Best Online Genealogy Record Releases of 2015

Best Online Genealogy Record Releases of 2015

One of these 2015 top genealogy releases could solve the research brick wall in your family tree.

 This year saw online launches of some potentially brick wall-busting old records. But with all the genealogy news about developments big and small—not to mention all the other news in the world—it’s nearly impossible to keep track. Did you miss the word on the new collection that would solve the mystery of Great-great-grandma Emmeline’s birth or tell you whatever happened to Fred, your third cousin thrice removed, after the war? These 2015 top releases are well worth a look-see for the names and places in your family tree. US Wills & Probates
This collection was digitized and indexed in partnership with FamilySearch. Coverage isn’t comprehensive, but if your ancestor’s record is here, you might discover otherwise-unavailable clues to maiden names, relationships and more. Try browsing if you don’t find a document that should be there: Old handwriting can lead to mistranscriptions in the searchable index. In addition, the collection isn’t entirely indexed. For the records that are, the index names only the primary person in a record—not the heirs or executor.

AncestryDNA Shared Matches

If you and your AncestryDNA match don’t have the same folks in your Ancestry member trees, or one of you hasn’t linked a tree to your test, Ancestor Circles (a 2014 release) won’t help you. You might not get any New Ancestor Discoveries, either. But if you can see who else you both match, the potential for finding common names and places grows—and if you all do have trees, elements common to all three helps you home in on the connection.

FindMyPast Crime and Punishment Records

Those with English and Australian roots might find interesting family history tidbits among these 1.9 million criminal records spanning 1779 to 1936. The documents from the Metropolitan Police and Prison Commission files of the UK Home Office (the British national archives holds the originals) could include physical descriptions, photographs, correspondence about the case, and petitions from the person tried or from family and friends to have sentences reduced.

This free genealogy website helps you search for and download digitized family history books from, the Allen County Public Library and elsewhere. You can search book texts or titles with an ancestor’s name (try variants, too), date, place and family member’s name. Search results include a “snippet” view showing your highlighted search terms, and a link to view the book. Click to see the page, search inside the book and download the book.

Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau

Records of the post-Civil War Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands can be key for leaping the slavery hurdle. This site has an interactive map of Freedmen’s Bureau field offices and hospitals, as well as “contraband” camps of fugitive slaves. Click a field office near a place your ancestors may have lived to see National Archives and Records Administration microfilm numbers of records for that office and links to any digitized versions on (which has undertaken a project to index the records). A similar map points you to Freedman’s Bank records.

Mocavo Free US Census

You need a Gold subscription to search across all collections and view matches on Mocavo—that is, except for US census records. Thanks to the site’s acquisition by Findmypast, as of May, you can now search and view record images for the entire census, 1790 to 1940, for free. The search isn’t as sophisticated as what you get with a paid Gold membership, so try lots of name variants or browse the pages for the places where your ancestors lived. Nor can you download a record image (try a screenshot). But did we mention it’s free?

MyHeritage Global Name Translation

This new technology helps you overcome language barriers when searching for international relatives. “A search for Alessandro (Italian for Alexander) will also find Ca?a (the Russian form of Sasha, a nickname of Alexander), with its transliteration into the language of your search,” says Daniel Horowitz, the site’s chief genealogy officer. Global Name Translation is automatically applied to searches; use the Advanced Search to prioritize results from your ancestral countries by choosing life events and where each occurred. Scandinavian Records

Thanks to an agreement with the National Archives of Denmark, MyHeritage is on a mission to digitize and index more than 120 million Danish genealogy records. That includes all available Danish censuses from 1787 to 1930 and parish records from 1646 to 1915. Much of the collection—including the 1930 census—is already online, and it’ll be completed in 2016.
The 54 million Swedish church records aren’t exclusive to MyHeritage ( and ArkivDigital have them, too), but help round out the Scandinavian records collection.

National Library of Ireland Irish Catholic Parish Registers

Irish origins are notoriously hard to pinpoint, but it’s a necessary step for finding family in Ireland’s most important genealogical record group, parish records. July’s much-anticipated, free online debut of 18th-and 19th-century registers from more than 1,000 Catholic parishes is a big step to making these births and marriages searchable by name. At press time, you have to browse the records by place, but we’d bet our Ahnentafels that genealogy companies are rushing to create a searchable index.

NSDAR Genealogical Research System Bible Records

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) this year added more than 40,000 family register entries from Bibles to its Genealogical Research System. Most of the records come from the 20,000 volumes of DAR Genealogical Research Committee (GRC) Reports, and document births, marriages and deaths, often from before official recording began. Matches to your search include the person’s name, life dates and information about the source GRC report, a copy of which you can order using the DAR Library’s Search Service.
From the December 2015 Family Tree Magazine 

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