Getting Started – March version

Sorry that the numbering did not transfer very well in the section on types of websites  . . .

How do you get started? – 5 steps

  1. Identify known family information – write what you know – fill in as much of a pedigree chart as you can – check with relatives – has anyone done research on your family?  (see Types of Websites in Section 2 below)
  2. Decide what you want to learn – look at your pedigree chart – set a research objective.
  3. Select records to search – what types of records are available for your locality in the time period you are searching? (check on the research wiki to find out about records that are available) – where can you access them?
  4. Obtain and search the records – keep a record of your findings in a research log
  5. Evaluate and use the information – is this my ancestor? Record the information. Share what you have found.
  6. Do more research or set a new goal.

Go to a Family History Centre and get a copy of “How Do I Start My Family History” (includes a blank pedigree chart) – and get personal help! – you can also look in the Research Wiki at (from the main page click on Search and then click on Wiki) – the same website has 100s of free research courses (from main page click on Get Help in upper right and then Learning Center).

Tip #1 Is this my ancestor?  Consider the following:

  1. Is the possible match person living in the right place to be my ancestor?
  2. Is this event in the right time period to be within the lifetime of my ancestor?
  3. Is the possible match person too young or too old to have been my ancestor?
  4. Are names of children associated with the possible match consistent with what I already know about the children of my ancestor?
  5. Do the ages of the children seem logical, or are they too young or too old to be my ancestor’s children?
  6. Is this the right spouse?
  7. Are the economic conditions of this person consistent with the known family history?
  8. Do the relatives and associates of your ancestor appear in records with the possible match?
  9. Is the possible match person affiliated with the church you know your ancestor belonged to?
  10. Could the possible match person, living in a neighboring county, be my ancestor?  County and electoral district boundaries changed over the years.
  11. Why is the name of the possible match person spelled differently from my ancestor’s name? The name of a person was commonly spelled differently in different documents.

Tip #2 Make a decision about your possible match – choices:

  1. Confirm the person as your ancestor.
  2. Suspect that the person may be a relative with the same name.
  3. Eliminate that person as your possible ancestor.
  4. Decide that there is not enough information yet to confirm or eliminate this person as your ancestor.

(From “How to Recognize your Canadian Ancestor” in  the research wiki at

Tip #3 Select a genealogy software program to record, and organize your research – & print reports. There are even several very good free programs available – Rootsmagic, Ancestral Quest, Legacy FamilyTree have free versions – there are many many choices – FamilyTreeMaker, Reunion and so on.  Take a test drive before deciding – matter of personal choice!  Do not select your software based on the number of “free” names given to you, and don’t use price as a criterion!  Think: is the person giving me the advice also the person selling the software?

Using the Internet for Family History – tips and strategies:

  • The Internet is a wonderful tool with which to do family history.
  • There are some very good sites and some not as good, so be selective
  • Just like printed materials, being on the Internet does NOT mean it is true!  VERIFY any information you obtain from the Internet unless it is from a scanned copy of an original record.
  • Remember that indexes, and typed copies of originals are secondary sources
  • Unless it is a scanned copy of an original document it is not a primary source
  • You always need to look at the original whenever possible
  • You can’t do all your research on the Internet (yet!), so recognize that you will need to use a library and archives at some point
  • Use “Find on this page” (Ctrl + F), found under the “Edit” to search for a specific word, such as a surname or place, on a web page
  • Keep a list of the addresses of web sites you have visited, along with what you found there – the Internet is very changeable, what is there today may not be there tomorrow – consider how you can save the information you find (Hint: take a screen shot)
  • Be aware of spelling variations and nicknames – e.g’s James may be Jas, William may be Bill or Will or Wm.  Just because you know how the name is correctly spelled does not mean the person who wrote or transcribed the record will have it right!  Try to work out how it was written in the record.  Could a birth in Middlesex be transcribed Mexico?  Could Bethnal Green become Green Bethnal?  Be careful in the use of Mc or Mac.
  • When was the website last updated?  This could be a problem if you are looking for the latest information and the web site was last updated in 1999.

Types of web sites:

  1. How to site – help with doing your research – – great tool for finding how to do research – for many countries
  2. Research done by others and sharing your research
  1. Databases – original images and transcripts – some are free, some are pay to use
  1. Cemeteries and Obituaries
  1. Search engines – learn how to be good at searching
  1. Maps
  1. Directory/Gateway sites – finding FH websites
  1. Encounter a Brick Wall?  Who doesn’t!  Go to, select Search and then Wiki – use Search Term “Brick Wall” and go to GenealogyInTime where there are 2 good articles on Brick Walls
  2. Archives and Libraries
  1. Surname and locality interest lists
  1. Blogs and Newsletters
  1. Family History or Genealogy Societies – publications and surname interest lists
  1. Scandinavia


For a “click and go” version of this handout go to – you can also subscribe to get our new articles automatically by email.

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Links to Handouts for Family History Fair Now Available

Go to 

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Update to link Previously Sent

is now available at

Sorry – first link sent out did not seem to work  . . . .

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Hour by hour information for Red Deer Rootstech Family History Fair

is now available at

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Free Access Weekend at

The weekly article on Friday instead of Sunday?  What’s happening?

Just wanted you to know that you can have free access to FindMyPast for the weekend starting at midnight London time – which is about 5 pm Friday our time – but then we change our clocks on Sunday morning (Spring forward and lose an hour’s sleep!) and I am not sure the British change their clocks this weekend? – and it goes on until noon Monday London time.

I’m told this includes newspaper articles as well as their extensive collection of British, Irish, American, Canadian, and Australasian!  Even if you already have an account with FindMyPast you may not have access to all of this!

I am grateful to Peter Calver at for this information.  You can get the full details and some very helpful tips on using FindMyPast in his newsletter at

Also if you have British ancestry you will be very interested in learning about LostCousins!

Thank you Peter

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Finding Your Ancestors By Using New Online Record Collections

This week I had the pleasure of helping someone find a marriage from the early 1800s in Canada using online resources.  It is exciting when we learn new things about our ancestors and can add them to our family tree.

Isn’t it great that more records are being digitized, that people are doing the indexing, and we can search for our ancestors online?  Each week there are millions and millions of records being added to websites.

In the last short while I have learned that:

1.  There is a large new collection of Gloucestershire, England parish register transcriptions online at – and we’re talking 100s of thousands of records . . .

2.  Northamptonshire parish register transcripts are now available at again many many records

How do you know if new record collections have been added to a web site from places where your ancestors lived?

With my ancestry I generally look for new record collections at,, and

How do you know what is new at  Go to, then click once on menu Search and select Records.  Next, on the right side of the screen below the map click once on Browse All Collections.  Next after the list of collections is loaded – you may have to wait a minute or even two as this is a busy website – click on the heading on the right side – Last Updated.  This sorts the collections so that new and updated collections appear at the top of the list – they are marked with an asterisk (*) and give a date.  You might find it helpful to scroll down beyond the asterisks unless you do this regularly. Click on a collection name if you want to search just that collection.

How do you know what is new at Go to ( or any of the ancestry websites or –  you can do this if you don’t have an Ancestry account – there are lots of things you can do for free at Ancestry and this is one of them! –  just click on Search (don’t be tempted by Free Trials!) – and select Card Catalog, then go to upper right to Sort By and select Date Added (Date Updated produces different but interesting results too!).  Currently there are 3 screens full of New collections!  Wow!  Click on a collection to search in that collection!

How do you know what is new at  I don’t have an easy answer for this.  Maybe you do and if so would you please teach me by leaving a Comment?  I get to the A to Z  of Record Sets under the Search menu  – but only can search what collections are there and put in keywords like names of counties.  You can easily limit record collections to regions of the world under Show Records From (on left side of the screen).  I usually go under the menu News to see what has been added recently – and FindMyPast, like the others is busy adding new collections all the time.  Look for FindMyPast Friday – and then click on Read More to get the details – yes, they add collection every Friday!

Remember you can go to your local Family History Centre to access and without charge – and have someone to help you!

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Web links for English and Scandinavian Researchers

Started reviewing some of the materials from the RootsTech 2015 Conference in Salt Lake.  Came across some great links to web sites!

Price and Associates is a company based in Salt Lake that offers professional genealogical services.  In addition their website offers resources free of charge for all of us.

Thomas McEntee’s Research Toolbox led me to  – what a great list of resources!  Plenty for a fun afternoon, evening or for days!

Then I thought about my wife and her Scandinavian roots . . . so I backed up a page to – which also had links to some articles, USA and North America links as well as Scandinavia – II clicked on Scandinavia and went to – a nice collection of links

Hope you find something useful.

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