big ben and red bus for researching british records

How To Find Your Hidden American Ancestors in British Records

Should you research overseas records for your American ancestors? Yes! Explore how to find “hidden” American ancestors in British records!

Jen Baldwin of FindMyPast joined me recently to discuss finding “hidden” American ancestors in British records.  What better way to spend time than learning about new places to look for our ancestors!

Did you miss it our live chat? No worries! You can catch the replay at the bottom of this post.  👇😀

Jen’s Best Tip for Using FindMyPast To Find Your American Ancestors

I have a strong British heritage, and have been using FindMyPast for quite a while now in my genealogy research. I now realize I have been underutilizing its records.

One of the first things Jen shared is perhaps one of the most important. When researching genealogy in British records we have to think like a Brit! 

As genealogy researchers, we must understand the history between the United States and Great Britain and understand what records the British created and why those records were created.

This is an important concept for any genealogy researcher regardless of which country you are researching your ancestors in. We must first research and understand what records were created and why before we can be the most effective in our genealogy research and be successful in finding our ancestors.

Taking time up front to learn about the records of a country or region will save you tons of time AND make your research more effective in the actual research of your ancestor.

{Ahem, I might have experience in this! I’m stepping off my soapbox now.}

old photos and marriage record

FindMyPast Records Collections Mentioned In The Livestream

In our live chat, Jen and I discussed a number of British record collections that are pertinent to the American genealogist’s research. Explore these fun record collections from the video below:

  1. Registers of Licenses to Pass Beyond the Seas 
  2. British POW’s, 1715-1945 
  3. British Army Service Records 
  4. Prisoners of War, 1715 – 1945 – Tip: Under the “Browse Category” field, use keywords like “America”, “Canada”, “Nova Scotia”, etc to narrow your results. Those early records would refer to America since the United States did not exist yet.
  5. US Servicemen in North Devon, England 1945-1945  – This is an amazing record to read and contemplate even if you have no ancestors listed.
  6. The Catholic Heritage Archive – It’s an ever growing collection you want to include in your genealogy research plan. [Read more about the Catholic Heritage Archive collection in this previous post.]
  7. Newspapers – I was surprised by how much news from abroad in America can be found in British newspapers! Listen to Jen’s fascinating discussion on FindMyPast‘s newspaper collection starting at the 43 minute mark in the video replay below.

Best Practices for Finding Your Hidden American Ancestors in British Records

As you start your research into the records, remember to:

  • Search a variety of names, spellings, etc.
  • Be willing to search through newspapers from a broad area around your center point
  • Interpret your findings to ensure you are applying the information with the right context for the time frame
  • America may be referred to as United States, America, United States of America and even the colonies.

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