Are These the Best Free Online Genealogy Tools?

I subscribe to GenealogyInTime electronic magazine - a Canadian product – and often get interesting information. I get an email once a week.

This week the feature article was “The Best Free Online Genealogy Tools.”  Follow the link – there are amazing items!  Some of them are genealogy helps and some are general computer helps.

Maybe you’re thinking: “Peter this is too long.”  “I am getting too much information.”  Yes, I feel that way too! I think the secret is to scan articles, looking for the things that I need to help me.  Even if you only find one thing that helps you it is well worth looking at the article! – and I saw several things that I did not know.

Thank you to GenealogyInTime Magazine – for providing interesting articles and a valuable search engine

Posted in GenealogyInTime, General | Leave a comment

Cousins? – who are all these cousins?

Do you ever get confused by some of the variants of cousin?  First Cousin?  Second Cousin?  Removed???

Ancestry blog just published an interesting article which clarifies all the cousin terminology  - “Degrees of Cousin-ness”  by Amy Johnson Crow published 29 March 2014

http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/03/29/degrees-of-cousin-ness/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ancestry+%28Ancestry.com+blog%29 

Of course all of this is much easier if you find the command in your Family History software that shows relationships between a person in your database and your defined root person – in RootsMagic this is the Set Relationship command under the Tools menu.  Find the command for your software.  Most software packages also have a relationship calculator – which lets you select any two people in your database and calculates their relationship.

Posted in Ancestry.com, General | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Finding the New Collections at FamilySearch.org

I was excited this week to see more new collections at FamilySearch! This is almost a weekly event and I struggle to keep up.
Is there a way for me to check to see if there are new collections for my area of research?
1. Go to Familysearch.org, hover over Search and select Records from the dropdown menu.
2. Now you’re on the Historical Records search page – resist doing a search! – scroll down to Browse Collections and click once on the region you want to research – for me this is usually United Kingdom and Ireland
3. Click once on the column heading Last Updated and the list will sort into chronological order with the newest collections listed first. I was excited to see indexes and images for Cornwall and some Devon parishes were recently added.
You can select and sort All Collections but be prepared for a delay before seeing the results.

Posted in FamilySearch.org, Historical Records | Leave a comment

12 POWERFUL “SEARCH” FEATURES IN FAMILYSEARCH

By

Phil Dunn

FamilySearch International©

used with permission

The ‘search’ features or filters in the FamilySearch search engine now provide researchers with powerful functionality for running their “searches”. Whether you are a novice or professional genealogist, the current system upgrades now make the FamilySearch search engine one of the most powerful, functional ones on the world wide web. Users/researchers may now customize their own “search” parameters in order to maximize their chances of finding correct data. Rarely do other search engines allow some of the filtering techniques now available, in your searches!

In the old version of FamilySearch, how many times have you or others—knowing critical data on an ancestor was in FamilySearch’s databases, yet the limited functionality in its “search” engine prevented you from being able to obtain that data? You simply could not perform or set the kind of “search” parameters necessary to successfully obtain or glean that data! And a huge frustration it was!

Not anymore!

Here are 12 important “search engine” features available to users in the current FamilySearch which help you find more accurate data in the FamilySearch system. Each feature and filter can be important in making your search experience effective and more successful. Few users, researchers, professional genealogists know about these critical and helpful search features—that they are even offered or that “searches” can even be run in such ways. Note:  Not yet all of these “search” parameters/strategies presented here, are mentioned in the FamilySearch.org “Help” tutorials; but should be, shortly.

The twelve key features (and there may be more than these) are worthy of disseminating and sharing as they will help more users/researchers have more successful “search” experiences. These features apply not just with conducting England searches, but for many countries with extensive data in the FamilySearch system.

The Twelve “Search” Features & Filters

The current FamilySearch search engine now allows users to–

  1. Search given-names only: You may search a specific or very localized area, and/or by date-range (even with no surname) if desired, or by a unique first name.  Great for 1) performing a marriage search when the surname of a spouse isn’t known at all; 2) when you don’t find an ancestor by spelling variants; this feature also is crucial for 3) effective searches i.e. in all patronymic countries, such as in Scandinavia, Icelandic, Welsh, Southern (United States), and in Jewish research, etc. For example:  Try searching for “Elidad Davis” born in London 1611. Then try searching just under the given-name only—“Elidad”. Note:  Of 2 London entries, one is “Elidad Dauis”[sic]. (for this time period, the letters “u” and “v” are used interchangeably. It should have been indexed under and or as the surname “Davis”.)
  2. Search surnames only (if correct spelling is known)! Great for performing 1) a marriage search when the given-name of a spouse isn’t known at all or if the given name used is not known precisely, i.e. Mary vs Mary Ann or Marian[n]e, Marie or Maria, etc.; or 2) when you’re researching a person with 2-3 or more given names.
  3. Search by Place only—for a birth, marriage or burial/death—i.e. in a smaller town, or parish or chapel–i.e. type a year, i.e. “1833” and the place, i.e. “Brierley Hill, Staffordshire, England”—without typing in ANY names—given or surname. The system calls up every entry!  I found an ancestor’s brother in that year, in this manner. The system now provides users the ability to bring up ALL entries pertaining to a specific place-name/parish, and for a short range of years! If you want to filter down the results, merely click “Collections” in left margin and then click “Birth, marriages and deaths”. [Note:  This works most effectively for the pre-census time period or when searching in a specific record source (see “All Records Collections” on the Main Page of FamilySearch.org—scroll towards the bottom of page), after recent changes].
  4. Wildcards! (i.e.  an “*” substitutes for several letters; or “?” subs for one letter) in searches: You may now run searches using a wildcard(*). For example, type: “Sm*th”, then type in “St Gregory by St Paul, London” for the year 1625. Unlike the former familysearch.org search engine, as long as the search parameters are set at a specific level. Note:  Scroll several times and Smyth[e] with Smith and even Smeth all appear under London. Note:  To use wildcard symbol when running a search, you must use at least 3 letters of the surname or given name, in most cases.
  5. Wildcards for finding difficult, variant-spelled surnames:  i.e. Thibou–T[h][i/e]b[a/eau/ou etc., is much less a problem to locate in the system:  Users can now perform searches with the wild card characters (asterisks—“*” or “?”), up to at least three times for any names—surnames or given names!  For example, the French surname Thibou can be spelled hundreds of variant ways. To capture as many possible spellings, type thus:  Th*b*, or, T*b*u*. (See also no. 6 below).  This is a great way to locate as many possible spellings for difficult, variantly-spelled surnames, such as in cases of Polynesian, old French, Native American, Huguenot, and Slavic (especially) etc., surnames. Note: The search “results” or “hits” may now be filtered by specific locality, time period, gender, residence, record collection etc.
  6. Wildcard[s] for searching without a surname’s prefix:  You may use the wild card feature when you don’t know or are unsure of the spelling of the prefix (the beginning of) a surname! No problem—users can use the wildcard (*) in front of the surname, then merely type the last portion of the surname as it is known. For example, as in the above surname of Thibou, type it thus:  *bou. Or, visa versa, at the end of the name—Thi*!!  Rare is the family history search engine which allows users to search on a i.e. surname without the first two or three letters (prefix) on it.
  7. Parent searches: To conduct a Parent search (to find all the siblings of an ancestor in the FamilySearch system)–can be performed by typing in the given and surname, then go down to “Search by Relationship” and select “Parents”:  two boxes appear so type in just the given and surname of the father; type no given names of any children at all.  In pre-1660 searches, use the father’s given and surname only; often mothers’ given-names are not recorded in baptism registers prior to 1650.
  8. Determine the number of illegitimate children born to a single parent:  Run a search on just the mother’s name—her given and maiden surname (similar to no. 7 above): click “parent” under the ”Search by Relationship” and type in her name and, if desired, the name of a parish or township.
  9. Batch Number searches:  Back—by popular demand—“Batch Number” searches, while redundant of no. 3 above, the ‘old’ batch number “search” feature nevertheless has been restored. Now, you can view all names in a Batch by name, or not typing any name[s] or, run searches with wild card on any name, or perform a parent search, a spouse[s] search (also see no. 3 above).
  10. Learn immediately if a Parish has been indexed in FamilySearch or not:  Similar to no. 3. Search to determine if a parish’s registers of i.e. marriage or baptisms or burial data content is  (indexed) and in FamilySearch’s database[s]:  Merely type in the accurate spelling of the parish place in either the “Birth” box, or “Marriage” text box or “Death”—without typing anything else! (See the FS Catalog for correct place-name spellings.) This search results in the system retrieving every single entry from an indexed/extracted township chapel or parish!
  11. “Exact Match” only. This little box, sits on the right-side of each given name, surname, place-name, parent and spouse name[s] boxes as well. Check-off this box if you are completely certain of the spelling. Even if you believe you are certain of the correct spelling, use only with keen discretion and caution! If used prudently, it tends to return “hits” which are more accurate, clean and relevant to each search. And instead of returning i.e. 5,678 “hits”, most of which are irrelevant,  ‘fluff’ or otherwise unwanted “hits”, it will instead return to you only i.e. 17 “hits” or that is—merely a handful of very relevant “hits”!
  12. Search by Film Number. Did you know that you may now call up all data (names) found (indexed) from a whole microfilm roll within the FamilySearch system. When you enter in a film number, the system pulls up all of names found on the roll of microfilm!

Summary

These new “search” features render the FamilySearch search engine as one of the most powerful available. The tools facilitate users’ success in retrieving the most correct data on ancestors found in the FamilySearch system. Moreover, these new “search” standards establish FamilySearch as a trendsetter with benchmark “search” capabilities! The customized “search” capabilities are almost second to none, and now reflect more accurate, specific, and relevant hits based on any combinations of these features. When used in connection with valid, sound [re-]search strategies, it makes for amazing “search” results nearly every time (where data exists within the FamilySearch database system).

Remember:  You may now Customize each search to obtain the results you need! Also note:  Due to the on-going updating and upgrading of the (whole) FamilySearch system software, at times the search engine’s “results” may not always precisely mirror one or more of the “search” scenarios listed above.

We are grateful to Phil Dunn for giving us permission to share this article.

Posted in FamilySearch.org, Historical Records | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Where in the World Do You Find More Crista Cowan Presentations?

At the recent Red Deer RootsTech FH Fair we showed the presentation by Crista called “Getting the Most Out of Ancestry.com.”  Catchy title!  A very helpful presentation and very popular.

Afterwards I seemed to keep getting asked – where can I get more presentations from Crista Cowan?  It wasn’t easy for me to answer standing there at the conference . . . So we hope this helps:

  1. Want to see her presentation again?  go to https://rootstech.org/about/videos/?id=3168869866001
  2. Crista – aka the Barefoot Genealogist – is regularly available on live broadcasts most Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 11 am Mountain time.  Go to  http://livestream.com/ancestry
  3. Past broadcasts by Crista are archived at YouTube – go to http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_z95MpwfyDtnFJ4R0mq5zyOInP2_t6YC
  4. Links to articles by Crista can be found at http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/author/ccowan/

Crista is a very informative and very entertaining presenter.  We hope this will help you hear more from her so you can hold out until the next RootsTech Conference. . . .

Posted in Ancestry.com, RootsTech | Tagged | Leave a comment

Some of the Things We Learned at RootsTech 2014

What a great turnout for the first ever Red Deer Rootstech Family History Conference.  We estimate that 200 people attended.  Thank you to all those who came and all those who volunteered their time to make the event possible.  We are grateful to FamilySearch for providing the videos.  What a fabulous lunch!

Here are some notes from the final session:

Theme of Conference –   Connecting families:  past, present, and future – plus Every Family Has a Story Discover Yours  -  Gathering and preserving family stories

In our comments we tried to avoid sessions that were shared in video sessions

Denis Brimhall CEO of Familysearch in his opening keynote talked about 4 things:

  1. Power of stories – what would our grandchildren wish we had done?  We need to gather and record the stories of our lives.  Pictures and stories are the key to getting more people involved in Family History.  Newly named Memories link – documents also – familysearch provides a safe and secure space
  2. FamilySearch.org has been revised to make it easier to navigate (drop down menus added) and easier to collect photos and stories – this section has been renamed Memories.
    1. 150000 people have so far uploaded over 2 million photos and stories – and now also documents such as pdf files and FH images.  
    2. Need to think of Memories like Facebook for the dead!  
    3. FamilySearch is working on how to get information into familysearch via the cell phone – so a texting app is under development
    4. Saw  demo of a tablet app for FamilySearch
  3. Record Collections
  • Captain Jack Starling made an menacing appearance to announce that – Dead Men Tell No Tales – when pushed for more information he added that Their Obituaries Do!
  • Many stories are locked away in printed papers – so FamilySearch is setting out to Index Obituaries – so that millions of them are searchable and available.
  • Dennis cautioned us to make sure that we read the instructions when indexing obituaries – there is a little more to them than a simple census!
  •  FamilySearch has signed agreements to allow 100s of millions of obituaries online.
  • People enjoy indexing them as there is a story there, and they contain names and photos.
  • There are now over 1 billion indexed records at FamilySearch with 150000 to 230000 people indexing – it varies from time to time .
  • What is Indexing? transcribing information from images so that information can be searched
  • New indexing website already released – integrated into familysearch.org
  • A New indexing tool will be released in 2014 to make things simpler – already being tested – that will allow you to index using just a web browser – on desktops, laptops or tablets
  • As a result of indexing new collections of millions of records are regularly – almost weekly – being added to FamilySearch – which is available for free
  • FamilySearch is working on 400 year records from India.  This is part of a a battle against time and the loss of records as recent floods, fires, tornados and negligence
  • There are 5.3 billion records now available at FamilySearch mostly from the Americas and Western Europe – but there are 10 billion more available.
  • FamilySearch currently has about 250 camera crews around the world gathering new digital images of records .
  • At our current rate this would take 300 years to Index – or 11 generations.
  • Solution? Partnerships – working together with others e.g. Guatemala where familysearch is partnering with the government. FamilySearch would like to reduce 300 years to one generation and believes that this can be done through partnerships.

4.  Partnerships – developing new partnerships to go with the ones already announced with Ancestry.com. FindMyPast.com and MyHeritage.com.

  • announced the free publis availability in FH Centres of enhanced versions of Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com – the local FH Centres are at Red Deer, Olds and Rocky Mountain House – how to find a FHC? Go to Familysearch and use the tool to find a FH Centre
  • Familysearch also has over 30 certified partners like RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest and Legacy Family Tree.
  • And partnerships with over 100 developers as well as societies like NEHGS and FGS.
  • 1 + 1 = 5

FindMyPast (FMP)

Shared a WW 1 project jointly with Imperial War Museum and FindMyPast project – livesofthefirstworldwar.org

FMP also announced new collections now available -such as India Office collection from British library released last week e.g. typist marrying a soldier

  • FMP partnership with the British Library – check the  British & Ireland Newspaper Archive 1710 – 1950 – 8 million newspaper articles
  • FMP has the largest collection of Irish records -  – almost 100 mill – full BMD & prison records
  • Researchers in Ireland are short of census records due to calamities and often use census substitutes – FMP has one I hadn’t heard of – Irish dog licences
  • 23 million records from Petty Sessions in Ireland
  • Try the Metropolitan Police Habitual Criminals collection – complete with pictures
  • FMP is about to re-design their site – changes everywhere!

Ancestry.com

Didn’t get to a session on new collections coming to Ancestry.com  - but know that they are continually adding new collections – to find out what is new at Ancestry.com – click on the Search menu and go to the bottom to Card Catalog – then click on Sort By and select Date Added – new collections appear first!

Searching strategies at FamilySearch – Linda – see article next week

Keynote sessions  by Judy Russell – known as the legal genealogist

Her presentation was inspired by a quote by NARA archivist, Aaron Holt.

“It only takes three generations to lose a piece of oral family history. … It must be purposely and accurately repeated over and over again through the generations to be preserved for a genealogist today.” Russell illustrated this with stories from her family history

  • what people believed
  • what actually happened
  • discrepency not unusual because we are not passing on our family history in deliberate ways – purposely and accurately – repetition is necessary
  • We are losing precious pieces of our own family history because our family stories are not being repeated purposely and accurately through even 3 generations
  • Not the first ones to have this problem – not asking questions – not passing on the answers – this has been true through all history

Watched part of the keynote video – Judy suggested that we follow:

Genealogical Proof Standard

1.  Reasonably exhaustive  search

2.  Complete Source Citation

3.  Analysis and correlation of evidence

4.  Resolution of conflicts in data

5. Soundly reasoned written conclusion

Presentation : What must not change as we do Family History – David Rencher – FamilySearch chief genealogical officer, who spoke to the topic, “With Dramatically Changing Technologies – what must not change!” (from Ancestry Insider http://www.ancestryinsider.org/ 12 Feb 2014)  Rencher expressed his love for technology but gave the warning: with the advancement of technology we must be careful. There are things about genealogy that remain unchanged. Indeed, they must not change.

One involves the use of DNA. “DNA testing should augment, but never replace sound genealogical research,” Rencher said.

Another is citations provided by online record publishers. … I think we have to expect to take the citations provided online and fix them up to be complete.

Access to records online doesn’t always replace the need to access the originals. Sometimes filming or publication messed up the record..

He warned us that looking at a digital index is not good enough. Always consult the original (or an image of it). …

Online trees have made it infinitelyy easier to incorporate information from one tree to extend the pedigree of another. “The inexperienced researcher simply misidentifies the wrong candidate as soon as they spot a record with the name of the correct spouse or a closely associated name,” said Rencher. “Before you merge, examine the evidence and analyze the possibilities.” He said, “Online pedigrees are no more trustworthy than those in print.”…

… leave a lasting legacy of quality research,” said Rencer

If you want more from rootstech go to Rootstech.org where you can access videos of several sessions.

Personal comment:

we have the opportunity to do the best FH ever  – We have the programs, the technology, the resources and access to more records than at any time in the history of the world – - and can have fun doing it

Begin right away to preserve your stories and photos

Move on to gather, record and preserve your family history for as many generations as you can – make sure you also include the source for the information

Video – Every Family Has a Story Discover Yours – 2min 42 sec

Go have fun – enjoy that special feeling as we get to know our ancestors

Posted in RootsTech | Leave a comment

Countdown to Red Deer FH Fair 22 Feb 2014

Only a few days to go!  Still time to register!

There is no charge for attendance and no charge for lunch. So that we can provide lunch and plan the use of rooms we need to know who is coming.  Please go towww.lds.org/familyhistoryfair to register for Family History Day.  Just enter Red Deer when asked for your location.

We hope you can come!

Details of sessions on article dated 2 Feb

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment