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               March, 2012

      Charles Hansen, Editor
      Susan Petersen, Guest Contributor
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  Getting Connected with Internet Resources
  — by Susan Petersen

Family history research has gone through some remarkable changes over the past 20 years. More and more people are searching for their ancestors on the internet. And more and more people are making their own research available online.

One of the first places to begin your online ancestor search is Family Search Organization. This is a free site operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church has been collecting family history information for decades and making it available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, much of the information is available online. The Church continues to add digital images to its collection.

When visiting this site, you can begin with a simple search on your ancestor's name. You may find census records, marriage records, baptism records and death records. What you discover all depends upon where your ancestor lived and died. This is because different locations provide access to different types of records. also offers a variety of free online courses to help you get started with your family history research.

Another valuable free online site is provided by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Military service records on your ancestor can be ordered from this site. NARA provides databases that index more than 50 million records, so it is very likely you will find information on your ancestor on this web site.

Using a search engine such as may also produce information on your ancestor. Perhaps another researcher has already published information on one of your family lines. If it s on the internet, you will probably find it with a Google search. Google books ( offers millions of out of print books, including many early county history books from the 1800s. These books often include biographical information about people who lived in that county. No family history research is complete without reading the history of the county where your ancestors lived.

If you don t have a computer in your home, you can make use of these tools by visiting your local public library. Many libraries also offer in-library use of some of the subscription web sites such as Even if you are on a fixed income, it s still possible to do a lot of family history research with the free resources available on the internet.

Statistics show that senior citizens are flocking to social networking web sites such as Facebook. These sites are being used by family history researchers to locate living family members, sharing old family photographs and as a tool to plan family reunions.

Are you new to computers or the internet? Ask one of your grandchildren to help you get started. You never know  they might get interested in learning more about their family history in the process!

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