16 December 2016

40 of my Favourite Genealogy Indexes and Sources

I love using (and indexing) 'neglected' records that are great for overcoming brick walls in family history. Here are some that I find especially exciting. Don't take too much notice of headings that refer to a particular area, such as Queensland. Most of these sources have information about people from all over the world. You may be surprised to find your ancestors or their siblings mentioned in records held in distant lands!

Links open in a new window.
  1. Hospital Admission Registers. These superb records are usually more informative and more accurate than certificates. Sometimes they are the only surviving source with immigration details. Links lead to pages with source descriptions plus the names of over 12,500 patients (many born overseas).

  2. Croydon Hospital admission registers 1888-1925. In the 1880s-1890s about 70% of the patients were born in Britain or Ireland. Smaller numbers from elsewhere (especially interstate and overseas mining areas) were also admitted to this North Queensland hospital. The records include the period of the local goldrush.

  3. Brisbane Hospital Patient Records. Some patients were from other areas (Cairns, Charters Towers, Adavale, Tambo, Goondiwindi, Stanthorpe, Maryborough etc). There are four separate lists of names from admission registers and patient charts. Admission registers for Brisbane Hospital are even more informative than those for Croydon.
    Small section of a page in a Brisbane Hospital admission register

  4. Missing Friends records. The people sought include emigrants, missing relatives, eloping daughters, wife/child deserters, women who abandoned a child, missing beneficiaries of wills, suspected bigamists, etc. Stage 1 of the index is online (spread over 3 pages, with about 8,000 names yet to be added).

  5. Mental Asylum records. If someone vanished, or if children were not raised by their mother, check mental asylum records. Many patients (including children) were only in an asylum very briefly, so you may not know about it. Public Curator insanity files often have more information about the relatives than about the patient! This is an on-going index.

  6. Goodna Asylum case books. Mental asylum case books are different from insanity files.

  7. Court of Petty Sessions records. These have details of complainants and offenders, especially in minor cases. There are various types of CPS records. Indexes include some for Queensland, Victoria and Ireland.

  8. Police Gazettes. These are an excellent source for family history, with information about offenders, victims of crime and many other people such as neglected children and missing persons. Notices may give biographical data, immigration details, a physical description or photograph, and clues for further research in other records.

  9. Police Watchhouse records (people arrested and victims of crime). Offences range from serious to minor, including 'being a neglected child'. This page explains the genealogical value of the records, with links to lists of names for various districts.

  10. Prison Records. Many people were imprisoned for minor offences such as having no lawful visible means of support. There are different types of prison records, and many are indexed. They include records for North Queensland, St. Helena (Queensland), New South Wales, Victoria and Ireland.

  11. Records that name the father of an illegitimate child. If his name is not on the birth certificate, there are other places to look. I've extracted names from more than a dozen record series (dates range from 1858 to 1950) and indexing is on-going.

  12. Will Books. Wills for many people from other States and countries are included in New South Wales will books. Click 'Learn more' above the search boxes to find out more about the collection, and read my personal search tips.

  13. Passport Records. There are records for people who were emigrating, or returning to their home country, or going overseas on holidays. I've updated the description of some passport records in Australia and added links to sites for other countries' records.

  14. Statements by witnesses called before Queensland Government Committees. The witnesses were ordinary people from all walks of life (publicans, miners, labourers, seamen, farmers, graziers, railway employees, civil servants, etc). Two indexes are online (1860-1901 and 1902-1920).

  15. Ryerson Index. Extracts from death and funeral notices, and a few probate notices and obituaries, in Australian newspapers. A great way to find exact death dates if you can't get them from Registrar-General's indexes.

  16. Yorkshire Collection. The largest online collection of Yorkshire records! I've had great success with this, and millions more records (including images of original parish records) were added in 2016. Search each record set separately. Highlight/copy the results list, paste it into a spreadsheet, study the results, then view any images that may be relevant. Look at the transcription too, because it usually has the source citation.
    Part of a marriage register image in the Yorkshire Collection

  17. National Probate Calendar. This includes people from all over the world, so don't be put off by its official title (Index of Wills and Administrations, England and Wales). For 1858-1966 and 1973-1995 the most powerful search options are on Ancestry, but to search other years or order copies of wills, use the Government site.

  18. Civil Service Evidence of Age records. There is information about people from around the world (including 654 from Australia and New Zealand) although the records are primarily British. I've found exciting details (especially for people whose birth was never registered) in images in this record set. Click the right arrow to see the next related image, which is often a baptism record.

  19. British Nationals overseas. There are separate indexes for births, marriages and deaths (including deaths at sea). While researching my British ancestors and their siblings, I was surprised to find births and marriages in China and Canada.

  20. Trade Union Records. This collection has membership records for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Channel Islands, England, Germany, Gibraltar, Ireland, Isle Of Man, Malta, New Zealand, Rhodesia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, USA and Wales. Occupations include railway staff, carpenters, joiners, cabinetmakers, woodworkers, lithographic artists/printers, designers, engravers, boilermakers, iron shipbuilders, etc. Australian branches include Adelaide, Ballarat, Bathurst, Bendigo, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Charters Towers, Fremantle, Geelong, Hobart, Ipswich, Kalgoorlie, Leeton, Mackay, Melbourne, Mildura, Mount Morgan, Newcastle, Perth, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Sydney, Townsville, Wollongong and others.

  21. Helen Harris's Historical Indexes. There are references to people from all over the world; and for research in Victoria (Australia) this site is a must. Indexes include missing people; wife/child deserters; criminal case files; Infant Life Protection Act indexes; Victoria Police; women lecturers; etc.

  22. Alphabetical Index to Newspaper Cuttings 1841-1987. Most of the records are for New South Wales, but a few are from Queensland. The cuttings are mainly for marriages and deaths, but a few are for births or the 1811 census.

  23. Victoria Coastal Passenger lists 1852-1924. They include people travelling locally and those from overseas, and they cover the goldrush years. Images of original documents are online.

  24. Passenger lists. Passengers en route to other ports (eastern States etc) are included in this indexed collection for 1897-1963 ship passenger arrivals, crew lists, air arrivals and quarantine lists for Fremantle, Western Australia.

  25. Queensland Burials and Memorials. This database includes indexes to headstones in many Queensland cemeteries and lone graves, plus records of seven funeral directors. The total time frame covered is 1820-1996. Be sure to read 'Learn more' and 'What information can I find'.

  26. Old Age Pension records 1908-1909. The records include many people who were not on electoral rolls. Before you check the list of names (over 9,200 applicants, born worldwide, including many whose application was rejected), read the explanation of who was eligible for the pension.

  27. Historical Photos or Sketches of People (from unusual records in public archives). Most images are accompanied by information that is superb for family history. More names will be added as indexing progresses.

  28. Billion Graves Cemetery Index for Australia and New Zealand. Each entry has a transcription with a link to an image of the headstone with GPS details. Without this index I would not have found my great-grandfather's grave, which is in a country cemetery with several sections separated by bushland.

  29. Miscellaneous Australian Certificates Index. All names on the certificates have been indexed (the deceased, the child born or baptised, the bride, groom, relatives, witnesses, undertaker, minister, doctor, midwife, district registrar etc.)

  30. Society of Australian Genealogists manuscript collection. Family papers, unpublished research notes, pedigrees, photographs, certificates etc from Australia and overseas. Searchable catalogue with over 55,000 files and still growing! Without this I would never have traced my WEBSTER family in London.

  31. Index to Sydney Benevolent Asylum records 1857-1900. Many people from interstate are in these records. Some went to Sydney to 'hide' the birth of an illegitimate child.

  32. Great Western Railway Shareholders. The image often has death/burial details, occupation, address, names of other parties, marriage date etc. Although most events relate to residents of England and Wales, the shareholders, executors, beneficiaries and others include people from Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and other countries.

  33. Queensland Government Gazettes. They contain a vast amount of historical and genealogical information about ordinary people. Before you do a search (1855-1905), scroll down on that page and read 'Learn more' and 'Search tips'.

  34. Nurses and Masseurs registered in Queensland. Some were working interstate or overseas. In addition to the list of names, see 'Other Suggestions' near the bottom of that page.

  35. Women Granted Protection Orders. This page lists names from a Queensland Justice Department register of protection orders (one of many unusual sources that I've indexed).

  36. Toowoomba Regional Council: Deceased Search. This covers nineteen cemeteries in the region. Search results link to headstone photos if applicable. Use this site to find death dates that are too recent to be on the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website.

  37. Premier's Department Undertaking Files 1929-1955. An 'undertaking' was an agreement to repay the cost of a fare (usually interstate or overseas). This period includes the Great Depression, when many people travelled great distances in search of work. The list of names may include your relative who 'disappeared'.

  38. Gregson and Weight Index to Funeral Records 1972-2010. Records of funeral directors on Queensland's Sunshine Coast have details of burials and funeral services that took place not only in Australia but also in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Fiji, Sweden, Greece, Hungary, Austria and the Netherlands.

  39. Indexes for Queensland Genealogy. This list includes other indexed sources that I recommend. Some are online; others are in libraries or archive/record offices.

  40. Postems on FreeBMD. This shows how you can use Postems on free civil registration indexes for England and Wales to get extra details or contact distant relatives.

I hope you find those sources as useful as I do. Feel free to share success stories or other suggestions via the comment form below.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/12/40-of-my-favourite-genealogy-indexes.html.)

13 December 2016

Canadians and Americans in Cooktown Hospital

Modern photo of Cooktown's old hospital
(source: scampiferous on Flickr)
Listed below are some of the Americans and Canadians who were admitted to hospital at Cooktown, Queensland, Australia, 1884-1901. Spelling of names and places is rather erratic. The hospital's admission registers are printed volumes with space for these details (which, if supplied by the patient, may be more accurate than those on a death certificate):

Name;  date admitted;  age;  birthplace;  occupation;  religion;  ship of arrival;  how long in colony;  place of residence;  marital status;  place of marriage, at what age, and name of spouse;  names and ages of children living;  number and sex of children deceased;  father's name and occupation;  father's present residence if living (or 'father dead');  mother's maiden name;  disease or reason for admission;  date of discharge or date and cause of death;  sometimes additional remarks (medical history, social circumstances, etc).

William BARRON born St Johns Newfoundland
Ira BASSIE born Manitoba Canada
Laurence BERNARD born Prince Edwards Island Canada
Andrew BROWN born Prince E Island, Canada
Edward BROWN born Toronto Canada
William CASEY born New York America
Louie DUVAL born Montreal Canada
Richard HIGGINS born Wisconsin America
William Henry LAWSON born St John, New Brunswick
Frank LENNOX born Mitigan(?), NY State America
Frank LENNOX born New York State America
Franshaw LENNOX born Silver Creek America
Joan LORD (nee STREET) born New York
John MORGAN born Philadelphia America
Edward MOSEBY born Baltimore America
Joan STREET (born New York; married name LORD)

To search for other names, or to find out how to obtain copies from the original hospital registers, see the three Web pages about Cooktown hospital.
(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/12/canadians-and-americans-in-cooktown.html.)

18 June 2016

Favourite Web Sites

This is an updated version of a post that I wrote a few years ago in response to a survey at Genea-Musings. We were asked to rank eight Web sites in order of importance to our research. I don't use some of the American sites listed in the survey, so I have substituted sites that are important to me.
  1. Google for general searching, blogs, and Google Alerts.

  2. GENUKI - best starting point for UK/Ireland genealogy.

  3. FindMyPast for indexes, transcripts and images of original documents, with (usually) more accurate indexing than Ancestry.

  4. Discovery for records held by The National Archives (UK) plus 2,500 archives across the country. Over 9 million records are available for download.

  5. Trove for searchable digitised Australian newspapers and much more.

  6. Cyndi's List for the biggest list of genealogy links worldwide.

  7. FreeBMD for civil registration indexes (England & Wales); and see how to use FreeBMD Postems to find distant relatives.

  8. FamilySearch for its catalogue (especially good for finding out what records exist for a town or parish), genealogy guides, indexes, European records, etc.

Other sites that I use frequently:
  • LostCousins (for Britain, Canada and the USA).

  • CuriousFox (gazetteer, maps and message board system for the United Kingdom, Ireland and USA).

Although I've had great success with some of Ancestry's databases, especially the National Probate Calendar (an index of wills and administrations that shows the names and whereabouts of vast numbers of people in other countries), I cannot bring myself to rank Ancestry in the Top 8 because its indexing is often inaccurate and I don't like the way it presents search results.

Which Web sites do you find essential for your research?

24 February 2016

Watchhouse records: People Arrested and Victims of Crime (Wednesday's Webpage for Genealogy)

This week's featured Web page for genealogy is 'Police Watchhouse Records'. Find out why they are of great value to family historians, and check the lists of names (offenders and victims) from records that I've indexed. These people were from all over the world, especially England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Europe, with smaller numbers from other areas.

Although the registers vary in format, most give the date, town, prisoner's name, aliases, age, occupation, religion, state or country of origin, education level, offence, and how disposed of (fine or term of imprisonment, or whether sent to a reformatory, asylum etc. or discharged, cautioned, or committed for trial at which court and when). Some show previous convictions and the prisoner's signature and property. Some victims of crime are named, and there are occasional references to illegitimate children.

Offences include theft, drunk and disorderly, breaking and entering, child (or wife) desertion, having no visible lawful means of support, attempted suicide, being of unsound mind, inciting to riot, beating a horse, assault, murder, supplying opium to an Aboriginal, and being a neglected child. Children appear in the records as both offenders and victims.

An entry in a watchhouse charge book usually spreads across two large pages. This image shows some of the details that are often on the first page.

Historical Police watchhouse record

This image shows examples of minor offences. Note the reference to someone who was arrested on suspicion of being of unsound mind. Those people were often transferred to a mental asylum.

Police watchhouse record

Police Station watchhouse charge books often provide clues to sources for further research (Court, prison and mental asylum records, criminal depositions, murder files, Police Gazettes and other police records, etc.)

On the Police Watchhouse Records page, follow links and check the lists of names. If you find a name of interest, scroll down to the 'Copying Service' section on that page. It explains how to get a copy of the original record.

This post is number 4 in my Wednesday's Webpage series, which focuses on pages that either describe genealogy sources or research strategies, or list names from indexes to original records in Archives or elsewhere.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/02/watchhouse-records-people-arrested-and.html.)

03 February 2016

Historical Photos and Sketches of People (Wednesday's Webpage for Genealogy)

This week's featured Web page is Historical Photos and Sketches of People.

All family historians are curious to know what the people in their family tree looked like. With that in mind, I am searching through various series of records in Government Archives and creating a name index for photographs or sketches of people. The original records include biographical or background details about the subject. This is a superb resource for family history!

My index includes photos (portraits) or sketches of:
  • people sought by anxious relatives/friends
  • people believed drowned or murdered
  • other missing persons (some were children)
  • wife / child deserters
  • deserters from ships or military service
  • fathers of illegitimate children
  • prison escapees
  • criminals and suspects.

Most of the subjects were born in the United Kingdom, Ireland, western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, USA or Canada. A few were from other countries.

This is an ongoing indexing project, with 1,700 names online now and about 1,000 names yet to be added. Check the list of names, which is spread over two pages. If you find a name of interest, scroll down to the 'Copying Service' section on that page. It explains how to get a copy of the photograph or sketch and its associated document.

This post is number 3 in my Wednesday's Webpage series. Each week I will focus on one page that either describes genealogy sources or research strategies, or lists names from indexes to original records in Archives or elsewhere.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/02/historical-photos-and-sketches-of.html.)

27 January 2016

More Good News from FindMyPast

(Update: the 10% discount has now ended)
From mid-February 2016, a 12 month Britain subscription or World subscription at FindMyPast will include unlimited free access to the 1939 Register for England and Wales.

You can get a World subscription via any FindMyPast site (Australia/NZ, Britain, Ireland or USA).

If you are not familiar with the 1939 Register, see 'What does the 1939 Register Mean for Family Historians?'

Findmypast (one of my favourite sites for family history) now gives you access to over billion records, and they add thousands more each week. Check the worldwide list of record sets (arranged by region) plus last Friday's additions.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/01/more-good-news-from-findmypast.html.)

Old Age Pensions (Wednesday's Webpage for Genealogy)

This week's featured Web page is Old Age Pensions and Genealogy. It leads to pages with names of over 9,200 applicants, most of whom were born before the 1850s in either the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia or western Europe (especially Germany and Scandinavia), plus a few from other countries.

If an application was rejected, the reasons can be illuminating.

Examples of reasons for rejection

Before you search the names, read the explanation of eligibility criteria and the sources that were indexed.

This post is number 2 in my Wednesday's Webpage series. Each week I will focus on one page that either describes genealogy sources or research strategies, or lists names from indexes to original records in Archives or elsewhere.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/01/old-age-pensions-wednesdays-webpage-for.html.)

21 January 2016

Good News and Bad News from FindMyPast

Today's emails brought both good news and bad news from FindMyPast (one of my favourite sites for genealogy and family history).

[UPDATE, 27 Jan 2016: And there's more good news today - 10% discount on 12 month subscriptions!]

Good news #1

FindMyPast will be FREE for 72 hours!  From Friday 22nd to Monday 25th January 2016, everyone has free access to FindMyPast's world records (except the 1939 Register). Check the terms and conditions and start / end times for each region:

Good news #2

If you have a current 'world' subscription at FindMyPast, three extra days will be added to your subscription after this 'free access' weekend.

Good news #3

From 16th February 2016, 12 month Britain and World subscribers will have unlimited access to the 1939 Register as part of their subscription packages.

Bad news and good news

From 16 Feb 2016, new FindMyPast subscriptions will cost 20% more than the current price - but if you already have a 12 month subscription, the price of your next renewal will be frozen, and you will still get a 10% loyalty discount.

In conclusion...

Findmypast now gives you access to over eight billion records, and they add thousands more each week. Use this 'free weekend' to explore those records and decide whether to buy a subscription before the price rise in February. Check out the list of record sets (arranged by region) plus last Friday's additions.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/01/good-news-and-bad-news-from-findmypast.html.)

20 January 2016

Site Search / Navigation Tips (Wednesday's Webpage for Genealogy)

Top section of 'Site Search and Navigation Tips' Web page

This post is the first in my Wednesday's Webpage genealogy series. Each week I will focus on one page that either:
  1. lists names from indexes to original records in Archives or other useful sources

  2. describes genealogy sources or research strategies.

Selected pages from my main genealogy Web site will be included in this series, so it seems logical to start by looking at 'Site Search and Navigation Tips'. It explains how to get the most out of the site, which has more than 135 pages and 53,000 names, plus my own family tree.

Read the dot points on Site Search and Navigation Tips, then use the customised Google search box on that page to look for names or keywords.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/01/site-search-navigation-tips-wednesdays.html.)

13 January 2016

50% Discount on FindMyPast Subscriptions

Until 11:59pm (GMT) on Thursday 14 Jan 2016 you can get 50% off the price of any new FindMyPast World subscription. Presumably this offer is only for new or lapsed subscribers, but if you have any questions, lcameron@findmypast.com is the person to ask.

Click the link for your preferred region/currency; select either a one month or twelve month subscription; type FLASHJAN2016 in the Discount Code box and click 'Apply'.

You can un-tick 'auto-renew' in the MyAccount section of the site.

FindMyPast is one of my favourite genealogy sites, for reasons listed here. More records are added almost every week, so if you haven't visited the site recently, have a look at the full list of worldwide records on FindMyPast.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/01/50-discount-on-findmypast-subscriptions.html.)
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