For years, the only way to access Connecticut land records from a distance has been the FamilySearch microfilm program… and it’s due to end shortly. What’s a genealogist to do?
- Want free access?
- A few Connecticut libraries have microfilm copies of the land records that you can review onsite. Check out the Connecticut State Library’s collection for the greatest number of films.
- FamilySearch is slowly planning to digitize the film. If there’s a camera image next to the film information in the catalog, you can access it for free – provided you’re in a Family History Center.
- Willing to pay?
- Go to the town clerk’s website. Many towns have digitized all of their land records – and even better, they’re searchable by name. Be prepared to pay a daily access fee (less than $10) and then a per document fee ($1 a page). If you’re a ways from the closest family history center, this can be a fantastic option!
- For those towns that haven’t digitized their records, consider hiring a local genealogist. You’ll pay the hourly rate, plus the per document fee… and you’ll get your records fast! Personally, I can scan copies and have records to you by that evening!
A client’s research project has added a new archive to my must-check list! Can you guess where it is?
Yes, inside the church.
The American Baptist Churches of Connecticut Archive occupies part of the third floor of Central Baptist Church in Hartford (pretty impressive in its own right!). It’s only open by appointment (usually on the days when the Historical Council is meeting), so be sure to call the church office before visiting.
Occupying two rooms, the archives contains books on the history of the Baptist Church, histories of specific Connecticut churches, scrapbooks, clipping files, and more. As of right now, it does not have membership records from individual churches…
But don’t write it off as a resource! My favorite among their holdings is a book that identified and gave a history for each Baptist church in a Connecticut community. It warned me that a town I was researching had actually had a Baptist church – although it had disbanded in 1871. If you’re looking for an ancestor who might have had an influential role in a specific church or to identify and trace the history of a Baptist church your ancestor might have attended, the ABCONN archive is the place to go…
And even better, their goal is to see more researchers on a regular basis. If you have a friend who would benefit from their collection, be sure to spread the word!
I’ve spent the morning trying to determine if a Connecticut resident served in the American Revolution. I tried most of the usual sources – Record of Connecticut Men in the Revolution, Revolutionary War pension files – without success.
But my “last chance” source was a success. If you’re not aware, Revolutionary War pensions have been digitized and are searchable on Fold3. This search function includes everyone named in the pension, not just the person applying.
Why does that matter? Because the pension application process required the person applying to “prove” that they had served. That proof, in most cases, came from depositions from other soldiers in the same or related units. These men, in the process of documenting the service of the pension applicant, often also documented their own service in detail. For a man whose service is documented no where else, it can be a priceless resource.
You’ve been waiting for months – but the message still appears on the website of the Archdiocese of Hartford: “sacramental record and genealogical requests cannot be fulfilled at this time.” So, what do you do?
Don’t give up! As long as you’re looking for sacramental records – such as births, deaths and marriages – you have another option. The archives holds duplicates of these records on microfilm, not the originals.
The originals are still held by the parish in which they were created. Just remember, unlike in the archives, there is no set policy that access must be granted. When you contact the office, be pleasant and be sure to allow plenty of time for your request to be completed. A donation always helps!
Have you considered tracing a World War I ancestor’s experience through newspaper accounts? Such accounts can include details about battles, information about the organization of regiments and numerous personal details. And better yet, for Norwich and Bridgeport, they can be free!
Chronicling America includes digitized versions of the Norwich and Bridgeport papers through the early 1920s, after the end of the War. Hopefully you can find just what you’re looking for about your ancestor!
As part of the commemorations for the start of World War I, Ancestry has released a new resource. Called U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939, it’s a database containing images of the passenger lists for ships that carried U.S. troops during the time period 1910-1939. Each list includes details on the ship’s departure or arrival (if they were coming to the United States), the names of the passenger, their service unit, and their next of kin and where those next of kin were living.
Why is this database helpful? First, it confirms someone’s service in the military. You even have unit information, so you can learn more about their service by searching regimental history. Second, it can prove relationships. Some next of kin listings include how the two are related: cousins, mother, etc. I found a few Connecticut families who might benefit from checking out this source.
Did your CT ancestor serve in the First World War? Not sure of the unit?
The Connecticut State Library has digitized a book that can help. Called Service Records: Men and Women in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War, 1917-1920, it lists those who served by town. Entries are alphabetized by the individual’s last name, and include their full name, their mailing address (as of around 1941 when the book was published), and a description of their service.