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Family Roots and Branches


Welcome to the Family Roots and Branches Genealogy Cafe. Here you will find a variety of genealogy tools, links to useful websites and more to aid you in organizing and finding more genealogy. This site is dedicated to the students who attend my genealogy classes at Tri-County Community College in Peachtree, North Carolina, and contains supplemental information on topics we cover in our classes. It is also a repository for information presented in my syndicated genealogy newspaper column - Finding Your Roots - Bringing Families Together. And most important, MOST of the information presented here cost you nothing, or to put it another way, my favorite word in genealogy classes is FREE!

We thank you for visiting with us and hope you find our website useful in your family history research.

Larry Van Horn and Gayle Hennington-Van Horn


"Genealogy: Tracing yourself back to people better than you are." —John Garland Pollard

Genealogy Charts and Forms

Genealogy charts and forms are some of the most important and basic tools we have in researching our family history. The proper selection of these tools sets the tone for all the research work we will do from the beginning of our ancestorial travels. There are probably about as many forms out there on the internet as there are websites, but we have but we have put links to the best of the best here in the Cafe.

Basic Charts


Census Transcription Forms


Miscellaneous Genealogy Research Aids

In this section of the Family Roots and Branches website you will find miscellaneous useful genealogy references to aid you in your family history research. We will continue to add material as time permits.

  • Blank Form Letters French and German fill-in-the-blank forms for writing to research institutions or a family member in other countries.

  • Census Occupations Older occupations found in censuses on the UK website.

  • Colonial Occupations Here you can learn about some of the more obscure occupations our ancestors did during the colonial period, from an Acater to a Yeoman.

  • Genealogy Knowledgebase Need to know what FHC stands for? Or what GEDcom file is? Just type in the word you are looking for into the seacrh template at this website and the Genealogy Knowledgebase search tool do the work for you.

  • Genealogy Numbering Systems A 1995 internet summary written by Richard A. Pence on the most common genealogical numbering systems in use today.

  • Google Simply the finest search on the internet today and the most useful for genealogy related searches.

  • Google Earth Speaking of Google, another service from the company who provides the great search engine is Google Earth, which provides you satellite images of almost the entire planet based on your input. Resolutions vary greatly, but this resource as a great genealogy trip planner, cemetery locator, and all around genealogy mapping tool. To use this website you will have to download a free program.

  • Google Images And here is another unique Google service. If you are looking for family photos, try dropping a surname in at Google Images. You may be surprised at what you will find.

  • Inflation Calculator You have just looked up your 2nd great grandparents on the 1870 census and saw they were worth $10,000. Want to know what that is worth in today's money? The inflation calculator is the place to go. Oh yea, they would be worth $138,624.74 in 2005 money.

  • Land Record Reference Some of the most underutilized resources in genealogy are land records. The publishers of DeedMapper software have put up an excellent, free website with helpful information about American land records (and some British land ownership history as well).

  • Military Records Military records are an important resource for people who are seeking ancestors who served their country. On this page you will find a links to the best online resources for locating and researching military records and our exclusive United States Military Campaigns, Conflicts, Expeditions, and Wars chart.

  • N. W. Ayer & Son's American Newspaper Annual Newspapers are a wonderful source of family information. But the first problem to solve is, "what newspaper was published in the area were my family lived." Locate that then you can proceed to step two, look for microfilm. Now we have uncovered a solution to step one at the Library of Congress. They have in pdf format the Ayers newspaper directories for the following years: 1869, 1872, 1874-5, 1877, 1880-1886, 1888-1890, 1893-1894, 1897-1897, 1900-1913, 1916, and 1919.

  • Online Conversions Genealogists run across all sorts of odd and unfamiliar measurements while researching family. If you have that problem and need to convert it into something more familiar, give this reference website a try. Some of the many conversion categories include: Length, weight, currency, volume, area, energy, pressure and temperature.

  • Refdesk.com The single best source for facts on the internet. Links and search engines to a wide variety of things that genealogist can use.

  • What is a cousin, twice removed? I get asked by my genealogy students about how to determine relationships. Here is a webpage at Genealogy.com I have found where you can learn how to figure out the relationships between family members using a simple chart.

  • What to do when the Courthouse has burned!
    Here are some alternative sources to look for if the courthouse has burned and you are out of marshmellows.

  • Where to Write for Vital Records The latest listing from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics on where to obtain Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death records in each state.


    Links We Like and Use Often in Research

  • Ancestry.com It might be a subscription website, but it is a great place to get more genealogy done in a day than we use to do in several months.

  • BLM Official Federal Land Records Site Here you will find image access to more than two million Federal land title records for Eastern Public Land States, issued between 1820 and 1908. Images of Serial patents (land titles issued between 1908 and the mid-1960's) have been added to this web site. Images related to survey plats, dating back to 1810, are added to the site state-by-state as each state's documents are completed. Due to organization of documents in the GLO collection, this site does not currently contain every Federal title record issued for the Public Land States.

  • Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet Just about every genealogist on the planet knows about Cyndi's List. With over 261,100 links in 180+ categories as of July 2006, there is a lot to explore. This is a genealogy catalog to the internet resources. You won't do research here, but you find websites that will help your research progress.

  • Dead Fred The Genealogy Photo Archive that has over 62,000 photos from over 13,000 surnames. I have found my share of family on this website.

  • Family History Archive Access to a repository of histories created by families to record and celebrate the lives of their ancestors. This collection grows every month. At last count it had over 5,000 family histories. We have been told there will be over 200,000 when it is complete. Search here for your family history.

  • FamilySearch.org FamilySearch.org is the largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world. The FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service (www.FamilySearch.org) is a World Wide Web service sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help people find and share family history information.

  • Find A Grave Search here for over 11 million grave records. The best place on the net to find your relatives final resting place.

  • Linkpendium Linkpendium is being developed by Karen Isaacson and Brian Leverich, founders of the extremely popular RootsWeb genealogical community site. At the time of its merger with Ancestry in June 2000, RootsWeb had about 600,000 registered users, was serving about 100,000,000 Web page views monthly, and was delivering about 160,000,000 pieces of email monthly to the subscribers of its 18,000 mailing lists. The company had more than 40 employees and operated its own 7,000 square foot network operations center in Bakersfield, CA. Linkpendium is the definitive genealogy directory. Over 525,000 locality links and almost 4.5 million surname links. That is over 5 million genealogy links If you have a locality or surname you are looking for on the internet, you should start here.

  • Rootsweb.com The oldest and largest free genealogy website on the internet.

  • SSDI - The largest death index in the United States is the Social Security Death Index, 77.7 million people. You can search the SSDI for free at two different internet websites: SSDI Rootsweb.com and SSDI FamilySearch.org And keep this in mind. If someone is missing from the list, it may be that the benefit was never requested, an error was made on the form requesting the benefit, or an error was made when entering the information into the SSDI.

  • USGenWeb Project If you are starting your research for ancestor in a new state or county, your first stop should be to the USGenWeb Project website. Organization is by county and state, and this website provides you with links to all the state genealogy websites which, in turn, provide gateways to the counties. The USGenWeb Project also sponsors important Special Projects at the national level and this website provides an entry point to all of those pages, as well. Oh yes, did I mention, it is free.


    Census Databases

  • United States Census-Online A site that has been on the net since 1996, there are over 44,300 links to online US federal and state censuses. Completely free to browse and most the census records displayed are free also. You can view the Canadian version of Census Online that has more than 675 links to online provincial censuses. The UK version of Census Online has more than 600 links to census information for England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

  • FamilySearch.org Census Search You can search the entire U.S. 1880 Population Census Schedule, 1881 British Isles, and 1881 Canadian census, for free from this webpage search engine template.

    Immigration Databases

  • American Family Immigration History Center Ellis Island is the center that processed immigrants into the United States from 1892 until 1924. There are over 25 million immigrant passenger arrival records in the free online database.

  • Boston Mass Passenger Manifest 19848-1891) This Massachusetts Archives project is a long term, volunteer driven project to enter into a database and make available online immigrant names who arrived by ship into the Port of Boston. There are over 1 million names in these records so it will take some time to complete this project. You will need to be patient.

  • Castle Garden Passenger Ship Arrivals This is the center that processed ships arrivals into New York from 1830 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened. There are over 10 million immigrants listed in the free online database.

  • Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild Since 1998, hundreds of volunteers have transcribed over half a million names from over 7,000 passenger manifest. Everything from the Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria and the Mayflower to ships in entered ports outside the US are searchable here at this free website.


    State Archives and Libraries

  • Alabama Department of Archives and History Online databases you will find include the Alabama Civil War Service Card Files, by surname letters A-O currently available; Alabama 1867 Voter Registration Records Database; the World War I Gold Star (casualties) file; and a Alabama historical photo database.

    Finding Your Roots Genealogy Column Links

    Finding Your Roots is our popular how-to syndicated newspaper genealogy column. If your local newspaper isn't carrying our weekly column, contact the editor and tell them you want them to carry Finding Your Roots. Have them contact us at our Email Address for more information.

  • Miscellaneous Stuff

    Blank Form Letters - French and German
    Civil War Soldiers and Sailors website - National Park Service
    Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
    Educators Guide to Oral History Unit Overview
    FamilySearch Website
    National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
    Oral History and Interviews at Cyndi's List
    Where to Write for Vital Records



  • Genealogy Software

    GenSmarts Aaron Underwood's Genealogy Research Advisor. Simply the best genealogy add-on in the market today. Works with over a dozen software packages directly without using a GEDCOM export.
    Legacy The easiest to use, low cost genealogy software in the genealogy marketplace. Beats all competitors hands down. Free standard version for download. It is the package that Gayle uses.
    Family Tree Maker Software Has lost a bit of its luster the last couple of years due to poor reports and user interface. Still the easiest to use for the beginner, but you will outgrow it.
    Personal Ancestral File Free genealogy software from the LDS church
    The Master Genealogist by Wholly Genes Software The finest genealogy software available, but the learning curve is steep. It is the package that Larry uses.
    Second Site If you use The Master Genealogy software and you want to put up a website, this is the software to use.



  • Vital Records Online

    Introduction to Vital Records
    Arizona Birth (1887-1930) and Death (1878-1955) Indexes
    Colorado Marriages(1975-Present)
    Illinois Statewide Marriage Index (1763–1900)
    Indiana Marriages (through 1850)
    Indiana Marriages (1993-2000)
    Kentucky Marriages (1973-1993): University of Kentucky database
    Louisiana Marriages (1837-1857)Index from the Times Picayune newspaper
    Maine Marriages (1892-1992)
    Maryland Baltimore County Marriage and Death Notices from local newspapers (1850-1859)
    Maryland State Archives: Clues to marriages taken from Maryland land, court, and probate records
    New Hampshire Carroll County Births (1887-1975)/Marriages (1887-1947)/Deaths 1887-2003)
    New York German Genealogy Group Brides Index for Bronx, Kings and Queens.
    New York German Genealogy Group Grooms Index for the five boroughs.
    North Carolina Guilford County Marriages
    North Carolina Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society (OBCGS) Marriage Records
    North Carolina NC Marriage Project at USGenWeb
    Rhode Island Marriages 1696-1850 sorted by groom name.
    South Dakota Birth Records (Records over 100 years old)
    Texas Marriage License Application Indexes (broken down by year in Zip files) 1966-2003.
    Texas Marriages Search engine (1966-2004)
    West Virginia Marriage Record Search
    VitalChek Vital records for a fee
    Western States Historical Website: Marriage Records for Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah (1850-1951)



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    Webpage Created: 16 February 2005
    Last Update: 31 July 2006
    Webmaster: Larry Van Horn

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