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Genealogy

Posted by gibby3000 (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 26, 06 at 10:13

I've been thinking about doing some research on my family tree. I looked around on the web and of course there are all kinds of websites for this purpose - requiring a subscription fee if you want to get access to all the info. I don't mind paying but I have no idea which sites are good, which are worth it, what tools to use, where to even begin. Does anyone have any experience with this - recommendations on what sites are good - or any other advice?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Genealogy

Gibby, I started last year and found lots of free info online. I would also recommend you begin at your local library to see what 'free' resources they have. I used Ancestry.com at my local library and cancelled the subscription with with them because it seems everything you search for turns into another subscription with Ancestry.

Take a look at the following link. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or need help. Sue aka MTnester was wonderful to me when I began so I would like to pass that on to someone else now :-)

http://www.rootsweb.com/


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RE: Genealogy

The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) are known for collecting extensive genealogical histories. I would start with their library/website.


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RE: Genealogy

I second the suggestion to search out an LDS (Mormon) library near you. They have tons of free resources, and will order up microfilm stuff from their immense library in Salt Lake. Their interest in genealogy is part of their religious practice, but they welcome non-Mormon inquiries, don't preach, and in my experience are supremely helpful, especially for beginners. Call your local Mormon (Church of Latter Day Saints) temple and ask where the nearest Family Research Libray is located.

Ancestry.com usually has a free intro period which you can use to explore their service, though I wouldn't necessarily start there if you are just beginning since they have so much it can get overwhelming.

Also keep in mind that there are two different kinds of gen. searchers. Some people are pretty uncritical about what they'll accept as "facts" for genealogical info, so their "data" will lead you into blind alleys and in circles. It's difficult to sort out the hard info (from primary sources) from the apocryphal or just wishful stuff at first. And remember that every time you see something written on the web (other than in primary sources) it may or may not be accurate. And tons of stuff is just copies of other tons of stuff, none of it all that accurate. At least with a lot of Ancestry.com's stuff you're looking at primary material rather than family genealogies, (though they have those, too.)

Another excellent (and free) source of US records is the National Archives branch offices which are scattered across the country. If you happen to live near one that is a tremendous boon.

Finally, another source would be to enquire at your libray or historical society if they offer workshops or presentations on doing your genealogy. That's a great way to get started, as is seeing if there is a local gen. group or club. It doesn't matter if your research would not be local; they can help you decide what needs to be hunted for and how to start the hunt. They will also have suggestions for how to work around the inevitable deadends you will encounter.

Rootsweb.com is good, too, and free. The surname boards take months to go through thoroughly.

Plus you can also Google for names you know. This can produce tons of miscues to wade through but if you pose the query carefully: I often use something like this "(John Smith) +placename" (omit "") sometimes you will get lucky.

And write everything down, along with where you found it. It's too easy to get bowling and not keep good records and then you can't go back and find what you thought you didn't need, but it turns out you do. WRITE EVERY FACT DOWN and where you found it, even ones that don't seem to fit!!! (Can't emphasize that enough .... I learned that the hard way!)

Good luck!

Molly~


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RE: Genealogy

Thanks, Mari, for those kind words about me! :-) Your family background presented some challenges. Glad you were able to find as much as you did!

Gibby, the answer to your question depends greatly on your family's religious/ethnic/geographic background, as many databases are specialized. I really do think that Ancestry.com offers the most general resources for your money, as they have swallowed up many of the other companies (such as RootsWeb) and have a vast collection of useful databases (censuses, Social Security Death Indexes, immigration info, family trees and histories, military records, etc). Their indexing and search methods give you a lot of flexibility, enabling you to narrow your search in many ways; you can even turn on/off exact spelling and use wildcards. They also have wonderful articles, newsletters, and a learning center. You can start off by seeing what's available there for the most minimal subscription and later add other databases (such as newspapers) if you find them relevant to your search. I especially recommend the U.S. Census Records---invaluable!

FamilySearch, the LDS site that artteacher referred to, is at the link below (I'm linking to the initial search screen). You can search for free on this site and many others.

If you're searching for immigrant ancestors, the Castle Garden (www.castlegarden.org) and Ellis Island (www.ellisislandrecords.org) databases are very useful. The Steve Morse web site (http://stevemorse.org/) gives shortcuts to both of them (and other sites) and is a wonderful help.

For Jewish researchers, JewishGen is indispensable: www.jewishgen.org. There are discussion groups, family trees, shtetl information, and much more.

Beyond that, there are many specific sites for various religious, ethnic, and nationality groups and for different geographic localities. For example, an Italian site (http://www.italiangen.org/databaselist.stm) has bride and groom listings, naturalizations, etc, for the NYC area (and not limited to Italians).

Please feel free to email me if you need specific advice or help.

Sue

Here is a link that might be useful: FamilySearch


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RE: Genealogy p.s.

Just read Molly's post, and she makes some excellent points. There is duplication and misinformation on every site (you will, for example, find the same typo in numerous entries), because much of the info is supplied by individual researchers, whose errors are perpetuated. It takes a while, though, to train your eye to recognize "wishful thinking" errors--just remember to keep a healthy skepticism about certain claims until you can verify them.

One of the hardest aspects of genealogy is the difficulty in telling whether the "John Smith" you find is YOUR John Smith. Even unusual names could be shared by different members of an extended family. You often have to widen your search so that you know all the siblings and spouses, so that you can recognize the right person. As Molly recommends, it's essential to record your sources so you can go back later and recheck the context of your information.

Sue


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The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) are known for collecting extensive genealogical histories.

This would include my wife. With one exception, all of the sites she uses are free sites. The only pay site she's found that's worth the money is ancestry.com

Here is a link that might be useful: Ancestry.com


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Thanks you guys - you are such a wealth of info. This is VERY helpful. I can see how this could become my new internet "addiction". If I suddenly disappear from this forum you'll know what happened to me.....


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I don't mean this as a criticism, just a comment because I don't really get it. Why do people care so much who their ancestors were? We're all basically related to the same people if you go back a little ways. I just wonder why the drive to "connect" with people who share a fraction of our DNA. I have family members who are totally into it, but I'm not one of them, obviously. However, I have a good reason for how I feel.


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Gibby, one of the things I do periodically is search for the name of a grandparent/great-grandparent, etc. and add the word "genealogy". I have come up with a couple of awesome sites that some distant relatives have started. By doing so I have gotten additional information that coincided with my basic info. Seems there is new information being posted all the time.

Seekingadvice, I think it is interesting to learn about the past and where people have come from and how they lived. I guess I like to romanticize somewhat and wonder what prompted people to take such great journeys and risks. I am in awe of some of the hardships that these people have endured. I have copies of some journals and letters and even an account of an interview my grandma did with her father about his trip across the Atlantic as a little boy.

My mom, like you, thought it silly. Wish I had started sooner because now she and her siblings are gone and so are my opportunities for asking questions.


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Basically genealogy is just research which I love to do. In fact I can think of nothing more relaxing and fulfilling then spending an entire day in a library. I just loved finding my 4th GGFather and felt the same excitment when I found my 15th GGFather...yep that's right my 15th! I do my research the old fashioned way, with birth, death, marriage, deeds, wills and so on. I've spent a fortune on my family genealogy but it is worth it to me. I have six 4-drawer legal sized filing cabinets and they are packed...I need to buy at least 2 more for this coming year.

You must be very careful with what you find on the Internet much is fantasy with no basis in fact. Even if someone says their data is verified you should still cover the same ground and verify it and keep copies of everything you find and this includes the LDS site too.

I have subscriptions to Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com, New England Historical Society and through my local library we have home access to HeritageQuest. I also belong to many Family Organizations which have monthly newsletters. I also belong to DAR, but I rarely attend any meeting as I just don't have the time. Although not a Mormon, I worked in our local Temple library as a volunteer for over 4 years but had to quit when our we built our new barn in '05. I enjoyed so much working at the library but with the barn building and then head long into our whole house gut and remodel, there are just so many hours in the day and some things just had to be put aside. I've made so many friends most "far removed" cousins and we are cousins no matter if it is a 5th cousin. We send Christmas Cards and phone calls and even have dinner every now and again. I've traveled to OH and NY to visit my cousins and enjoyed every minute and was supposed to go to IN and MI this Fall but just could not get away.

In other words I love researching my family, do we have any blacksheep...SURE, especially on my Dad's side! And I belong to the Black Sheep Society too!

Good luck!

Michelle

PS: Also discovered that my Mom and Dad are cousins 8 times removed. I knew this would upset my Sister and sure enough I was not disappointed as she said "HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!" LOL!! :)


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Seeking-- don't even bother. :-) I've had this same argument with Kathleen I don't know HOW many times!! It's important to HER, and I leave it at that. :-)

msafirstein-- my wife found the same kind of thing in her family-- something like great great great great grandparents were 2nd or 3rd cousins. I bust her chops about her family tree not branching out too far! LMAO


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"It's important to HER, and I leave it at that. :-)"

Now, that's a good husband! ;)

Bill, if you have family, both paternal and maternal, in the US back 7 generations, it is very common for your paternal and maternal lines to cross.

Genealogy is addicting though and like a treasure hunt. I love it, but I research many things besides my family history. I do extensive research on textiles, quilts and any kind of needlework too. I also love doing research on the War of 1812, such a fasinating war and there is barely a mention of it in schools today. In short, I am a history buff!

Michelle


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RE: Genealogy

For me the reason this is of interest is that I have very little connection with any family members. My only living immediate family member is a brother and I have no kids. Even when my parents were alive we lost contact with many aunts/uncles/cousins long ago. Since I have little/no family activity going on I guess I want to create some. I've pretty much been adopted by DH's family and extended family who all stay in contact with each other. However I'd like a little of my own family action I guess.

It started with finding my grandparents birth certificates in a box of things I got from my mother when she died. Then I realized I no longer knew who some of the people were in a photo of her grandparents and their children. There was a time when I knew this and I thought I'd never forget it. Now there's no longer anyone to ask about this stuff - my brother didn't remember either. So - after spending most of today on this I've uncovered all kinds of interesting info - just from the basic census/birth/death records.


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Sue, it's good to see you on the forum. I had sent you a link of that second cousin I finally found who is a painter. We spoke briefly on the phone but that's all the communication at this point. I don't really care to know all these people, but it has been fun tracking them down...as someone said, it is more to do with the research. When I finally find something on an ancestor it's like winning the jackpot, LOL

I have found genealogy to be relaxing and I can become very absorbed in my research. Whenever I felt overwhelmed by my kitchen remodel I would 'escape' into the fun world of genealogy.

Gibby, my interest started after the death of a significant family member as well. I remember seeing some birth, marriage and baptism certificates and the whole search took off from there. Why don't you look into finding the genealogical society in your area as well. I took a 4 week course (FREE) with mine and it was really interesting listening to others and learning a little about how to go about tracking down the info you need.


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As a history lesson I can sure see the appeal. I love to research things of interest to me and the stories of people long ago would be very compelling material. My one caution about discovering your roots is that you are totally dependent on the validity of the information given by the people before you. IOW, you may not have the genetic connection you think you have. It used to be very common to take in other's children and raise them as your own. People used to adopt and not tell. There are/were plenty of, shall we say, indiscretions that resulted in children who were not the offspring of the paternal parent but that information is not disclosed. Today, there are many, many, many who use donors and have no intention of disclosing this, even to the child.

I think it's fascinating to learn about people in the past, but family isn't simply genetics, IMO. I have children with no genetic link and I dislike the idea that they may feel less a part of the family because of it, which is why I discourage my family members' avid discussions of the subject when in my home. I am a little sensitive about it for my girls' sake.


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Gibby, another great resource that I have used is Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. I have gotten photos of cemeteries, tombstones, death notices in the papers etc.

As I said, it's been fun researching and going all the way back to several countries around the world. My lot sure travelled and lived in many interesting places.

Have fun!! :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Random Acts


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RE: Genealogy

Seeking, at first, I felt that there was no point in responding to your question, because it would be like explaining why you love your spouse, or why you've chosen your career in life: it's hard to "explain" emotions and vocations. But reading your second comment, I see that you are really asking why people put such value on a genetic link, when "family" means so much more. Well, it may surprise you, but I started my genealogical research from the same point of view as yours. My MIL was 6 years old when she lost her mother, and she was raised by people who were only distantly related to her. My attitude, right from the beginning, was that my family history was about true *family* and not just about blood lines. Another example is my DNiece, who has recently adopted a baby; that child is precious to us, and just as much a part of our family as anyone else. If I learn the details of his biological history, I will certainly include it, if his parents give permission. (There are certain details that various family members have shared with me but asked me not to record in the family history, and I have respected their wishes.)

My own interest in genealogy grew from a simple desire to record the names of family members of the past few generations and pass them along to my children. For years, I spent most of my time and effort on my DH's family, who were early immigrants to Philadelphia. I learned a lot about the early Quakers from their registers of marriages and births, their wills, and their stances during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. I followed the extended family's moves from Pennsylvania to Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, and beyond and thereby traced the path of American migration westward during the 19th century. I found farmers, railroad men, saloon-keepers, and merchants--even a "spiritualist." I saw family members swept up in the air by a tornado or standing up bravely for abolition in the face of an angry crowd. To use an old, familiar phrase, American history "came alive" through my connection to the real participants in it (as the grandchild of immigrants, I had never felt this connection when I studied U.S. history in school).

More recently, I have explored my own side of the family in depth, and I feel a strong connection not only to the widespread living descendants but also to my distant ancestors of the Jewish shtetl, especially an early 19th century rebbe (religious leader) whose teachings and humble character were renowned in his day. I feel that I am honoring them by telling their stories and keeping their memory alive. It has also been very rewarding to renew contact with elderly relatives, who have shared their memories of my parents and grandparents, and to develop friendships with distant cousins, who have shared old family photos and documents; I've been warmly received at family reunions and have been working with "new" second and third cousins to research the links to our common ancestors. I've also learned a great deal from other researchers and have developed strong friendships with some of them.

Although genealogical research is fascinating as a complicated puzzle to be worked out, the "characters" in the drama are very real, and mere distance in time and level of relationship are unimportant. The story of each family is unique--nobody else has exactly the same history. Yet we are the "product" of both our genes and our environment, and it's interesting to see how we resemble, or differ from, our ancestors. I love the black sheep as much as the high-achievers, and I'm comforted to know that, although most of our ancestors were ordinary folk, most of them were good people, and they live on in us and our children. May their merits protect us!

Sue


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Sue, what a beautiful post. All of the folks I have come across who are delving or have delved for many years into genealogy are such wonderful people. I think the mystery factor and also the hours/months/years of looking for clues is what keeps us interested. It would have been so boring to have someone hand me a book with ALL the details of my ancestors. I have found things that no one else in my family was able to do, and most of the great-aunts, second and third cousins (lots of those who are twice removed - still don't really understand that part properly), have not gotten as far as I have.

Some surprises on my side was when I found out my great-grandfather had owned a plantation in the West Indies. Another was finding out that one second cousin is a famous 'painter' in Houston and has a website of all his paintings, and the other is the possibility that we might be related to a modern day saint in Europe! It's been very satisfying, and I hope that the OP will have as much enjoyment in her search as well.

Again, it was you my dear Sue who helped me so much and your enthusiasm for genealogy really fired me up. I shall be forever thankful for your wonderful input :-)

((HUGS)) and best wishes to you and yours for the New Year Sue.


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Mari, thank you so much! I remember your discouragement in the early days of your search, when you weren't getting a very positive response from the first relatives you contacted (people are naturally on guard when "strangers" ask for information). I suggested that you share some information with them to make them feel at ease, and I guess your warmth eventually won them over. Your situation presented quite a challenge, because the countries your family came from and settled in, before immigrating to America, are somewhat "off the beaten path" in terms of genealogical databases. I'm glad that you were eventually able to find so much!

Your story leads me to point out that, although it's nice to find some illustrious ancestor in our family, that's not really the goal for most of us. It's more important to get a sense of where and who we come from, as our backgrounds have inevitably given us certain characteristics, although our genetic blending of traits and our life experiences certainly make us unique individuals. Learning about the lives of our ancestors makes us appreciate their history, their struggles, and their gifts to us.

Warm wishes to you and your family for all the best in the New Year, too!

Sue


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Genealogy is addicting though and like a treasure hunt. I love it, but I research many things besides my family history

We stick pretty much with family, but it doesn't stay just on line. My wife's linneage can be certifiably traced to the Mayflower, and she has many ancestors all thru New England, so she's her family's designated "go-fer". Last summer we started going around to some of the older cemetaries, and as soon as it warms up this spring, we'll be right back at it. Our next stops are down in Amesbury and Salsbury, Mass.-- going to 2 and 300 year old cemetaries!!


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Sue, thank you for posting your POV. I appreciate it.


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Sue, then there are some I wouldn't want to meet in real life, LOL

But it's all very interesting and great fun, and addictive as so many already know. I am most fascinated with how they all left their respective countries and ended up in the US, Australia, West Indies and even China (last bit of info came my way from a distant relative)!!

I've met individuals who prefer not to know and that is fine. My kids enjoy the stories I now tell and during our Christmas party I was speaking to a new friend who said she is researching her husband's side of the family (Cherokee, Creek, British and African American). We chuckled quite a bit over the things we have found out so far. Lovely stories though some of them were sad as well.


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i just wrote a whole long post then lost it...

gen buffs here, too...found lots of help on Ancestry.com

my dad's family was so inbred that my grandfather was his own cousin 26 times. all through an ancestor that came from England in 1635 to Cape Cod.

I am 8th cousin to my dh (through our Mayflower ancestors--I have 5, dh has 6 --3 the same, so our kids have 8) this is not too unusual if your family has stayed in New England for more than 3 centuries...there are actually something like 35 million people in the US that can claim Mayflower ancestry, so it's not too Big of a Deal...:-)

I, too, love to learn of the struggles of my ancestors--it makes history so much more real to me..


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That was one prolific bunch, those Mayflower Pilgrims!! LMAO


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ha! :-)

truth is, there just weren't that many people to marry back then...so after a while, your uncle starts to look pretty good..

; D

I have one instance of uncle/neice marriage, lots of cousins marrying...the Cape was pretty desolate back then...


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It is also interesting to see how paths have crossed between not only cousins but families. For instance, in the 1850-1870 census my 5thGG was living next to a Dibble family in Flint, MI. When I was growing up in Flint, MI our neighbors were Dibble!

Last year I decided to research a branch of my family that had migrated to Battle Creek, MI. There was quite a bit of info on this family in the local library and I decided to bring the research forward and contact some of the remaining family members.

Not sure if anyone remembers the movie "Bitter Harvest" directed by Ron Howard? It was about the horrible problem of PBB, a fire retardant, that was accidently mixed in with dairy cattle fed in MI. I remember seeing that movie in the early '80s and I've talked about it several times over the years and it has always stuck in my mind. Come to find out it was my cousin that discovered the contaminated feed and it was on his family dairy farm! It is odd that I referenced that movie so many times and I had a connection to it other then drinking the contaminated milk!

I ran into some birth records in IL for the same surname as my GC. Of course my interest was peaked and I did his genealogy back to the early 1700s. There was tons of info on his family at the local library so it was not difficult at all. His 4thGGM was named ELIZABETH but used the nickname LIBBIE. My GC has a daughter, 3yo, named ELIZABETH and they call her LIBBIE. I asked him if he had named Libbie after his GGM and he said he had no idea about his family history. Oddly enough both used "IE" instead of "Y" in Libbie. This is not the first time I've seen this either.

Actually, what I started my family history research was my Mother wanted a copy of her father's birth certificate and had tried to find it but was not sucessful. I remember thinking that this was something I could do for my Mom and set off to find the BC. I finally did track down the BC but before hand found many interesting documents like his WWI military record, school records and so on. Well, that is all I needed!

For me doing my family history is finding out just a bit about how my ancestors lived and what decisions they made along the way. My most precious record is that of my 4th GGM who one an award for hand spun wool at the 1854 MI State Agriculture Fair. I do tons of needlework and do weave and this connection was absolutely a thrill for me to find!


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Sorry should be "who WON an award"...geesh how shameful of me to not proof read more carefully!


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OMG- thanks so much for the Castle Garden link- I found info Ancestry.com didn't have that I'd been looking for for ages! YES!! (pumping fist)

My dad is second-generation American. Mom's family came over on the Mayflower. Dad says it's before the immigration laws tightened up...


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All 4 of my grandparents came in through Ellis Island.
They have copied many of the original ships manifests which are searchable at Ellisisland.org if you have family that came in through there.


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My dad's parents did, as well, and yes, I've been a member now for about 2 years. :-)


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