Are You Missing Most of the Available Genealogy Information?

As you know I am a regular reader of Dick Eastman’s daily Family History blog .

I don’t usually simply re-post someone else’s article but I feel so strongly about this article that I don’t want to mess with Dick’s words (posted 27 July 2014):

“I recently received a message from a newsletter reader that disturbed me a bit. He wrote, “I have been doing genealogy research for 10-15 years but only through the Internet.” He then went on to describe some of the frustrations he has encountered trying to find information. In short, he was disappointed at how little information he has found online.

I read the entire message, but my eyes kept jumping back to the words in his first sentence: “… but only through the Internet.”

Doesn’t he realize that 95% of the information of interest to genealogists is not yet available on the Internet?

To be sure, many of the biggest and most valuable resources are now available online, including national census records, the Social Security Death Index, many military pension applications, draft cards, many passenger lists, land patent databases, and more.

The national databases were the “low hanging fruit” a few years ago as the providers of online information rushed to place large genealogy databases online. These huge collections benefited a lot of genealogists; these databases were the first to become indexed, digitized, and placed online. We all should be thankful that these databases are available today and are in common use.

As the national databases became available to all, the online providers moved on to digitize regional and statewide information. State censuses, birth records, marriage records, death records, naturalization records (which originally were recorded in many local and state courts), county histories, and much, much more are still being placed online.

Of course, this is great news for genealogists who cannot easily travel to the locations where the original records are kept. For many of us, this is even better than having information on microfilm. Most of us don’t have microfilm readers at home, but we do have computers.

Yet, I am guessing that 95% of the information of interest to genealogists has not yet been digitized. Why would anyone want to look for genealogy information “… only through the Internet?”

State censuses, birth records, marriage records, death records, naturalization records, county histories, and more are all “work in progress” projects. That is, they are not yet complete. In fact, I doubt if all of them will be available online for at least another decade or two! If you only look online, you are missing a lot.

In many cases, church parish records, local tax lists, school records, land records (other than Federal land grants), and many more records are not yet available online and probably won’t be available for years. If you are limiting yourself to “… only through the Internet,” you are missing 95% of the available information.

If you have the luxury of living near the places where your ancestors lived, I’d suggest you jump in an automobile and drive to the repositories where those records are kept. There is nothing that matches the feeling of holding original records in your hand. Make photocopies or scan them or take pictures of them or do whatever is possible to collect images of the original records.

If you do not enjoy the luxury of short distances, use microfilm. Luckily, that is easy to do although you will have to leave your home. Many (but not all) of these records have been microfilmed, and those films may be viewed at various libraries, archives, or at a local Family History Center near you. There are more than 4,600 of those local centers, so you probably can find one within a short distance of your home. The Family History Centers are free to use although you do have to pay a modest fee for postage when you rent a microfilm by mail. See for details. You can also find your nearest Family History Center by starting at:

If you do not know where to start, I would suggest reading “Begin your genealogy quest” at for some great “getting started” information.

Which option would you prefer: accessing 5% of the available records or 100% of the available records?”

You can see the full article at

Subscribing to his blog is a great thing to do.

Thank you Dick!

Posted in General, Research | Leave a comment

More Family History Help for World War One

This week we have seen many articles about World War One as the 100th anniversary of the start of the war is remembered.

When visiting France it is very moving to visit any of the many war cemeteries.  Several articles have involved Canadians.  Mons was liberated by Canadian troops and is the only place where German and British Empire troops share a cemetery.

Trivia question:  who was the last British Empire soldier to be killed in the war?  Answer: George Price, a Canadian, who was born in Nova Scotia, and conscripted while living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  He was shot by a sniper just 2 minutes before the armistice ceasefire took effect at 11 a.m. on 11 November 1918.

Our last article published on 27 July was also about World War One – – and included reference to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Our ancestors, however, may have fought on either side in the Great War.  Can you find information about German war graves?  Go to the wiki at (under the menu Search) – search for Germany – then select Military.  You will find interesting information!  This includes  .  If you are using Google Chrome you should be given the option to get the German translated!   There is also a British flag in the upper right that translates the front page.  In the upper right is a link “Grabersuche Online”  that will take you to a page to search for tombs of your German Ancestors.  This database includes both World Wars One and Two.  We hope this helps you find information about your German ancestors.

This Great War was a tragedy for so many families.

Posted in Cemeteries, Wiki at | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Remembering World War 1 – and the impact on your family history.

World War 1 – also known as the Great War and  “the war to end all wars” – began in 1914 – One hundred years ago. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand took place on 28 June 1914 – diplomatic maneuvering failed to prevent the war.  While the first shots were fired on 28 July 1914, Britain did not officially declare war until 4 August  when Germany invaded neutral Belgium.  This year is the centenary!

This tragic and brutal war lasted 4 years and over 9 million combatants were killed – no body knows the exact number.  This had a dramatic impact on society, culture, families, villages, towns, and cities. World War 1 had a great impact on Canada.

My father told me story of a bombing raid by a Zeppelins airship in Nottingham, England – as a small boy I thought he was just making it all up – he had quite a sense of humor! .

 “The glow from Nottingham’s blast furnace chimneys made the city an easy target for Kaptinleutnant Herman Kraushaar, commanding L17, when he raided between 12.00 and 1.00 am on 24 September 1916. Eight high explosive and eleven incendiaries were dropped on what Kraushaar thought was Sheffield, killing three and injuring seventeen. The Midland Railway freight station was wrecked and damaged caused to the Great Central Railway Station and railway track. Bombs also affected Lister Gate, Greyfriar Gate and Broad Marsh. Little resistance was offered to the attack: a blanket of mist rising from the Trent obscured the German airship from below, whilst one of its bombs by fluke severed the telephone wires connecting the AA battery and searchlights at Sneinton, preventing their cooperation.” Thomas Fegan “The Baby Killers – German Air Raids on Britain in the First World War” (Pen & Sword 2002).  My father was living just down the road from the Midland Railway station near to Broad Marsh! I wish I had asked him more about it

Which of your ancestors were involved in World War 1?  Were any of them casualties?  What did your ancestors do during the war?  Where did they serve? Do you have family stories from this time? 

My great grandfather’s first wife had died in 1890 leaving him with 2 young boys – they had only married in 1881.  He remarried by the end of 1890 and his second wife – whose knee I remember sitting on as a small boy – had one son, Charlie.  He went to war and died in northern Greece after surviving the horrors of the Dardanelles campaign.  She lost her only son!  He died on her birthday!

Where can we learn about our Ancestors and World War 1?  My starting place was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) –   Here you can put in the name of someone you think may have died – and be surprised at what you find.  

I always imagined Uncle Charlie dying in Flanders Field in a trench . . . .  What a surprise to find his grave in Greece!  I even get to see a picture of the cemetery! Advanced search will let you specify if you want to search World War 1 or 2 , search by country of origin and military service number.  Remember to be careful how you search – was he Charlie Darker, or Charles or just C?  I found him by searching with just his last name – wouldn’t do that if he was a Smith! You can even download a nice certificate.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 4.21.07 PM

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has a special website to help us learn about World War 1

Several countries including Canada have military records online – use the wiki at to find my information.  For Canada go to   Both and have extensive collections of military records to search.  The Memories section at is an excellent place to record stories and preserve pictures.

Find out about your ancestors and how World War 1 impacted their lives – record and preserve their stories and pictures.

Did you know that there are war graves in Red Deer? – and that the CWGC still pays money each year for their upkeep.

Did you know that Winnie the Pooh had his origins in World War 1.  Winnipeg the bear – Winnie for short – was the mascot for Canadian Soldiers who gave him to London Zoo when they were sent to France.  A A Milne and his son Christopher Robin went to the zoo, saw Winnie, and was inspired to write a series of stories about him.

There are lots of other interesting animal stories from World War 1 – Jimmy the donkey was born during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, was wounded 3 times during the war, learnt to raise his hoof in salute, and survived the war – glow worms were collected and used as lanterns in the trenches!

Other websites of interest:

National Archives in the UK

The Imperial War Museum in partnership with FindMyPast are gathering and publishing stories of the lives from World War 1

The British Broadcasting Corporation has a special World War 1 website

Canadian War Museum

and many many more . . . .

Posted in,, FindMyPast, Military, Personal Histories, Wiki at | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Join the Worldwide Indexing Event

Join volunteers from around the world on July 20 and 21 for an international history-making event! The goal? For 50,000 indexers and arbitrators to submit at least one batch in a 24-hour period! Do more if you would like, but one batch is all that is required to be counted in the record.

Note the times – Starts 6 p.m. MDT (Mountain Daylight Time) on July 20 and ends 5.59 p.m. MDT on July 21 – so 24 hours!

Here is the full details from the FamilySearch blog

“On July 2, 2012, a total of 49,025 FamilySearch indexers and arbitrators joined together to set the all-time record for the most indexing participants in a single day. That lofty record is about to be broken—by you!

Join volunteers from around the world on July 20 and 21 for an international history-making event! The goal? For 50,000 indexers and arbitrators to submit at least one batch in a 24-hour period! Do more if you would like, but one batch is all that is required to be counted in the record!

This remarkable goal will require help from every current indexer and arbitrator out there, plus many new volunteers,*but it can be achieved if generous volunteers like you commit to participate. So mark your calendar and spread the word! Invite friends and family to join you. Organize an indexing party; create a fun family challenge or a society or church service project. Everyone is needed. Everyone can make a difference!

No matter where you live or what language you speak, you can participate and add to this historic worldwide achievement. You may choose to work on any project you prefer. However, we suggest that you work on the following projects in your native language:

  • US—Obituaries, 1980–2014
  • US—Passport Applications, 1795-1925
  • US, New Orleans—Passenger Lists, 1820-1902
  • UK, Manchester—Parish Registers, 1787-1999

The record-setting begins at 00:00 coordinated universal time (UTC) on July 21, which is 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time (MDT or Utah time) on Sunday, July 20. It ends 24 hours later, at 23:59 UTC (or 5:59 p.m. MDT) on Monday, July 21. Check the FamilySearch Facebook event page for your local start time and status updates.

Through the selfless efforts of worldwide volunteers like you, millions of people have found their ancestors. At the end of this exciting 24-hour event, millions more records will be available and ancestors will be found!

One batch is all it takes. Don’t miss your chance on July 20 and 21 to be part of this history-making event! Plan now to get involved and add your name to the record-setting legacy!

*New indexers can visit to learn more about how to join the FamilySearch indexing effort.”


Posted in, Indexing | Tagged | Leave a comment

FamilySearch Now Has One Billion Digital Images Online in the Historical Record Collection

On 23 June 2014 FamilySearch announced :” the online publication of its one billionth image of historic records at, a feat that took just 7 years to accomplish. If you don’t have the time or means to travel where your ancestors walked, perhaps you can begin unveiling their fascinating lives through the tidal waves of new online historic records that can recount the stories of their lives. “

Some interesting facts:

“FamilySearch started preserving and providing access to the world’s historical records for genealogy purposes in 1938 using microfilm and distributing copies of the film through its global network of 4,600 local FamilySearch centers. In 2007, it made the shift to digital preservation and access technology and began publishing its massive historic records collections online.

It took 58 years to publish the first two billion images of historic records on microfilm—which was limited to patrons of its local FamilySearch centers and affiliate public libraries. In the past 7 years, it has been able to publish one billion images at, which expands access to anyone, anywhere, with Internet access. DeGiulio projects the next billion images should take about 3 to 5 years to publish.

70% of the online images currently come from FamilySearch’s initiative to digitally convert its huge microfilm collection for online access. 25% comes from new camera operations—275 camera teams digitally imaging new historic records in 45 countries that have never seen the light of day or the Internet. And 5% come from agreements with partnering organizations.

Currently, FamilySearch publishes about 200 million images of historic records online each year (averaging about 500,000 per day) making the vast majority of them accessible for the first time to more people from anywhere in the world.”

For the full article go to


Posted in, Historical Records | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers has been digitized and is available at!

Better a day late???

Wow!  Just announced in the Ancestry blog This is great news for anyone doing research in  Great Britain – that is England, Scotland or Wales!  Never available before in digital format that I am aware – this along with the Imperial Gazetteer of 1872 are foundation research tools.  The Imperial Gazetteer is also available at and elsewhere on the internet.

Here is the description of the Phillimore Atlas:

“Parish registers are a vital resource for the period prior to civil registration, which began in England and Wales in 1837. When looking for registers, it’s important to know what the parish boundaries were at a specific point in time because many parish boundaries have changed over the centuries. For example, beginning in the 1830s many of the larger old, or “ancient,” parishes began being split up into smaller parishes.

The Phillimore Atlas outlines old parishes prior to 1832 and provides the date of the earliest surviving registers for the parish. The atlas includes England, Wales, and Scotland.

Some counties included hundreds of parishes, so knowing a parish’s location is a huge help when you’re trying to locate your ancestor’s parish records. In addition, your ancestor may have left records in several nearby parishes, all while living in the same area. The Phillimore Atlas provides an easy way to see what parishes were in the area prior to 1832 so you can do a thorough search.

The maps we have available do not have the grid printed along the sides. All maps have a grid range from A1 to M10, with the letters falling along the longest side.”

This is one of my treasured books!  – but the digital online version looks even easier to read!

How do you find this on the Ancestry web site?  Go to the menu Search and select Card Catalog – and then on the next screen Sort by Date Added

Don’t have an Ancestry membership?  Head to your local Family History Centre

Posted in, England, Research | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the Most from

Did you know that you can still access videos from RootsTech 2014?

One of our favourites – there were many good ones! – was a talk by Christa Cowan from – “How to Get the Most from”  – this video was shared at our FH Fair in late February – and is available for  you to view from home.

Go to – and look for the link to 2014 videos at the top of the screen.  There are a lot available.  Scroll down to find Christa!

Posted in | Tagged | Leave a comment