Online Genealogical Resources


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Brief overview of researching family history online by looking at 9 recommended websites and a list of additional resources.

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Online Genealogical Resources

  1. 1. Online Genealogical Resources May P. Chan Prairie History Room Regina Public Library © March 21, 2009
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Introduction to Online Genealogical Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Developing a Search Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Recommended Websites: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prairie History Room (PHR) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Canadian Genealogy Centre (CGC) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>FamilySearch.Org </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cyndi’s List </li></ul></ul><ul><li>5 Websites You Should Use </li></ul><ul><li>Additional Resources </li></ul>
  3. 3. Introduction <ul><li>Nowadays, more genealogical information (e.g. records, research tips, etc.) can be found online </li></ul><ul><li>Includes websites, databases, blogs, message boards/forums, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Online creators include libraries, archives, genealogical societies, historians, genealogists, </li></ul><ul><li>booksellers, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Sites are either free or </li></ul><ul><li>fee-based </li></ul>
  4. 4. Online Genealogical Resources <ul><li>Advantages </li></ul><ul><li>More convenient -24/7 access from any internet accessible computer </li></ul><ul><li>Ease of use - type in a name and get instant results </li></ul><ul><li>Saves $ on traveling to distant locations to look at the records </li></ul><ul><li>Disadvantages </li></ul><ul><li>Less than 5% of the world’s records (or less than 1% of Canadian records) are actually available online because mass digitization is very expensive </li></ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><li>is changing </li></ul><ul><li>too rapidly </li></ul>
  5. 5. Developing a Search Strategy <ul><li>Focus your query </li></ul><ul><li>Know where to look for the information </li></ul><ul><li>Follow instructions </li></ul><ul><li>Investigate the source </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation & backup </li></ul>
  6. 6. 1. Focus Your Query <ul><li>Instead of asking “I would like any information about the [Smith] family who settled in Saskatchewan”, ask “I am trying to find out when Charles Smith homesteaded in Saskatchewan” </li></ul><ul><li>Concentrate on one family branch at a time </li></ul><ul><li>Do background research </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t assume everything is </li></ul><ul><li>online or in a single resource! </li></ul>
  7. 7. 2. Know Where to Look <ul><li> </li></ul>
  8. 8. 3. Follow Instructions <ul><li>Not all online resources are created in the same manner or for the purpose of providing genealogy information </li></ul><ul><li>Read the online help manual/instructions before beginning a search on a unfamiliar website, database, or index </li></ul><ul><li>Know the difference between: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Index: leads you to other sources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Database: a collection of </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>resources that may include </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>indexes, books, photos, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. 4. Investigating the Source <ul><li>Ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><li>Who provided the information? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the “real” source? </li></ul><ul><li>What tells me that it came from that source? </li></ul><ul><li>Do they have a bias or an agenda? </li></ul><ul><li>When was this website last updated? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it ask for payment? </li></ul><ul><li>Is payment secure? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Investigating the Source… <ul><li>Look for an “About” page </li></ul><ul><li>Look for a date; be vigilant even if it is today’s date! </li></ul><ul><li>“ Google” the full name (in quotes) of the person or organization whose name appears as the author of the site </li></ul><ul><li>Contact the source </li></ul>
  11. 11. Avoiding Genealogy Scams <ul><li>Cyndi’s List Myth, Hoaxes, and Scams (March 2009) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Dick Eastman’s article on Genealogy Rip-Offs (May 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Genealogy Hoaxes, Scams and Fraud </li></ul><ul><li>genealogyscams/ </li></ul>
  12. 12. 5. Documentation & Backup <ul><li>Always record document your sources and your findings! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Write down whether the source was online, in a book, newspaper, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write down search terms that were used (e.g. spelling of surnames, dates, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write down url of the website or the database that was used (e.g. HeritageQuest Online) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write down when you accessed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the resource </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Back-up your data on a regular </li></ul><ul><li>basis </li></ul>
  13. 13. Prairie History Room (RPL) <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>prairiehistory </li></ul>
  14. 14. Prairie History Room (PHR) <ul><li>Officially opened in 1973 </li></ul><ul><li>Collection covers the 3 Prairie Provinces from pre-settlement times to present day </li></ul><ul><li>Serves as both a local history & genealogy collection </li></ul><ul><li>Revamped website launched in April 2007, featuring RSS feeds (enables users to instant notifications of updates via an RSS readers or email address), PHR blog, online photo site, various </li></ul><ul><li>research guides and links to </li></ul><ul><li>popular web resources </li></ul>
  15. 16. Prairie History Room (PHR) <ul><li>1. Available Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Over 2000 community and church history books </li></ul><ul><li>Regina Henderson City directories and telephone books </li></ul><ul><li>Canadian census records (microfilm) </li></ul><ul><li>Canadian passenger lists and border entry records from the U.S. (microfilm) </li></ul><ul><li>City directories for major cities in the Prairies (microfilm) </li></ul><ul><li>Leader Post newspaper </li></ul><ul><li>(microfilm) </li></ul><ul><li>Regina school yearbooks </li></ul>
  16. 17. Free Genealogy Databases (RPL) <ul><li>Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) : An enhanced library version of, a popular genealogy research tool that provides digital access to U.S., U.K and Canadian census returns, vital statistics, military records, ships' passenger lists, directories, parish records, family trees, maps and forms. </li></ul><ul><li>HeritageQuest Online : A searchable database providing access to U. S. Federal Census records from 1790 onwards, PERSI (a PERiodical Source Index to genealogy and local history periodicals for both the US and Canada), and digitized copies of genealogy and local history books. </li></ul>
  17. 18. Prairie History Room (PHR) <ul><li>2. Web Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Prairie History Blog ( </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online newsletter featuring new books, magazines and websites; upcoming genealogy workshops and conferences; and heritage-related events or news in the community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web Links </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recommended web resources; utilize social bookmark site that enables you to also share your favorites with us </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research Guides </li></ul><ul><ul><li>15 guides ranging in topics from how to digitize one’s photos; researching Aboriginal and Métis genealogy; planning a successful genealogy trip; where to locate birth, marriage and death records; etc. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. Prairie History Room (PHR) <ul><li>3. Leader Post Index </li></ul><ul><li>Searchable by keyword or subject, this full indexing of the newspaper cover the years 1992 to 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>Especially useful for tracking down birth, marriage and death notices from 1992 to 2007 (e.g. SaskObits coverage of obits only begins Sept. 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>The record provides a date & page number which you can use to locate the article on the microfilm reel </li></ul>
  19. 20. Prairie History Room (PHR) <ul><li>4. Google Map </li></ul><ul><li>PHR is close by several institutions and organizations holding historical and genealogical records. Map includes SGS, SAB, U of R Archives, CORA, Regina Plains Museum, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>5 . H o u r s o f O p e r a t i o n </li></ul><ul><li>Open 7 days a week with evening and weekend hours </li></ul><ul><li>6. Contact Us </li></ul><ul><li>Various ways of contacting us – </li></ul><ul><li>in person, phone, fax and email. </li></ul>
  20. 21. Canadian Genealogy Centre <ul><li>http://www.genealogy. </li></ul><ul><li> / </li></ul>
  21. 22. Canadian Genealogy Centre <ul><li>Launched in 2003, the Centre includes all physical and online genealogical services of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the major genealogical resources include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Census records (1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906 & 1911 returns) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Divorce records (1841-1968) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marriage bonds (Upper & Lower Canada, 1779-1865) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Passenger lists (1865-1922 and 1925-1935) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Immigration records (Home Children database, 1869-1930) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Land grants (Western Land Grants, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1870-1930) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Military records (Soldiers of the WWI) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>City directories (Who Was Where, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1861-1901) </li></ul></ul>
  22. 24. Canadian Genealogy Centre (CGC) <ul><li>1. How to Begin </li></ul><ul><li>Provides a good overview of genealogical research </li></ul><ul><li>2. Most Requested Records </li></ul><ul><li>Quick access to various records, finding aids and research tips </li></ul><ul><li>3. Research Topics </li></ul><ul><li>guides are divided into 2 sections—search by topic or search by geographic location </li></ul>
  23. 25. Canadian Genealogy Centre (CGC) <ul><li>4. Ancestors Search </li></ul><ul><li>Basic search (located in the centre of the screen or click on the tab on the left hand side of the screen) </li></ul>
  24. 27. … word of caution re: CGC website <ul><li>Although most of the databases listed on this website will enable users to view scanned images of the original, please keep in mind that some of them are NOT set up for you to search by surname—e.g. the 1901 Canadian Census or the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1922.    </li></ul><ul><li>Why?  The original records are arranged according to the way they were </li></ul><ul><li>created, used and then stored.  </li></ul>
  25. 28. Canadian Genealogy Centre (CGC) <ul><li>5. Contact Information </li></ul><ul><li>Telephone & fax numbers, mailing address and electronic forms asking them for research assistance or photocopies of records (e.g. military files) </li></ul><ul><li>6. That’s My Family </li></ul><ul><li>Federated search tool that </li></ul><ul><li>enables you to search multiple databases in various provinces </li></ul>
  26. 29. That’s My Family Tool <ul><li>Includes databases from LAC as well as from British Columbia (BMDs), Nova Scotia (BMDs), Ontario (Toronto Emmigrant Office), Prince Edward Island (Baptismal index), Quebec (BMDs & land records), and Saskatchewan (Homestead index) </li></ul>
  27. 30. FamilySearch <ul><li> </li></ul>
  28. 31. FamilySearch.Org <ul><li>Website began in March 1999 </li></ul><ul><li>Created and maintained by the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS), better known as the Mormons </li></ul><ul><li>Main Resources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ancestral File – over 35 million individuals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>International Genealogical Index (IGI) – over 760 million names </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Census Indexes – 1880 US, 1881 British & 1881 Canadian </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vital Records – Mexico & Scandinavia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>US Social Security Death Index </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pedigree Resource File – over 130 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>million names </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Family History Web Sites </li></ul></ul>
  29. 33. FamilySearch.Org <ul><li>1. Search Records for Your Ancestors </li></ul><ul><li>Basic search </li></ul>
  30. 35. FamilySearch.Org <ul><li>2. Research Helps </li></ul><ul><li>Divided into 2 main categories – Articles & Guidance </li></ul><ul><li>3. Family Library </li></ul><ul><li>List of upcoming genealogy classes </li></ul><ul><li>If you click on the “Library” tab on the top navigation bar, you can access information about the Family History Library (Salt Lake City), various </li></ul><ul><li>Family History Centers and </li></ul><ul><li>access to the Library Catalog </li></ul>
  31. 36. FamilySearch.Org <ul><li>4. What’s New </li></ul><ul><li>Latest updates regarding the website, including a link to their pilot research site </li></ul>
  32. 37. Cyndi’s List <ul><li> </li></ul>
  33. 38. Cyndi’s List <ul><li>Website originally launched in 1996 </li></ul><ul><li>Internet portal offering over 260, 000 family history links (both paid and free websites) organized by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geographical locations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnic groups & people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Types of Records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Occupations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research Tools & Materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computers & the Internet </li></ul></ul>
  34. 40. Cyndi’s List <ul><li>1. Main Category </li></ul><ul><li>Alphabetical listing of links organized by topic </li></ul><ul><li>2. Browse </li></ul><ul><li>Index to the links </li></ul><ul><li>3. New Links </li></ul><ul><li>Quick reference to see what new links have been added to the portal </li></ul><ul><li>Also includes option to submit </li></ul><ul><li>a link to this resource </li></ul>
  35. 41. 5 Websites You Should Use <ul><li>Saskatchewan Council of Archives and Archivists (SCAA) </li></ul><ul><li>Our Roots </li></ul><ul><li>Peel’s Prairie Provinces </li></ul><ul><li>Canadian County Atlas Digital Project </li></ul><ul><li>Library of Congress (LOC) </li></ul>
  36. 42. 1. Saskatchewan Council of Archives and Archivists (SCAA) <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SCAA represents the archival community in Saskatchewan </li></ul><ul><li>2 key resources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>List of institutional members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Saskatchewan/Manitoba/Nunavut Archival Information Network: database of archival descriptions found in the holdings of member institutions </li></ul></ul>
  37. 44. 2. Our Roots <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Created & maintained by the University of Calgary and Université Laval </li></ul><ul><li>Digital collection of Canada’s Local Histories </li></ul>
  38. 46. 3. Peel’s Prairie Provinces <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>collections.html </li></ul><ul><li>Created and maintained by the University of Alberta </li></ul><ul><li>Website not only contains the online Peel bibliography but also a fully searchable digital collection of books, newspapers and Henderson directories </li></ul>
  39. 48. 4. Canadian County Atlas Digital Project <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Created by McGill University </li></ul><ul><li>Site offers a searchable database of Ontario property owners' names that appear on the township maps in the county atlases </li></ul>
  40. 50. 5. Library of Congress (LOC) <ul><li>United States’ oldest federal cultural institution </li></ul><ul><li>Digital collections & services page </li></ul><ul><li>2 key digital collections: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>American History & Culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Historic Newspapers </li></ul></ul>
  41. 52. <ul><li>Additional Resources </li></ul>
  42. 53. Books <ul><ul><li>Morgan, George C. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Official Guide to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> . Provo, UT: Ancestry Pub., </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>c2007. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ISBN: 9781593313043 or 1593313047 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>025.069291 MORGA </li></ul></ul>Gormley, Myra Vanderpool and Tana Pedersen Lord. The Official Guide to . Provo, Utah : Ancestry Pub., c2007. ISBN: 9781593313098 or 1593313098 929.10285 GORML
  43. 54. Books… Helm, Matthew L. and April Leigh Helm. Genealogy Online for Dummies . Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley Pub., c2008. ISBN: 0470240571 or 9780470240571 929.10285 HELM 2008 Crowe, Elizabeth Powell. Genealogy Online . New York ; Toronto : McGraw-Hill, c2008. ISBN: 9780071499316 or 0071499318 929.10285 CROWE 2008
  44. 55. Genealogy Magazines <ul><li>Ancestry, Family Chronicle, and Internet Genealogy magazines (located beside the PHR Reference Desk) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Back issues can be borrowed for 3 weeks with no renewals </li></ul></ul>
  45. 56. Ancestry Insider Blog <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Unauthorized reviews of both and websites </li></ul>
  46. 57. 101 Best Websites (2008) <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Annual list of the best online genealogical resources (both paid & free) </li></ul><ul><li>2008 list is organized by topics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Best for British Isles Researchers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best for “Continental” Researchers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best for Genetic Researchers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best for Immigration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Researchers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best for U.S. Researchers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best for Military Researchers </li></ul></ul>
  47. 58. Genealogy Blog Finder <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Organized by topics such as personal research, genetic genealogy, libraries, etc. </li></ul>
  48. 59. The End Email: [email_address]