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The coastal county of Dorset may seem calm and tranquil now, but dive below the surface and you'll discover a past as stormy as the seas beside which it sits. Using our brand new Dorset records, you can trace your ancestors' lives in the region through everything from pirate raids to D-Day departures.
Dorset parish registers, 1813-2001 is the latest in our series of new parish collections from around the country. It includes over 1 million records of baptisms, marriages, burials and confirmations, stretching all the way back to the days of smuggling scandals and rural riots.
These comprehensive records of your family's births, marriages and deaths let you build a timeline of your family's key events over the centuries. As you work back through the generations, see how you can connect your family to celebrated Dorset events. Perhaps your forebears witnessed the last public hanging, or took part in protests against modern machines or arrived by steam train during the Industrial Revolution?
Once you've found an ancestor's burial record – or even if you just have a vague idea of when they died – you can follow it up by looking for their probate records in Dorset Wills and Probate, 1565-1858. A will outlines how someone's possessions were distributed, providing fantastic clues about family relationships, while inventories reveal personal artefacts and interests. Our new collection includes over 27,000 records proved across four centuries.
Dorset farm labourers like the Tolpuddle Martyrs sowed the seeds of the trade union movement. Past generations might equally have been costal smugglers, harbour porters or fossil hunters along the county's famous Jurassic Coast. No matter how your family tree is interwoven with Dorset's history, fascinating secrets are just waiting to be unearthed.
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The time has come for you to bring your research another ten years up-to-date and start filling in gaps in your family tree. We've completed the first stage of our England & Wales 1911 Census release, so all our members can browse the scanned record images right now. They're not fully searchable yet, but there are other ways for you to track down your family's details.
If you've already traced your family as far as 1901, the 1911 Census will let you uncover changes over another decade and look for any new arrivals. More than that though, these 35 million records include crucial details not provided in earlier censuses.
You can discover how long couples had been married, which may help you locate a marriage record. Plus, you can find out how many children had been born to that marriage, whether the babies survived or not – this can help to explain mysterious birth certificates.
This is also the first census where we can provide you with scans of the original householder forms, rather than enumerators' records. So, you can read your ancestors' entries in their own handwriting, and even look for extra notes they may have made – one suffragette commented: "Until women are recognised by the Government as citizens, I refuse to do a citizen's duty."
We've already started transcribing the records to make them fully searchable like our other censuses. You may also find that a very small number of record images are missing – these will be added shortly. We'll give you further release dates as soon as we know them.
In the meantime, you can track down your ancestors by browsing the scanned records. All you need is an idea of where they lived, which you can discover using either the 1911 Summary Books or the 1901 Census. Find out how.
The 1911 Census is available to all our full members. Start browsing the 1911 Census.
The USA's military history is indelibly linked to our own – from standing alongside them in modern warfare back to fighting on opposing sides in the War of Independence. Find out if you have even closer ties to the Land of the Free with millions of new military records on our site.
Undoubtedly our largest new collection is WWII U.S. Navy Muster Rolls, 1939–1949 . With over 27 million records taken from both muster rolls and reports of charges, this is a comprehensive roll call of American sailors during and just after World War II. If your relative was involved in the sea battles that followed Pearl Harbour, you'll almost certainly find them here.
Continuing the naval theme, we've also added U.S. Navy Cruise Books Index, 1918–2009. Cruise books are like yearbooks put together by volunteers for the ship's crew. Find a forebear among almost 5 million records, and you'll discover a host of personal details, plus maybe even candid photographs of their life at sea.
Despite all the American sacrifices in conflicts throughout the years, one of the saddest facts of US history is that the country's Civil War, from 1861 to 1865, killed more of its citizens than any other war before or since. If your relatives were involved on either side, see if you can uncover their fate with millions of new records.
3 million service records from both the Union and Confederate forces can provide your ancestors' ranks, dates of enrolment and discharge, physical descriptions and more. Meanwhile, draft registration documents show the first steps of soldiers from 27 different states.
You can also search burial records to find out where your forbears lie, and consult thousands of other documents from this historic war, during which slavery ended and the modernising North prevailed over the traditional, rural South. See all our Civil War collections.
One of the great things about looking into your family history is the sheer number of records that are out there – from the largest national census to a single document of your ancestor's occupation. We're constantly finding new records that we want to make available to everyone online as quickly as possible. But with so much to share, how do we get through it all? That's where we need your help!
The Ancestry World Archives Project lets you get involved in preserving crucial family history records and making them available to search online. It's easy to get started – you just register, download our special software, and you're ready to go.
You can choose from dozens of fascinating historical collections to work on – from English employment records to Australian convict lists. We'll send you scanned images of records from your selected collection. You then key the information from the record into the software – creating the searchable database for everyone to use.
As a Project contributor, you get to see these intriguing records before anyone else. Plus, you receive completely free access to all the records in any collections you work on. We also offer special rewards for our most active volunteers – including money off your Ancestry.co.uk membership for our top contributors.
Besides the personal benefits, you're helping to bring to light millions of vital records that might otherwise never appear online. The searchable databases our contributors create are made available to everyone free of charge, so the entire family history community can benefit from your work.
Become a World Archives Project contributor now, and you can help with a particularly important and rewarding group of records.
Working with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, we're building the largest free online library of information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II. Your efforts can help families discover what happened to their loved ones and restore the identities of people the Nazis tried to erase from history. Find out more.
Join the Ancestry World Archives Project.
Welcome to our Ask the experts section. This is where we answer your questions on all things genealogical, so if you have any pressing queries, send us your questions now*.
Thank you for all your questions so far. If your question doesn't appear here, you can email our Member Services team at firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll help you with your research.
This month's questions are answered by professional genealogist Chris Paton and military historian Paul Reed.
Chris Paton is a professional genealogist with expert knowledge of records from all over the UK. Paul Reed is a leading military historian who specialises in the British Armed Forces during World Wars I and II.
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