This Week’s News (w/e Fri 15 December 2023)

Welcome to this week’s roundup of the latest news and updates from around the main genealogy sites! As family historians and genealogists, it’s crucial to stay informed about the newest resources, features, and insights that can aid us in our quest to uncover the past. Whether you’re a seasoned researcher or just starting your family history journey, my weekly digest aims to bring you valuable information that can enrich your exploration. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s highlights.

Academy Award-winning actress Laura Dern and her mother, Diane Ladd, explored their family history through Ancestry, uncovering new stories and connections. During their journey, they visited significant New York locations from their past, learning about their great-great-grandmother, “Aunt Prudie,” a self-taught doctor in Mississippi. This discovery inspired Diane in her youth and revealed that Prudie’s given name was Laura, unknowingly passed down to Dern. Their experience emphasizes the importance of family history and encourages others to explore their roots.

Read more about their story here.

“Unwrapping the Past: A Journey Through the History of Christmas” on Ancestry’s blog explores the diverse historical roots and traditions of Christmas. From ancient winter solstice celebrations to the religious significance of Christmas and the evolution of customs like Christmas trees, the article delves into how Christmas has been celebrated around the world. It highlights variations in traditions, food, and decorations, showing how they reflect cultural and religious influences. The post is a comprehensive look at the holiday’s rich history and varied global practices.

Read more about this fascinating history here.

Findmypast has announced significant updates to its collection, including over 20,000 new Kent parish records and nearly 200,000 additional 1939 Register records from England and Wales. These new resources offer valuable insights for those researching ancestors from the “Garden of England.” Additionally, a new historical newspaper title, “Toby,” covering London’s police force in the late 19th century, has been added, alongside updates to eight other newspaper titles with additional pages, enriching the resource pool for genealogical and historical research.

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Discover more about these new resources here.

MyHeritage has published a unique collection of marriage records from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, covering the years 1874 to 1899. This exclusive collection, provided by the Landesarchiv NRW, includes almost 4 million searchable individuals from the districts of Münster, Detmold, and Arnsberg. These records, now fully indexed for the first time by MyHeritage, offer invaluable information for those researching their North Rhine-Westphalian heritage. The collection includes detailed marriage certificates, providing insights into family connections and histories.

Learn more about this extensive collection here.

MyHeritage has implemented important updates to its Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) system, enhancing account security. Alongside the existing authenticator app method, users can now opt for email-based 2FA. This update is particularly significant for DNA customers, as 2FA will soon be mandatory to access DNA results and manage DNA kits on MyHeritage. This measure aims to bolster the protection of personal and sensitive data, ensuring a higher level of security for all MyHeritage users.

Learn more about these security updates here.

MyHeritage introduces the MyHeritage Wiki, a community-led online encyclopedia dedicated to genealogy and DNA. This ambitious project, open to contributions from family history enthusiasts, covers a wide range of topics, from researching family history in various countries to DNA testing. The platform aims to be a comprehensive resource, constantly growing with articles in multiple languages, created by a community of experts, volunteers, and enthusiasts. It’s a significant step towards making genealogy more accessible and collaborative.

Explore and contribute to the MyHeritage Wiki here.

Geneanet offers a unique way to send Christmas cards by providing access to over 800,000 vintage postcards online, including more than 6,000 Christmas and New Year cards. This collection features a variety of designs, from humorous to touching, adorned with classic holiday imagery like Christmas trees, mistletoe, and Santa Claus. Users can easily search and download these postcards for free, adding a touch of originality to their holiday greetings.

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Discover this charming collection and send a special card here.

Graham Walter has been elected as the new Chair to the Board of Trustees of the Society of Genealogists. With a 35-year history in family history research and professional expertise in IT management, Walter brings a wealth of experience to the role. He has been a member of the society since 2004 and actively contributes to its Educational Outreach program. Walter’s election signifies a strong commitment to advancing genealogical research and community engagement within the society.

For more details, visit the announcement here.


There are new indexed records on FamilySearch for the week of 19 November 2023. Featuring thousands of records from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Ireland, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

You can see more details in their post here.

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