3 top free document-rich websites of family history collections
Nestled quietly among the major genealogy websites are many, many more lesser-known family history gems created by individuals or groups keen to share their interests in certain families or genealogy-related topics.
Despite sometimes being small, these more petite databases may offer an online treasure trove for family historians, with beautiful digital images of documents and old family photographs, letters and diary entries, often carefully transcribed and free to browse or search.
In the Christmas 2017 issue of Family Tree, professional genealogist Emma Jolly has picked out her favourite document-rich websites to share with our readers, and here we have selected three very different family history sites that made her top 10.
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1 The King’s Candlesticks
The King's Candlesticks is the personal family history website of Family Tree reader Edward Fenn and contains dozens of family letters and other data which, he says, are like ‘opening a window to the minds and way of life of the writers’.
There are 30 letters on the site for Edward’s 3x great-grandmother, for example. Edward’s namesake and grandfather, Dr Edward L Fenn MRCP (born 20 August 1843 in Nayland, Suffolk, died 1907), also left an extensive collection of personal letters. He restored Alston Court Nayland, which is now Grade I-listed, and records related to it can be found on the website. As well as providing insight into 19th century middle-class Suffolk life, the family history documents recorded at The King's Candlesticks feature letters from ancestors who travelled abroad or lived in poorer parts of England.
The Memory Project is a First World War-themed collection. Presenting 85 digitised artefacts from a variety of sources, this website is not focused on a single family. It was created following a national call for letters and photographs from the Front lines of the First World War by The Globe and Mail (a Canadian news provider), along with The Dominion Institute and the government of France. Themes include Art and poetry, Wartime Memorabilia, Documentation from the Front lines, Reminders from home, Battlefield Correspondence and Photographs.
The Society of Australian Genealogists’ manuscript collection has been digitised and is searchable online. The MIDAS collection (Manuscript, Image and Digital Archive System, formerly known as the Primary Records) was established in 1963 and now contains more than 55,000 files, including family papers, pedigrees, photographs, research notes and certificates.
Read Emma Jolly's full top 10 list of free document-rich websites only in the Christmas issue of Family Tree, available now. Don't miss out, get your issue while stocks last!