FamilySearch, the free online genealogy database, has been offering records from all over the world for a long time. A trove announced just a week ago could be of particular interest to Americans, especially those living in the Northeast.
Added to the database are nearly 700,000 naturalization records (1824-1946) from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. That collection, of course, includes New York City, a major gateway for immigration for centuries.
Many other records from various countries are being put online every week.
That 700,000, incidentally, is in addition to the district court naturalization records already there. Access FamilySearch at www.familysearch.org. It is a product of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For more information on naturalization via that court, go to www.nysd.uscourts.gov and click on “naturalization.”
Genealogy in the News: It’s not often that the field of genealogy is rocked by controversy, but – believe it or not – that’s exactly what has happened twice in the last few weeks. Both instances involve questions of data privacy and data use and have stirred genealogists’ concerns.
The first controversy involves police work and the genetic data people submit to websites. Police in California and Washington used the genealogy website GEDmatch to pursue murder cases. In each instance, police got DNA samples and then used the small, free GEDmatch to find what they believed to be good matches from relatives, helping them zero in on suspects. The people with matches, of course, had their DNA on the site only for genealogical purposes.
Now, writes Sarah Zhang in a recent issue of The Atlantic, “DNA from more than 100 crime scenes has been uploaded to the same genealogy site. This is likely only the beginning.”
The second controversy involves data protection. Just days ago, the European Union enacted a set of updates for the way people’s personal data is to be collected and used. Basically, websites and other collectors of data within the union must inform submitters of the uses to which their data may be put and allow them to remove that data if they wish. Some call the policy “the right to be forgotten.”
These rules are called General Data Protection Regulation, or the acronym GDPR. The European Union is a group of 28 nations large and small that subscribe to a set of political and economic rules.
Why should Americans care? Entities such as websites and social media from non-member countries, including the United States, must now follow the same tightened data protection rules to deal with European Union countries. So, look for some changes.
Genealogical Society News: Office staff at the churches of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton can now access parish records via computer, thanks to a partnership between the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society and the diocese. The genealogy group recently presented the diocese with a digital storage unit containing the digitized records of the many churches of the diocese going back well into the 19th century. The society digitized 3,600 register books, making a total of 347,000 images in a project that took nearly two years.
While records of the past 70 years will be not be open to the general public, historical records from the 11-county diocese are now available to genealogists at the society’s research library on the grounds of the Hanover Green Cemetery, Main Road, Hanover Township.
The research library will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 14, 21 and 28.
Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at [email protected]