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What’s available at ancestry.com

Last month we saw just how much new data has been made available for free at familysearch.org. The competition, so to speak, is Ancestry.com. Ancestry is a pay site, and I don’t have any connections to them, but it is time to review the newest additions to Ancestry and you can decide for yourself if you want to pay for access, or try it for free at a local public library or family history center.

Ancestry charges based on the scope of the collection you want. They have simplified the packages to two major choices. The US Discovery package gives you access to all American databases, for $23/month (or $13/month for a six month subscription). The World Explorer plan gives you access to all records that they possess worldwide, for $35/month (or $25/month for a six month subscription). The passenger lists and Italian records are only on the Worldwide Explorer plan. Either of these plans give you access to be able to upload or enter your family tree on Ancestry.com and connect to other members who have also entered their tree.

First, an update on the 1940 census. Although released April 2nd, only 25 states have been indexed (as of July), and of course Illinois is not among them. Go to the web site to see which states have been completed, because it could change between the date I am writing and the date this goes on the web site.

For those states that are fully indexed, you can search for names. If your state is not indexed yet, you need to use the methods I described in a previous column “Accessing The New Census Data”

I picked a random American out of the phone book and by pure coincidence it’s Joe DiMaggio. A search for Joltin Joe …

… finds a lot of Joseph Dimaggios, but we pick out the one born around 1915 and married to Dorothy, his first wife.

… and the census page reveals that he was born in San Francisco, and his occupation is “ball player”.

As for Italian records, there are a few collections but not a lot available, and very little has been updated recently. In order to access these, you have to subscribe to Ancestry.com’s Worldwide Explorer plan.

The following collections are available for those of you with roots in these parts of Italy:

Belluno, Veneto, Italy: Civil Registration Records 1871-1938 (in Italian)
1/19/2012 Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1939 (in Italian) …
12/22/2010

Agrigento, Sicily, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1844-1911 (in Italian)
12/22/2010

Caserta, Campania, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1862-1939 (in Italian)
12/22/2010

Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Piedmont, Italy, Indexed Death Records, 1896-1936 (in Italian) …
10/12/2010

Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Piedmont, Italy, Indexed Marriage Records, 1896-1929 (in Italian) …
10/12/2010

Genoa and La Spezia, Liguria, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1938 (in Italian) …
9/29/2010

Aosta, Aosta, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1939 (in Italian)
9/29/2010

Siracusa, Sicily, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1900-1929 (in Italian)
8/25/2010

Caltanissetta, Sicily, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1939 (in Italian)
7/29/2010

Potenza, Basilicata, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1861-1938 (in Italian)
6/1/2010

Alessandria and Asti, Piedmont, Italy: Civil registration records, 1866-1938 (in Italian) …
12/22/2009

Pavia, Lombardy, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1937 (in Italian)
9/24/2009

Lodi, Lombardy, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1936 (in Italian)
8/31/2009

Varese, Lombardy, Italy: Civil Registration, 1866-1937 (in Italian)
7/2/2009

Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Piedmont, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1938 (in Italian) …
5/21/2009

Siena, Tuscany, Italy: Civil Registration Records, 1866-1937 (in Italian)
2/26/2009

Como and Lecco, Lombardy, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1936 (in Italian) …
2/19/2009

Falerna, Catanzaro, Calabria, Italy, Civil Registration, 1810-1936 (in Italian)
4/18/2008

There are lots of updates to specific American databases, and I won’t list them all here. You can see what has been updated by going to http://www.ancestry.com/cs/reccol/default. The most popular collections for Chicago and Cook County are:

Cook County Deaths 1908-1988
(Same index as www.cookcountygenealogy.com)

Cook County Deaths 1878-1922
(Same index as www.familysearch.org)

Cook County Births 1916-1935
(Same index as www.cookcountygenealogy.com)

Cook County Births 1871-1922
(Same index as www.familysearch.org)

Cook County Marriages 1871-1920
(Same index as www.familysearch.org)

Cook County Marriages 1912-1924
(Same index as www.cookcountygenealogy.com)

Cook County Marriages 1930-1960
(Same index as www.cookcountygenealogy.com)

Daily Herald 1901-1977
(I’m not sure how complete this is.)

Chicago Tribune Obit Index 1988-1997
(There is no other index to death notices 1988-97)

Chicago Voter Registration 1888-1892
(Since there is no 1890 census, this is a big help!)

Chicago City Directories
(Included in a nationwide collection)

US Public Records Index
(About 800 million records: Lists addresses from the early 1980s and sometimes birthdates)

US Phone/Address Directories 1993
(If they still live in the same place, call your cousin!)

US Marine Corp Muster Rolls 1798-1958
(They are actively working on this database now)

US Navy Muster Rolls 1938-1949

US WW2 Army Enlistment

US WW2 Draft Registration

US WW1 Draft Registration (Even non-citizens had to register)

US Veterans Gravesites 1775-date (Everyone buried at National Cemeteries)

US Naturalization Indexes (Search here to find your ancestor’s citizenship application)

Illinois Statewide Death Index 1916-1947 (Same index as www.familysearch.org)

I know you might be wondering why Ancestry has a lot of the data that is available on other web sites. The advantage of this is that if you have your family tree in Family Tree Maker on your computer, and if you also subscribe to Ancestry, it will help you find records that match what you have already entered. (Remember the “leaf” on the TV commercials?)

Not all of this data is available at family history centers. Originally, Ancestry.com gave complete free access to all family history centers until 2007. Then when the Mormon church (who runs the family history centers) decided to put all its microfilms on-line for free, thus undercutting Ancestry.com, they pulled the plug. Now there is a limited “Library Edition” available at family history centers. But you can at least try it out. There are also free trial periods available to entice you to subscribe to Ancestry, which you can take advantage of if you are not already a subscriber.

If you have any questions, send me an e-mail at italianroots@comcast.net and please put “Fra Noi” in the subject line. Have fun!

About Dan Niemiec

Dan Niemiec has been the genealogy columnist for Fra Noi since 2004. For the past 25 years, he has researched his genealogy back 17 generations, plus tracing descendants of his ancestors, yielding 74,000 relatives. His major focus is on civil and church records in Italy, Chicago vital records, Chicago Catholic records and most major genealogy web sites. He has given dozens of presentations to many local and some national genealogy societies on topics such as cemetery research, Catholic records, Italian records, Ellis Island and newspaper research, among others.

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