Family History Month ~ October 2014
A Month of Great Resources & Inspirations
for Genealogy Research
In honor of Family History Month, we WikiChicks would like to share a different genealogy research resource or other family history inspiration each day of the month. You could probably also read this as a "Things I Am Thankful For" list, because without some of these resources our well-formed, dense-with-leaves family trees might still be mere saplings.
Day 1 - FamilySearch. Hands down the best, biggest, highest quality, and best of all FREE, genealogy research site on the Internet. From their millions of scanned images of original documents and their army of dedicated indexing volunteers, to their boundless wealth of instructional information, if you are going to start anywhere, THIS IS THE PLACE. :) http://www.FamilySearch.org
Day 2- Cyndi's List. Cyndi's List is the website you should consult with every research
project. Don't know about resources for Alabama? Cyndi's List has that covered! Not sure what that “ague” diagnoses on your great-aunt’s death certificate is? consult Cyndi’s List! I remember in the good old days of genealogy when you could buy Cyndi’s List in book form.Good thing you can’t do that now. With over 332, 812 links I don’t have the arm strength to carry that kind of book around!
Day 3- Google Books
The MUST website for your genealogy. If you are not using Google Books, stop right now and use it!!! Really, search on it. With books covering a few centuries and every word indexing you can find even the most strangely obscure and wonderful reference to your ancestor in a place you may have never even thought to look, as well as city directories, local and family histories and periodicals. If you use your Google Account to sign-in you can utilize My Library and save your finds on virtual bookshelves.(Here is an example of a bookshelf from WikiChick Gena) What are you waiting for????
Day 4- WorldCat. We WikiChicks LOVE libraries and with WorldCat we don't have to
DPLA(Digital Public Library of America). Next best thing to a library is an online library.Think of DPLA as a bunch of libraries and their digitized items. Search on a keyword (Use the place your ancestor lived, for example) through over 8 million items. Great way to find images of an event or your ancestor's hometown or to learn more about your ancestor's place and time.
Day 6 - Linkpendium - From the founders of RootsWeb, Linkpendium is a free, simple, easy-to-use directory of over 10 million links to genealogy resources. We've written about them before: WikiChicks Tuesday's Tips: Linkpendium ~ The Definitive Directory and have to admit we are huge fans.This is definitely a website that should be in your genealogy bag o'tricks.
Day 7- American Memory from the Library of Congress "provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience." Seek old maps, interviews, images, ephemera, and histories here. Take some time to explore its collections for the place your ancestor lived.
Day 8 - DearMYRTLE- We Wikichicks have known Dear Myrtle for a long time. She's been helping folks with their genealogy online since 1985, and continues to come up with new ways to help and make genealogy fun! Make sure to stop by her site and watch her Mondays with Myrt and her Wacky Wednesdays (today she features one of my favorite sources: PERSI). Her GeneaWebinars website is a must for your continued education in all things Family History. Want to know more about Myrt? Check out our interview with her, on our blog, here.
Day 9 - APG- We are big fans of collaboration and networking. The Association of Professional Genealogists is a great place to look to when you need anything from a look-up to help with a research project. Use the website's Find a Professional feature to find a researcher for a particular area or research specialty. Thinking of taking the leap into professional genealogy? Look to APG for educational opportunities and more to help you as you start your new adventure.
Day 10- Repositories of Primary Sources - Not sure what libraries or archives exist where your ancestor lived? Need some ideas for places with archival collections?
Repositories of Primary Sources provides you lists of repositories worldwide. Start here to get some ideas about where collections may exist. Consult it for your next family history field trip. With over 5000 websites, you're bound to find something!
Day 11- Genea-Musings- In the dictionary under prolific should be a photo of Randy Seaver, blogger extraordinaire. Genea-Musings isn't Randy's only blog but it is the place to find the latest information and how-to's that will rock your genealogy world. What makes Randy one of the best is not only the great service he provides to the genealogy community via his daily postings and information but his weekly Best Of.. postings every Sunday that provides a recap on some of the best genealogy blog articles out there on the Internet. You can learn more about Randy and Genea-Musings by reading our interview with him. Do yourself a favor and add Genea-Musings to your RSS feed reader.
Day 12 - Chronicling America. Love newspapers? We do! Chronicling America from the Library of Congress is a free website with U.S. newspapers from 1836 to 1922. Search on your ancestor's name to find all those interesting bits found in old newspapers. Not sure what newspaper existed for your ancestor's area? Check out the top right button "US Newspaper Directory 1690-Present."
Day 13 - Twitter. You may think Twitter is an odd choice for a list that celebrates what genealogy resources to be thankful for. But Twitter is our go-to place for networking, posting, and learning about what's new in genealogy, family history, and all things related. New to Twitter? There's nothing like signing up and checking it out to get an idea of how it can help you with your research. Make sure to search on hashtags (# + a word or words) like #genealogy and #familyhistory. Check out WikiChick Gena's #Source4Today for new resources. And of course follow us at @WikiChicksGnn.
Day 14- The US GenWeb. Who doesn't like free? One of the best free websites to begin your research is the US GenWeb site. Search by State and county for all types of resources for your research. Other benefits of this website?
"The USGenWeb Project also sponsors important Special Projects at the national level." Take some time to explore and find out what these fabulous volunteers have been adding for our benefit.
Day 15 - Facebook. Are you on Facebook? The WikiChicks use it to spread the latest in genealogy news but you could use it for all kinds of family history tasks. Connecting with far-flung cousins, posting family photos and asking for help identifying them, "chatting," sending private group messages, setting up pages for ancestors, joining genealogy subject pages, etc., etc., etc. One of my favorite reasons for joining Facebook comes from a friend, "to keep tabs on the grandchildren!" On Facebook already? Please give us a Like!
Day 16 - The Legal Genealogist. For so long I wanted to know more about how the law affected our ancestors and then the fabulous Judy G. Russell, a real-life attorney and genealogist, came to fill that niche. Add The Legal Genealogist blog to your RSS reader and learn more about your ancestor and the law.
Day 17 - RootsTech. We LOVE genealogy conferences. Sometimes that's the only way we WikiChicks can get together over lunch. RootsTech is the place to go to learn more about using your gadgets to do family history. Don't believe us? Check out the RootsTech Video Archive from last year. It's never too late to start asking the GeneaSanta for a trip to Salt Lake City!
Day 18 - WikiTree. While it's true that there are other sites that are working diligently to build one worldwide family tree, WikiTree is 100% free and accessible to everyone. It also has one of the best genealogy communities around and volunteers who work hard to help members be as successful as possible in growing their own branches of the global tree.
Day 19 - Today's 'tip' is an inspiration quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, suggesting that our DNA is similar to the notes in a musical scale, and our own individual song is what plays in our lives ever hour of each day: In different hours, a man represents each of several of his ancestors, as if there were seven or eight of us rolled up in each man's skin, seven or eight ancestors at least, and they constitute the variety of notes for that new piece of music which his life is. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Day 20 - Evidence Explained. Quick - name one other field of research that has an 800+ page "handbook" on source citation specific to that field. Okay, take your time... I doubt you will come up with one (but if you do, please let us know!) Yes, Evidence Explained, by Elizabeth Shown Mills is the genealogists bible - THE go to reference for genealogy source citation. Daunting, but powerful, this two-handed handbook is required on the desk of every serious genealogist (but I highly recommend the easily-searchable PDF version!)
Day 21 - Heritage Quest. HeritageQuest is an online collection of genealogy databases that is free, but with a catch - if you want to use it from the comfort of your own home, you need to have a library card. (particularly one that has a subscription to HeritageQuest, although most do any more). Sign in easily through your local library's online portal to access all of the US census records from 1790-1940 (not all are searchable, but all are browsable), Search for people or places in over 28,000 family and local history books; Search PERSI Archives - an index of over 2.3 million genealogy and local history articles in journals and magazines; plus a few other important and interesting databases that may help with your research. Personally, I prefer to search the census using HeritageQuest, because you can easily sort your search results by name, approximate age, city, county and more which has led finding to MANY folks who had previously been hiding in the census.