30 May 2014

Upfront Mini Bytes – Ashkenazic Jews, The Vault, Congregational Archive, British WWI Army Diaries, Google Newspaper Archive, Canadian Parliament, Durham (NC), American-Canadian Marriages

Welcome to our newest edition of our periodic feature Upfront Mini Bytes.  In Upfront Mini Bytes we provide eight tasty bits of genealogy news that will help give you a deeper byte into your family history research. Each item is short and sweet.  We encourage you to check out the links to articles, blog posts, resources, and anything genealogical!

We hope you found the past editions helpful.  Use your favorite search engine with “Upfront with NGS” “Mini Bytes” or use this Google search link.

Do you have questions, suggestions for future posts, or comments?  Please post a comment or send an e-mail to [email protected].


Understanding of the origin of a surname can be very helpful as we research our ancestors.  If you are researching Ashkenazic Jewish ancestry, consider reading Here's The Fascinating Origin Of Almost Every Jewish Last Name (Business Insider). [1 June 2014, Editor's note: the hyperlink to this article has been disabled.  The article as originally written and as edited has been found to be filled with assertions which are non-referenced/sourced, myths, and contain untruths and inaccuracies. Rather than perpetuate this error-filled content, Upfront with NGS hopes to soon post an editorial about this article and the critical reaction it received from the community.]

If you don’t read The Vault on Slate.com with posts by Rebecca Onion, you might want to add it to your list.  It is a neat blog where interesting historic information is often posted – typically in the form of a visual graphic that tells a story.  Some examples are: Some Everyday Words That Meant Really Different Things to Early American Colonists, Chart Shows Occupations of Soldiers Most Likely to Be Rejected by the Union Army. (Sorry, Editors, Barkeeps, and Tailors.), and A Map of Hundreds of Noise Complaints in 1920s Manhattan, and Four Other Stupendous Digital History Projects. You can access the blog version here, which gives you a sense of the esoteric and interesting history tidbits shared.

Church archives and their records are fascinating.  For some ancestors, early mentions in church records may be the only documentation of their existence, especially if they were landless, female, or just generally “under the radar” of who was documented.  If you had practicing Congregationalist ancestors who lived in New England in the Colonial Era, check out the Congregational Library & Archives History Matters digital collection.
British Army war diaries (1914-1922) are online with more to be added. These are British Army unit war diaries for both Flanders and France. Note that these are not personal diaries.

Though the Google news archive of newspapers is no longer being added to, this doesn’t mean that you can’t access its really neat historic archives.  Go to this page and you will see a list of all newspapers (or you can search for a title). Select a newspaper of interest and then you can browse the available issues.  You can also search through the newspapers though I suggest you put the name of the newspaper in quotes along with your search term.  The absence of a result may not truly mean that there is no matching content. Between the vagaries of the search feature and OCR indexing technology, don’t completely trust the search feature!

If you want a view of the Canadian Parliament in action, the historical debates (in English and French) of both the Senate and the House of Commons from 1867-mid 1990s are now online. Who knows, maybe a member of your family was a topic of conversation either directly or as part of a group impacted by the outcome of a debated topic.

Community digitization projects are always fascinating.  Durham (NC) has a project, Digital Durham that includes Personal Papers, Business Records, Maps, Photographs, Printed Works, Miscellany, Public Records, and Audio all accessible online thanks to funding from Duke University and the North Carolina State Library.

The Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society has created a summary of American-Canadian Marriages 1599-1984 that reflects “Marriages from Canadian Parishes with American descendants.”

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Unless indicated otherwise or clearly an NGS Public Relations piece, Upfront with NGS posts are written by Diane L Richard, editor, Upfront with NGS.

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