grave. Though some military family members may be buried in local cemeteries, many are also located at a national cemetery or even overseas. The following are resources you can use for locating your military ancestor’s gravesite:

As you continue your military records search, you can gain a new perspective by researching your ancestors who lived during World War II. Learn more about the war and how it could have affected your family.

Other Useful Resources

English Boy Names in Your Family Tree

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 18:00

Your name is a significant part of your personal identity. It’s likely that your ancestors felt the same way about their names. If you have English heritage, some of your male ancestors probably had English boy names—you might even have one, too! Learn about these English boy names to get a taste of your English heritage, find baby names, or search for English names in your family tree.

Search for Your English Ancestors

Want to learn about English girl names or English surnames? Click the links below!

English Girl Names

English Surnames 45 Popular and Unique English Boy Names

These gems are some of the most popular or interesting English boy names. Which ones are your favorites?

Addison (a-də-sən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Adam
Aldrich (ȯl-drich)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Old, wise ruler
Alexander (a-lig-ˈzan-dər)
  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Defender and protector of people
 Alfred (al-frəd)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Elf ruler or wise counselor
 Alton (ȯl-tᵊn)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Inhabitant from an old town
Austen (ȯ-stən)
  • Origin: English and Latin
  • Meaning: Shortened from Augustine or Augustus, meaning “great” or “magnificent”
Archie (ärchē)
  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Shortened from Archibald, meaning “bold,” “genuine,” or “brave”
 Averil (ā-və-ril)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Boar battle
 Benedict (be-nə-dikt)
  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Blessed
Blake (blāk)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Either fair-haired or dark-haired (resulting from the Old English “blæc,” meaning “black,” or “blac,” meaning “pale”)
 Carter (kär-tər)
  • Origin: English, Irish, Scottish
  • Meaning: Cart driver—someone who drove a cart for deliveries
Chad (chad)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Battle warrior, protector, or defender
Charles (char[-ə]lz)
  • Origin: German, Old English, and French
  • Meaning: Free man or manly
 Clifford (klif-ərd)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Someone who lives near a cliff ford
Conrad (kän-ˌrad)
  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Brave or bold counsel
Cooper (kü-pər)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Barrel maker
 Dale (dāl)
  • Origin: Old English, German
  • Meaning: Someone who lives near a valley or dell
Earl (ər[-ə]l)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Nobleman or aristocratic
Edmund (ed-mənd)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Wealthy protector
Edwin (ed-wən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Wealthy friend
Elmer (el-mər)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Noble and famous
Fletcher (fle-chər)
  • Origin: English, Scottish, Irish, French
  • Meaning: Arrow maker
Ford (fȯrd)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: River crossing
Grayson (grāsᵊn)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of a steward or gray-haired person
Harry (her-ē)
  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Army or estate ruler
Harrison (her-ə-sən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Harry, a name meaning army or estate ruler
Henry (hen-rē)
  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Household ruler
Jack (jak)
  • Origin: English and Hebrew
  • Meaning: Originating from John, meaning “God is gracious”
 James (jāmz)
  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Originating from Jacob, meaning supplanter
Jasper (ja-spər)
  • Origin: English or Persian
  • Meaning: Treasurer
Kenton (ken-tən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From a royal settlement
 Leo (lē-ō)
  • Origin: Italian or Latin
  • Meaning: Lion
 Lewis (lü-əs)
  • Origin: English, French, or German
  • Meaning: Famous warrior
Mason (mā-sᵊn)
  • Origin: English or French
  • Meaning: Stone worker
Nelson (nel-sən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Neil or a champion
Noah (nō-ə)
  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Rest or to comfort
Oliver (ä-lə-vər)
  • Origin: English, French, Latin, or Norse
  • Meaning: Descendant, olive tree, peaceful, affectionate, or warrior
Oscar (ä-skər)
  • Origin: Gaelic or Norse
  • Meaning: Deer lover or God spear
Radcliff (rad-klif)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Red cliff
Remington (re-miŋ-tən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Someone who lives in the raven or river town
 Robert (rä-bərt)
  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Bright fame
Stanley (stan-lē)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From the stony meadow
Thatcher (tha-chər)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Roof fixer
 William (wil-yəm)
  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Desire helmet or protection or brave protector
Winston (win-stən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Joy stone or victory town
English Names in Your Family Tree

Did you find any new names you like? Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below. Search your family tree to see if you can find any English family names or old English surnames in your tree. 

Search for Your English Ancestors

English Girl Names That Might Be in Your Family Tree

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 18:00

Do you have English heritage? If so, your grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and beyond might have English names. Popular English girl names come from a variety of sources. Whether you are learning about these names to connect with your ancestors or to find names for your future children, knowing where the names come from can help you connect with your family—past, present, and future.

Search for your English Ancestors

Check out the list of popular English girl names below! You can also learn about English boy names and English surnames.

English Boy Names English Surnames 45 Popular and Unique English Girl Names

English girl names are some of the most elegant of English names. Think of class and beauty as you read them.

Ada (ā-də)
  • Origin: German or Hebrew
  • Meaning: Noble and happy or beautiful
Alberta (al-ˈbər-tə)
  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Noble and bright
Alexis (ə-ˈlek-səs)
  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Defender, protector, or helper
Alecia (ə-ˈlī-shə)
  • Origin: French or German
  • Meaning: Noble
Amelia (ə-ˈmēl-yə)
  • Origin: Latin or Germanic
  • Meaning: Hardworking
Andrea (än-drā-ə)
  • Origin: Italian or Greek
  • Meaning: Manly and strong
Anne (an)
  • Origin: Hebrew or Greek
  • Meaning: Gracious and merciful
Averill (ā-və-ril)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Boar battle
Blakesley (blāks-lē)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Black wolf’s meadow
Brenda (bren-dä)
  • Origin: Gaelic
  • Meaning: Sword
Celestia (sə-lest-ē-ə)
  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Heavenly
Charlotte (shär-lət)
  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: Free man
Clara (kler-ə)
  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Clear and bright
Cleo (klē-o)
  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: To praise or glory
Darcie (därsē)
  • Origin: English or Irish
  • Meaning: Dark
Edith (ē-dəth)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Prosperous war
Eleanor (e-lə-nər)
  • Origin: French, Greek
  • Meaning: Famous wealth, bright shining one
Elizabeth (i-ˈli-zə-bəth)
  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Oath to God
Elmira (el-ˈmī-rə)
  • Origin: English, Arabic
  • Meaning: Noble, princess
Emma (e-mə)
  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Complete or universal
Erin (er-ən)
  • Origin: Gaelic
  • Meaning: Ireland
Eve (ēv)
  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Life
Freya (frā-ə)
  • Origin: Scandinavian or Norse
  • Meaning: Lady or goddess of love, fertility, and beauty
Georgianna (jȯr-jan-ə)
  • Origin: English or Greek
  • Meaning: Farmer
Gertrude (gər-trüd)
  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Strong spear
Isabella (iz-ə-belə)
  • Origin: Italian
  • Meaning: God is my oath
Joanna (jōˈ[h]anə̇)
  • Origin: English, Polish, Greek, or Hebrew
  • Meaning: God is gracious
Katherine (ka-th(ə-)rən)
  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Pure
Kelsey (kelsē)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From the island
Leanne (lē-an)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Clearing or gracious
Lily (li-lē)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Lily flower, a symbol of purity
Louisa (lü-ē-zə)
  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Famous warrior
Matilda (məˈtildə)
  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Strong in battle
Myrtle (mər-tᵊl)
  • Origin: English, Greek
  • Meaning: Myrtle bush
Olivia (o-ˈli-vē-ə)
  • Origin: English, French, Latin, or Norse
  • Meaning: Descendant, olive tree, peaceful, affectionate, or warrior
Penelope (pə-ˈne-lə-pē)
  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Weaver
Pippa (pipə)
  • Origin: English or Greek
  • Meaning: Horse lover
Queenie (kwē-nī)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Queen
Rosemary (rōz-mer-ē)
  • Origin: English, Latin
  • Meaning: Rosemary herb
Ruth (rüth)
  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Compassionate friend
Tate (tāt)
  • Origin: English, Norse
  • Meaning: Pleasant and cheerful
Tamsin (tam-zin)
  • Origin: English or Greek
  • Meaning: Twin
Tara (ter-ə)
  • Origin: Irish
  • Meaning: A reference to the Hill of Tara, the legendary seat for the High King of Ireland
Whitney (hwit-nē)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From the white island

Did any of these names stick out to you? Did we miss one of your favorites? Now that you have learned about English girl names, try searching your tree to see which ones are in your family. You might learn something new!

Alison Ensign and Laurie Bradshaw contributed to this post.

5 Best Places in Italy to Explore Your Heritage

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 16:37

Italy is a country rich in history and culture. If you travel just about anywhere in Italy, you will experience its heritage, whether by exploring ancient ruins, savoring regional dishes, or gazing in awe at a breathtaking cathedral. Here are five of the best places to visit in Italy to celebrate and discover the country’s heritage.

Centro Storico (Historic City Center), Rome

More than 2,000 years of history are layered in the historical heart of the city of Rome. Centro Storico (“Old Town”) is not a single destination, but a collection of neighborhoods that are best explored at a leisurely pace, making it one of the best places to visit in Italy.

Wander the cobblestone streets, and feast your eyes on beautiful churches, monuments, and gardens. Stop at panetterias (bakeries) and trattorias (restaurants) along the way to enjoy Italy’s delicious food.

Old Rome is home to some of the world’s most famous ancient ruins as well as masterpieces of Italian architecture, sculpture, and art. Below are some of the major historic sites you will want to explore in Centro Storico:

La Città Alta, Bergamo

Città Alta (“High City”) is also an old city center and sits high on a hill in Bergamo, Italy. Powerful Venetian walls built in the 1500s surround this historic destination and remind visitors that it was once a heavily-fortified city. Main thoroughfares laid out by early Roman city planners still follow their original paths, and a medieval tower still stands at the main city crossroads.

The view from the top of the city provides a stunning backdrop to the old city, which is largely intact. Visitors can walk to the summit or take a funicular, or inclined railway. Even if you take the funicular, leave time and energy to explore on foot the narrow, cobblestoned streets that lead to the main square, Piazza Vecchia, and the magnificent Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

The young (and young-at-heart) may especially enjoy exploring old fortifications scattered throughout Città Alta, such as the ruins of the Castle Vigilio with its network of secret underground passages.

Villaggio Crespi d’Adda, Capriate San Gervasio

One of the best places in Italy to visit is the Crespi Workers’ Village, which tells the story of a factory town and an important chapter in both European and United States history. During 19th-century industrialization, most factory workers lived in poverty and squalor. Some factory owners built model towns so their employees could enjoy a more prosperous way of life. As part of this small but important movement, the Crespi family built Crespi d’Adda in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Today, though partly still in use, the worker’s village still remains much as it was when it was built. Descendants of factory workers still live in the town. Visitors can walk by neat rows of workers’ homes, the now-vacant factory, a church, a school that provided free education, and more.

Val di Noto, Sicily

An important story in Sicily’s history is preserved—literally—in stone. In 1693, a massive earthquake destroyed many of the towns in the Val di Noto region. The inhabitants rebuilt their towns, many of them with a new eye to city planning and architectural greatness.

In several of these towns, the rebuilding efforts still survive and witness to the people’s monumental efforts, innovative urban planning, and architectural talent. Art lovers will appreciate the exceptional late Baroque architecture, with its imposing, columned buildings and sculpted flourishes.

Museo Diffuso della Resistenza, Turin

Immerse yourself in more recent Italian history in Turin at the acclaimed Museo Diffuso della Resistenza (its full name translates as “Widespread Museum of Resistance, Deportation, War, Rights, and Freedom”). Housed in the city’s old military quarter, the museum’s exhibits feature multimedia interviews with Turin residents about World War II.

Visitors to Museo Diffuso della Resistenza describe these first-hand accounts as a deeply moving way to learn about everyday life during the war, the German occupation, and the Italian Resistance. Also poignant is a preserved air-raid shelter in the museum’s basement.

Do you have Italian heritage? Heritage travel to your ancestral homeland can deepen your sense of connection to past generations—especially if you know something about your family history. And if you don’t know much about your family history, FamilySearch makes it easy to start. Create a free account and start learning more about your family today!

What’s Coming to FamilySearch in 2020

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 15:47

With each new year, FamilySearch has goals for improving your experience and helping people around the world discover and connect with their families. So what’s new on FamilySearch in 2020? Here’s your sneak peek!

This year, FamilySearch will expand its reach by adding more languages and more social capabilities. Some key experiences such as the Family Tree and Memories will also have new and improved functionality.

More Languages

Do you have friends or family members who speak a different language? will have support for more languages at the beginning of 2020. The FamilySearch Family Tree, records search, Memories, and other essential site experiences will be made available in the following additional languages:

  • Albanian
  • Bulgarian
  • Khmer
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • Finnish
  • Hungarian
  • Indonesian
  • Mongolian

  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Romanian
  • Samoan
  • Slovak
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Tongan
  • Vietnamese

Note: The FamilySearch website and Family Tree app are already available in English, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

For most users, the FamilySearch site will automatically open in the language that best matches their browser or device settings. You can also change your language on the FamilySearch website using the language menu in the footer.

Faster Access to New Records and Editable Dates and Places in Indexes

FamilySearch is releasing a new tool for viewing recently digitized record images. This feature will help you more easily find images that aren’t yet indexed (or text searchable), which gives you quicker access to new records. FamilySearch has more than 300 cameras working to preserve records worldwide. With the upcoming Explore Images tool, new record images can be made viewable on the site in a matter of days or weeks, instead of going through months or years of processing.

In addition, dates and places in record indexes will soon be editable on This feature is similar to an update in 2019 that allowed users to edit the name fields in indexed records.

Better Merging

With the new year, you will see significant improvements to the merging experience in the FamilyTree. The FamilySearch Family Tree is the world’s largest shared tree—which means that users can merge ancestor profiles (person pages) when they find duplicate profiles. This experience will soon to be streamlined and enhanced.

Updates to Latest Changes and a New Contributions Tab

The Latest Changes log for person pages will be updated in 2020. You will be able to see more details for what has been edited on each person page in your tree view.

Also, a new My Contributions tab is coming soon to the Family Tree app and desktop site. This feature will celebrate what you’ve added to the Family Tree, including source, memories, and persons added. It will also include an overview of changes you have made across the shared tree and a list of the private persons in your private space. (These are the profiles you have created for living persons, which are kept private. Read more about private spaces in the Family Tree here.)

Easier Ways to Find and Sort Memories and Improved “Likes”

A simple but powerful update to Memories will let you add topic tags to photos and documents uploaded to the FamilySearch site and apps. This change essentially allows you to categorize memories you add or have added to your ancestors’ profiles. It will also improve searching within your ancestors’ memories. Imagine that you wanted to find pictures of an ancestor’s past Halloween costumes or holiday celebrations. With this tagging feature, that is much more possible.

The ability to “like” whole albums in FamilySearch Memories will also be available in the new year. Currently, FamilySearch users can “like” individual photos and other memories so they show up in the My Likes section of their Memories gallery. Soon you will be able to do the same with photos you have grouped into albums.

Going Social

In 2020, FamilySearch will add updates to help improve social interactions between users on the FamilySearch website. Family Tree users will also be able to share their ancestors’ person pages on social media websites such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years.

You can access FamilySearch services and resources for free at, through the FamilySearch apps, or by visiting over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Importance of Index Reviewing

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 13:00

Searchable records are a huge part of what makes family history research possible. A lot happens to a record from the time it is found in the basement of an old municipal building or some other place to the moment it is published online for you to find. Indexing is one of those very important steps, but what comes next is equally important.

Reviewing is the quality check that takes place after a record is indexed. Batches of indexed records must go through this step before they can be published.

The Reviewer behind the Index

Reviewing is an essential step in making records searchable on—and it’s possible only because of the indexing reviewers. Three reviewers from around the world shared with us some of the reasons they participate in this great effort.*

Mauro Favilli (left) is from Pescara, Italy. Yvonne Graves (center) is from Maryland, United States. Janaina Nunes de Oliveira (right) is from Piauí, Brazil. Why do you think index reviewing is important?

Mauro: Accuracy and fussiness are fundamental skills of those who work to make the memory of our ancestors available to the world. Any error should be corrected and every detail considered. The good reviewer checks the annotations in the margin of the records and the adjustments at the bottom and tries to learn the handwriting style of those who drafted the documents.

Janaina: In Mosiah 2:17, it says that when we are serving our neighbor, we are only serving our God. For me, reviewing indexes is a work of salvation and shows love for our neighbor, making it so we can be closer to the Savior.

Yvonne: I think reviewing is important because you want these records to be as accurate as possible.

Why do you choose to review?

Mauro: I really care about the accuracy of the information. When I am able to review documents of cities and regions where I was born or lived, I feel comfortable in knowing the places, families, municipalities, or hamlets that made up the territory. I think it is right to restore dignity and consideration to those who sometimes have not had them in life—abandoned orphans, soldiers who died in war, immigrants, or people who lived in poverty—and find the place and the consideration those people deserve.

Janaina: I choose to review because there are many more indexers than reviewers. As reviewers, we have the chance to increase the number of searchable records, helping more people to be able to find their ancestors. The review is a collective effort to help all of Heavenly Father’s children.

Yvonne: Over the years, I’ve enjoyed indexing and just thought I’d give reviewing a try. Now I like that as well as the indexing.

What blessings or benefits have you seen from reviewing?

Mauro: Innumerable blessings. I feel the flow of history. I live lives that are not mine. I become aware of otherwise unimaginable realities.

Janaina: Indexing review is a sanctification process. Also, as it says in Doctrine and Covenants 88:73, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” I am helping in a work that magnifies me, increases my decision-making capacity, and brings me closer to my Savior.

Yvonne: I like knowing that I’m helping somebody out there.

Do you have any positive or uplifting experiences with reviewing or FamilySearch that you would like to share?

Mauro: In one case, after having indexed or reviewed 27,000 documents, I was able to find one of my ancestors who had escaped my memory. Paolo Andreucci, my ancestor, now has a family in heaven to which he will soon be sealed.

Janaina: Besides finding most of my ancestors through this wonderful system called FamilySearch, I also have the spirit of the Lord closest to me, and I can help other people to find their ancestors. I recently had a very uplifting experience. I wanted to go to the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on September 20, 2019, but I didn’t have ancestor names to submit. Then I remembered that I could use the FamilySearch system to try find any name, and suddenly I found a lot of them! I felt such a joy because I know my Savior lives and loves us so much. He knows that every day I try to do my best.

Yvonne: One of my favorite records to index or review are the draft records. I call these records my soldier boys.

Who Can Review?

Volunteers are granted the ability to review batches once they have indexed 1,000 records on the web indexing system. This requirement is intended to give volunteers time to become familiar with web indexing and many types of projects before they begin reviewing.

Once volunteers have review rights, they are encouraged to do both activities, indexing and reviewing. Both activities are vital to publishing these records and making them searchable.

*Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

All About English Surnames

Fri, 01/03/2020 - 19:00

Names are an integral part of personal and family identities. They can also illuminate your cultural heritage or your ancestors’ lives. If you have English heritage, it is likely that you have some English surnames in your family tree.

Old English names were widely inspired by a multitude of cultural influences. They commonly include Viking, Nordic, Scandinavian, German, and French roots. English names also take inspiration from religion, familial lines, nature, occupations, physical characteristics, and so on. 

Search your family tree to see if you can find English family names or old English surnames in your tree. 

Search for Your English Ancestors English First Names

Whether you’re trying to find baby name ideas or you want to learn about English names in your family, this is a great place to look. Get an idea of name meanings and origins for English boy names and English girl names.

English Boy Names English Girl Names 25 Common English Surnames, Their Meanings, and Their Origins

The following is a list of some of the most common surnames in England today, or read about English names for boys or English names for girls. Learn a little about the origins of the names and their meanings, which possibly can tell you about your ancestors’ lives if these names are in your family tree.

Smith (smith)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Blacksmith or metal worker

In Old English, smitan means “to strike.” Smith is an occupational name, meaning your ancestors were probably blacksmiths, who were valuable members of society and who contributed weapons and tools.

Jones (jōnz)
  • Origin: Welsh
  • Meaning: God is gracious

The meaning comes from the name John, which evolved from the Hebrew word Yochanan.

Williams (wil-yəmz)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of William

Originally from the Germanic Willahelm, William means “desire helmet or protection” or “brave protector.” You can be proud of your possible warrior lineage.

Brown (brau̇n)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: The color brown

Brown was often a name given to someone with brown hair or skin.

Taylor (tā-lər)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: A clothing tailor

Your ancestors were likely tailors. Did you inherit the skills?

Davies (dā-vēz)
  • Origin: English, Welsh, or Scottish
  • Meaning: Son of David

David is a biblical Hebrew name meaning “beloved” or “uncle.”

Evans (e-vənz)
  • Origin: Welsh
  • Meaning: Son of Evan

Evan is the Welsh version of John, coming from the Hebrew word Yochanan, which means “God is gracious.”

Thomas (tä-məs)
  • Origin: Greek or Aramaic 
  • Meaning: Twin

While it is possible that your ancestors were twins, Thomas was more likely passed down as a given name made popular by Saint Thomas Becket or others.

Johnson (jän-sən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of John

This is the third name on this list derived from John, meaning “God is gracious.” It was clearly a popular choice.

Roberts (rä-bərts)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Bright fame

Robert is an English name from the Germanic roots hrod, meaning “fame,” and beraht, meaning “bright.” Perhaps one of your ancestors was famous?

Lee (lē)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Field or meadow

Your ancestors probably lived near an Old English lea, or meadow—sounds picturesque.

Walker (wȯ-kər)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Someone who walks on raw, wet wool to clean and thicken it

This outdated occupation could also be called a fuller.

Wright (rīt)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Carpenter, craftsman, or wagon maker

Don’t you love these occupational names? Can you picture your ancestors at work?

Robinson (rä-bən-sən)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Robin

Robin, similar to Robertearlier on this list, means “bright fame,” but it could also refer to the red-breasted bird.

Thompson (täm-sən)
  • Origin: English or Scottish
  • Meaning: Son of Thomas

Thomas means “twin,” but the name may not indicate that your ancestors were twins; it was a popular name.

White (wīt)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: The color white

White was a name often given to someone with white hair or a fair complexion.

Hughes (hyüz)
  • Origin: German, Welsh, Irish, French
  • Meaning: Bright heart, mind, and spirit

Seems similar to hue, right? It’s actually from the Germanic word hug.

Edwards (ed-wərdz)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Edward

Edward, meaning “wealthy guardian,” was the name of several Anglo-Saxon kings. It was a fitting name for a king, right?

Green (grēn)
  • Origin: English or Irish
  • Meaning: The color green or someone who lives near the village green

“Village green” doesn’t actually refer to a village name but rather to the common area in a village.

Lewis (lü-əs)
  • Origin: English, French, or German
  • Meaning: Famous warrior

Lewis is close cousins with the French name Louis and the German name Ludwig.

Wood (wu̇d)
  • Origin: English or Scottish
  • Meaning: Someone who lived or worked in a forest

Wood is another picturesque name that hints at your ancestors’ homes.

Harris (her-əs)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Harry

No, your ancestors weren’t named for being hairy. Rather, Harry means “army or estate ruler.”

Martin (mär-tᵊn)
  • Origin: Latin or Roman
  • Meaning: Servant of Mars, the Roman god of war

Martin was made popular by Saint Martin of Tours, who legendarily ripped his cloak in half in the middle of winter to share with a cold beggar.

Jackson (jak-sən)
  • Origin: English or Scottish
  • Meaning: Son of Jack

Jack is yet another name (fourth on this list) derived from John, a name with Hebrew roots meaning “God is gracious.”

Clarke (klärk)
  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Clerk, cleric, or scribe

Clerk in Old English was clerec, originally meaning “priest.” 

English Surnames in Your Family Tree

Do you have any of these common English names in your family tree? Use to see if you can find any! 

Search for Your English Ancestors

Did you find any of the names in your tree? Did we miss any of your family names? Or perhaps your favorite names? Let us know in the comments below.

Here are a few more resources to find English surnames that may be in your family tree:

Yorkshire Pudding

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 19:00

For the people of Great Britain, Yorkshire pudding has long been a dish to be proud of. This simple, crispy puffed bread requires only four ingredients that are found in most kitchens.

Making Yorkshire pudding is one way you can connect to your English heritage. If you have other recipes from your ancestors, share them on FamilySearch Memories to preserve them for your descendants.

Preserve Your Family Recipes

If you are interested in making Yorkshire pudding yourself, a recipe is included below.

What Is British Pudding?

“Pudding” can mean various things in the English language, depending on where you live.

If you live in North America, your definition of “pudding” is probably fairly simple. Pudding is a sweet, creamy dessert similar to custard. In the United Kingdom, however, “pudding” can mean several things.

Typically, pudding simply means “dessert”; however, pudding can also refer to both sweet dishes and salty dishes. These dishes are typically made with flour and have a cakelike consistency. Steak and kidney pudding, suet pudding, and Yorkshire pudding are all examples of this kind of pudding. Other types of pudding, such as black pudding and haggis, are savory meat dishes made in a similar way as sausages.

History of Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire pudding dates back at least to the 1700s, when it was described as “Dripping Pudding” in The Whole Duty of a Woman. Cooks in the 18th century roasted meat on a spit over the flames in the kitchen fireplace, where it dripped as it cooked. The puddings were carefully placed beneath to catch and be flavored by those drippings.

That book on womanly duties wasn’t nearly as widely read as The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, by Hannah Glass in 1747.  Modern-day cooks can follow the simple Yorkshire pudding recipe Hannah left for their great-great-great-grandmothers. However, the narrative may be puzzling to 21st-century cooks:

“Take a quart of milk, four eggs, and a little salt, make it up into a thick batter with flour like a pancake batter. You must have a good piece of meat at the fire, take a stew-pan and put some dripping in, set it on the fire; when it boils, pour in your pudding; let it bake on the fire till you think it is nigh enough. . . . Set your stew-pan [on a downturned pan] under your meat, and let the dripping drop on the pudding, and the heat of the fire come to it, to make it of a fine brown.”

Lest the puddings become too greasy, Hannah cautioned the cook to drain the fat from the pudding, set it on the fire again to dry a little, and then add melted butter to the middle, to form “an exceeding good pudding; the gravy of the meat eats well with it.”

Today’s enthusiasts might not relate to the dish as described by Hannah Glass. The pudding in its various iterations gradually moved from beneath the spit into the roasting pan and, by the 21st century, into cake pans, muffin pans, or pudding tins. A host of Yorkshire pudding variations are relished by diners in restaurants across Great Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Today’s dish typically doesn’t usually include the grease bath recommended by Hannah Glass, but it may still be flavored with beef drippings.

The wonder of this light, puffy bread is that the recipe includes the ingredients that also form the basis of such flat forms as French crepes—nearly equal parts flour, eggs, and milk, with a bit of salt. The secret is to whisk the liquids until they are light and foamy and then to bake the bread in a preheated tin pan in a hot oven. The heat will cause the bread to puff up high and set quickly and then turn a golden brown.

This modern, simple Yorkshire pudding recipe is adapted from the New York Times.

Modern-Day Simple Yorkshire Pudding Recipe Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (Rendered beef or pork fat can be substituted for butter for a more traditional flavor.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Whisk together eggs and milk until they are foamy, and then mix with flour and salt. Do not overmix. Allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Add about a teaspoon of fat to each cup of a muffin tin. Place the tin in the oven to heat for five to seven minutes.
  4. Fill each cup of the muffin tin to about half full, and return the tin to the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the puddings are crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately, drizzled with remaining melted butter as desired.
  5. Recipe yields 12

Best Things to Do in Denmark: 19 Ways to Explore Its Heritage

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 12:24

“Once we were brutal Vikings. Now we are one of the world’s most peaceful societies. Welcome to Denmark.” —

There couldn’t be a better description for Denmark, which has a thrilling history filled with Vikings, warring kings, and more. Today, it is a prime destination, with countless ways to enjoy Denmark’s charming atmosphere as well as its rich history. 

We highly recommend visiting Denmark, especially if you have Danish ancestors. Heritage tourism is an incredible way to experience life as your ancestors knew it and soak in the history of your cultural heritage. Here is a list of 24 things to do in Denmark when you visit!

Asterisks mark UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or locations deemed as having high historical importance.

Cultural Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

Denmark offers the perfect mix of culture and history, with many of its most popular attractions still in operation after centuries. Visit some of these destinations to get a taste for Danish culture.


This port is filled with colorful, historic homes and restaurants. It is the perfect place to mingle with locals and enjoy the atmosphere of Copenhagen.


Denmark is home to the world’s oldest amusement park still in operation. It is known by locals as Bakken and opened in 1583. Just think of the generations of people who have worked in and visited Bakken.

Copenhagen Opera House

The Copenhagen Opera House is the national opera house of Denmark. It is located in the center of Copenhagen on the Holmen area.

Den Gamle By

Known as the old town of Aarhus, Den Gamle By aims to recreate the last 500 years in Denmark. Staff are dressed in historically accurate clothing, and there are distinct sections for different eras, with shops, museums, gardens, and more.

Impressive Architecture in Denmark

Denmark has no shortage of outstanding castles, cathedrals, and more. Here are some of our top choices.

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg is famous for three life-size lion statues that guard the throne. It is also home to a breathtaking collection of venetian glass and Denmark’s crown jewels.

*Kronborg Castle

Known for being Elsinore, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, this Renaissance castle overlooks the narrow waterway separating Denmark and Sweden, called a sound. Thanks to the strategic location of Kronborg Castle, Denmark controlled the sound, which became a source of income and political power.

*Roskilde Cathedral

With construction beginning in the 12th century, the Roskilde Cathedral is one of the first Gothic cathedrals made of brick. It inspired the spread of the style throughout Europe.

Amalienborg Palace

At the current home of Denmark’s royal family, you will see the royal guard standing watch. Visit the museum for a look into the lives of Danish royalty.

Frederiksborg Castle

Legitimately built in an attempt to show off, Frederiksborg Castle does just that. It is the largest Nordic Renaissance complex, and it is surrounded by intricate gardens.

The Round Tower

This 17th-century observatory tower is the oldest functioning building of its kind in Europe. It is now open to visitors and amateur astronomers.

Danish Museums and Historic Sites

These historic sites in Denmark allow you to catch a glimpse of the past. Take the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the lives your Danish ancestors led. 

National Museum of Denmark

The National Museum of Denmark is actually a collection of museums that chronicle the history of Denmark and its people. Visit its website to choose from among all 20 of its locations.

Viking Ship Museum

See five real Viking ships, test your skills with Viking crafts, and even sail on a traditional Nordic boat during the summer months.


The Jelling burial mounds are a relic of pagan Nordic culture. The white church that is also in Jelling provides evidence of the later conversion to Christianity that began in the 10th century.

Lindholm Høje 

Lindholm Høje is home to some truly amazing Viking artifacts dating back to the Iron Age, including burial grounds with 682 graves and 150 stone-carved ships, a preserved village, and a museum with relics from the Viking era.

Funen Village 

Step into an 18th-century village, complete with a school, inn, watermill, windmill, and masonry. You will also get a taste of traditional Danish farming with gardens, old varieties of fruit trees, and livestock. 

Hans Christian Andersen’s House

Hans Christian Andersen is famous worldwide for his fairy tales, which include “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Visit his home in Copenhagen, and learn about the inspirations for his tales.

Stunning Sceneries in Denmark

Be sure to make time to see some of nature’s wonders in Denmark. Some of these landscapes show signs of the people who have visited. Others display millions of years of history. All are remarkable and worth a stop.

*Par Force Hunting Landscape

The forests Store Dyrehave and Gribskov were used by Danish kings and queens for hunting with hounds. In the enchanting woods, you will find hunting lanes laid out in a star and grid pattern.

*Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is the largest undisturbed intertidal system in the world, with a series of sand and mud flats creating a flat wetland. Here, you will find seals, porpoises, sea-grass meadows, and mussel beds, along with other wonders.


Shaped by glaciers in the last ice age, Hammerknuden provides incredible scenery. Along with the visible trails of the glaciers are buildings and ruins throughout the area from different ages.

Whatever your reasons for visiting Denmark, you will love the many cultural experiences, historical marvels, and natural landscapes it has to offer. However, if you have Danish ancestors, your trip will hold special significance to you as it provides the opportunity to experience your cultural heritage and learn more about the lives of your ancestors.

*UNESCO World Heritage Site

Learn More about Heritage Travel

Travel Abroad to Discover Your Heritage

Wed, 01/01/2020 - 13:00

Many people who travel abroad don’t just go to discover a place—they travel to discover themselves. And what better way to experience self-discovery than traveling to a place of your heritage?

Heritage tourism is the act of traveling and immersing yourself in the culture and heritage of a specific region. The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories of people of the past.”

Although you can participate in a heritage tour that has nothing to do with your own family’s heritage, one life-changing way to approach heritage travel is to visit a homeland or place tied directly to your own roots and history. (And if you have no idea what your heritage is, don’t worry—we can help.)

How to Discover Your Heritage Heritage Tourism: A Guide

You may have just discovered your heritage through DNA—or maybe you already know your family tree and roots—and now you are ready to dive a little deeper into your family story. Heritage travel is one way to do that. We’ve provided some guides and suggestions uniquely tailored to your ancestors’ homeland that will help you explore your heritage while traveling.

Finland Travel Guide Sweden Travel Guide Denmark Travel Guide Mexico Travel Guide

You can learn more about your heritage through unique experiences, such as participating in a journey or pilgrimage your ancestors would have gone on, immersing yourself in living history attractions, or going on a study abroad.

7 Life-Changing Pilgrimages Top 6 Living History Attractions 8 Benefits of Studying Abroad

If you can’t travel abroad right now, you can always learn more about your heritage right at home! Discover the story of your ancestors’ homeland, or learn more about your unique family story with a free FamilySearch account.

Create a Free FamilySearch Account

The Benefits of Studying Abroad in Your Ancestors’ Homelands

Wed, 01/01/2020 - 10:00

Are you feeling an itch to see the world and experience a new culture, eat delicious foreign food, and appreciate art and architecture? The benefits of studying abroad can go beyond even these incredible experiences—especially when you choose to study abroad in the land of your heritage. (Don’t know your heritage? Learn more here.)

Here are just a few benefits of studying abroad in the places that teach you about your cultural identity.

1. You Can Learn the Language You Would Have Spoken

As you learn your ancestors’ language, you might notice where some of your family sayings, names, and nicknames originated from.

Many languages have words with meanings that are completely unique to the culture. For example, the Danish word hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) can’t be translated into one single word in English. Hygge, however, captures in one sentiment the Danish culture of “cozy, comfortable contentment.” What other clues to your heritage can you discover in the language of your ancestors? Learn more about your Danish heritage.

2. Identify Where Your Family Traditions and Culture Came From

Have you wondered where some of your family traditions came from? Learning about your ancestors’ culture may give you some answers.

For example, have you ever wondered where your love of nature came from? If you’re from Norway, it may be because of your heritage: Norwegians are known for their deep reverence or appreciation of nature, as described by the Norwegian word “friluftsliv,” which means “free-air life.” Learn more about your Norwegian heritage.

3. Discover the Foods Your Ancestors Ate

Food is one way to connect to a new area. Try native recipes, and watch the cooking techniques. Did some of your family’s recipes come from their homeland?

You might even be surprised by what the authentic food of your heritage says about the history of your homeland. For example, much of traditional Welsh cuisine is inspired by food that the working class could produce or afford. In trying authentic dishes, you can learn about the resources that were available to your ancestors.

4. Walk Where Your Ancestors Walked

Visit ancestral hometowns, cemeteries, and places that were important to your family. When you visit areas important to your ancestors, these places become more than just spots on the map. Sights and sounds familiar to those who came before you will connect you to them. You can even participate in a pilgrimage that your ancestors went on.

5. Learn about Local History—and How It Might Have Forever Affected Your Life

As you learn about the country’s history, you can think about what your ancestors experienced. How did local history impact your family? Many towns have histories. See if you can find your family mentioned in the histories to give you new insight into their lives.

6. Adjust to a New Environment, and Develop Self-Reliance

When you study abroad in your ancestors’ homeland, you can think about what your ancestors dealt with as they adjusted to a different environment. How can their experiences help you? Some research even shows that learning about your family history can help you become more resilient.

7. Make Connections with People around You.

A major benefit of studying abroad is the lifelong connections you make. Who knows? The people you meet may be distant cousins!

8. Learn More about Yourself.

As you learn about those who came before you, you will learn about yourself—your talents, your traits, and your own uniqueness.

Discover the full benefits of studying abroad by traveling to your ancestors’ homeland. You can find out where that is by looking at your Family Tree. If you already know where your ancestors came from, FamilySearch’s country pages can help you learn more, or you can check out some of our tailored travel tips below.

Finland Travel Guide Sweden Travel Guide Denmark Travel Guide Mexico Travel Guide Learn More about Heritage Travel and Its Amazing Benefits

New Records on FamilySearch from December 2019

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 19:00

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in November of 2019 with nearly 19 million new indexed family history records and over 760 thousand digital images from all over the world. New historical records were added from American Samoa, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and the United States, which includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The United States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-2011 are included as well. Digital Images came from California, Ohio, and Texas.

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, 1850-197214,3310Added indexed records to an existing collectionArgentinaArgentina, Salta, Catholic Church Records, 1634-1972162,2460Added indexed records to an existing collectionAustraliaAustralia, Convict Tickets of Leave, 1824-187460,0930New indexed records collectionBelgiumBelgium, Antwerp, Civil Registration, 1588-191368,5470Added indexed records to an existing collectionBelgiumBelgium, Hainaut, Civil Registration, 1600-19138,7670Added indexed records to an existing collectionBelgiumBelgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-191253,0700Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-199917,3790Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaNova Scotia Church Records, 1720-20015650Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaNova Scotia Deaths, 1864-1877440Added indexed records to an existing collectionChileChile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-192811,1500Added indexed records to an existing collectionColombiaColombia, Bogotá, Burial Permits, 1960-199180,7070Added indexed records to an existing collectionCosta RicaCosta Rica, Civil Registration, 1823-1975151,8560Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-18986,4640Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Huntingdonshire Parish Registers52,3670Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Lincolnshire, Parish Registers, 1538-19903,947,0250New indexed records collectionEnglandEngland, Northumberland, Parish Registers, 1538-1950557,9930Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Oxfordshire Parish Registers 1538-190470,5580Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Yorkshire Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1613-18876,7620Added indexed records to an existing collectionFinlandFinland, Tax Lists, 1809-191524,5250Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance, Loiret, Civil Registration, 1793-19061,968,8750New indexed records collectionFranceFrance, Var, Civil Registration, 1793-19142,311,5740New indexed records collectionFranceFrance, Vienne, Census, 18966,6350Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance, Vienne, Military Draft Cards, 1867-19213,6330Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceSierra Leone, Civil Births, 1802-1969720New indexed records collectionIcelandIceland Church Census, 1744-196569,0700Added indexed records to an existing collectionIrelandIreland, Catholic Qualification & Convert Rolls, 1701-184552,0600New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland, James Alexander Henderson, The Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory for 185637,3630New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland, Memorial Record: World War I, 1914-191849,6460New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland, The Treble Almanac 1812 (FMP) – 3rd Party Index14,0740New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland, Thom’s Irish Almanac & Official Directory 1868103,3550New indexed records collectionIrelandNorthern Ireland, Tithe Applotment Books, 1822-1837175,5750New indexed records collectionItalyItaly, Bologna, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1806-1899180Added indexed records to an existing collectionItalyItaly, Trieste, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1924-19441,3600Added indexed records to an existing collectionNetherlandsNetherlands, Archival Indexes, Vital Records8,3280Added indexed records to an existing collectionNetherlandsNetherlands, Archival Indexes, Vital Records, 1600-2000345,6830Added indexed records to an existing collectionNew ZealandNew Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-19986370Added indexed records to an existing collectionOtherFind A Grave Index2,527,4600Added indexed records to an existing collectionParaguayParaguay, Catholic Church Records, 1754-2015131,3950Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Amazonas, Civil Registration, 1935-199926,9590Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Ayacucho, Civil Registration, 1903-199911,0070Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-19922,0260Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Huánuco, Civil Registration, 1889-199753,8650Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Junín, Civil Registration, 1881-20051,017,7240Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Prelature of Yauyos-Cañete-Huarochirí, Catholic Church Records, 1665-20183,3300Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Tacna, Civil Registration, 1850-1998193,4950Added indexed records to an existing collectionPolandPoland, Lublin Roman Catholic Church Books, 1784-19646,5220Added indexed records to an existing collectionPuerto RicoPuerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1805-20012,4300Added indexed records to an existing collectionSamoaSamoa Baptisms, 1863-194023,8470Added indexed records to an existing collectionSierra LeoneSierra Leone, Civil Births, 1802-19696860Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895-1972818,2920Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Civil Marriage Records, 1840-19738560Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Vital Records, 1868-19765940New indexed records collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Netherdutch Reformed Church Registers (Pretoria Archive), 1838-1991480,4610Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Orange Free State, Probate Records from the Master of the Supreme Court, 1832-1989178,9470Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Pietermaritzburg Estate Files 1846-19501,5720Added indexed records to an existing collectionSwedenSweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records, 1546-192798,7800Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited KingdomUnited Kingdom, Waterloo Roll Call 18153,9990New indexed records collectionUnited StatesAlabama Births and Christenings, 1881-1930157,8800Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Confederate Pension Applications, ca. 1880-1930’s168,3720Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, County Birth Registers, 1881-193010,3770Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesArizona, Nogales, Index and Manifests of Alien Arrivals, 1905-1952502,0520New indexed records collectionUnited StatesArkansas Confederate Pensions, 1901-192996,7130Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-19452,083,7012,112,990New indexed records and images collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Chatham, Savannah, Laurel Grove Cemetery Record Keeper’s Book (colored), 1852-194228,1360New indexed records collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Columbus, Linwood and Porterdale Colored Cemeteries, Interment Records, 1866-200031,1970New indexed records collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, County Delayed Birth and Death Records, 1870-19602020Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, County Voter Registrations, 1856-1909219,8930New indexed records collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Births and Baptisms, 1843-190938,6620Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Board of Health, Marriage Record Indexes, 1909-1989153,5080Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Grantor and Grantee Index, 1845-1909229,8330Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Hansen’s Disease Records, Kalaupapa Census Index, 1839-19702,3360Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesIowa, Tama County, Tax Records, 1865-1939263,8580New indexed records collectionUnited StatesKansas, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-1945429,5610New indexed records collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, New Orleans Index to Passenger Lists, 1853-1952287,4500Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, New Orleans, Interment Registers, 1836-1972232,3290Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Orleans Parish, Birth Records, 1819-190686,7970Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, City of Boston Voter Registers, 1857-192051,6530Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMichigan, Civil War Centennial Observance Commission, Committee on Civil War Grave Registration, Burial Records36,6140Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMississippi, County Marriages, 1858-197920New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMontana Manifests of Immigrant Arrivals and Departures, 1923-1956217,1650Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMontana, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-1945144,3920New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNew York, County Naturalization Records, 1791-1980187,6570Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNorth Carolina, Center for Health Statistics, Vital Records Unit, County Birth Records, 1913-1922790New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOhio, Clermont County Tax Records, 1816-1900288,6240Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio, County Births, 1841-200357,8802,873Added indexed records and images to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio, WWI Index and Return Cards, 1916-19201840Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOregon, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-1945295,0770New indexed records collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Wayne County, Court of Common Pleas, Naturalization Records, 1799-19061,8030Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston City Death Records, 1821-192680,2050Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, Birth Registers, 1901-192617,3250Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston U.S. Citizens Passenger Lists, 1919-19484,0550Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, County Voter Registration Records, 1882-189521,7930New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTennessee, Davidson County, Nashville City Cemetery Records, 1843-196219,0720New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTennessee, Shelby County, Memphis, Board of Health Death Records, 1848-191360,2290Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTennessee, Shelby County, Memphis, Board of Health Death Records, 1848-19131,1210Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, Cooke County, Probate Records, 1849-198280Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, Harrison County Delayed Birth Records, 1860-19335,0480Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Corpus Christi, Texas, and Vicinity, June 1948-January 195978,4430New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Special Voter Registration, 1867-1869121,2710New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, World War II Draft Registration Cards,1940-19471,794,3951,819,299New indexed records and images collectionUnited StatesUnited States, California, List of United States Citizens Arriving at San Francisco, 1930-19493,1760Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-2011859,7070Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesVirginia, Slave Birth Index, 1853-1866590Added indexed records to an existing collectionUruguayUruguay, Passenger Lists, 1888-1980465,3290Added indexed records to an existing collectionVenezuelaVenezuela, Catholic Church Records, 1577-1995109,7880Added indexed records to an existing collectionZimbabweZimbabwe Death Registers, 1890-1977; Index to Death Register, 1892-1977320,6530Added indexed records to an existing collection

FamilySearch 2019 Year in Review

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 15:20

FamilySearch International is dedicated to connecting families across generations by providing more searchable records, interactive discovery experiences, the world’s largest online family tree, online and offline help, and other genealogy resources and tools.

This year saw incredible advancements in all these areas. Here’s a quick look at what FamilySearch has been up to in 2019.

Searchable Records
  1. In 2019, FamilySearch added 123.6 million indexed records and over 850 million new images of historical records. You can find other significant statistics in the graphic below.
  2. In addition to more searchable records and images, FamilySearch provided updates and new features to improve the indexing and record searching experience, including a new similar historical records tool that helps you find additional records that may belong to a person you find in a document. So when you find a family member in a record on, FamilySearch can now suggest other records that may include information about the same person.
  3. FamilySearch introduced an update that allows users to make corrections to names in an index. You can correct names that were indexed incorrectly or that were incorrect on the record itself. Learn more here.
  4. Using the new Thank a Volunteer feature, you can express appreciation for the thousands of volunteers who make indexed, searchable records possible on!

At FamilySearch, we strive to provide inspiring, heart-turning discovery experiences. This year, we worked toward that goal in part by organizing major events in three countries to gather genealogy enthusiasts of all levels of skill and experience.

  1. This year saw another successful RootsTech in Salt Lake City, which a total of 15,156 genealogy enthusiasts and experts attended.
  2. For the first year ever, a RootsTech conference took place in London, bringing in 9,727 total attendees. There were more than 81,000 online views of the London and Salt Lake City RootsTech conferences combined.
  3. Mexico also had its own genealogy conference sponsored by FamilySearch, the Expo Genealogía, which successfully brought discovery experiences to hundreds of attendees.
  4. Along with the many discoveries that FamilySearch users have made on the site (see the below infographic for visits), FamilySearch created an online discovery experience center, which you can check out here.
Family Tree Growth
  1. During 2019, 3.5 million users added nearly 47 million people to the FamilySearch Family Tree. Refer to the infographic below for other fascinating statistics about this year’s Family Tree growth.
  2. FamilySearch also introduced several new features to the Family Tree this year. For example, you can now see how you are related to other users of All you have to do is opt-in, and you can see how you and another person (if he or she has also opted-in) are related.
  3. In a recent update, FamilySearch provided the ability to document all family relationships, including same-sex relationships. Learn more here.

Using FamilySearch Memories, you can preserve precious moments and priceless images from your life and your family’s life. Here is a quick look at the contributions that FamilySearch users made to memories this year.

  1. An incredible 518,563 users added to their memories on the website.
  2. Users uploaded 8,751,822 photos and stories this year, for a total of 40,373,365 photos and stories in the Memories feature.

Behind the good work FamilySearch does are the individuals who make it all possible, including users, employees, and thousands of volunteers. Here are some of the highlights about these individuals and their contributions to

  1. In 2019, we had 318,000 indexing volunteers, who served for a total of 10.9 million volunteer indexing hours.
  2. One million customer support cases were resolved by staff and volunteers.
  3. An additional 66 FamilySearch family history centers were opened, making a total of 5,190 centers worldwide. In addition, the Family History Library expanded its hours of operation to include Sunday hours and later hours on Mondays.
  4. Volunteers and missionaries contributed a total of 15.4 million service hours in 2019.
Other Notables

Here are just a few other achievements and contributions from 2019.

  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which FamilySearch is a fully-owned nonprofit subsidiary, donated $2 million to the International African American Museum (IAAM) Center for Family History. The donation will help support the creation of the center there.
  2. At the annual meeting of the American Society of Genealogists, held on November 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah, David Rencher, chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch and director of the Family History Library, received a certificate of appreciation for extraordinary contributions to the discipline of genealogy
  3. The FamilySearch Research Wiki, a treasure-trove of genealogical expertise, advice, and insights for family history enthusiasts, published its 90,000th article.

After a year of impressive growth in 2019, FamilySearch is looking forward to what the new year will bring!

Top 6 Living History Museums around the World

Mon, 12/30/2019 - 15:00

Living history museums immerse you in the past and can help you feel more connected to ancestors. Here are some of the best living history attractions around the world and tips for planning your visit.

Living history attractions recreate history in a lifelike way. They are akin to visiting a movie set for a particular time and place in history. You might enter a barn to find a leather-aproned blacksmith raising a hammer over a piece of red-hot iron. A cook in long skirts may turn from the hearth to offer you a taste of fresh-baked bread. You may stroll down a cobblestone street that echoes with the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and the creaking of carriage wheels.

Best Living History Museums Worldwide

Many countries and regions host living history museums that celebrate local cultures, trades, arts, and history. Here are a few attractions around the world that offer a sense of what life was like in former times.

Land of Legends, Lejre, Zealand, Denmark

Land of Legends tells stories that span thousands of years of Danish history, from the mid-1800s back to the Viking age and even to the Iron and Stone Ages. Tour historical homesteads that recreate an era’s buildings, boats, livestock, daily handicrafts, and chores. Step into a Stone Age canoe, throw a javelin, grind flour to make your own bread, chop wood, or watch pottery being made. You can even attend a Viking battle training session!

Ecomusée d’Alsace, Ungersheim, France

The largest open-air museum in France, the Ecomusée d’Alsace recreates an entire Alsatian village from about 100 to 150 years ago. Enter old homes filled with the furniture, clothing, and other household items of yesteryear. Wander through beautiful gardens, where you may spot storks nesting on housetops or a gaggle of geese along a footpath. Enjoy demonstrations by a blacksmith or potter, and ride in a boat or horse-drawn wagon.

Kommern Open Air Museum, Kommern, Germany

The Kommern Open Air Museum celebrates Germany’s storied people in recreated clusters of historical buildings and even an old marketplace. Reenactors take on the roles of peasant, cartwright, mousetrap peddler, blacksmith, and others who discuss their trades with you. You can smell fresh-baked bread as it emerges from a wood-fired oven, greet farmstead animals, and see what local residents grew in their gardens in times past. A restaurant serves regional dishes from the Eifel, Westerwald, Bergisches Land, and Lower Rhine.

Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Northern Ireland

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The unique Ulster American Folk Park shares the migration experiences of Northern Irish immigrants to North America. In thatched Ulster cottages and log cabins, you can watch costumed staff demonstrate traditional crafts and share their food. Board a life-size ship to see what it was like to travel across the sea during the 1800s. Follow the immigrants even farther—into the covered wagons and homesteads of the United States frontier.

Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia, United States

Colonial Williamsburg calls itself the world’s largest living history museum. Its recreated city brings to life the British colonial experience of the 1700s. Meet and interact with interpreters who portray various historical figures, watch master tradespeople and their apprentices at work, and ask them about their tools and techniques.

St. Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff, Wales

The St. Fagans National Museum of History celebrates Welsh life and history dating back several centuries. Visit the 16th-century St Fagans castle and gardens, along with more than 40 other historical buildings: homes, mills, a working farm with native livestock, a bake house, a tannery, an old hotel, a workmen’s institute, and more.

Finding and Visiting Living History Museums

These are just a few of the many spectacular living history attractions around the world. Explore a directory of living history destinations at the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums website.

Here are some tips for planning a more meaningful and enjoyable visit to a living history museum:

  • Confirm that it will be open. Check online calendars for daily demonstrations and special events.
  • Give yourself at least a half-day to visit most places. They are designed to be explored on foot and at a leisurely pace.
  • Dress for the weather and for walking. A significant part of your experience may take place outdoors. Wear sturdy shoes, and don’t carry a heavy bag.
  • Don’t be shy. Ask staff, volunteers, artisans, and others about their jobs, period clothing, tools, and skills. Try whatever activities are offered.

Even without visiting a living history museum, you can learn more about your ancestral places with FamilySearch’s country pages. Not sure where your family is from? Discover your family’s roots using the FamilySearch Family Tree.

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