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The Genealogue

FamilySearch Blog

Discover your personal and family heritage

What Does Your Name Mean? Discover the Origin of Your Name

2020. január 25., szombat 1:00:00

What does my name mean? How common is my name? If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, then you are in luck. Using FamilySearch’s All about Me experience, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about your name.

All About Me screenshot featuring information about your name and birthday

What Will This Experience Show Me?

Our names are our lifelong companions—inked onto our birth certificates, etched into our tombstones, and ultimately written in the hearts of our loved ones long after we are gone. With all that being said, it is only natural to wonder what our names mean and who shares them with us.

To learn more about your name, all you have to do is enter your information into our guest experience or sign in to your FamilySearch account.

Login page for all about me experience

Once you have filled out the search form, you can learn various kinds of information about your name.

First and Last Name Meaning

Discover what your name means, including its original form, a short history of its use, spelling variations, and pet forms. Click your last name to learn more about its origin and meaning as well.

Screenshot of the meaning of your first name

This experience is available in English, Spanish, and French.

Name Popularity

You can learn how common your name is in the country you live in, including in which regions the name appears most. Toggle back and forth between your first and last name to see how many people share your name.

A close up of a map showing how common your name is

This experience is available in both the United States and France.

Origins of Your Last Name

Find out where in the world your last name appears.

A screenshot of a map showing origin of a name

The Importance of Your Name

Your name can be an insightful window into who you are and where you came from. What does your name mean? Record what you have learned in your FamilySearch memories, and let us know in the comments below what you discovered!

Visiting an Ancestral Home: A Life-Changing Experience

2020. január 24., péntek 23:34:19

An ancestral home is a house, village, or region where your family lived in the past. Visiting an ancestral home—walking where your ancestors walked, putting their experience in context—can be a life-changing way to connect with your past.

Recently, I took my first trip to England from the United States to teach at RootsTech London. As soon as the conference ended, I started driving north. There was one place in England I wanted to visit more than any other: Eccleshill.

Eccleshill is a village that has been swallowed up by the city of Bradford, in Yorkshire. In this old industrial zone, more than a hundred woolen mills once hummed with the labor of thousands of workers, including children. One of those children was my great-great-grandfather Washington McClelland, born in 1861.

As a young man, Washington made two momentous decisions that changed the course of his life and the lives of his descendants, including mine. I wanted to see the place where he lived and walk—at least for a day—in his shoes.

Visiting My Ancestral Home

Learning as much as I could about Washington’s life helped me plan three meaningful stops in Eccleshill and Bradford. Though each destination was a little different, I hoped they would all help me better understand him and feel more connected to him and his parents, John and Jane.

1. Honoring My Ancestor’s Childhood at an Industrial Museum

Washington McClelland

According to a family story, Washington began working in the Bradford woolen mills at age six, after his father died. He walked six miles to work each day. Though he did get some schooling, he apparently worked throughout his childhood.

By age 17, Washington was a foreman in the spinning room. Jane, his mother, worked in the woolen mills too. For a time, she was a burler—someone who cleaned wool.

That’s why I wanted to visit the Bradford Industrial Museum, which tells the stories of the people who lived and worked in the local mills. One floor of the museum displays dozens of textile machines, and I was lucky enough to be in the room when a staff member turned several of them on. Immediately great, clacking, clamoring noises filled the room. For a visitor, it was mesmerizing.

But it was also easy to see that for a laborer—especially a child—moving in and about the machines for many hours a day over the course of many years, this was dangerous and deafening work. Here’s a short video clip of one of those machines in motion:

The museum devotes a lot of attention to the stories of child labor in the mills. I came away with much greater compassion for Washington’s difficult childhood.

2. Worshipping at My Ancestor’s Church

The next stop on my family history tour honored one of Washington’s major life decisions. When he was 16 years old, his mother’s brother, John Steele, came to see the family in Eccleshill. John Steele was a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His journal mentions Jane and her children and makes his intentions clear: “I am here to baptize them all.”

And he did. Washington’s baptismal record appears along with those of his mother, several siblings, and two sisters-in-law in the membership register of the Bradford Latter-day Saint Congregation in October 1877.

LDS church in England
Records used to help find ancestral home and church
Record of members, circa 1842–1948, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bradford Branch, Yorkshire, England, Family History Library microfilm 0086984, Items 2–3.

Washington’s new faith became a legacy that was eventually handed down to me, and it is now a powerful force in my personal life. That’s why I wanted to attend church services at the Bradford Ward, which still exists.

I felt at home sitting in a pew listening to the English voices, tinged with various regional accents, singing and speaking phrases as familiar and beloved to me as the sound of my own father’s voice.

3. Strolling through My Ancestor’s Neighborhood

The trip to Eccleshill wouldn’t have been complete without walking through Washington’s neighborhood. From the family’s census records in 1861 and 1871, I found their exact addresses: 12 Stony Lane and 4 Bank Street.

The streets were hillier than I had anticipated and the view lovelier, when I could look over the worn-down rooftops. The Stony Lane address appears to date from Washington’s era and now houses the Eccleshill Working Men’s Club. Bank Street No. 4 is a much more modern home, but across the street still stands the Victoria Inn, which appears on the 1871 census near Jane McClelland’s entry.

Sunny walks ancestral home and village, poses by graves.

I paid my final respects up the street at an abandoned burial ground. Disappointingly, the headstones of Washington’s parents, if they exist, are buried under tangled overgrowth.

As I stood staring at the few headstones peeking out of the greenery, I thought about Washington burying his mother when he was only 17. After a difficult childhood, he faced a bleak young adulthood.

However, within a year, his Uncle John Steele appeared in his life again, this time offering to pay his passage to the United States. Washington went, forever leaving behind life in England’s mills for another kind of hardworking life in the western deserts of Utah and Idaho.

The thought came to mind—they are not here. Whether I was thinking of Washington—who had left this place and never returned—or of John and Jane, buried somewhere under the brambles, I don’t know.

During this entire visit, I couldn’t touch something that was theirs. I didn’t see any documents with their names on them or walk into a home in which the McClellands lived. And yet I came away feeling more connected to them. I have tried to get to know them and see the world as they lived it. And that is enough.

All about Black History Month

2020. január 18., szombat 2:00:43

Since 1976, every United States president has observed Black History Month each February. This time is dedicated to celebrating African American heritage and the achievements of people of African descent. 

Starting as a week-long celebration in the 1920s, Negro History Week and Black History Month have inspired numerous events and communities over the last century. Today, museums, college campuses, government agencies, and nationwide communities rally together to recognize contributions that people of African descent have made throughout American and world history.

How will you celebrate Black History Month this year? If you have African ancestors, it is the perfect time to honor your ancestors and to learn more about your African and African American heritage. 

Search African Heritage Records

To celebrate Black History Month, FamilySearch has added 29 new record collections specifically containing information on individuals of African descent. Try finding your ancestors within these collections using the search form below!


Black History Month Activities

a black family laughs together.

Black History Month has inspired new clubs, college lectures, celebrations, and performances. There are bound to be local events near you, or you can simply take the time to learn about African American history.

Black History month isn’t just for black people; it is for everyone! Use this time to learn as much as you can about the positive contributions and legacies of many African Americans and of those of African descent. Or record and share your experiences today to expand a community of sharing and mutual understanding in the United States.


Influential African American Women

shirley chisolm in front of a board

Despite the barriers in their way, many African American women have had a significant impact on culture and history. Women such as Ida B. Wells, Ella Jo Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and many others have left their mark and changed the world for the better.


Black History Month Calendar

FamilySearch and its partner, the International African American Museum (IAAM), are highlighting different African American record releases for every week of Black History Month. Check back every Monday to see the release of additional blog posts that give an overview of each of the following collections and how you can use them!

See a full schedule of the events below:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Virginia Slave Birth Index, 1853-1866
United States 1860 Census Slave Schedules  
US, Georgia — County Delayed Birth and Death Records, 1870-1960  
US, Texas, Harrison County–Delayed Birth Records, 1860-1933  
United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934  
Descriptive recruitment lists of volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri,1863-1865 : NARA, RG94, M1894  
Alabama State Census, 1866  
Florida State Census, 1885  
South Carolina, State and Territorial Censuses, 1753–1920  
North Carolina, Voter Registration, 1868–1898  
US, Florida — Voter Registration Records, 1867–1905  
US, Texas–Voter Registration, 1867-1869  
Louisiana, Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905  
United States, Freedmen’s Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872  
Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936  
Virginia Funeral Programs  
Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987  
Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957  
United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946  
North Carolina, Wake County, Death Records, 1900-1909  
US, South Carolina, Charleston–Birth Registers, 1901–1926  
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915  
Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994  
New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949  
Louisiana, Orleans Parish, Birth Records, 1819–1906  
US, Alabama—County Birth Registers, 1881–1930  
Alabama Deaths and Burials, 1881-1952  
South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1965  
Tennessee, Shelby County, Memphis, Board of Health Death Records, 1848-1913  

3 Easy Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

2020. január 17., péntek 19:00:47

Black History Month is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of African Americans both past and present. Individuals of African descent have made their mark on the world in every industry—academics, sports, government, and literature, to name a few. However, black history month extends beyond public recognition of well-known individuals. It includes recognizing the heritage of our family and personal ancestors. As a way to celebrate, here are some Black History Month activities with a focus on family history.

1. Share Your Story

Family history begins with you! Begin making a record of your life by starting a journal. Not only will your future family thank you for taking the time to record your life, but reviewing what you have recorded can cause greater introspection. This type of reflection will allow you to live your life with greater purpose.

a black man celebrates black history month writes his personal history in a journal

Possible activities:

  • Start a journal in a way you enjoy, and try adding to it once a week. Ideas include:
    • A written journal where you write down stories, thoughts, or experiences.
    • A drawing journal where you draw pictures of what happens in your life.
  • Go digital.
    • Start a photo journal. Take a photo every week.
    • Start an audio journal. Record yourself talking about things that happened that day or that week.
    • Consider adding important photos or recordings from your journal as Memories to

2. Connect with Your Family

Connect with your living ancestors to save memories that might otherwise be lost. A memory is lost when a family member passes away before his or her story has been shared and saved. Don’t wait another day. Talk to your parents, grandparents, and other extended family members so you can collect their stories and preserve them forever.

an african american mixed family takes a picture together.

Possible activities:

  • Record (audio or video) older family members talking about their life events.
  • Digitize a photo, and have a family member tell the story behind it. Who is in the photo? What is happening? Then upload the photo, tag it, and save the story as a memory on

3. Search Record Collections

Take the time to search for deceased ancestors in FamilySearch’s vast records collections. Not only does FamilySearch have nearly 5 billion searchable records, but this month FamilySearch has released 29 collections specifically containing information on individuals of African descent. Search these collections, and if you find your ancestors, attach the records to your family tree.

an african american woman and her daughter read on a tablet together

Possible activities:

Learning more about your family is a perfect way to honor family members and their contributions. It is a perfect way to celebrate black history. Remember, Black History Month isn’t just a celebration of famous people; it is a celebration of everyone with African descent.

Light Keepers: Empowering Women with Family History Experiences

2020. január 17., péntek 18:42:39

Light Keepers 2020 | February 28, 2020, 1:00–5:00 p.m., and February 29, 2020, 1:00–5:00 p.m. | Salt Palace

Since its start in 2018, Light Keepers has been a favorite event at the RootsTech conference. It is a joy-filled, inspirational workshop for Latter-day Saint women and women of all faiths who are looking to learn the basics of family history.

Attendees will hear inspiring stories from family history experts. These stories help women spread the light of family history in their homes by recognizing their current family history efforts and expanding their knowledge.

Finding Your Part

“[The] whole event is about finding your part and what you can do to keep the light in your family,” said Rhonna Farrer, one of the founders of Light Keepers. “And it’s going to look different for everybody. That’s what I think is so awesome about family history. It’s just as unique as we are as individuals and families.”

Two ladies attending RootsTech, where the Light Keepers event takes place.

Attendees from past Light Keepers events have shared how Light Keepers inspired them personally. “I learned just how important it is to keep those memories, even when my family makes fun of me for making them take pictures all the time and making books for them,” Arlene Haymond said. “I kind of feel validated a little bit for what I thought was ‘fluffy stuff,’ but it really is worthwhile” (“Women Connect with Family History by Learning to Be Light Keepers,” Deseret News, March 2, 2018).

Light Keepers in 2020

Two women standing in front of the RootsTech Expo Hall.

This year at RootsTech, Light Keepers will be available on two days: Friday, February 28,from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 29, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Registration for Light Keepers is $49, which pays for an exclusive Light Keepers workbook and access to all the Light Keepers events on the day of your choice (Friday or Saturday). On the day they register for, Light Keepers attendees will also be able to visit the RootsTech Expo Hall (filled with hundreds of exhibitors and new technologies) and attend the RootsTech general session.

Grab your mom, sisters, cousins, or best friends, and sign up for Light Keepers at RootsTech! To register, visit Space is limited, so those interested should register as soon as possible. RootsTech 2020 will take place at the Salt Palace Convention Center (100 South West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) from February 26 to February 29, 2020.

Outstanding African American Women in History

2020. január 17., péntek 18:00:51

As we remember our history, it is important to consider those who have made meaningful political contributions, oftentimes fighting for the rights of all people—including those historically placed on the margins of society. To commemorate some of these individuals, FamilySearch has compiled a list of remarkable African American women in history, naming just a few of these remarkable women who have made the world a better place.

Ida B. Wells (1862–1931)

a portrait of African American woman Ida B. Wells.

Ida B. Wells dedicated her life’s work to protesting lynching, calling for the establishment of antilynching legislation, and exposing racial injustice. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Wells eventually made her way to Memphis, Tennessee. There, she became the part-owner of the newspaper The Memphis Free Speech. Her provocative and truth-filled articles exposed the oppressive nature of lynching African American men and women and how the very act protected white power and white supremacy.

These articles eventually sparked enough outrage that a mob of white men burned her place of business to the ground, forcing Wells to flee to Chicago for safety. Wells put down roots in Chicago and began her family there. In Chicago, she continued to advocate for people of color and for all women as she established several women’s civic and suffrage clubs and helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

A record of Wells’s time in Chicago can be found in one of the 29 collections highlighted in the FamilySearch campaign Finding Black Roots: 29 ways in 29 days. The death certificates of two of her four children, Alfreda Duster and Charles Barnett, can be found in the collection “Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878–1994.”

a portrait of Ella Jo Baker
Everett Collection / Courtesy Everett Collection –

Ella Jo Baker (1903–1986)

Ella Baker participated in the grassroots efforts of the civil rights movement as she organized the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She also became a key contributor to the NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through the leadership and advisement of Baker, the SNCC organized waves of nonviolent student sit-ins to protest racial discrimination in restaurants and to advocate for voter registration among people of color.

The SNCC also played a key role in recruiting students to participate in Freedom Rides, a protest to desegregate interstate transportation. Baker believed in the power of youth to create social change and worked behind the scenes during the civil rights movement to ensure the success of these initiatives, which helped to change the course of the movement and achieve greater racial equality.

Baker can be found in the 1910 United States census in the household of her parents, Blake and Georgianna Baker, at age 6.

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977)

an image of African American woman fannie lou hamer.

Born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer got her start with civil rights activism through her participation in the SNCC. She eventually became a community organizer as she led the efforts to fight against voter registration barriers for African Americans. Black men and women received the right to vote with the passage of the 15th and 19th Amendments. However, literacy tests, poll taxes, and the threat of violence from white supremacy groups such as the Ku Klux Klan often prevented African Americans from exercising their right.

As a community organizer, Hamer led groups of people to register to vote, often facing opposition; during the course of her activism, Hamer was threatened, brutally beaten, sent to jail on spurious charges, and shot at.

Despite opposition, Hamer continued in her activism as she established the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, ran for a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives, and helped to organize Freedom Summer, a project that brought hundreds of college students to the state of Mississippi to help in voter registration efforts.

Hamer can be found in the 1940 United States census.

Shirley Chisholm (1924–2005)

an image of African American woman Shirley Chisholm.

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman to run for Congress and win, becoming the representative for New York’s 12th Congressional District from 1969 to 1983. The daughter of immigrants, Chisholm was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received a Master’s degree from Columbia University in elementary education. Though she primarily worked in the field of education, Chisholm actively participated in organizations such as the NAACP, League of Women Voters, and Brooklyn’s chapter of the Democratic Party.

In 1972, Chisholm launched her campaign for president of the United States, becoming the first black person to seek a presidential nomination from one of the two major political parties. In her book The Good Fight, Chisholm stated, “I ran for the Presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.” She did not win the nomination, but her life and legacy have inspired many black women to run for office.

The words “Unbought and Unbossed,” her slogan during the presidential campaign, can be found on her tombstone. Links to a picture of her tombstone and to obituaries can be found under the Sources tab of her individual profile on

5 Facts You May Not Know about Martin Luther King Jr.

2020. január 17., péntek 2:00:10

Each January, we celebrate the extraordinary life of Martin Luther King Jr. His life and legacy changed not only the United States of America, but the entire world, as he led the fight for equal rights for all individuals regardless of race.

Dr. King is most famously known for his “I Have a Dream Speech” given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. But what are some lesser known facts about Dr. King that bring a greater understanding to his work and his legacy?

FamilySearch has compiled five interesting facts about Dr. King’s life and legacy that you may not know. We hope this list can be a starting point in your celebration of Dr. King on this day.  

a graphic showing additional facts about the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

1. He held a doctorate in theology.

Martin Luther King Jr as a pastor

Dr. King earned the title of “Doctor” through a PhD in systematic theology, which he earned at Boston University in 1955. Prior to his doctorate degree, Dr. King earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Morehouse College at age 19. He was also awarded a bachelor’s degree in divinity in 1951 from Crozer Theological Seminary.

Dr. King followed in the footsteps of his father by becoming a pastor. After he earned his PhD, the King family relocated to Montgomery, Alabama, where Dr. King became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church at age 25. Dr. King’s leadership and gift for oration eventually led him to be recruited as the leader and  spokesperson for the Montgomery bus boycott at age 26, an event inspired by Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white person.

2. He was jailed 29 times.

Dr. King was thrown into jail nearly 30 times over the course of his lifetime as he advocated for civil rights. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience as well as for such things as “loitering” and minor traffic violations.

3. A memorial stands in Washington, D.C., to honor him.

People at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
People at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial opened to the public in 2011.  It was the first memorial to honor an African American on the National Mall, and the only major memorial located on the National Mall that isn’t dedicated to a former president.

The main feature of the memorial is a 30-foot high relief sculpture of Dr. King cut out of a mountain. It is symbolic of Dr. King’s remarks during his “I Have a Dream Speech” where he stated the dream of hewing “out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope”; Dr. King symbolizes the stone of hope.

4. The cause of Dr. King continues through the efforts of his family.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

The work of the civil rights movement extended beyond Dr. King into his own family. Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s wife, worked alongside King as a leader of civil rights and actively participated in the women’s movement during and after the assassination of her husband. She founded the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change and is the individual credited with making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a reality.

Dr. King and Coretta had four children: Martin Luther III, Bernice, Yolanda, and Dexter. Each of them have found their own way to contribute to the quest for civil rights, social justice, and the improvement of society. Just last year, Martin Luther King III attended RootsTech, an annual genealogical conference hosted by FamilySearch, as an honored guest. He spoke during the announcement of a $2 million donation to the International African American Museum by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

5. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a not a day dedicated to leisure, but to action and service.

The Corporation for National and Community Service states that the holiday, observed on the third Monday in January, is “a day on, not a day off.” It notes that the holiday is the “only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.” Every year, communities come together and organize service projects to commemorate Dr. King’s life and mission. You and your family can make service a part of your celebration as well. To find volunteer opportunities in your own community, click the button below:

To find volunteer opportunities in your own community, click the button below:

New Planner Limits Announced: Help Up to 300 People

2020. január 9., csütörtök 22:05:09

On 30 January 2020, the Planner on will be updated with a capacity limit of 300 people on the People You Are Helping list. This adjustment means that you can have a maximum of 300 people in your Planner at any given time. If the Planner currently has more than 300 people, you will need to remove some of the names before adding any more.

Understanding the Names List

When you sign in to and then go to Helper Resources, you see a list titled People You Are Helping. These are the people you have invited to the Planner. Their names fall into one of three categories:

  • People who have received but not yet accepted your invitation
  • People who have accepted your invitation
  • People for whom the invitation and helper access period have expired.
helper list screenshot

The capacity limit is for the Planner as a whole and not for any of the individual categories. In other words, if you have 300 expired invitations, you won’t be able to send a new invitation until one of the expired invitations is deleted.

Removing People from the Planner

Delete people you are helping screenshot

You—the person helping—can remove a person’s name from the list at any time. Just go to Helper Resources, and view the list of people you have invited to the Planner. Hover the mouse cursor over a person’s name, and you will see an option for deleting that entry from the list.

Unaccepted Invitations

The Planner deletes some people automatically under certain conditions. An unaccepted invitation, for example, will stay in the Planner for 30 days. After that, it gets deleted. You can still attempt to help the person, but you will need to send a new invitation to do so, which the person would need to accept.

Expired Names

An expired entry is likewise deleted from the Planner after 12 months. An expired entry is the name of an individual who accepted your invitation. You then had access to that person’s ancestor information for 12 months.

After 12 months, the access expires, but the name of the person stays in the Planner for an additional 12 months—in case you want to send that person a new invitation and begin helping him or her a second time. Any lessons you may have created for the person would be restored.

As you can see, once a person accepts an invitation, he or she remains in the Planner for a combined total of two years—plenty of time to think about ways to help him or her experience the excitement, as well as the blessings, of serving his or her ancestors.

The Greatest Work

Woman helping someone on the computer at a family history center

If you are still reading this article, then you must be someone who uses the Planner to create meaningful, personalized family history experiences for others. Thank you for your service! As you help others discover their ancestors and connect their families in the temple, you are helping to gather Israel. As President Russell M. Nelson has said, “There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important” than helping to gather Israel. So please—keep up the good work. Your friends and neighbors are counting on you. And so are their ancestors!

How to Search United States World War II Military Records

2020. január 8., szerda 23:46:41

With over 16 million Americans who served in some capacity during World War II, you are likely find an ancestor or two in the records that were created. You can use the World War II military records search form below to find records of your ancestors’ service.

World War II U.S. Military Records Search


If you don’t know of anyone in your family who served during the war, consider asking your family or looking at your family tree for those who would have been the right age to have registered for the draft or who may have served. Men born between about 1877 and 1927, including residents of the United States who were not yet citizens, were within the traditional age range to have registered for the draft.

Learn more about different types of military records and what they can tell you about your ancestors.

Records at Home

WW2 medal, a unique type of military record

The best place to start your search is right at home. Ask relatives what they know about members of the family who served in the war. Try to identify what kind of military service your ancestor was in—this will be especially important to know for when you start looking for records outside of home.

See if you can find pictures, letters, a discharge certificate, or even an old uniform or victory medal. You may even want to visit the ancestor’s tombstone.

As you begin your search for more information about your ancestor, you may want to explore our article on Basic Military Search Strategies.

United States World War II Records: Draft Registration

On September 16, 1940, the United States Congress passed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. This law instituted a national draft that required all men ages 21–65 to register. Men who were selected were required to serve for at least one year. When the United States entered the war, the draft was extended.

WW2 Draft record. search military records on familysearch

There were seven draft registrations during World War II. They included the following:

Draft Registration 1: October 16, 1940; men ages 21–31 were required to register.

Draft Registration 2: July 1, 1941; men registered who had reached age 21 since the last draft registration.

Draft Registration 3: February 16, 1942; men ages 20–21 and 35–44 were added to the register.

Draft Registration 4: April 27, 1942; men ages 45–65, who were not previously eligible for military service, were now required to register. This registration is sometimes referred to as the “Old Man’s Draft.”

Draft Registration 5: June 30, 1942; men ages 18–20 were required to register.

Draft Registration 6: December 10, 1942; men who turned 18 since the last registration were added to the register.

Draft Registration 7: November 16–December 31, 1943; men ages 18–44 who were United States citizens living abroad were required to register.

The World War II draft records in the United States are not complete; however, many are available. One thing to keep in mind is that even if your ancestors didn’t serve in WW2, you may still find them in the draft. All resident males were required to register for the draft, even those who were not yet citizens. Not everyone who registered was drafted.

Official Military Personnel Files

WW2 Military Soldiers. Find ancestors using military record search on FamilySearch

If a family member served in World War II, the next step in your research is the National Personnel Records Center and Military Personnel Records in St. Louis, Missouri. It is the repository of personnel files for discharged and deceased veterans of all branches of service.

A wonderful guide online will walk you through the process of requesting your loved one’s military service file. For a quick overview, here’s what you need to know.

A military service file is called the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). It contains much information about your ancestor’s time in service, such as unit assignments and transfers, awards, and discharge papers, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, on July 12, 1973, a fire nearly destroyed the building that housed the OMPF. The fire destroyed and damaged many of the records of people who served in the United States Army during World War II. Because the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard records were stored elsewhere, they were not affected.

Persons who wish to obtain a military service file have three options.

1. Visit the archive at 1 Archive Drive, St. Louis, Missouri (by appointment).

2. Employ an independent researcher.

3. Submit a written request for the records.

Fees are associated with requesting records from the archive so be sure to check out the fees before submitting your request.

Individual Deceased Personnel Files

WW2 Military Soldier

Your military records search might turn up an Individual Deceased Personnel File. An Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) is a personnel file created by the military. It documents the death of a military person and includes information associated with the disposition of the remains. The IDPF is sometimes referred to as a “Mortuary File” or a “Casualty File.”

This file would be particularly important to those researching ancestors who were killed or died during service. These records were not part of the fire of 1973, so they can be used as a way to reconstruct the service record of a veteran who died.

The IDPF may contain information such as the following:

  • Correspondence
  • Memorandums
  • Documentation relating to the death of the service person
  • Service member’s rank and serial number
  • Service member’s date of birth
  • Brief description of the circumstances of death

If you would like to obtain a copy of your ancestor’s IDPF, you can contact the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri. IDPFs held there cover the years 1939–1975 and include records of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

You may also find valuable information about your ancestor from the relative’s grave. Though some military family members may be buried in local cemeteries, many are also located at a national cemetery or even overseas. The following are resources you can use for locating your military ancestor’s gravesite:

As you continue your military records search, you can gain a new perspective by researching your ancestors who lived during World War II. Learn more about the war and how it could have affected your family.

Other Useful Resources

English Boy Names in Your Family Tree

2020. január 8., szerda 1:00:44

Your name is a significant part of your personal identity. It’s likely that your ancestors felt the same way about their names. If you have English heritage, some of your male ancestors probably had English boy names—you might even have one, too! Learn about these English boy names to get a taste of your English heritage, find baby names, or search for English names in your family tree.

Want to learn about English girl names or English surnames? Click the links below!

45 Popular and Unique English Boy Names

These gems are some of the most popular or interesting English boy names. Which ones are your favorites?

Addison (a-də-sən)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Adam

Aldrich (ȯl-drich)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Old, wise ruler

Alexander (a-lig-ˈzan-dər)

  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Defender and protector of people
an english boy plays with a toy sword and shield

 Alfred (al-frəd)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Elf ruler or wise counselor

 Alton (ȯl-tᵊn)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Inhabitant from an old town

Austen (ȯ-stən)

  • Origin: English and Latin
  • Meaning: Shortened from Augustine or Augustus, meaning “great” or “magnificent”

Archie (ärchē)

  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Shortened from Archibald, meaning “bold,” “genuine,” or “brave”

 Averil (ā-və-ril)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Boar battle
a herd of boars, the origin of the name averil

 Benedict (be-nə-dikt)

  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Blessed

Blake (blāk)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Either fair-haired or dark-haired (resulting from the Old English “blæc,” meaning “black,” or “blac,” meaning “pale”)

 Carter (kär-tər)

  • Origin: English, Irish, Scottish
  • Meaning: Cart driver—someone who drove a cart for deliveries

Chad (chad)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Battle warrior, protector, or defender

Charles (char[-ə]lz)

  • Origin: German, Old English, and French
  • Meaning: Free man or manly
An english man hiking

 Clifford (klif-ərd)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Someone who lives near a cliff ford

Conrad (kän-ˌrad)

  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Brave or bold counsel

Cooper (kü-pər)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Barrel maker

 Dale (dāl)

  • Origin: Old English, German
  • Meaning: Someone who lives near a valley or dell

Earl (ər[-ə]l)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Nobleman or aristocratic
a young english boy with a crown

Edmund (ed-mənd)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Wealthy protector

Edwin (ed-wən)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Wealthy friend

Elmer (el-mər)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Noble and famous

Fletcher (fle-chər)

  • Origin: English, Scottish, Irish, French
  • Meaning: Arrow maker
a ford

Ford (fȯrd)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: River crossing

Grayson (grāsᵊn)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of a steward or gray-haired person

Harry (her-ē)

  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Army or estate ruler

Harrison (her-ə-sən)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Harry, a name meaning army or estate ruler

Henry (hen-rē)

  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Household ruler

Jack (jak)

  • Origin: English and Hebrew
  • Meaning: Originating from John, meaning “God is gracious”
an English boy praying

 James (jāmz)

  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Originating from Jacob, meaning supplanter

Jasper (ja-spər)

  • Origin: English or Persian
  • Meaning: Treasurer

Kenton (ken-tən)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From a royal settlement

 Leo (lē-ō)

  • Origin: Italian or Latin
  • Meaning: Lion
A lion, origin of the name Leo

 Lewis (lü-əs)

  • Origin: English, French, or German
  • Meaning: Famous warrior

Mason (mā-sᵊn)

  • Origin: English or French
  • Meaning: Stone worker

Nelson (nel-sən)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Neil or a champion

Noah (nō-ə)

  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Rest or to comfort

Oliver (ä-lə-vər)

  • Origin: English, French, Latin, or Norse
  • Meaning: Descendant, olive tree, peaceful, affectionate, or warrior

Oscar (ä-skər)

  • Origin: Gaelic or Norse
  • Meaning: Deer lover or God spear
a man feeds a deer

Radcliff (rad-klif)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Red cliff

Remington (re-miŋ-tən)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Someone who lives in the raven or river town

 Robert (rä-bərt)

  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Bright fame

Stanley (stan-lē)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From the stony meadow

Thatcher (tha-chər)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Roof fixer
men fixing a roof

 William (wil-yəm)

  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Desire helmet or protection or brave protector

Winston (win-stən)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Joy stone or victory town

English Names in Your Family Tree

Did you find any new names you like? Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below. Search your family tree to see if you can find any English family names or old English surnames in your tree. 

English Girl Names That Might Be in Your Family Tree

2020. január 8., szerda 1:00:14

Do you have English heritage? If so, your grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and beyond might have English names. Popular English girl names come from a variety of sources. Whether you are learning about these names to connect with your ancestors or to find names for your future children, knowing where the names come from can help you connect with your family—past, present, and future.

Check out the list of popular English girl names below! You can also learn about English boy names and English surnames.

45 Popular and Unique English Girl Names

English girl names are some of the most elegant of English names. Think of class and beauty as you read them.

Ada (ā-də)

  • Origin: German or Hebrew
  • Meaning: Noble and happy or beautiful

Alberta (al-ˈbər-tə)

  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Noble and bright

Alexis (ə-ˈlek-səs)

  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Defender, protector, or helper

Alecia (ə-ˈlī-shə)

  • Origin: French or German
  • Meaning: Noble
an english girl reads on her laptop

Amelia (ə-ˈmēl-yə)

  • Origin: Latin or Germanic
  • Meaning: Hardworking

Andrea (än-drā-ə)

  • Origin: Italian or Greek
  • Meaning: Manly and strong

Anne (an)

  • Origin: Hebrew or Greek
  • Meaning: Gracious and merciful

Averill (ā-və-ril)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Boar battle

Blakesley (blāks-lē)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Black wolf’s meadow
a young girl and her father play

Brenda (bren-dä)

  • Origin: Gaelic
  • Meaning: Sword

Celestia (sə-lest-ē-ə)

  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Heavenly

Charlotte (shär-lət)

  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: Free man

Clara (kler-ə)

  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Clear and bright

Cleo (klē-o)

  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: To praise or glory
a dark night, similar to the meaning of the english name darcie

Darcie (därsē)

  • Origin: English or Irish
  • Meaning: Dark

Edith (ē-dəth)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Prosperous war

Eleanor (e-lə-nər)

  • Origin: French, Greek
  • Meaning: Famous wealth, bright shining one

Elizabeth (i-ˈli-zə-bəth)

  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Oath to God

Elmira (el-ˈmī-rə)

  • Origin: English, Arabic
  • Meaning: Noble, princess
a young girl with brown hair

Emma (e-mə)

  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Complete or universal

Erin (er-ən)

  • Origin: Gaelic
  • Meaning: Ireland

Eve (ēv)

  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Life
a girl with orange hair and freckles

Freya (frā-ə)

  • Origin: Scandinavian or Norse
  • Meaning: Lady or goddess of love, fertility, and beauty

Georgianna (jȯr-jan-ə)

  • Origin: English or Greek
  • Meaning: Farmer

Gertrude (gər-trüd)

  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Strong spear

Isabella (iz-ə-belə)

  • Origin: Italian
  • Meaning: God is my oath

Joanna (jōˈ[h]anə̇)

  • Origin: English, Polish, Greek, or Hebrew
  • Meaning: God is gracious

Katherine (ka-th(ə-)rən)

  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Pure

Kelsey (kelsē)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From the island

Leanne (lē-an)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Clearing or gracious
a girl picking lilies.

Lily (li-lē)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Lily flower, a symbol of purity

Louisa (lü-ē-zə)

  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Famous warrior

Matilda (məˈtildə)

  • Origin: English or German
  • Meaning: Strong in battle

Myrtle (mər-tᵊl)

  • Origin: English, Greek
  • Meaning: Myrtle bush
an olive branch, the origin of the name olivia

Olivia (o-ˈli-vē-ə)

  • Origin: English, French, Latin, or Norse
  • Meaning: Descendant, olive tree, peaceful, affectionate, or warrior

Penelope (pə-ˈne-lə-pē)

  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Weaver

Pippa (pipə)

  • Origin: English or Greek
  • Meaning: Horse lover

Queenie (kwē-nī)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Queen

Rosemary (rōz-mer-ē)

  • Origin: English, Latin
  • Meaning: Rosemary herb
two girls smile together

Ruth (rüth)

  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Compassionate friend

Tate (tāt)

  • Origin: English, Norse
  • Meaning: Pleasant and cheerful

Tamsin (tam-zin)

  • Origin: English or Greek
  • Meaning: Twin

Tara (ter-ə)

  • Origin: Irish
  • Meaning: A reference to the Hill of Tara, the legendary seat for the High King of Ireland
soft white sand

Whitney (hwit-nē)

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From the white island

Did any of these names stick out to you? Did we miss one of your favorites? Now that you have learned about English girl names, try searching your tree to see which ones are in your family. You might learn something new!

Alison Ensign and Laurie Bradshaw contributed to this post.

5 Best Places in Italy to Explore Your Heritage

2020. január 7., kedd 23:37:09

Italy is a country rich in history and culture. If you travel just about anywhere in Italy, you will experience its heritage, whether by exploring ancient ruins, savoring regional dishes, or gazing in awe at a breathtaking cathedral. Here are five of the best places to visit in Italy to celebrate and discover the country’s heritage.

Centro Storico (Historic City Center), Rome

More than 2,000 years of history are layered in the historical heart of the city of Rome. Centro Storico (“Old Town”) is not a single destination, but a collection of neighborhoods that are best explored at a leisurely pace, making it one of the best places to visit in Italy.

Wander the cobblestone streets, and feast your eyes on beautiful churches, monuments, and gardens. Stop at panetterias (bakeries) and trattorias (restaurants) along the way to enjoy Italy’s delicious food.

Trevi Fountain, one of the best places to go in Italy

Old Rome is home to some of the world’s most famous ancient ruins as well as masterpieces of Italian architecture, sculpture, and art. Below are some of the major historic sites you will want to explore in Centro Storico:

La Città Alta, Bergamo

Città Alta (“High City”) is also an old city center and sits high on a hill in Bergamo, Italy. Powerful Venetian walls built in the 1500s surround this historic destination and remind visitors that it was once a heavily-fortified city. Main thoroughfares laid out by early Roman city planners still follow their original paths, and a medieval tower still stands at the main city crossroads.

La Città Alta, Bergamo

The view from the top of the city provides a stunning backdrop to the old city, which is largely intact. Visitors can walk to the summit or take a funicular, or inclined railway. Even if you take the funicular, leave time and energy to explore on foot the narrow, cobblestoned streets that lead to the main square, Piazza Vecchia, and the magnificent Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

The young (and young-at-heart) may especially enjoy exploring old fortifications scattered throughout Città Alta, such as the ruins of the Castle Vigilio with its network of secret underground passages.

Villaggio Crespi d’Adda, Capriate San Gervasio

One of the best places in Italy to visit is the Crespi Workers’ Village, which tells the story of a factory town and an important chapter in both European and United States history. During 19th-century industrialization, most factory workers lived in poverty and squalor. Some factory owners built model towns so their employees could enjoy a more prosperous way of life. As part of this small but important movement, the Crespi family built Crespi d’Adda in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Villaggio Crespi d’Adda, Capriate San Gervasio, a great place to visit to discover more of Italian heritage

Today, though partly still in use, the worker’s village still remains much as it was when it was built. Descendants of factory workers still live in the town. Visitors can walk by neat rows of workers’ homes, the now-vacant factory, a church, a school that provided free education, and more.

Val di Noto, Sicily

An important story in Sicily’s history is preserved—literally—in stone. In 1693, a massive earthquake destroyed many of the towns in the Val di Noto region. The inhabitants rebuilt their towns, many of them with a new eye to city planning and architectural greatness.

Val di Noto, Sicily

In several of these towns, the rebuilding efforts still survive and witness to the people’s monumental efforts, innovative urban planning, and architectural talent. Art lovers will appreciate the exceptional late Baroque architecture, with its imposing, columned buildings and sculpted flourishes.

Museo Diffuso della Resistenza, Turin

Immerse yourself in more recent Italian history in Turin at the acclaimed Museo Diffuso della Resistenza (its full name translates as “Widespread Museum of Resistance, Deportation, War, Rights, and Freedom”). Housed in the city’s old military quarter, the museum’s exhibits feature multimedia interviews with Turin residents about World War II.

Museo Diffuso della Resistenza, Turin

Visitors to Museo Diffuso della Resistenza describe these first-hand accounts as a deeply moving way to learn about everyday life during the war, the German occupation, and the Italian Resistance. Also poignant is a preserved air-raid shelter in the museum’s basement.

Do you have Italian heritage? Heritage travel to your ancestral homeland can deepen your sense of connection to past generations—especially if you know something about your family history. And if you don’t know much about your family history, FamilySearch makes it easy to start. Create a free account and start learning more about your family today!