www.rootsweb.com Roots web
www.familysearch.org Latter Day Saints Genealogy site.
www.gencircles.com GEDCOM sharing site.
www.mytrees.com Subscription site but there are ways you can work for research time without cash.
www.worldgenweb.org From here you can find the internet address of any county that participates in the GenWeb project.
www.ancestry.com Yes this is a subscription service but if you use their search engine it will let you look at a GEDCOM sharing database and the Social Security Death index (USA) for free. They also offer a free family tree software which I have used for over a year now without complaint.
GEDCOMS are ** always ** considered **secondary sources**. This means that the possibility for error is quite high. Use the information in these as starting points for further research until you find ** primary sources **. Primary sources are things like Census, Birth Certificates, Marriage Licences and Marriage certificates, Death certificates, Christening or Baptismal certificates or records. Maybe obits and maybe cemetery marker. While all these have a much higher rate of being more accurate then secondary, don't even consider them as "Sealed in cement". Mistakes can still occur and sometimes the people who filed out the records had wrong information, no information, or out and out lied about information to cover up a scandal. (Say it isn't so!)
If while you are going through GEDCOMS you find things that are incorrect about your family in somebody else's GEDCOM please let them know, but do so gently. The fastest way to get ignored by someone who has posted his/her GEDCOM is to send a letter similar to this one:
"My great great grandaunt Sue Mae was never married! How dare you put something on the internet about my family without first checking the resources?"
The reason the info was incorrect was because like me the person who had the wrong information keeps an expanded family tree. When he finds a GEDCOM which contains a family member he downloads the full GEDCOM and merges it with his own and edits out the duplicates. The GEDCOM can grow to 35,000 to 50,000+ individuals. Would you like to verify all that data? So just let them know great great grandaunt Sue Mae is in my family and was never married.
Sign up for e-mail Lists, you can find them for surnames, or for locations. **Very important** After signing up like you did for this list, take a few days and read the messages that they send. It will not take long to get a feel for the List's social norms. You will find that some are very helpful people. You will find some, who love to torture newbes to the list. You will find out what the list as a whole will tolerate and will not tolerate. Then carefully post a hello message like the one you posted to this list. Be aware however that there are some lists out there that are just plain old clicks which do not tolerate new members, un subscribe from them quickly, or you will lose sight of you genealogy goals and just get into one flaming match after another. Lists are a fantastic tool. Through lists I have located immediate ancestors and even living relatives that I did not know about. If you don't have research sources to be able to help others since the group has helped you, perhaps there are other talents and resources that you do have that you can offer help. For example quite often I see something like Non-Gen need computer help. Now I'm pretty handy with a computer so I try to help out with these types of messages. Hope some of this helps, and above all have fun!
For a Free copy of genealogy software from Ancesrty.com Click here. If you have any questions please e mail me and I will try to help. I'm no expert but I have been using the program for a year and know my way around the program.
[I have been asked before why I didn't post certain other free genealogy programs here. The answer is simple. I don't use them, therefore I have no basis to recommend them. ]
When asking for research help here's things that will help a researcher know he has the right person:
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
Date of Death
Place of Death
Funeral date and Cemetery of Interment
Spouse (Maiden Name)
Place of Wedding
Spouse's Date and Place of Birth
Spouse's Date and Place of Death
Spouse's Funeral date and Cemetery of Interment
Names of children
Data like above
Name of Father
Data like above
Maiden Name of Mother
Data like above
The more of this information that you have and can provide the easier it will be to find them and insure that the person you are researching are the right ones. When listing places if you know it the Name of County is crucial because all census are done by county.
Speaking of Census here are a few sources for **Free Census ** if you find this helpful please sign up to be a volunteer transcriber. The more people transcribing the faster we will have all of the US Census available free and not have to pay subscriptions!
US GenWeb had a census project in which volunteers (Like myself) transcribe census images into text files which are posted on the web for free viewing. This project is **far** from complete, but it's worth a look. Keep coming back to it because it is updated every week. The national project manager was the only one preparing the files for uploading and she had some family emergencies last year and a back log got created. Now there are other people assisting her and the backlog is starting to get cleared up. One other link:
This is also part of the US GenWeb project and is where volunteers look to see what counties are available for transcription. If you choose a state and a year (census are taken in the US every 10 years in the year ending with a 0, Canada and UK is every 10 years ending in 1) it will show you a chart of counties. Look in the "links" column. Some of the companies which sell census CDs donate low resolution images of census. If there are some for the county and year that you are looking for there will be a link in that column. These images can be downloaded to your hard drive by right clicking on the link and clicking on "Save Picture As..." in the pop-up menu.
SEARCH ENGINE TIPS
by Mike Jarvis
First - The use of quotation marks. When using a combination of words in the search box, the search engine results will include every web page where these words occur anywhere on that page regardless of whether these words are immediately next to each other. Using the search term of [family history ] will result in 109,000,000 hits while ["family history"] within quotations will result in 5,400,000 hits. This is because in the second instance it is only finding pages were the words are actually next to or immediately touching each other. Try this with a family name. For example my grandmother is named Flora MacDonald. If I search [Flora McDonald ] in Google it returns 251,000 hits. Putting ["Flora MacDonald"] in quotations results in 29,600 hits. This is far too many hits and primarily relate to a prominent woman in Scottish and American history. This is not my grandmother. However, knowing that my grandmothers middle name was Hermosa, it makes sense to put ["Flora Hermosa MacDonald"] in the search box and I get two hits related specifically to my grandmother. Success!
Second - The use of the minus sign. This is my second favorite search tip. Using any combination of words in a search box with the minus sign directly next to a word that you DO NOT want to find is also helpful. Using the search term ["Flora MacDonald" -Scotland -Scottish -"North Carolina" -NC ] will eliminate any pages from my search that includes the words next to the minus sign. So I will get only those pages that have my grandmother's name and do not have Scotland or North Carolina on the site. This effectively reduces the number of sites by more than half, from 29,600 to 12,800 hits. usng quotation marks and the minus sign in combination greatly improves your search results.
Third - The use of the plus sign. The plus sign has the effect of instructing the search engine to give special emphasis to any word where the plus sign is against it. My grandmother's father was Alexander MacDonald. However, not the Alexander MacDonald who was prime minister of Canada. Using the search term [Flora MacDonald -Scotland -Scottish -"North Carolina" -NC +"Alexander MacDonald" -Canada ] gives me 1 hit that directs me to a site about my grandmother. Here we have combined quotation marks with the minus sign and the plus sign.
Fourth - The site search. Let's say that I would like to find Alexander MacDonald, however, I only want to search a particular domain. I would simply use the search phrase ["Alexander MacDonald" site:rootsweb.com ]. Rather than thousands of hits I get 204. Similarly, you could put a minus sign in front of rootsweb.com so that it searches all domains except Rootsweb.
Fifth - The intitle search term. Suppose that you would like to find every site on the Web with the word genealogy in the title. The search box would need the term [intitle:genealogy ], which would result in 943,000 hits. Similarly, use the term [intitle:genealogy -site:ancestry.com ] and you eliminate 3000 sites related to ancestry.com. One more: try using the term [intitle:genealogy -site:com ] which will have the effect of eliminating all domains with the.com extension (commercial sites).
Sixth - The related search term: If you like to know which sites are similar to your own then use the term as follows: [related:USGenWeb.org]. Results will vary with Google providing 31 similar sites and Yahoo serving up 35,000 elated sites.
Nearly all of these terms will work in most search engines. If you'd rather not type in the shorthand for many of these tips, the search engines will typically have an advanced search page which will do essentially the same thing. Try: Google Advanced Search Good hunting!
I think there are several things that people need to think about before paying money and in starting their research.
1. You need to start with yourself and work backwards. Starting with someone who you believe is your ancestor may turn out to be someone else's.
2. When finding info on the web you need to find out what the source is. Most info will only be clues but will have no standard of proof. Thanks to some great folks though more and more actual documents are making their way online.
3. What genealogical societies can you join? Most societies are fairly inexpensive to join and have access to certain databases online from home. For instance, the Ohio Genealogical Society allows members to access their database and Heritage Quest from home. You just have to have your member number.
4. Have you checked out U. S. Genweb? This is a state database that are run by state first, then by county. Some counties have alot of info on them from transcribing from books in the county library. Others only have links. The site is only as good as the volunteers that help in that county. They also have a list of people who are willing to look things up in the books that they own.
5. Have you searched the websites for local genealogical and historical societies? They can also hold a ton of facutal info. The Library of Congress is also in the process of scanning all their books and putting them online. With new info being added daily. This is the case with many locations. Some states even have birth, death, and marriage records online already.
6. Are you someone who has time to go to the local library? Most local libraries have access to ancestry.com from their computers. Some have access to other databases from home using your library card to access the data.
7. If you are someone who money is not a factor, then sure go ahead and get a subscription. If you, on the other hand, are concerned about the money spent, then I would suggest going to your local LDS library which has complete access or to your local library/genealogical library to try out the different sites and see if they would have enough data on your ancestors to make it worthwhile. Some people will find lots of info on their family and some will not.
Just remember that there are alot of free sites that do offer valuable info. You just have to look for them. Some are listed at Cyndis List Others can be found from U. S. Genweb or from their local/state genealogical website. Googling or Yahooing also helps alot.