This page lists resources I’ve used in my research. It will continue to grow. The organization is roughly alphabetic. Online resources are usually listed by their full title, but if the URL reads more quickly and is sufficiently descriptive, I use that instead. Books are alphabetized by title rather than by author.
www.Ancestor.co.za — The main database on this site is the “South African Death Records Index,” which appears to use data taken from the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa. However, the table format in which it presents search results enables one to identify possible spouses, children and children’s spouses, death dates and women’s maiden names without scrolling through pages of transcriptions. Clicking on a name takes you to a Sign In/Registration screen and from there to a screen for requesting the chosen record. Up-to-date pricing is shown in several currencies, e.g. US $7.07; confirmation is by e-mail. You are also contacted by e-mail when the digital image of the record is available by signing on to the site. The e-mail also gives you the option to request the associated probate record. The price for that multi-page document, regardless of the numbers of pages, is the same as that for the Death Notice alone. The service does not include records from the Cape Archives, which does not allow photography.
www.Ancestry24.com — This site, which billed itself as the “largest online archive of South African genealogy records,” ceased operation at the end of February 2013.
California Genealogical Society and Library — www.californiaancestors.org — “The California Genealogical Society, organized in San Francisco on February 12, 1898, is one of the premier genealogical resources in Northern California. The Library is rich in genealogy reference materials, both standard and unique, covering people and places in California and the rest of the country. The Society offers research services, online one-of-a-kind genealogical indexes and databases, and a research library housing over 38,000 reference materials from California, the United States, and around the world.” (Downloaded from CGS’s home page on 1 Jan 2013.) The society also offers a wide variety of presentations and classes, an annual all-day seminar, and several annual genealogy tours across the country.
Cambrian Index — http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=6197 — This important index is buried five levels down on the City and County of Swansea site, so bookmark it if you want to use it often. However, in fairness to Swansea, this site covers so many services that not all of them can appear at the top level. “The Cambrian Index database contains close to 400, 000 entries, the overwhelming majority of which have been extracted from The Cambrian,” the first newspaper to be published in Wales, starting in 1804. Be sure to read the explanatory material, which describes the data included in the index, how to conduct searches, and where to order copies of articles of interest. Kudos to the Swansea Central Library, which started the index, and the city and county government for having the foresight to make it available online.
Cayzer Family Online Archive — www.cayzer.com — This website “charts the history of the family firm, Cayzer, Irvine & Company Limited,” which was founded in 1878 and “grew to dominate international shipping, at its zenith boasting among its number such household names as Clan Line Steamers and the Union-Castle Line Company.” They are in the process of digitizing the archive and making as many documents as possible available online. In the meantime, quite a bit of information can be gleaned from browsing through the categories and sub-categories of the archive, many of which feature an image of a representative document. One of the most beautiful, best-designed sites I’ve seen.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission — www.cwgc.org — “The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ensures that 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten. We care for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations, in 150 countries.” Beautiful and well laid out.
A Dictionary of Practical Medicine, Volume 1 by James Copland, Longmans, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts, 1858, pp. 336-338. Available online from http://books.google.com/books?id=mxwpL3clg0UC&pg=PA336&dq=climacteric+decay&as_brr=3&output=html
www.eggsa.org — The virtual branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (eGSSA)/Genealogiese Genootskap van Suid-Afrika (eGGSA). The society promotes a number of projects aimed at expanding the availability of South African genealogical sources online. The energetic and committed members have transcribed thousands of records, ranging from the Dutch East India Company records in the Cape to baptism and marriage records, and photographed thousands of gravestones from across the country.
www.familysearch.org — Site sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the largest genealogy library in the world, containing some two-and-a-half million microfilms and several hundred thousand books from collections around the world. The microfilms as listed on the library’s online catalog are available for rental, but must be viewed at a FamilySearch Center (formerly known as Family History Centers); books in the catalog are available only at the FHL. An ongoing project is digitizing the records on microfilm and publishing them on the site; however, not all digitized databases have been indexed so finding a specific individual may require many hours of searching. In addition to data, there are many useful learning opportunities on the site, from wiki articles to step-by-step videos. It’s well worth spending the time to familiarize yourself with this site, which has been re-designed as part of the digitization project. Also, volunteers at the FamilySearch Centers (see list on the site) can show you how to use the site and give many more details than can possibly be listed here.
www.forvo.com — Pronunciation guide to 281 languages from Afar to Zazaki. Ask for a word or name, and another user will pronounce it for you. A real boon for trying to figure out how your foreign ancestor might have pronounced his name and thereby confused the the census enumerator into spelling it phonetically. For languages like French and German, even if the particular name isn’t there, you might be able to find its components and string them together.
General Register Office for England and Wales — www.gro.gov.uk — Holds a central copy of all registrations for England and Wales and provides online ordering of birth, marriage and death certificates. A three-year search for the index reference will be carried out, but the volume and page number of the registration can be found at the free indexes on Ancestry.com. In my experience, turnaround time is usually two weeks or less.
www.geni.com — “Geni is solving the problem of genealogy by inviting the world to build the definitive online family tree.Using the basic free service at Geni.com, users add and invite their close relatives to join their family tree. All Geni users can share an unlimited number of photos, videos, and documents with their families. Geni’s Pro subscription service allows users to find matching trees and merge those into the single world family tree, which currently contains over 60 million living users and their ancestors. Additional pay services include enhanced research tools and premium support. Geni welcomes casual genealogists and experts who wish to discover new relatives and stay in touch with family. Geni is privately held and based in Los Angeles, California. In November 2012, Geni was acquired by MyHeritage Ltd. and is now a MyHeritage company.” (Downloaded from Geni home page 1 Jan 2013.) This site appears to be more friendly than MyHeritage so let’s home the format doesn’t change. It allows one to send a message to the manager of a tree.
www.gjenvick.com — The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives “specializes in providing social and cultural history and historical context to aid in your research and enhance your family history.” It includes ephemera from, and articles about, transatlantic voyages from the 1800s through 1954 — everything from vintage brochures to covers of passenger lists provided as souvenirs to vintage clothing to passenger information. A wealth of period details.
http://huguenots-france.org/france/refuge/afrique_sud/embarques.htm — Site of an association known in English as Huguenots of France and comprised of historians and genealogists. It is one of several sites that have published the passenger lists of Huguenots who arrived at the Cape of Good Hope after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The sources used on this site are French publications.
Huguenot Memorial Museum — http://www.museum.co.za/ — Summary of the history of the French Huguenots in South Africa.
Huguenot Passenger List for the Berg China — http://sa-passenger-list.za.net/china.php — The MESNARD/MINNAAR family arrived on this ship in 1688. The sources used on this site are South African publications.
Imperial War Museums — http://www.iwm.org.uk/ — “Search around 800,000 items that tell the story of modern war and conflict, collected by the museum since 1917.…[The art] collection is one of the most important representations of twentieth century British art in the world. It includes many great works of art from the British government war art schemes of the First and Second World Wars, which employed the greatest artists of their day, including leaders of the avant garde. These included Paul Nash, C R W Nevinson, John Singer Sargent and Sir William Orpen.…The collection of almost 20,000 items includes paintings, prints and drawings, sculpture, and works in media such as photography, sound, and film.”
“Life at Sea with Union-Castle” — A memoir by Rodney Gascoyne about his service aboard Union-Castle liners in the 1960s. Especially recommended for those writing about relatives who might have sailed between Southampton and Cape Town during this period. http://rgascoyne.canadianwebs.com/LifeAtSea.htm
www.longlongtrail.co.uk — “The Long, Long Trail: The British Army in the Great War of 1914 – 1928” — The best site to start with when researching World War I. Chris Baker includes information on finding soldiers and interpreting their records, histories of army units and orders of battle, campaign histories, trench maps, and battlefield guides, and much, much more. Well designed and easy to use.
www.MyHeritage.com — “MyHeritage.com was founded by a team of people with a passion for genealogy and a strong grasp of Internet technology. Our vision has been to
make it easier for people around the world to use the power of the Internet to discover their heritage and strengthen their bonds with family and friends.” (Downloaded from the site’s Overview page on 1 Jan 2013.) I have only started using this site and may not have an adequate grasp of Internet technology to find my way around. Hence, the following difficulties: A site manager is listed for one of the MINNAAR trees, but there seems to be no way to contact this person via the site to exchange information. In addition, I cannot find my way back to the specific tree I first viewed and printed. Another family invited me to join their tree so that page displays every time I sign in; if I could get in touch with the desired site manager, I’d prefer his tree as my “home.” Annoying messages keep telling me that I’ve nearly used up my free space, even though I only entered basics of myself in order to be able to use the site.
NAAIRS — http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs_content.htm — National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System. NAAIRS is a finding aid to the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa. For detailed information, go to http://ancestry24.com/learning-centre/national-archives/
Pallot’s Marriage Index for England: 1780 – 1837 – Found on www.Ancestry.com, which gives the following description: “Pallot’s Index … covers all but two of the 103 parishes in the old City of London. … but also includes entries from 2500 parishes in 38 counties outside of London – many not available in other sources. Also included are several records from counties in Wales. With indexing begun in 1813, several of the registers transcribed in Pallot’s index no longer exist, having been destroyed or lost in the time since. The index slips were handwritten on paper, and indexing continued regularly over a period of more than 150 years. …” Other details are provided on the Ancestry site.
St. Mary’s Anglican Church (Potchefstroom) Baptisms 1892 through 1924 — Thirty-five files of transcriptions uploaded by Gary Cannon. The transcriptions are in chronological order, presumably as they are found in the church records; use the Find utility on your computer to locate specific names. The first 30 files include both the birth and baptism dates; the last five files cover the years 1911 – 1924 and do not include date information, which can be obtained by contacting Gary. By leaving off the ten digits at the end of the address, you will see a list of other topics of interest to those researching South African ancestors. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/SOUTH-AFRICA/2009-09/1252906452
www.simplonpc.co.uk — “The Passenger Ship Website” describes itself as “a reference archive of image galleries, showing postcards and photographs of ocean liners, cruise ships, ferries and excursion vessels.” At last count, there were 61 galleries of ocean liner postcards and photos alone.
South Africa War Graves Project — www.southafricawargraves.org — The goal of the project is to “archive photographs of every single South African war grave from the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, WW1, WW2, Korea, Rand Revolt, Freedom Struggle, Angola-Border War to present day.… Hopefully by archiving these photos we will be able to close a missing chapter in many people’s lives by supplying them a photo of the last resting place of a loved one.” Photographs currently do not appear on the site, but if they exist are quickly forwarded upon request. A unique and invaluable resource.
www.tanap.net — TANAP is an acronym for Towards A New Age of Partnership in Dutch East India [VOC] Archives and Research. Two of its objectives are to preserve the VOC archives and improve accessibility to them. There are two searchable online databases for the Cape of Good Hope: 1) Resolutions of the Council of Policy – The Council of Policy was the highest authority of the VOC at the Cape of Good Hope. The Council discussed all problems that arose and took decisions on governing the settlement. The minutes, which include reports and decisions taken, are called the Resolutions of the Council of Policy. The transcriptions of these documents are available on the site, and 2) Inventories from the Orphan Chamber – The establishment of the Orphan Chamber at the Cape of Good Hope arose out of the need to provide for the collection and administration of the property of persons who died intestate and left heirs who were absent from the Colony or who were under age.
Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand — http://www.teara.govt.nz/en — “Te ara” means “the pathway” in Māori. A well-designed, exciting site not only for researching New Zealand, its history and people, but also for locating good descriptions and photographs of events in other parts of what was once the British Empire.
www.WorldCat.org — This is an online catalog of all books in participating libraries worldwide. Other than Ancestry.com, there’s no site I use more often. Enter your zip code and search results will be listed by distance, starting with the closest repository. Participation is too expensive for many genealogical repositories and smaller librairies, so you’ll still have to go directly to their catalogs. University libraries are well represented, which is where you’ll find many old, out-of-print books that can be borrowed via inter-library loan.
Books & Other Resources
The Diary of Erasmus Smit edited by H. F. Schoon and translated by W. G. A. Mears. 1972: C. Struik (Pty.) Ltd., Cape Town. According to the English translator’s introduction, “The only contemporary account of the daily life of a party of frontiersmen emigrating from the Cape Colony and invading the territory north of the Orange river is contained in Uit het Dagboek van Erasmus Smit published in 1897 by the Rev. H. F. Schoon.” The original is in Dutch. Not readable as history, but valuable if one is looking for specific persons.
A Dictionary of Practical Medicine, Volume 1 by James Copland, M.D., F.R.S. 1858: Longmans, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts, London. Available online from books.google.com; search on the term “climacteric decay.” Note that other editions of this book are also available.
The French Refugees at the Cape (3rd edition) by C. Graham Botha. 1970: C. Struik (Pty.) Ltd., Cape Town. An indispensable guide to Huguenots in South Africa.
Genealogieë van die Afrikaner Families in Natal by Dr. Ben Cilliers. 1985: Teeanem, Pietermaritzburg, Natal. Includes vital information up to 1910. Each piece of information has a source citation, albeit without page numbers or other specific data, making it easier for the researcher to locate the source for further analysis.
Geslagsregisters van die ou Kaapse Families (Genealogies of Old Cape Families) by Christoffel Coetzee de Villiers. Later revised by Dr. Cornelis Pama. 1966: A. A. Balkema, Cape Town.
The Huguenots of South Africa 1688 – 1988 (1st edition) by Pieter Coertzen. Contributing author Charles Fensham; English translation by Peter Grobbelaar. 1988: Tafelberg Publishers Limited, Cape Town.
Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present (2nd edition) by Eugene W. Smith. 1978: George H. Dean Company, Boston, Massachusetts. Lists ships in alphabetical order by geographical area and gives basic details for each.
Pyramids and Poppies: The 1st SA Infantry Brigade in Libya, France and Flanders 1915 – 1919 by Peter K. A. Digby. 1993: Ashanti Publishing (Pty) Ltd., Rivonia, South Africa. This book includes not only descriptions of battles, but also excerpts from officers’ reports and soldiers’ letters, photographs, and background material, all of which helps the reader to understand the experience of the war as well as its timeline.
Voortrekkerstamouers: 1835 – 1845 by J. C. Visagie. 2011: Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria, South Africa. This book appears to be the most inclusive list so far published of Voortrekkers, listing them in alphabetical order by surname, along with their wives, information about where they came from, the year and leader of the group they trekked with, and where they settled. The original edition was published in 2000, but if at all possible, use the latest edition.