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Italian Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 13:05

Do you have Italian ancestors? If so, you may qualify for Italian dual citizenship from your heritage alone. This type of dual citizenship is called “dual citizenship by descent,” reclaiming citizenship of another country through jus sanguinis (right of blood) while maintaining citizenship in your country of birth.

For Italian descendants around the world, the idea of reclaiming the citizenship of Italian ancestors has become very popular over the last 10 years–so much so that long waits for citizenship appointments have become standard with many Italian consulates around the world. However, the benefits of reclaiming Italian citizenship might very well be worth the wait!


8 Ways You Can Use Italian Dual Citizenship

  1. Reconnect with the heritage and culture of your ancestors.
  2. Travel more easily in certain regions and countries (Schengen Area).
  3. Access government-run medical insurance (if you plan to reside in Italy or during your travels in the country).
  4. Find jobs more easily in the European Union.
  5. Live in Italy and purchase property without as many requirements.
  6. Enjoy lower college tuition costs in Italy.
  7. Vote for leaders in certain Italy elections.
  8. Access investments available only to European Union citizens.
How Do I Get Started?

To apply for Italian citizenship by descent, you need to prove your eligibility by presenting required records for your Italian ancestors. Present these documents (with apostillesi and translations) at a citizenship appointment with your Italian consulate (if you live outside of Italy) or your town hall (if you reside in Italy). Each consulate has some discretion as to what documents they require, so it’s wise to find out more from your Italian consulate before gathering your documentation.

In general, your consulate or town hall will require proof of naturalization (or lack of it) for your immigrating Italian ancestor and all vital records for each generation between you and your Italian ancestor. This documentation will include the immigrating ancestor’s Italian birth and marriage records (if married in Italy). The records you use for your citizenship application must be issued by the town hall (Municipio) in your ancestor’s town of birth or marriage, but digital record searches are very helpful in finding the details you will need when requesting acceptable records from Italy. Only certain record formats are acceptable, so check your consulate’s website for instructions.

FamilySearch currently has the world’s largest digital collection of historical Italian records online.

Search Italy Historical Records


Mary Tedesco, a professional Italian researcher, second-generation Italian, and host for PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow, says that FamilySearch’s Italian records initiative is very exciting for the world of Italian genealogy. “It’s wonderful that beginning your Italian genealogical research for many can begin online,” she notes, “and that more information about our Italian ancestors is more accessible than ever before!” As you search for your Italian ancestors in FamilySearch collections, you can also track your relatives in the global FamilySearch tree to make your research easier.

Italian Nationality Laws That May Affect Your Dual Citizenship

While having Italian ancestors is the key requirement for dual citizenship by descent, some Italian nationality laws may affect your eligibility. These laws may have affected your immigrating ancestor’s Italian citizenship or may affect whether you can claim citizenship from your ancestry. As you find your Italian relatives’ records, consider the following questions before applying.

  1. Where Was Your Italian Ancestor Born?
    1. The Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Trentino areas of northern Italy were previously ruled by Austria. If your ancestor left these areas before 1920, they may not have Italian citizenship, and you will need to check if they requested citizenship later during their lifetime. A new amendment involving descendants from these areas is in the works, so if your ancestor is from one of these regions, it would be wise to clarify current laws before beginning a dual citizenship application.

  2. When Did Your Italian Ancestor Immigrate to a New Country?
    1. If your Italian ancestor emigrated before Italy became a country (on March 17, 1861), they may not have had Italian citizenship through birth.
    2. If the ancestral line you descend from lost Italian citizenship (because they naturalized with another country between 1912 and 1992 or other reasons), you may not be able to claim citizenship as their descendent. An important point is to find out whether your immigrant ancestor naturalized before or after the birth of the child you descend from. If after, you may still qualify!
    3. If your ancestor immigrated after 1992, dual citizenship may have been granted to them already, and you may only have to declare your citizenship to take advantage of this opportunity.

  3. Was Your Italian Ancestor Male or Female?
    1. Some older Italian laws may have affected whether female Italian ancestors could pass citizenship to their descendants and whether your ancestor gained or lost citizenship when they married. (Some of these laws are now considered discriminatory, so you may be able to challenge your ancestor’s loss of citizenship in court if this situation affects your application.ii)

  4. Was Your Italian Ancestor Adopted or Were You Adopted into an Italian Family?
    1. Multiple laws govern adopted children and their rights to Italian citizenship. If your adopted ancestor was not registered in Italy while still considered a minor, your Italian consulate may challenge your citizenship application.

  5. How Old Was Your Ancestor When They Immigrated?
    1. Every country has different laws about the naturalization of children. You may want to research some of these laws if your ancestor was a minor when he or she immigrated.iii

Additional Resources
  • Italian Dual Citizenship Experts—If you need help applying for dual citizenship, several organizations (nonprofit or for-profit) can assist with your application. Search for a local group or consider some of these resources:
  • Italian Nationality Law”—Wikipedia has a more complete description of the various laws affecting Italian dual citizenship. However, the above summary reflects the majority of laws that would affect most Italian dual citizenship applications.
  • Citizenship”—Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Citizenship Laws of the World”—United States Office of Personnel Management Investigations Service. This resource is a good one-stop summary of citizenship laws for the majority of the countries in the world.
  • Facebook has several Italian dual citizenship groups where you can ask questions and get support while you gather the necessary documentation. Enter Italian dual citizenship in the search box.
  • Your Italian Heritage—Learn more about Italian records research and connecting with your Italian heritage on the FamilySearch Blog.

Want to learn more about your Italian roots? Visit “Your Italian Heritage” on the FamilySearch blog.

Italian Heritage

An overview of your Italian heritage and genealogy research

Italy Emigration

A history of Italian immigrants and immigration records

Italian Last Names

Common Italian last names and their origins and meanings

Italian Dual Citizenship

Italian heritage and dual citizenship laws

Italian Records

How to find and use Italian genealogy records


Melanie D. Holtz has been helping people research their Italian genealogy and apply for Italian American dual citizenship for over 20 years. She is the owner and principal researcher of Lo Schiavo Genealogica, a board-certified professional genealogist, and the author of “The Family Tree Italian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Italy.”

Host an Indexing Event

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 14:15

Leaders and temple and family history consultants can work together to increase interest in family history by hosting an indexing event. These activities are a great way to encourage your ward and stake members to discover their own ancestors as they make family history discoveries possible for others. 

These resources can help as you plan your own indexing event. When you are finished, share your successes by emailing

Six Tips for Hosting Your Own FamilySearch Indexing Event

Transcribing historical records can help people discover ancestors and find records to complete their genealogy research. If you’ve never hosted an indexing event before, don’t fret! Here’s some advice from FamilySearch indexing experts.

Having trouble viewing the video or need some handy notes? Read the Six Steps for Hosting a Successful Indexing Event blog post.

A Kit of Materials for Your Indexing Event

Could you use some help advertising and running your event? Below you can find everything from pass-along flyers for inviting people to your activity to progress updates for encouraging and congratulating your indexers.

These materials work great for all types of groups, whether your indexing event is for a Relief Society activity, ward activity, youth activity, elders quorum activity, family event, neighborhood effort, or community event.

Flyer to Take Home and Spread the Word

Use this customizable flyer in your ward bulletin to spread the word about your upcoming indexing event, or print individual copies and invite your indexers to share them with friends and family.

Images for Social Media, Email, and Indexing Messenger

Share these images on email, indexing system messages, or social media to invite your family, friends, or ward to participate in your indexing activity.

Progress Updates to Encourage Indexers

Share these images through email, indexing system messages, or social media to let your group members know the progress they are making toward their indexing goals.

Messages for Event Announcements and More

Use these predrafted messages to provide all the necessary information for your upcoming indexing event.

Good Luck Hosting Your Event!

For more information on FamilySearch indexing and indexing volunteer resources, visit FamilySearch’s indexing overview page.

Italian Genealogy Research—How to Find Italian Records

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:35

Written by Suzanne Russo Adams and Joel Cole

If you are struggling with Italian genealogy research, take heart! Many record collections from Italy have now been microfilmed, digitized, and published online for free, so you have a good chance of finding information about your Italian ancestors.

In Italy, most records are created locally, so it is important to first find where your ancestors lived. The best resources for discovering your Italian heritage are Italian civil records and Italian Catholic parish records from your ancestors’ home town. Learn more about these vital records and how to find them online.

Search Italian Records


Italian Civil Records and the Italian government have gone to great lengths to digitize, preserve, and make accessible millions of Italian birth, marriage, and death records. Using an ancestor’s name and place of origin to search these collections can help you find much more information about your Italian ancestors.

How to Find Italian Civil Records Online
  • FamilySearch Italy Research Page. This Italy research page has a list of all the indexed Italian collections available on, a list of image-only Italian collections, and a list of major Italian collections in the FamilySearch catalog. The records available on this page will largely be from Italian courthouses, municipalities, and state archives.
  • FamilySearch Catalog. The FamilySearch catalog has some Italian civil record collections that you might not find on the Italy research page. You can search by a location in Italy to see what area collections are available.
  • Portale Antenati (English, Italian). This family history website is sponsored by the Italian government to give access to Italian civil records digitized at the State Archives.

The History behind Italian Civil Records

Civil record-taking in Italy has a long history. Currently, records from the following periods (and others) are being made available.

Napoleonic Civil Registration

(Stato Civile Napoleonico—SCN, 1806–1815)

Napoleon introduced civil record keeping in Italy as early as 1806 in some areas, and this record keeping was strongly enforced until he was taken out of power in 1815. Thus, the Napoleonic records, as a general rule, are from the time period 1806–1815.

Civil Registration During the Restoration

(Stato Civile d’ella Restaurazione—SCR, 1815–1865)

This period is sometimes also called “Stato Civile Borbonico” (at least in southern Italy) because the Bourbon king Ferdinando I of the Kingdom of Naples dictated changes to Napoleon’s civil records and how they should be kept. Although Napoleonic-style civil registration had been introduced to Southern Italy and the Kingdom of Naples in 1809, the Bourbons reintroduced it in 1816. This style of record keeping was not adopted in Sicily until 1820.

Italian Civil Registration

(Stato Civile Italiano—SCI, 1866–present)

In 1866, Italian civil records began to be kept more uniformly throughout Italy. In this year, the Stato Civile Italiano (or the records of the Italian government) officially began.

The records of Italy before 1866 were generally in handwritten form because printed forms were not always provided. Around 1875, printed forms were prevalent, and many of the names of jurisdictions in Italy began to change. The province of Rome did not begin keeping records until 1871.

Italian Catholic Parish Records

Catholic parish records from Italy are harder to find online, but the parish records often extend much farther back than Italian civil records.

Ever since the Council of Trento decided in 1565 that parish priests should keep a record of the baptisms, marriages, and deaths of all their parishioners, faithful clergy have been keeping these records. In every city, town, village or hamlet in Italy that has a parish, the Catholic Church has kept a record of the births, deaths, and marriages of almost every Italian since at least the early 1600s. Since most early Italian families did not often move to other places, you can often find four centuries of Italian genealogy and family history in one parish.

As mentioned, limited Italian Catholic parish records are available online. You can find some of these records by searching the FamilySearch catalog, but more records may be available at some family history centers, since not all have been digitized yet. Learn more about finding Italian church records on the FamilySearch wiki.

Other Useful Resources for Italian Records Research

Want to learn more about your Italian roots? Visit “Your Italian Heritage” on the FamilySearch blog.

Italian Heritage

An overview of your Italian heritage and genealogy research

Italy Emigration

A history of Italian immigrants and immigration records

Italian Last Names

Common Italian last names and their origins and meanings

Italian Dual Citizenship

Italian heritage and dual citizenship laws

Italian Records

How to find and use Italian genealogy records


Extraordinary Women in Your Family Tree

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:00

 “We are going to do something extraordinary,” Emma Smith said at the first meeting of the Relief Society, more than 175 years ago. The heritage of strong, faithful women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spans many generations, from early Relief Society sisters to our very own relatives.

Inspiring women around the world today strengthen testimonies, teach the gospel, build communities, nurture future generations of faithful men and women, and do so much more! We asked four women to share how an ancestor has influenced their lives. Read their inspirational stories below.

Loving Life—My Granny and Me, Rhonna Farrer

Guelita Survived the Mexican Revolution, Allison Kimball

Great-Grandma’s Triumph over Trials, Crystal Farish

Striking Eyes and a Hunt for Clara, Risa Baker


Share Memories of an Extraordinary Woman in Your Life

Do you know an inspiring woman whose story you love? Use the FamilySearch Memories app (or desktop version) to quickly share your favorite photos and stories of an extraordinary woman who has influenced your life.


Incorrect U.S. Census Information—When the Census Taker Gets It Wrong

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 13:52

By Jan Mayer

On the first U.S. census day (August 2, 1790), 17 United States marshals and around 650 assistants1 began the task of finding and recording the population of the United States. These were the first U.S. census takers.

In 1880, specially trained census enumerators (census takers) were hired to replace the federal marshals in counting the population. A national census is taken every 10 years in the United States, and the information is then used to allocate congressional seats, electoral votes and funding for government programs. Census information is also used by businesses, community organizations, historians—and genealogists.

From the very first census, incorrect census information has been a concern. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both speculated that the population of the country was higher than the 3.9 million counted in the 1790 census.2 Although early censuses recorded comparatively few names and gave a basic population count, more recent census records have much more information about individuals and households. As you search U.S. census records, understanding census errors can help you with your family history.

Why Are There Mistakes in Censuses?

Most census mistakes are simply human error. Census takers risk severe penalties if they disregard confidentiality or deliberately misrepresent data. In fact, Census Bureau employees have always been required to take a nondisclosure oath and are sworn to protect the confidentiality of census data for life.

Nonetheless, inaccuracies do occur. Some of the most frequent reasons for incorrect census information include the following:

  • A focus on counting. Counting the population has always been the main focus of the United States census, not keeping perfect historical records. In fact, census questions from past censuses may have been answered by any member of a household, a boarder, or even a neighbor who agreed to be truthful.
  • Spelling errors. Looking for ancestors, genealogists may be stumped by name spellings that vary from census to census. Some of this variation comes because many U.S. schools taught spelling by phonics (by sound) in the 1800s. Also, in 1790 only about 65 percent of the United States population could read at all, so spelling a name was up to the census taker, according to Bill Dollarhide, author and census genealogy expert. Thinking of different ways to spell or misspell a name can help you identify your ancestors despite spelling variations in the census data.3
  • Copying errors. Each set of census records has a different history of copies. Sometimes the copying process resulted in the county, state and federal governments holding separate copies, all of which may have slight variations. Genealogists usually view the copy from the National Archives and Records Administration and may not realize they can also check state and county records to see if the forms contain copy errors.
  • Missing or false information. Citizens are sometimes wary that the U.S. census is for tax collection or may dislike answering census questions. Misunderstanding can also arise from language barriers between a census taker and the person being interviewed. Especially in older censuses, people responding may also not have had precise answers for some questions. For example, Dollarhide notes that birthdays weren’t widely celebrated in the United States until the 1880s, and even parents may not have remembered exact ages for each family member.3

Today, the U.S. census is conducted initially with mailed questionnaires, which prevents many recording errors. Census records have also been partially or fully processed by machine since as early as 1872. The Census Bureau is always working on improving the enumeration and processing of future U.S. censuses.

Can Incorrect Census Information Be Changed?

According to the United States Census Bureau, it isn’t possible to correct an error in a census record. The census records are historical documents, and historical documents are not perfect. The Census Bureau recommends the following, “Our advice to genealogists who find inaccuracies is to make a note in their family history that the census record may contain errors.”

The Census Bureau also points out that some of these errors can actually teach us about our family members. Families sometimes provided alternate or “Americanized” names, left illegitimate children out of their household count, or misidentified their racial heritage when answering census questions. These intentional differences teach us about the culture surrounding our ancestors and may help us identify missing or interesting stories in our family history.

The Value of Census Records

While U.S. Census Records are not the only resource for tracing ancestors, they are freely accessible at and also available on other genealogy sites.

Search U.S. Census Records

Finding an ancestor in a census record can be a great start to building or extending a family tree. Although census data may not have the same level of accuracy as other genealogical records, censuses can help you discover family stories. They also contain vital clues for locating other records. With the information from one or more census records, you may be able to locate a birth, marriage, or death record for your ancestor. You also might be able to track down naturalization papers or learn where ancestors lived and traveled within the United States.

Read more about United States census records and how to use census records on the FamilySearch blog.

End Notes:
  1. “Heads of Families at the First Census,” United States Census Bureau, accessed September 27, 2018,
  2. “1790 Overview,” United States Census Bureau, accessed September 27, 2018,
  3. Bill Dollarhide, “Census Mistakes,” Genealogy Blog, last modified April 13, 2012,

Helping Others Find Their Ancestors from Mexico

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 15:54

You don’t have to be an expert in Mexican genealogy to help others learn more about their ancestors from Mexico. FamilySearch has a large and growing collection of Mexican family history records online. Use these Mexico records and FamilySearch hints to help someone with Mexican ancestry discover more about their family.

The Power of Record Hints

Not long ago, Rosa Luz Rodríguez began visiting the family history center near the Mexico City Mexico Temple. “The first time she came, she was very worried,” recalls Gloria Sánchez Popoca, a missionary at the family history center. “[She] dreamed for several days that her mother was crying a lot and asking for help.” Rosa didn’t know anything about her parents: her father had abandoned her family, and her mother passed away when Rosa was only 11. Her godparents, who raised her, didn’t know anything about her birth parents either.

Despite these barriers, Sister Sánchez Popoca helped Rosa enter what little she knew into the FamilySearch Family Tree. Immediately, record hints started to appear, including Rosa’s mother’s birth certificate, her parents’ marriage certificate (she didn’t know her parents were married) and the birth certificates of two brothers she did not know existed. She even found birth certificates for her grandparents. “A whole world of information opened up that helped her know she had a family,” says Sister Sánchez Popoca. “And all thanks to the new published records….[They are] a blessing.”

What’s Available at

The records that helped Rosa were made available through a partnership with that has added more than 65 million Mexico records to the online collections at The heart of the collection is civil registration records, encompassing more than 200 million searchable names in birth, marriage, and death records for almost every state in Mexico, dating as far back as 1859. Records generally include the names, dates, and places involved in these events. Parents, spouses, other relatives, or witnesses may be mentioned. You may even learn a person’s age, occupation, or residence.

Whether you’re looking for your own relatives or helping someone else with ancestors from Mexico, the first thing you need to know is how to access them. There are two main types of records in the FamilySearch collection:

  1. Older Mexican civil registration records are written out in paragraph form, such as the example shown below.
  2. More recent records are in formatted registers (which are generally easier to read).

Many of the genealogical details from the older documents (such as those highlighted in the example above) have already been extracted by indexers, and will appear in record hints or search results.

In other cases, the images are available to browse, which requires some language skill. Need help reading the language? This Spanish Genealogical Word List may help you read some of the original record. If you or your patron want to read the entire document but lack Spanish language skills, consider printing or downloading the record and sharing it with someone who can interpret it for you.

Create Temple Experiences

María de los Angeles Martínez, a family history consultant, wrote to FamilySearch about helping a recent convert to the Church, Raúl Lazcano Ávila. “The missionaries brought him in so we could help him create his FamilySearch Account and see if we could find some of his ancestors, as they planned to take him to the temple and perform baptisms the next day. He was so amazed to find records of his close relatives…. He cried with joy to learn information about his relatives, and his testimony of the gospel grew stronger.”

The Mexico record collections can be a powerful tool for helping families with Mexican heritage prepare names for the temple. Be sure to try these records as you prepare personalized family history experiences with patrons who have Mexican ancestry.


Where to Start Your Mexico Research 


New Records on FamilySearch from September 2018

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 11:28

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in September 2018 with almost 13 million new indexed family history records and over 500,000 digital images from around the world. New historical records were added from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, England, France, Italy, Lesotho, Liberia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Wales, and the United States, which includes Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. New digital images were added from BillionGraves and Georgia.

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.

Country Collection Indexed Records Digital Records Comments Argentina Argentina, Santa Fe, Catholic Church Records, 1634–1975 341,478 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Argentina Argentina, Santa Fe, Catholic Church Records, 1634–1975
61,422 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Australia Australia, South Australia, Immigrants Ship Papers, 1849–1940
133,542 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Australia Australia, South Australia, School Admission Registers, 1873–1985

44,673 0 New indexed records collection Australia Australia, Victoria, Inward Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 1,618,183 0 New indexed records collection Belgium Belgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800–1912 126 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Brazil Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Civil Registration, 1829–2012 169,018 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Brazil Brazil, Santa Catarina, Catholic Church Records, 1714–1977 7,830 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Colombia Colombia, Catholic Church Records, 1576–2014 69,979 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Colombia Colombia, Catholic Church Records, 1576–2017
372 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection England England and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858–1957
3,860,310 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection England England and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858–1957 1,024,884 0 New indexed records collection England England, Derbyshire, Church of England Parish Registers, 1537–1918

17,525 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection England England, Devon and Cornwall Marriages, 1660–1912 17,927 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection England England, Devon Bishop’s Transcripts, 1558–1887 4,391 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection England England, Lancashire, Oldham Cemetery Registers, 1797–2004 33,613 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection England England, Northamptonshire, Non-conformist Records, 1647–1840
71,723 0 New indexed records collection France France, Calvados, Military Registration Cards, 1867–1921

94,106 0 New indexed records collection France France, Haute-Garonne, Toulouse, Censuses, 1830–1831
28,900 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection France France, Haute-Garonne, Toulouse, Church Records, 1539–1793
456,784 0 New indexed records collection France France, Saône-et-Loire, Censuses, 1836 163,031 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Italy Italy, Agrigento, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1820–1865 33,815 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Italy Italy, Bergamo, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866–1901 642 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Italy Italy, Chieti, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809–1930 1,289 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Italy Italy, Napoli, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809–1865 7,548 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Italy Italy, Potenza, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1697-–1923 6,604 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Lesotho Lesotho, Evangelical Church Records, 1828-–2005 70,366 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Liberia Liberia, Marriage Records, 1912–2015
49,409 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Liberia Liberia, Marriage Records, 1912–2015 21,998 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Mexico Mexico, Sinaloa, Civil Registration, 1861–1929 170,443 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Netherlands Netherlands, Noord-Holland, Civil Registration, 1811–1950 82,837 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Other BillionGraves Index 271,578 271,578 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection Peru Peru, La Libertad, Civil Registration, 1903–1998 17,504 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection South Africa South Africa, Transvaal, Probate Records from the Master of the Supreme Court, 1869–1958 799,673 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Spain Spain, Soldier Personal Service Files, 1835–1940 8,160 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Sweden Sweden, Örebro Church Records, 1613–1918; index 1635–1860 6,454 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Arkansas, Sevier County, Birth Records, 1914–1923 1,460 0 New indexed records collection United States California County Naturalizations, 1831–1985 26,727 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Georgia Probate Records, 1742–1990 3,623 36,529 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection United States Georgia, Fulton County Records from the Atlanta History Center, 1827–1955 13,031 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Idaho, Bingham County Historical Society, Bingham County Records, 1885–1920 6,844 0 New indexed records collection United States Illinois, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1998 626,444 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Iowa, Monroe County, Card index of births, deaths & marriages from newspaper clippings, 1898–2015
212,068 0 New indexed records collection United States Maine, Knox County Cemetery Records, ca. 1800–2007 12,156 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Massachusetts, Revolutionary War, Index Cards to Muster Rolls, 1775–1783 10 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Michigan Mortality Schedules, 1850–1880
39,406 0 New indexed records collection United States Michigan, County Births, 1867–1917
746,011 0 New indexed records collection United States Minnesota, County Deaths, 1850–2001 690,010 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Montana, Meagher County Records, 1866–2012 2,229 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Montana, Toole County Records, 1913–1960 4,561 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States New Hampshire, Hillsborough County, Manchester, Cemetery Records, 1800–2007 38,819 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States New Mexico, County Death Records, 1907–1952 7,460 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Ohio Probate Records, 1789–1996 739 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800–1977 779 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Oregon, Lane County, Marriage Records, 1852–1921 1,462 0 New indexed records collection United States Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860–1906 265,223 0 New indexed records collection United States Texas Birth Certificates, 1903–1935 1,252 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Texas, Bexar County, San Antonio Cemetery Records, 1893–2007 53,955 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Texas, Swisher County Records, 1879–2012 2,590 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States United States, Border Crossings from Canada to United States, 1894–1954 194,371 0 New indexed records collection United States United States, Border Crossings from Canada to United States, 1894-195 154 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States United States, World War I American Expeditionary Forces Deaths, 1917–1919 75,719 0 New indexed records collection United States Virginia, Fluvanna County Colbert Funeral Home Records, 1929–1976 2,942 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Virginia, Lynchburg, Diuguid Funeral Home records, 1820–1971 14,711 0 New indexed records collection United States Virginia, Petersburg, Gillfield Baptist Church Record, 1827–1906
15,162 0 New indexed records collection Wales Wales, Parish Registers, 1678-2001 5,632 0 New indexed records collection

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

Learn how to search the records on FamilySearch to find exactly what you’re looking for.


Sister Jones’s and Elder Hollstram’s Leadership Session from RootsTech 2018

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 11:17

At RootsTech 2018, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided counsel for temple and family history consultants, priesthood leaders, and ward council members. They discussed how to teach and strengthen people through family history.

Read a transcript of the leadership session from Sister Joy D. Jones and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom below, or watch the video.

Message from Sister Joy D. Jones

It is a privilege to be with you this evening as we consider the rising generation’s involvement in discovering, gathering, and connecting their families. Children love to learn about their ancestors.

Family stories can teach them important lessons and help them develop a foundation of strength they can draw from throughout their lives. Our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, said, "It’s wonderful to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers by telling important family history stories in ways that are accessible and memorable."

Children resonate to meaningful family stories and love discovery experiences. Temple and family history consultants can lead young people into the world of family history along with their parents and other family members. Like you, I realize that working with children might require different methods than working with adults.

But I promise you that it’s worth the effort and the necessary adaptations and creativity. Plus, it can be fun. Acting out a meaningful family story, learning about their family culture or even family recipes, viewing pictures of their relatives as children, or talking about and recording their four generations in the My Family booklet are all simple ways to begin connecting with children.

However, quoting President Nelson again, "If our collections of stories and photos should ever become an end point in themselves–if we know who our ancestors are and know marvelous things about them, but we leave them stranded on the other side without their ordinances–such diversion will not be of any help to our ancestors who remain confined in spirit prison."

So what are some of the specific benefits of children participating in family history, of not only learning their family’s stories but also helping to free those beloved ancestors? First, parents often notice an increase in confidence in their children. Studies actually demonstrate that children who are more familiar with their family narratives show more resilience, more self-control, and less anxiety.

Second, children sense that they are part of something greater and experience a feeling of belonging. Family history creates an intergenerational consciousness that helps bind the generations together.

Third, family history leads children to pray and better understand how to listen to the Spirit. They may not know how to do all aspects of family history research at first. But they learn how to pray for and listen to the Spirit and to trust the promptings they receive.

Fourth, children can have a powerful influence in encouraging their family members to take part in discovering, gathering, and then connecting ancestors by performing ordinances in the temple. Family history work is missionary work.

Fifth, children often have a pure and simple faith that helps them to be successful as they do family history research.

Sixth, many Church members never learn the blessings of family history until later in life. As our children learn to do family history at a young age, they have experiences that stay in their hearts for years to come and create positive lifelong habits.

Seventh, Primary children have begun submitting names to the temple, either for their family members to perform the ordinances or in preparation for their own 12th birthday, when they can receive their limited-use temple recommends and perform the baptisms and confirmations themselves.

Children with experience in family history are excited to go to the temple, not only to experience the sacredness of the Lord’s house, but also because they feel a connection to their ancestors and want to perform their ordinances for them.

When possible, parents are highly encouraged to attend the temple with their children the first time and even subsequent times. After children participate in the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, parents and other family members can then complete the remaining ordinances.

I testify that our Heavenly Father has provided this special way for our children to receive greater protection, increased power to resist sin, and a more deeply rooted love for their families as they learn to discover, gather, and connect their ancestors in the temple.

Children can be instrumental in the work of salvation. They can lead us as they contribute to this inspired cause, which is turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Let’s now watch two temple and family history consultants as they do an in-home visit with the Morrison family. Please pay particular attention to how these consultants prayerfully prepared to gently guide the patrons to discovery experiences.



My name’s Julene Davidson. I am a family history consultant. You don’t need someone that’s been a genealogist their whole life. You just need someone that’s willing to learn. I guess I’m the person that gets people excited.

All right. So remember what we talked about, guys. We have the family history people to come and help us a little bit.

I’m thinking for the younger kids, we are going to need to do stories.

I’m going to take the kids. Do you guys want to do story time and dress-up?




Let’s go upstairs, then.

Jim is a cool guy. You can tell he has a strong testimony. He’s always known he’s needed this, but he hasn’t gotten started yet.

The story we did in the play was about my great-great-great-grandma and the Indians that raided her house. She went and hid in the cellar, and the Indians didn’t find her.

Where are [INAUDIBLE]?

Where is the [INAUDIBLE]?

I think one of the challenges that they are going to have, and that a lot of people have, is when you are already strong in the Church and you are already going to the temple and partaking of the sacrament and doing everything you can, you are already receiving blessings. And so sometimes it’s hard to see how it can be so much better.

These are my great-great-great …

Does it say he was a blacksmith?

That’s what it looks like.

That was just really, really cool to be there with Landon, and searching for that and finding that information together.

Now I’m invested. It’s more than just curiosity. I want to get these people to the temple.


Message from Elder Donald L. Hallstrom

I’m grateful to participate in this leadership session and to be an additional witness to Sister Jones about how family history can bless children. In the video, we witnessed the success of engaging children in family history, of making the experience both informational and inspirational. This is vital as we seek to instruct and edify our children and youth.

As children mature spiritually, it is essential that they have personal experiences that allow them to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. This is how they become converted unto the Lord and never fall away. As the Lamanites taught by the sons of Mosiah were described, the gospel is the plan of God, whereby each of us can gain "eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God."

The gospel teaches us our true identity as a son or a daughter of God and the indispensable role of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His glorious Atonement. When these eternal truths go from our heads to our hearts to our souls, we transform from those with faith to those with testimonies to those who are converted.

Family history is a superb vehicle for this magnificent process. As children and youth and those young in the gospel engage in family history research, it is easy for the Spirit to embrace them because this work is at the heart of the gospel.

It is because service to others is reflective of our love for Jesus Christ. It combines the first commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," with His admonition, "If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me."

Recently the decision was made to enlarge the Priesthood Preview the Primary has long held for 11-year-old boys to temple and priesthood preparation for 11-year-old boys and girls. Boys and girls have a need to learn about the priesthood and the temple and to prepare to qualify for limited-use temple recommends preparatory to receiving temple recommends that will for a lifetime represent the keeping of covenants.

Connecting family history to the temple and the further service we render in the house of the Lord results in increased gospel understanding and greater opportunity for spiritual experiences. We must not teach these concepts–our identity, God’s plan, the power of the priesthood, family history, and temple service–as independent. But all have elevated meaning and purpose when understood as one eternal round.

Here is the ideal. A family together researches their ancestry, connecting them with those who have come before with stories of faith, sacrifice, and perseverance. Family names are prepared for temple ordinances. With parents and adult children holding temple recommends, and youth over the age of 12 holding limited-use recommends, the family together attends the temple, and baptismal and confirmation ordinances are performed.

Ordination, endowment, and sealing ordinances are subsequently performed by the adult members of the family. If any individual or family does not currently have the ideal circumstance, just do your best. We all have a vital place in this holy process. And importantly, do not forget our children. Engaging them from the youngest of ages, and as they grow in understanding and spiritual sensitivity and hope and opportunity, will bless them forever.

The seeds of the gospel will be planted and nurtured and will bloom with beauty. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Elder Foster’s Leadership Session from RootsTech 2018

Sat, 09/29/2018 - 09:53

At RootsTech 2018, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided counsel for temple and family history consultants, priesthood leaders, and ward council members. They discussed how to teach and strengthen people through family history.

Read a transcript of Elder Bradley D. Foster’s leadership session below, or watch the video.

Message from Elder Bradley D. Foster

Thank you, Elder Renlund, for the vision you shared on how temple and family history consultants can help participate in this great work. Thank you all for being here in the Conference Center, as well as the many temple and family history consultants watching this online. We’re glad you’re with us. You consultants have one of the most exciting and profound callings in the Church.

Heavenly Father wants all of His children home again, "in families and in glory." Imagine your unique role in that plan. I’ve learned that if you want to endear someone to you, do something nice for their children. Imagine how Heavenly Father will feel about you as you’re doing something nice for His children.

You will help them discover their families, gather them together, and connect them, and to Him. Think of how parents and grandparents on the other side of the veil will feel about you as you help their posterity discover them, gather their stories, connect them to each other through temple ordinances.

Nephi describes his family discovery experience: "And thus my father … did discover the genealogy of his fathers. … And … when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit." At that moment of discovery, he was filled with the Spirit and his heart was turned to his fathers.

You, as temple and family history consultants, will strive to help all members have their own moment of discovery. That same spirit we feel upon discovering our family moves us to gather them. Everyone deserves to be remembered.

We do that through stories, photos, and other memories, along with the names, dates, and places into the family tree. This family effort connects and binds us together in love on both sides of the veil. It heals us and ultimately seals us for eternity through the covenants and ordinances of the temple.

This ongoing cycle of discover, gather, and connect is now being joined by families all over the world in record numbers. Temple and family history consultants, Heavenly Father wants you to follow the Savior’s example as you work with these you’ve been called to help.

In 3 Nephi, we see how the Savior went to where the people were–invited them to come to Him: "And this they did … , going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and … did know of a surety and did bear record."

The Savior ministered to the people one by one, just as you will minister to those whom you’ve been called to serve, going to where they are. This may be in their homes, in their daily activities, or in Church settings.

The Savior made sure they had their own individual experiences so they "did know of a surety and did bear record" of Him. Then He "took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them." And He focused on the little ones individually. They were accompanied by angels, who did minister to them.

Under the direction of your priesthood leaders, as you minister to those you are called to help, angels will accompany you and them.

As one of 81,000 temple and family history consultants around the world, this is the privilege you’ll have in this one great work. To help you in your stewardship, we invite you to go to the many resources on They’ll help you.

Let’s now watch one of three new videos you’ll find on These videos show how a temple and family history consultant followed the Savior’s pattern of "one by one" to help one of Heavenly Father’s children who needed to be healed. You’ll see her discover her family, gather them together on both sides of the veil, and connect their hearts to each other and to Heavenly Father.



I recently moved away from home to attend college. The first couple of months were hard for me, and I started to struggle with depression. My bishop thought that working on my family history might give me something positive to focus on and be a nice change of pace.

As the temple and family history consultant, the bishop suggested I meet with Catalain. In our initial meeting, we talked about her goals, which is something I’ve only recently started doing with the members I work with. And it really allowed her to open up about some important things.

My family disowned me when I was baptized many years ago. And I remember telling Brother Matthews in that meeting that my deepest desire was to have a family again, even if it was just on paper. I think that was the first time I had said those words out loud.

I felt very insignificant in being able to help her. I knew I had to rely completely on the Spirit. As I prayerfully prepared an experience for her, I learned there wasn’t much I was able to do, because gathering information for her ancestors could only be done in her family’s homeland, with physical records. I was discouraged because I knew that contacting her family was not an option.

I didn’t expect much to come out of our next meeting. I figured he wouldn’t find anything, and I really didn’t get my hopes up.

We opened the meeting with a prayer. And although I knew that her direct family was a sensitive topic, I felt I should talk with her about how much we needed their help from back home. I suggested she prayerfully consider who she might approach.

I immediately had that thought that I should reach out to my sister, but I did not want to. As I went home and prayed about it, the prompting would not go away. So one day I finally gained the courage to message her. I asked her for any information our family might have.

I prayed so hard for her. I’ll never forget when she came back to meet with me after she got the first message back from her sister.

She offered to help me with whatever I needed. I was so happy. That was one of the most incredible moments of my life. It was not what I had expected. We started corresponding back and forth. And pretty soon, even my parents were visiting gravesites to help us find the information we needed.

Every time she would input another name on her tree, she jumped out of her seat and let out a squeal of joy.

Not only have we started filling up my family tree, but I’ve been able to take some of those names to the temple. For the first time, I feel like I have a family again.

I think we’ve both witnessed the Lord move mountains in her life.

My mother and my sisters have been so inspired by the discoveries they’ve been making and how they’ve been feeling, they took the missionary discussions on their own and have decided to get baptized. My father, a Methodist preacher, has even softened his heart.

It is truly remarkable to see that after years of her joining the Church, it only took four weeks of doing temple and family history service for her family’s heart to change.

I can’t wait to return home to see them be baptized and share the joy of the gospel with them. I will be forever grateful to Brother Matthews for listening to the prompting he had. My life will never be the same.

I treasure this calling. I know that following the Spirit in this work allows the Lord to bless all who are involved. Temple and family history work isn’t just about our deceased family, and it’s not just about our living family. It’s about our entire eternal family.


Consultants, as you pray with and for those who you get to serve, we promise you the blessings and the inspiration and understanding that you need. I know this is Heavenly Father’s plan. He wants His children home again, and we can help. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Elder Renlund’s Leadership Session from RootsTech 2018

Sat, 09/29/2018 - 09:22

At RootsTech 2018, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided counsel for temple and family history consultants, priesthood leaders, and ward council members. They discussed how to teach and strengthen people through family history.

Read a transcript of Elder Dale G. Renlund’s leadership session below, or watch the video.

Message from Elder Dale G. Renlund



Families are the basic organizational unit of the eternal realms. Because He loves us with the love of a perfect Father, God wants us to progress and advance and become like Him. He ordained a plan by which we would come to earth, in families, and have experiences that would prepare us to return to Him and live as He lives.

Our Heavenly Father is anxious to gather and bless all of His family. While He knows that not all of them will choose to be gathered, His plan gives each of His children the opportunity to accept or reject His invitation. And families are at the heart of this plan. You and I accepted this plan. In fact, we rejoice in it.

The prophet Malachi said that in a coming day, God would send Elijah to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." At ever-increasing rates, people seem drawn to their ancestry with more than just casual curiosity. To gather and unite God’s family requires more than just warm feelings. It requires sacred covenants made in connection with priesthood ordinances.

Many of your ancestors did not receive those ordinances. But in the providence of God, you did. And God knew that you would feel drawn to your ancestors in love and that you would have the technology necessary to identify them.

He also knew that you would live in a time when access to holy temples, where the ordinances can be performed, would be greater than ever in history. And He knew that He could trust you to accomplish this work in behalf of your ancestors.

Now, we do not know what marvels God will inspire people to create to help in His work of gathering His family. But whatever the marvelous inventions may be that come, their use will require the Spirit working in people like you and me.

The work of gathering Heavenly Father’s family is not just for young people. It is not just for grandparents. It is for everyone.

We are all gatherers. This is the work of our generation, what the Apostle Paul called "the dispensation of the fulness of times," when he said God would "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him."

I testify that God the Father wants His children home again, in families and in glory. The Savior lives. He directs and blesses this work, and He watches over and guides us. He thanks you for your faithful service in gathering His Father’s family. And I promise you the inspired help that you seek and need.


To be gathered, each of God’s children needs to receive, in person or vicariously, baptism and confirmation. Once they are gathered by baptism and confirmation, they are to receive, in person or vicariously, the ordinances of the temple.

Receiving the ordinances of the temple is something the Book of Mormon refers to as being gathered into garners. This second gathering provides these protections: "Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them."

These protections occur because those gathered are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are His. And He will raise them up at the last day.

On January 16, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson encouraged Church members to keep on the covenant path and to begin with the end in mind. We encourage everyone to get on the covenant path as soon as possible–even and especially when they are new and tender in the gospel–and then stay focused on the blessings of the temple.

This encouragement is because the data are incontrovertible. Young men who participate in temple and family history work have a higher rate of being ordained elders and going on missions. New converts who participate in temple and family history work are retained at a higher rate. Those who are new and tender in the gospel include 12-year-old youth and new converts.

As they are focused on temple and family history work, more will remain active. More will be protected when storms and fierce winds strike. We invite all new converts and new 12-year-olds to discover and gather their families and become active participants in the plan of salvation.

We desire to involve 11-year-old children and even younger children in family history work and encourage them to qualify for a limited-use temple recommend when they turn 12 years old. We desire to involve every new convert who is 12 years old and older in family history work and obtain a limited-use recommend.

These invitations are universal and not geographically restricted. In other words, the distance between a 12-year-old and a new convert and the temple does not affect his or her ability to participate in family history work or to be worthy of and obtain a limited-use recommend.

Involvement in family history helps these members feel close to the temple, regardless of where the temple is located. It’s not a matter of geography.

With a limited-use recommend, we encourage new 12-year-old members and new converts to perform proxy baptisms and confirmations in the temple whenever and wherever possible. We recognize that this will not be possible for all because geography is a factor for this invitation.

Efforts to fulfill these invitations–to involve new 12-year-olds and younger children and new converts–will have a halo effect on all who help. Faith in the Savior of the families and friends who help will increase. But how can we accomplish this? Ward temple and family history consultants provide the answer.

At RootsTech in 2017, President Russell M. Nelson remarked, "If I were a missionary today, my two best friends would be the ward mission leader and the ward temple and family history consultant." They can be our best friends, too.

We can apply President Nelson’s thought to our challenge tonight to invite new converts and new 12-year-olds in temple and family history work:

"If I were a bishop, Primary leader, youth leader, parent, or anyone else who loves a child and wants to see him or her stay on the covenant path [with the end in mind], one of my best friends would be the ward temple and family history consultant.

"[Similarly,] if I were a bishop and wanted to help new converts stay on [that] covenant path, my best friends would include the ward mission leader and the [ward] temple and family history consultant."

For the next hour, we’ll learn more about our new best friends: the ward temple and family history consultants. We’ll also learn how the Primary can help and how the ward missionary efforts are blessed by these invitations.

Tonight we’ll also view several videos that will help our understanding. And I might add, if these videos do not tug at your heartstrings–well, then I don’t know how your blood is circulating.


I testify that this is the Lord’s work, that He lives, and that He’s hastening His work on both sides of the veil. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


RootsTech 2019 Registration Now Open!

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 21:08

Are you excited for next year’s RootsTech?

Registration for RootsTech 2019, the largest family history event in the world, is now open. It is scheduled for February 27–March 2, 2019, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Register for RootsTech 2019


RootsTech is an annual 4-day family history and technology conference. Those who attend are encouraged to discover their family roots and preserve and share their heritage. In 2018, more than 27,000 people attended, gathering from all 50 U.S. states and 47 different countries.

RootsTech 2019 will include more than 300 informational sessions and many well-known keynote speakers, including Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International. The conference will also feature interactive activities, exhibitors in the expo hall, and computer lab classes led by industry professionals. All these events and more are designed to inspire attendees and empower them to seek out their own genealogical findings. A full schedule for RootsTech 2019 events can be found online.

Conference Format Changes

This year, RootsTech is undergoing several changes to formatting, logistics, and events. These updates are designed to provide a more positive experience to patrons and more streamlined transitions from session to session. These changes include:

  • “Power hour” classes for learning family history skills.
  • No more lines at registration.
  • Adjustments to classroom sizes.
  • A new area for check-in.

Learn more about these and other changes on the RootsTech blog.

Early Bird Discount for RootsTech 2019

Until October 12, early bird discount pricing is available on 4-day passes at just $189 (a $110 discount). Single-day RootsTech passes are also available for $99. Both one-day and full conference passes include access to the popular expo hall and keynote sessions.

Visit to register early and learn more about the RootsTech 2019 genealogy conference.


What Can U.S. Census Data Tell Me about My Family?

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 12:32

Juliana Tate, a young genealogist, and Sunny Morton, accomplished blogger and author, both contributed to the writing of this article.

United States census records can reveal more of your family history than you may think! Learn where your relatives lived and with whom, about their work and schooling, when immigrant ancestors arrived and more. Here’s what U.S. census data might tell you about your family.

Is Your Family in the U.S. Census?

If your ancestors lived in the United States after 1790, chances are they were counted in each U.S. census taken during their lifetime. Before U.S. government offices created birth, marriage, and death records for U.S. residents, the federal government took censuses every 10 years. These are some of the most important genealogical sources for U.S. ancestry. Following the American Revolutionary War and beginning in 1790, U.S. federal censuses captured basic information–and sometimes a lot more–for every qualifying household.

Who doesn’t generally appear in old census records? From 1790–1840, census takers listed only the names of each head of household. Other family members were simply counted. In the 1860 census and before, enslaved people were generally not listed by name, only as tick marks in the households of their slaveholders. (Read more about finding African Americans in censuses before 1870.) Native Americans were not generally included on the main part of the census before 1900, but special census schedules do exist for some. (Read more about Native Americans in U.S. censuses.)

What Can You Learn about Your Ancestors?

U.S. Census data since 1880 often reveals exactly the kind of information you need to reconstruct your family tree. It also offers a window into your ancestors’ everyday lives, as 16-year-old Juliana Tate learned when she began searching for her ancestors’ names in census forms while doing genealogy.

Juliana found her relatives John William Tate and his wife, Elizabeth, listed in Tooele, Utah, in the 1900 census. “They had 13 children, ages 41 to 1, all living there,” she says. As she looked at each column in the census record, Juliana could see:

  1. Each family member’s name, relationship to the head of household (John), race, sex, birth month and year, age, marital status, and years married.
  2. How many children Elizabeth had given birth to (14), and that all were still living. (One child was no longer living at home.)
  3. Each person’s birthplace and the birthplaces of their parents.
  4. Whether they immigrated to the U.S. (which was not the case for John’s family).
  5. The occupation of each family member, including some of the children, and any time they spent unemployed.

Utah, Tooele County, 1900 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital image from

When Juliana took time to digest this information, she could start to see the shape of this family’s busy daily life. “John was a merchant, and his second-oldest son was likely his assistant. His oldest and the third oldest were farm laborers, and his daughters, ages 10–17, were all enrolled at school.” A final column on the census record, not shown here, indicates that the family lived on a farm, possibly run by those 2 sons.

Juliana notes that the family appeared to value hard work and schooling. “John had a career which probably required an education. His daughters were attending high school. The older boys appeared to be welcome to live at home until they got onto their feet.”

What Should You Do With U.S. Census Data?

As Juliana did, it’s a good idea to note every detail in a census form in your family records. First, extract all the genealogical information you can from the census form, and add it to your family tree, whether it’s an online tree like the FamilySearch Family Tree or a tree you keep in your own software. You can add details pertaining to the entire family, not just the ancestor from whom you directly descend. Their stories and documents may shed more light on the ancestors in whom you’re most interested. Note the source for each family record, and, if possible, attach an image of the census page to each person’s profile.

Next, look for the stories told by the information in the census. What do you notice about the family structure, the kind of work they did, their education, their neighbors?

Once you have this recorded, look for each relative that you found in that census (including all of their household) in every other U.S. census taken during the person’s lifetime. U.S. censuses are available for every 10 years between 1790 and 1940. (The 1950 census will become available to the public in 2022.) Each census year contains slightly different information. Censuses taken across a person’s lifetime will tell you much more about him or her. For example, 10 years after the above census, 7 Tate children still lived with their parents. The second son had become a store manager, and a daughter was working in a store too. Doing this thorough search can add rich context to a family’s history and helps you find interesting insight into an ancestor’s life story.

Finally, use what you learn in census records to locate other records about your relatives–both to confirm various pieces of evidence and to expand the story. For example, Juliana discovered John Tate’s parents’ immigration records from England in 1853–the same year John was born in Wyoming. “Ann must have been pregnant during immigration, and they must have stopped first in Wyoming,” Juliana guesses. “I imagine how hard that journey must have been for her: getting on a boat pregnant, feeling double the nausea every time the boat tossed, making the pioneer trek from New York to Wyoming to Utah with their children.”

Additionally, in an article about the history of education in Utah, Juliana learned that in 1910, just over half of Utah’s 16- and 17-year olds attended high school. “I can imagine 10 years earlier, it was even less,” she said. “This makes the census entry even more meaningful. John ensured that his girls were educated and could take care of themselves.”

She concludes, “I know that when you look at a census, it seems drab, perhaps even useless. But look at the stories that can be told in just those 15 lines of the 1900 census!” She’s right–census entries can reveal your family history in meaningful and unexpected ways.

Try Searching U.S. Census Records Yourself:

Visit (or another favorite genealogy website), and search for your relatives in U.S. census records. If you have a tree on the site, search from a relative’s individual profile (so you don’t have to enter all their information) and limit your search results by record type to census records. Otherwise, enter a relative’s name in the main search box, and again limit search results to census records. If you need help, you can also read more about navigating U.S. census records and the differences in each census. FamilySearch also makes it easy to add historical records as sources to your respective ancestors as you discover each record.

For more on how to use U.S. census records: