If you have old letters, diaries, and family papers that have been stored for years but not transcribed, Historic Journals from RootsTech might be the site for you. And even if you aren’t the one who inherited the family papers, maybe the one who did has shared it online and you’ll find it here.
Historic Journals is an online family history website with both free and fee offerings for finding and sharing your ancestor’s journals, wills, letters, photos, and more. Historic Journals pulls data from the free family tree site, FamilySearch.org. You can upload documents and allow others the privilege of helping transcribe them. “The privilege” haha. We all know there’s a reason they’ve been sitting in boxes for years. It’s work. It takes time. And it can be tedious. The problem is, yours might be the last generation that will be able to read them and these documents often contain important leads and clarify relationships and once they’re lost, those helps are gone.
When you upload an image and give rights to others to transcribe the document, you or anyone you’ve given rights to, can choose to add a transcription (there are options to zoom in and out), edit the transcription, etc. You can also tag individuals named in that document and once they’ve been tagged, if you’ve chosen to make the document public, they’ll go into a database where Historic Journals will allow other descendants to view the document and transcription.
Historic Journals has a “How am I related?” feature that detects any tagged person in a document who is your direct ancestor using the free trees on FamilySearch.org. Historic Journals will highlight your ancestor’s name and prompt you with “How am I related?” and if you select this question it will pull up the inserted fan chart with your descendancy from the tagged individual. So in my case, Joseph Pomeroy Cass-Hannah Cass-Polly Lamb Wells-Eudora Adelia Stone-Martha Eudora Randall-Randall Webber Tayler-me
This is a screenshot of the library on Historic Journals where I can see:
- what I’ve contributed
- what others have contributed and shared that pertains to my ancestors
- what others have tagged my ancestors in
- other public items
In each of these groups I’m given the “How am I related?” prompt with a descendancy chart if my direct ancestor is tagged.
My husband thinks my fan chart is embarrassing because I haven’t completed all my 6th generations, but if you can overlook my struggles, here’s a view of Historic Journals feature where they give you an expandable fan chart for your ancestors. You can search the fan chart for some common genealogy problems:
- birth after child’s birth
- birth after death
- birth after marriage
- marriage after death
Historic Journals highlights these potential problems in orange. Yikes! I have a marriage recorded after the person died, so I’ll have to check into that one.
Historic Journals also has a pioneer feature and if you have ancestors who were Mormon pioneers they’ll all be listed on this page, with “How am I related?” prompts.
They also have a Mormon Migration feature where they’ll list any ancestors who are part of the Mormon Migration database (1840 and 1932).
Even if you don’t need to transcribe and share letters and documents, if you have a free tree on FamilySearch.org, you’ll want to check out Historic Journals for free features to see if anyone’s shared documents that might help you with your family history research.