MyHeritage is currently home to more than 7,000 historical record collections from around the world, and many of them contain records of my relatives. The best record collection is, of course, the one that just produced a great discovery, and that could be any one of them!
That said, there are a few collections I find myself coming back to again and again. These collections are particularly valuable to me not just because of the information contained in them, but because of what the collection itself will give me.
Most of the photos of the tombstones from my family members on BillionGraves were actually taken by me. Still, every now and then, I find a tombstone that someone else was kind enough to photograph and upload to the BillionGraves app, which then gets added to MyHeritage. Not only will I receive a transcription of the tombstone, I’ll also be able to add the photo to my collection of graveyard photos.
This collection is free to search and view.
2. The U.S. Federal Census collections
I make most use of the U.S. Census collections from 1930, 1940, and 1950, because those are the decades when my family arrived and lived in the United States. A census page will show me not only information about a specific individual, but also about close family members who lived together in the same house. This gives me a lot of background information about the individuals: their education level, if they were working in their professions, and where exactly they were living at the time.
Once I learn about all this, I go a few pages back and forth in the same collection to see if other relatives were actually living close by.
I love our newspaper collections, because using just the name of a person and a possible place where they lived, I can find lots of juicy gossip about my family. Everybody’s families appeared in newspapers — it was the social media of the time. Births, graduations, travels, marriages, deaths, occupations, and almost every stage of every person’s life would appear in a newspaper.
For example, the newspaper clipping below reports the engagement of my father’s cousin, George Blum, to his bride Elaine:
Newspapers can also bring you photos of the family or events they participated in, and will give you a very clear background on how they lived and where.
4. Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1957
The next collection I like is the Ellis Island and other New York passenger lists, especially because it covers a wide range of records between 1820 and 1957, and, as mentioned above, this covers the time period when my family came to the U.S. If I want to know the details of their immigration, these records will tell me.
And that brings me to…
5. U.S. Naturalization Records
People who arrived in the U.S. immediately filed a petition for naturalization that had to mature for 5 years before they could actually file the naturalization paperwork and become a U.S. citizen. Those naturalization records have a lot of information, not only about those who moved to the U.S., but also about the family members that stayed behind.
6. International Telephone Directories
I may not be able to look up my ancestors’ telephone numbers and give them a call — but using telephone directories, I can find lots of important information about them, including their occupations or any businesses my relatives may have founded or managed. Sometimes I can even learn about the dynamic of the family, as some information about the spouses may appear here, too.
7. U.S. Yearbooks, 1890–1979
Yearbooks may not contain a ton of facts about my relatives, but they will often include a picture, sometimes even a very nice picture, of them when they were in school. More importantly, I can learn about their hobbies and interests: what sports or music they liked, and what their day-to-day life may have been like while they were young. It offers a fascinating window into the lives of my relatives.
As you can see in the example above, MyHeritage also brings you additional yearbooks from the same school that may contain additional records of that person or their family members.
There is always something new and exciting to discover in the historical record collections on MyHeritage, and we’ve been adding new ones at a breakneck pace! Follow this blog for updates on recently added or updated collections.
Daniel Horowitz is the Genealogy Expert for MyHeritage. Dedicated to Genealogy since 1986, Daniel was the teacher and the study guide editor of the family history project “Searching for My Roots” in Venezuela for 15 years. He was a board member of The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) for 10 years. He is now involved in several crowdsource digitization and transcription projects, and holds a board-level position at The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA). Since 2006 Daniel has been working at MyHeritage liaising with genealogy societies, bloggers, and media, as well as lecturing and attending conferences around the world.
Enjoy more posts from the Daniel’s Favorites series:
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Source: My Heritage