50 Family History Websites to Watch 2019: Part 1 (A – D)

By Guest, 3 January 2019 - 10:07am

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Welcome to Part 1 of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine's 50 Websites to Watch feature for 2019.

This page contains details of the first 11 resources on our list, covering websites beginning with letters A–D.

The remaining websites will be revealed over the course of January as four separate articles, available to access from the 50 Websites to Watch homepage.

If you can't wait to start bookmarking, the full list also appears in our January 2019 issue, on sale now!


2nd Air Division Memorial Library

East Anglia became home to tens of thousands of US service personnel during the Second World War.

This collection of more than 30,000 images, photos, letters and memoirs documents the wartime experiences of personnel in Norfolk and was digitised through a donation from the legacy of Bernard Newmark, a veteran of the 458th Bomb Group.

Staff at Norfolk Record Office (where the archive is held) are about to start adding new content.

Ancestor Homes

This specialist commercial website launched in the summer of 2017 with somewhere in the region of 5,000 records – a fraction of a larger archive of paperwork generated by its owner, the Swansea-based Compton Group, over its 30 years of property development.

While material is being scanned and then indexed, the focus for 2019 will be developing software that can help speed up the transcription of handwritten velum deeds.

You can search the current crop for free, while a pay-per-view system is in place to see more.


The genealogical website promises a host of new features and updates to its DNA arm in 2019. This includes new regions for UK and Ireland designed to give more detail to people’s ethnicity results, plus improved cousin-matching.

The tail end of 2018 saw British Alien Internees, Wales Ecclesiastical Wills, and Western Front Association pension cards and wounded ledgers, which will be bolstered by an ‘other ranks’ tranche in February.

Other expansions and updates include Holocaust records and probate material in January; Liverpool cemetery/cremation records; Norfolk Bishops’ Transcripts; a two million-plus index to Staffordshire births, marriages and deaths; 3.7 million Essex parish records going live in March (linking to images on the council website); and in April watch out for divorces up to 1918, Bristol nonconformist registers/Bishops’ Transcripts, and Pembrokeshire electoral registers. Poor Law records for North Lanarkshire are due around springtime.

In addition, police and criminal registers from the West Midlands Police Museum collection (including photos of offenders) are due in March/April. The index will be free to search, and the collection dates from the 1860s through to the 1940s.

No. 149 Squadron RAF at Mildenhall, Suffolk, 1939
No. 149 Squadron RAF at Mildenhall, Suffolk, 1939 (Credit: Getty Images)

Bomber Command Digital Archive

This is a wonderful tool for anyone researching members of Bomber Command. All of the collections in the centre’s digital archive are described at item level, with both oral histories and written documents being transcribed, meaning names, dates and places are fully searchable.

Curator Dr Dan Ellin explains, “This is a living archive – more collections are digitised daily, and we are publishing about 200 new items a week. Our volunteers are currently transcribing pages from an operations order book, too, which contains the names of hundreds of airmen who served with 44 Squadron.

Collections that will be published in 2019 include James Douglas Hudson’s letters and prisoner of war newsletters, and Hedley Robert Madgett’s letters and diaries written during his pilot training in Canada and on his tour of operations.”

British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia

BACSA is redeveloping its website to make the most of its growing database of burial records. Visitors will be able to search photographs, burial records and cemetery condition reports.

BACSA is also awaiting some 3,000 photographs of the important Hosur Road Cemetery in Bangalore that will be uploaded to the database.

British Newspaper Archive

BNA plans to bolster its speciality titles, add more newspapers and pages from the Trinity Mirror archives, and forge “partnerships that will allow us to add an even greater variety of content”.

British Red Cross

British Red Cross Museum and Archives has already published a searchable database of its records of First World War Voluntary Aid Detachments (vad.redcross.org.uk).

This was joined in the autumn by a database of about 30,000 items held here, including letters, posters, photographs and films.

The organisation also has a three-year Heritage Lottery Fund grant to audit collections, which will enable it to improve its databases further.

Deceased Online screenshot
New additions to Deceased Online in 2019 will include burial and cremation records from Surrey, Manchester and the Midlands

Deceased Online

This ever-growing database of statutory burial and cremation registers has some exciting additions planned for 2019, including Brookwood in Surrey – the ‘London Necropolis’ is the largest cemetery in the UK.

There will also be a million more burial and cremation records from South London, 750,000 from the Manchester area and 1.5 million from the Midlands.

Dictionary of Welsh Biography

This fresh-faced youngster from the National Library of Wales stable officially launched in November with almost 5,000 biographies of significant Welshmen and women.

The dictionary was first published in print in 2004, and this new online version is edited by Prof Dafydd Johnston of the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University of Wales.

He says: “The Dictionary of Welsh Biography is a great resource for teachers, local and family historians, and anyone interested in our history.”

He adds that we can expect daily updates to the new website throughout 2019.

Dublin Port Archive

This free resource launched in the autumn, giving access to various employee registers and other material dating back to the early 18th century.

The parent collection includes documents, charts, photographs, registers and engineering drawings.

At present you can explore various examples, and there’s a searchable database of records from the Dublin Port ‘Name Book’ containing employees from 1906 to 1914.

Durham's Hidden Depths

The records of the Durham Miners' Association have been catalogued and the data is about to launch with an index of more than 220,000 entries.

There are also 44,077 photographs to view online, some National Coal Board colliery images in the wings, topographical images from the county libraries, and the Durham Light Infantry archives.


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