Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Genea Wishes- Wouldn't it be nice if these genealogy tools were available...

Was looking over some hints on Ancestry the other day and thought - wow, wouldn't it be great if:
  • You could designate your guesses in some way - perhaps a color like yellow for caution - meaning that I'm not really sure yet and just checking this out so please don't put it as fact in your tree.  I realize that this is most relevant for people like me who make their trees public so that others won't just grab the guess as true.  Those that have their tree private, though, could also benefit as it would allow them to see what areas needed more analysis.
  • Use color to separate lines - make my Duers' blue and my Leiningers' green and my Koss' purple, for example.  Then, when I was looking at a descendant I could easily identify their lineage.  I know there is supposed to be the actual connection listed but mine comes and goes:
          See, it's missing. It should say relationship unknown but it says nothing.  Kate's line does not
          link to my known lines as the connection was somewhere across the pond and hasn't
          been rediscovered yet.   I don't know why sometimes it displays and sometimes it doesn't.
          I would add that to my wish list, too - get it to work consistently!
  • A way to copy and paste a line to make a new tree while leaving the line in the original tree. Several years ago I had several trees and it made me crazy!  People would contact me about dear so and so and I had to hunt through all the trees to figure out who they were referring to because no one ever said, "I found so and so in your Main tree."  When I asked there where they found it they would say, "online."  So, I entered everything together. Actually, I merged it when the old Family Tree Maker worked.  It wasn't perfect but it was fairly quick.  Now I'd like to do the opposite, take my Landfairs, for example, and just work on that line for a bit and then merge it back to the original tree.  This would also be nice if a distant relative wanted just their line.  
All of this got me thinking of photos.  There are some people I would just love to have a picture of and after searching high and low still can't find one.  There needs to be a vehicle to find those wanted photos.  I know about DeadFred.  That's nice but I'm thinking more of a posting of a request for the photo and not that I found this picture.  In DeadFred, if I enter Harbaugh I get 3 photos of Alburmah Harbaugh which is interesting because I've updated all the Harbaughs known to be in the US since Cooprider and Cooprider did it in 1947 and he wasn't one of them any Harbaugh source has found This validates what I already knew - my tree is incomplete.  Since genealogy is always a work in progress that doesn't phase me.  But back to pictures...
I'd like a place where you can post that you want a photo, not just that you found a photo, which is what most of Cyndi's list links are.  It would be even nicer if it had an ap so that lost photos, say from an antique shop, can be plugged in to see if someone is seeking that picture.  Granted, most of those photos have no identifying info.  My own family was really awful about documenting their photo's, too. But if there was identifying info, the requester could be emailed or texted of where the photo is and can arrange to make the connection.  That's a win-win for everyone - the store owner makes a sale, the finder feels awesome about doing a good deed and the requester gets the photo he/she wants!  Any ideas or suggestions about this please let me know - might be an area I work on once I finally submit that BCG portfolio.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Righting History

I've been following the interesting series of articles published by the New York Times and Washington Post regarding Georgetown University's history of selling slaves to keep the school financially solvent.

Finding records in the old south is often difficult but for the former enslaved, it is even more so.  The links to the three articles below provide helpful hints on how to identify the paper trail:

272 Slaves were Sold to Save Georgetown.  What Does it Owe Their Descendants?

A Million Questions From Descendants of Slaves Sold to Aid Georgetown

Georgetown's priests sold her Catholic ancestors.  Then she found out in an unexpected way.

Of course, the articles were not written to help newbie genealogists learn how to discover records of enslaved individuals.  Besides discussing reparations, they highlight the emotions that families experience when a discovery of unsavory findings from the past is brought to light and the journey the families face as they move forward with the knowledge gained.  As I've previously written, the process is similar to how one deals with grief and loss in the present.

The Georgetown slave story, however, adds another layer of acceptance; that of reconciliation with one's religious convictions.  From a social science perspective, I find it fascinating how the descendants are processing the information that their current religion's forefathers treated their kin, especially knowing that the Roman Catholic Church was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's.

I applaud the formation of the Georgetown Memory Foundation which as part of its mission, is to memorialize the event.  Remembering history is a wonderful way to make it right.

While the Georgetown University administration tries to identify ways to right a wrong they have overlooked another story from their past.  Father Patrick Francis Healy was the university's 29th president tasked with its growth shortly after the Civil War.  He was quite successful and much beloved.  Fr. Healy's ancestry makes his tenure even more remarkable then his legacy.  Born in Georgia to an Irish Roman Catholic father and a mulatto slave owned by his grandfather, Patrick Francis and his siblings were born into slavery.  Healy's parents wanted their children to be educated which was illegal since they were slaves.  The family sent Patrick to a Quaker school in the north, however, he faced discrimination not for being a mulatto but for being Irish Catholic.  During this time, his grandfather and father continued to own slaves, another strike held against him by the Quaker school.  Patrick transferred to a Jesuit owned school in Massachusetts.  He joined the priesthood and went on to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at a Catholic university in Belgium. He achieved this during the time his mother remained enslaved.  

The interaction of race, creed and national origin have complicated our country's history and continues to do so today.  As genealogists, it is wise for us to remember the complexities as we help those who have newly discovered information gain acceptance.






Thursday, June 23, 2016

Death and the Genealogist

My friends and colleagues like to kid me about my genealogy passion and my organizational skills by asking if I’ve already written my own obituary.  My reply is always, “I haven’t – yet!”  I really will, though, and just might get a start on it this summer.  Although I wish my kids would write one like the son of a recently deceased woman's did: “Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday,” the obituary read, which was published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Tuesday, May 17.”[1]  I’ll spare my children having to come up with something clever and will do it myself.  I plan on keeping it short but definitely not like this obituary, the shortest ever published:  “Doug died.”[2]  Perhaps a genealogists nightmare as there is so little information provided but it is telling about the gentleman's personality.
I think it’s important to be prepared so that my living loved ones don’t have an added burden.  My mom had her will drawn and paid for her cremation more than 20 years before she passed.  I greatly appreciated that; her death was not unexpected as she had suffered with Alzheimers for many years but her loss was difficult for me, none the less. Her planning ahead made it much easier.

My mom was a product of the Great Depression and would have been very pleased when a small check was sent to me several weeks after her cremation - she had earned a rebate.  Perfect last business transaction!

Following in my mom’s lead, hubby and I have our wills done and our financials all up-to-date with our children able to pick up immediately when we’re gone.  What we haven’t done, however, is make a choice of a final resting place.  I want my body donated to science as I’ve spent my entire life in the educational realm and figure it’s a good way to end it . The process is called “silent teaching” which would be a first for me - teaching without opening my mouth.  I’d be happy to enhance a medical student's education. Hubby has decided he wants to do that, too, but still wants our remains together after the students are done.

Unfortunately, some states have little to no standards regarding cadaver “donations” so if you’re thinking about it, make sure you’ve thoroughly investigated the laws where you reside. 

When I write “donations” I need to clarify, too, that the donor is paying for some of the costs.  This is not a free burial.  In fact, some organizations will only take embalmed bodies with that cost incurred as a responsibility of the donor.  The (c)remains may or may not be returned to the family.  If they are, there is a cost involved there, as well. 

Since hubby wants a standard burial I figure we’ll get one plot and do a two for one!  We have set up a meeting next week with our city cemetery to get additional information.

Then we have to decide on the marker.  Wow, designing a tombstone is a whole other area where I get to be creative!  Click to view some genealogist epitaphs I came across this week.  

Thinking about tombstones led me to ponder about the discoveries we make on Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves.  For example, I know I have a distant cousin buried in a cemetery but the family couldn’t afford a stone so there is no visible sign of the interment.  The individual has a memorial on Find-A-Grave but no place of burial is listed.  That will be problematic for future genealogists!

I have also found a family member who has two stones in two different cemeteries.  Since obviously one cannot be buried in two places at one time there’s a problem here!  Turns out that the first stone was inscribed with the name and birthdate of the individual while married to wife 1.  Individual decided after marrying wife 2 to be buried elsewhere.  Without checking the cemetery records you don’t know for sure where the individual was buried. Yet another reason to seek more than online sources!

Do your descendants a favor and leave no genealogy mysteries about your life!  


[1] http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/this-woman-chose-death-over-voting-for-trump-or-clinton-in-funny-obit-w207281
[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/01/obituary-two-words-doug-died_n_7710444.html

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Just Two Tiny Words

Last time I blogged about the discovery of one of my husband’s great great grandpas wearing some type of insignia in an old photo I had not previously noticed.  I intended to work towards identifying it this summer when out of the blue, a descendant of that two times great grandpa emailed me.
The cousin believes it may be Masonic so I’ll be exploring that angle soon.  In the meantime, her email had me in a tizzy!  Cousin wanted to know if I was the Ancestry tree that had placed the same grandfather’s first wife as the sister-in-law of his second wife. 
It wasn’t my tree that she was referring to but when I investigated the owner of that tree I noticed he had borrowed the photo I was now hanging on my office wall and a Bible page that I had posted.  There were no source citations as to the marriage.  I emailed him and although he’s had a tree for a number of years and was on the site recently, he didn’t respond. 
I haven’t researched that line in at least 6 years so I went back over my own notes and realized that I had come to the same conclusion he did.  (Well, maybe he didn't reach that conclusion and instead, borrowed it, whatever!)  Thankfully, my notes were clear as to where I got the information – from a transcription of a letter written by the granddaughter of the couple.  It was the only record of the marriage from upstate New York in the early 1800’s that has ever been found.  I emailed the cousin a snippet of the letter. 
Her response was not what I expected; she snipped a copy of a letter authored by the same person that had completely different information!  It stated that the grandfather’s first wife had been the sister of the second wife. 
Neither letter was dated but the letter I had a copy of displayed shaky handwriting, punctuation was lacking and there was many misspelled words.  The letter she had a copy of was well written and clear. 
I received my version of the letter from the cousin’s now deceased mother who never told me about an earlier letter.  The cousin had gotten her letter also from her mother and wasn’t aware of the older letter.  All of the mother’s genealogical information resides with a niece who planned to carry on researching.   Why we each only got half of the information I don’t know.  Why the information conflicts I can’t explain, either.  Was it faulty memory of an elderly relative or a correction to an earlier mistake?  Whatever the reason, this definitely confirms you can’t believe everything you read and the importance of seeking out more than one source. I will now ask, "Is that all?" when meeting with family and clients to make sure I have everything that is available.
All I know for certain is that I’m thankful I kept notes and citations.  Originally, I had transcribed the word “her” as “his” and had come to the same conclusion as the cousin.  I looked at the letter several years later and re-transcribed it.  The second time, however, I had scanned and blew the letter up to 200 times when I made the transcription.  It was then that I determined that “her” should have been “his.” That small difference provided me a different maiden name for the first wife and through that, I was able to identify two other siblings who connected with this family in two different states.  
Last blog I mentioned how valuable it is to take a look back at your old photos.  I'd add it's equally important to take another look at other documentation you may have.  You might be able to break through a wall with information that is in front of you all along.
Just two little letters can make all the difference and change the direction of  your research.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Photographs Unveil Information in a New Light

I’ve had a very strange week – genealogywise!  It started with this recent family photo tree purchase:


I always wanted to place family photos on the wall in my office but I couldn’t decide which pictures to use or how to group them.  I saw the photo tree concept online but the reviews weren’t good; some said it was difficult to put together and others complained it wouldn’t stay up on the wall.  The trees were pricy, too, and I didn’t want to waste time and money on a product that would frustrate me.
A few weeks ago I found the tree pictured above offered through Books R Fun locally.  The reasonable price and the easy directions worked for me!  Within minutes I had the tree up and then it hit me – why not use couple photos.  I could display more people that way and since my husband and I share an office, it would serve as a nice reminder of our many grandparents. 
I didn’t think it was going to take me long to finish the project as I sort of knew which photos I would select.  First problem I encountered was my photos were missing from Google Photos.  I’ve blogged previously about how Google Picassa has morphed into Google Photos and I thought that I had successfully transferred all of them from one program to the other a few months ago.  Evidently, most did not take.  Please check if you did that, too, as it’s better to know now then when you need them.
No worries, I thought, I have them saved elsewhere.  That’s when I realized the computer where I had saved them had bit the dust.  I checked Dropbox; they weren’t there, either.  I must have removed them when I reached the max allowable on my plan.  They were on Ancestry.com but to have to go through the gallery to locate them would be time consuming.  I have backups on cd but those were saved by family surnames and I would have had to keep flipping through the various cds to find what I wanted.  I then remembered that I had installed Picassa on the desktop of an old laptop.  Sure enough, there they all were!  Since I had taken the time to place all the photos in albums it was a breeze to find what I was looking for quickly.  I’m glad this happened now as I have since backed up the laptop pictures to 2 hard drives and again, to Google Photos.  The $8.00 tree purchase saved me future grief!
Being a thrifty genealogist, I decided I wouldn’t print the photos to photographic paper until I had them perfect as most of the photos I selected didn’t fit easily into the frame size.  I plan to make them real photos this weekend and add children of the couples to frames that will surround the tree. 
As I was arranging and rearranging the photos on the tree itself I was startled to discover how much of a strong family resemblance my father-in-law had to his mother and grandmother!  My husband bears a remarkable resemblance to his maternal grandfather who he never knew.  I have seen these photos for most of my adult life; none were new to me.  It wasn’t until I placed them in the tree that I noticed the similarities between individuals. 
I’m not sure if it was because they were now almost all the same size, shape, and color, the angle on the wall or the proximity to each other.  Looking at them from this perspective was nothing short of startling. I highly recommend trying this!  You may discover things about your family in a completely different way.
When I looked at myself, however, I was stunned.  I don’t look like anyone!  I blurted out that I must have been adopted but hubby pointed out that I have the original birth certificate and that there are photos of me in my mother’s arms in the hospital shortly after I was born.  Mom clearly looked like she had been through labor!  I knew I had my mom’s eyes and figured my hair was just a blend of both of my parents – my dad’s blonde and my mom’s dark brown.  Looking at the photos I realized I had my paternal grandmother’s hair, my maternal grandmother and great grandmother’s nose and my paternal grandfather’s chin.  Okay, so my dna is all mixed up – I am a true red blooded American mutt! 
The photos didn’t just unveil family similarities; they also showed up some commonalities uniting all sides.  I always thought my preference for pearls was a result of watching Leave It To Beaver as a child and channeling June Cleaver!  Nope, in just about every photo a female is wearing pearls.  I shared this insight with my daughter who just happened to be wearing pearls.  Nice to know that trait got passed along to another generation.
I also discovered that one of the great great grandpas was wearing some type of insignia.  I never noticed it before and it’s another mystery to solve.  Taking a look back at your old photos may just lead you to more amazing family discoveries.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mosquito Epidemics, Oh My!

After picking up all the soggy Spanish moss in my yard after Tropical Storm Colin I started thinking about mosquito epidemics.  Well, this was how my thought process ended up on disease caused by skeeters:

1."I hate Spanish moss because it's everywhere after a storm"


2. It can be useful.  The early settlers used it for comfort by stuffing their mattresses with it and if you're lacking water in the woods, you can suck on the inside."


"Chiggers - I hope there's no chiggers in this stuff cause I've feeling itchy!"


"OMG, I just got bit and I hope it was a chigger and not a mosquito!"

All that rain has produced a bumper crop of mosquitoes in my area.  I tend to use natural products so I've been dowsing myself with Skin So Soft even though I hate the smell of it.

I don't know if Zika is causing concern in your area like it is here; the Avon lady told me she completely sold out of Skin So Soft the week before my purchase.  Understandable, as even the state of Florida website has a post that would make anyone not want to live here:

"Mosquito-borne diseases found in Florida include West Nile virus disease, Eastern equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis. Many other mosquito-borne diseases are found in different parts of the world, and can be brought back to Florida if infected people or animals are bitten by mosquitoes while in Florida. Some examples of these diseases include chikungunya fever, dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever, and Rift Valley fever."1  

Notice how Zika isn't even mentioned.  With 15 reported cases in my county I think it should be included!  So that's how my mind started thinking about epidemics back in the day.

What did people do  when there was no products to repel critters?  I decided to investigate...

When a major yellow fever epidemic hit Tampa in the 1880's, a well meaning Jacksonville doctor recommended  that everyone leave town as he thought poor sanitation was the cause.  Calling the people of Tampa dirty caused a backlash in the press and his response below explains  his scientific rationale:
As to Yellow Fever - excerpt2

I guess the good doctor should have been more specific as to where those fleeing the epidemic should go as this shows how they were greeted in New York:

Print in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper about yellow fever
3

Man's inhumanity to man; labeled refugees and turned away.  Hmm, how history repeats itself!

The state government had no idea how to contain the spread so they returned to what worked in the middle ages - burn the property of anyone infected:


4

The belief in fumigation lasted well into the 20th century.  A Leininger cousin of mine was the inventor of this device:


You read that right!  Dr. George Leininger Chemical Company of Chicago manufactured a Formaldehyde Generator to disinfect the sick room. I guess if the disease didn't kill you, the chemicals would!  Seriously, my son the chemical engineer almost had a heart attack when I purchased this on E-bay.  I have no plans to use it. I just thought it fit perfectly in our den with our other family treasures.

Back to the Tampa epidemic - what I learned was that there was NOTHING available to the population to prevent the spread of the mosquito born disease.

Florida has always been swampy yet it was settled by Native Americans long before the Spanish arrived.  How did they repel the critters?

I found lots of theories but no proof.  Some say citronella was used but that is not native to Florida. Southern bayberry, paw paw,  bracken fern or cedar have been recommended but I find nothing to link them to Native Americans usage as an insect repellent.  Personally, I'm doubting that any of those plants were effective  as I have a side yard filled with bracken fern and the mosquitoes seem to be worse there in the shade than in the more open spaced parts of my yard.  We have cedars around, too, so that's not helpful.  I've never seen a bayberry or paw paw.  My neighborhood is filled with old oaks so perhaps they grew here more than 150 years ago.

The Washington Post mentioned that burning sweet grass, which does grow throughout Florida, was effective.5    I don't believe Native Americans walked around holding burning grass all day and night, though.

Some have suggested diet, while others say lung capacity discharging carbon dioxide differed.  I have no idea but I'd love to know the lost secret because this is going to be a long itchy summer!

My son built this handy dandy mosquito trap for us:

It won't kill adult skeeters but it does kills the larva, if the standing water on the top is drained through the middle level (an old pillow case).  The water drips through the middle layer into the bucket, the larva die on the pillow case (or lizards and birds come and have a delightful treat).  The bucket water is then placed back into the top to start the process all over again.  Does it work?  Yes, if you faithfully drain.  No, if the weather is so awful outside that you can't do it.  It also doesn't kill mosquitoes that fly in from other areas, like the park that has standing water in low spots.  Going to keep using it though, as every little bit helps.

Now I'm going back to hunting ancestors and not skeeters.  That's much safer!

1 http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases/
2 John P. Wall "As to Yellow Fever" Florida Times-Union.
3. Frank Leslie,  "Refugees from areas with yellow fever are not allowed to leave the trains, for fear of spreading disease,"  Illustrated Newspaper, 8 September 1888,
4 Letter from J.J. Daniel, President, Jacksonville Auxiliary Sanitation Association to Dr. Porter, 17 October 1888.
5Wilborn P. Nobles III "Research confirms Native American use of Sweetgrass as a Bug Repellent" Washington Post, 18 Aug 2015.
My thanks to the Florida Memory Project where a lot of this information was found - you can read more records there regarding the Yellow Fever scare in Florida.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Random Genealogy News

Maybe due to the recent passing of Tropical Storm Colin through my area my thoughts are fairly random today! Several days of heavy rain and wind is pushing me to get outside and do some cleanup yard work so this will be brief!

First up - did you know that Family Tree Maker is back.  They have a newsletter that will keep you updated as to when they are going to start synching again with Ancestry.com.  If you're a faithful reader you know I gave up on them about two years ago but now I'm thinking that maybe the problem was that I had the 2012 version and when they moved to the 2014 version it interfered with the synch. Neither FTM or Ancestry ever asked me what version I was using when I repeatedly called which says a lot about their customer support.  Anyway, the software is now owned by mackiev which used to make really good products, like Kidspics that my own children loved back in the day.   For $29.95 they'll sell you their latest version of FTM at a discount if you had a previous one and I may do that as another backup.  To sign up for their newsletter click here.

Update to my last three blogs about frugality in genealogy - Should have definitely mentioned Linkedin and Facebook.  I use both and they are free!  Did you know that there are over 8,000 genealogy sites on Facebook?!  To view the list of them click here.

Two more reason to DO IT NOW! - Had a colleague from my educational job thank me for giving her the "Mean Momma" look when she told me two weeks ago that she had 14 boxes of family documents stored in an unair conditioned shed near a major river that floods.  I told her to move them in her house pronto but she insisted that she was going to spend the summer going through the boxes, one a week.  She had gone through 3 of the boxes when the flood advisory hit the area and she wasted no time in getting the boxes relocated in her home.  With the storm, she had time to go through them and found some wonderful genealogical stories that I'm encouraging her to write about and publish.  She's an awesome writer so in the near future, look for a guest blog from her.
Another colleague asked me about how to go about collecting family history information.  I pointed her to my website that houses all of my blogs (www.genealogyatheart.com) and strongly encouraged her to talk with her parents when she went home for Memorial Day weekend.  When she returned the following Tuesday she told me that she relaxed all weekend and never got around to talking to her parents about the past.  Five days later one of her parents had a stroke and has lost the ability to speak.  Understandably, she is devastated on so many levels.  If that isn't a wake up call for all of us, I don't know what is!  Don't delay - send that email, make that phone call, take the older relative to lunch and get the info today!

Those are my three random thoughts for the day - got to go get on the garden gloves and start picking up Spanish moss.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pursuing Genealogy on a Shoestring Budget - Part 3

This is the last in a series of posts about keeping the costs down on our very expensive practice.  Our running total for the frugal (accumulated in Parts 1 & 2) is less than $100.00 per year. Granted, that sum is based on using your local library for much of your research which could be problematic if your facility limits your time, has shortened hours due to budget cuts, and is difficult to reach, transportationwise.  That amount also does not include costs for renting microfilms from Familysearch or obtaining vital records.  Those two prices are set and non negotiable.  The best way around that is to find others who are researching your lines and are willing to share what they have found.  You may even get lucky and find that some kindhearted researcher has scanned and posted the vital you needed, thus saving you time and money.

The sites below are FREE and are good ways for you to connect with others who share your interest areas:

Ancestor Cloud - although it costs to hire their researchers, it does not cost anything to obtain their weekly emails or to view and post requests on their website.  They saved me the cost of traveling overseas  and I would use them again if the situation arises.  If you do need to pay for assistance, you negotiate the price so it will fit nicely in with your budget as opposed to other companies out there that have standard fees.

Blogs - geneabloggers is one of many that give helpful advice and resources without any cost to you. Just check out the main page and you'll see that founder Thomas MacEntree has loads of discounted genealogy related services listed.  Subscribe to their newsletter and you'll get the deals emailed to you as they become available.

Crestleaf will email a newsletter weekly with the updates to their records. Scroll down to check out their surname index, or browse by decade or location.  Lots of good free info for you to explore!

Cyndi's List - for the most comprehensive genealogy sources on the web.  This site will point you in the right direction, thus saving you time and money.

Genealogy in Time is another email "magazine" with helpful information.  Their website has a search engine that is powerful and there are lots of  articles to help you find those elusive ancestors.  Sign up for their Sunday email, "The Genealogy News" which includes links to genealogy news that occurred in the past week.  I love starting my week off by reading the "News" with my morning coffee.

Geneanet - is more than just a place to search; the community forum is a place to post your queries and if you have French ancestry, you must check out their searchable collection.  You can specify a surname you're interested in and receive an email when more information becomes available on their site.

Legacy - download the Standard edition family tree and view their training videos.  Although some do have a cost attached, their weekly webinars are free if you are able to watch them shortly after they've posted.

I've only scratched the surface of genealogical savings.  Deals are out there and the wise genealogist uses resources that give the most bang for the buck.  Happy Hunting!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pursuing Genealogy on a Shoestring Budget Part 2 - Genealogical Websites

Last blog we looked at ways to cut costs on genealogical memberships.  We'll keep a running tab of expenses; for full membership in genealogical organizations the cost would be about $409.00 annually and on a limited budget, less than $100.00.  Today we're going to explore how to cut costs for those must have online databases.

AmericanAncestors.org is a database offering "hundreds of millions of valuable records."  For home access, the cost is $89.95 annually but it is free through many public libraries.  Check out the link I've provided - it's to the 453 databases in the collection.  I have found this site very useful for my New England and Long Island ancestors but if you aren't researching those areas or are on a tight budget, save by using it at the library.

Ancestry.com is most likely available at your local library, too, but I must caution you that not all records are available on the library edition.  It is also only available for use in the library so you are limiting the time you can spend searching.  That's okay if you're on a tight budget as there are other sites you can use while you're at home.  If you are a member of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) you can get a one time discount of 30% off an annual Ancestry membership.  You must have your AARP card number when you call Ancestry Customer Service and it will extend a current membership so wait until a day or two before your expiration before you renew to take full advantage of the offer.  Call Member Services at 1-800-ANCESTRY.  Cost depends on what membership you're purchasing (U.S., World., or All).  There's always the 14 day free trial but if you do that, make sure you're saving what you find on your computer so you can access it when the trial ends.

Billion Graves is FREE so check it out.  Personally, I've never found anything different than what is available 
elsewhere but I still look and so should you.  

Familysearch.org is FREE and if you haven't created a login you need to.  The caveat here is if you are building 
your tree on this site ANYONE can change what you've entered.  Wikis are wonderful and in a perfect world this would not be an issue.  I have had well meaning but not knowledgeable folks change data and make links that are not right.  I know of the changes because they nicely email you when someone has done something to what you've entered.  I don't have the time to keep undoing what someone else does so my skeletal tree is going to remain that.  That's not to say that the rest of the website is a wonderful FREE source for you to use at home.

Find-a-Grave.com is affiliated with Ancestry.com but remains FREE.  Not all information on the site is accurate so be careful, just as you would if you were researching anywhere else!

FindMyPast is awesome if you're researching Great Britain.  They boast 8 million records and I have found some info but not enough with the lines I am currently researching to make it worthwhile if money was an issue.  They do have a blog and send lots of emails a week with updated news. Like every other competitor, they want you to save your tree to their site. This increases the number of records they can claim they have while you do all the work.  The benefits, though, are that you can connect with others who are interested in the same lines and you can access the information anywhere you have connectivity.  Fourteen day FREE trial available.

Fold3 -now part of Ancestry.com, has a basic membership for free.  That allows you to search and browse but not access all images.  Kind of like letting you look in the bakery window but not enter to taste!  Specials are offered frequently, such as join for 7 days for free or $49.95 for a premium yearly access.  Fold3 is mostly thought about in regards to military records but they are building on other areas, such as Project Blue Book (I believe this is the first genealogy website to include nonearthling alien information!) to African and Native American collections.

GenealogyBank - I call it the newspaper place.  Check out where they have records before you buy; with over 100 million records you most likely will find something valuable here, especially obits.  Free 30 day FREE trial that's well worth it so give it a try.

MyHeritage is a not only a place to save your tree online but you can scroll all the way to the bottom of their longggggg page, click search, and use their database.  They have a Nordic Census that I've found helpful.  It's FREE.

Today's costs - if you are using a library for Ancestry and you've taken advantage of the free trials - $0.00. Our running total for the budget concern - still less than $100.00/year.  Next time we'll look at free additional resources available.