Which are the Best Genealogy Websites for YOU??

Bill Johnson in Manassas, Virginia, USA, wrote to me with this question–and I know he’s not the only one asking it!

“It’s difficult to know what genealogical resources to spend your money on. I have been a subscriber to Ancestry.com (world package) for years. But, there is FindMyPast, MyHeritage, etc. Your books identify dozens of other resources that all sound good — and cost money. Then there are some of the free resources like the National Archives and the LDS resources [FamilySearch].  Where should you spend your time and money?  While money is always a factor, I find that my time is a more precious resource.  If I have Ancestry.com, would I gain anything by subscribing to FindMyPast? MyHeritage? FamilySearch? The National Archives or the BLM sites?  I am concerned about wasting money on redundancy.  Why visit a site that only offers a select subset of the data that I access through Ancestry?

Which paid sites do you regularly use?  Which free sites do you use?  Your books have a plethora of suggestions but the pool of resources is increasing by the day.  It is really getting rather confusing.”

What a great question!!! Here’s my answer:

“I agree, it’s gotten more complicated selecting the best genealogy websites for your own needs. I will take a look at covering this more in depth in a future podcast episode. I do have a few ideas for you right now.

It’s really about accessing the right website (or tool) for the task.

  • For general depth of records I turn first to Ancestry.com (you only need the world edition if you need records outside of the U.S.), and then FamilySearch.org. With Ancestry.com, I make sure I use the card catalog and search by location tool (scroll down to the map) so I’m not missing all the record sets that don’t automatically jump to the top of the general search results. FamilySearch is free, so I check its online resources EVERY TIME I have a question. I check both browsable and indexed content (from the main screen, click Search, then Records, then scroll down and click Browse all Published Collections (or click to that screen here). You’ll be able to choose a location and see all content they have and whether it’s been indexed or you just have to browse through it (like reading microfilm, only online).
  • For me personally, I was slow to warm up to MyHeritage because I just wasn’t sure how it would best help me. Once I embraced it and posted my tree, its strength in my research became clear: for the first time ever I connected with a distant cousin in the “old country” (Germany)! The international user base of MyHeritage stands above other sites. And the fact that you can create your own family site on MyHeritage makes it a great ongoing resource for staying connected. (Disclosure: MyHeritage is a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems podcast. However, that is because of the value I came to experience in my own research as I just mentioned.)
  • When I am focused on my husband’s British roots I head to FindMyPast and pay as I go as needed.

download backblazeOur mission here at Genealogy Gems is to reveal innovative ways of using the myriad of tech tools so you’ll know you can turn to them only when you need them. Think of it as a toolbelt. The right tool for the right job! But I also only bring tech tools and websites to the podcast and my website that I believe are worthwhile. Believe it or not, I weed a lot of them out!

I hope that helps, and I wish you great genealogical success!”  Lisa

Genealogy Test Reveals Dad’s DNA Swapped in Artificial Insemination

stick_figure_surprised_pose_400_wht_3478It’s not uncommon for genetic DNA tests to reveal that you’re not related to people you thought you were. But here’s a twist I’ve never heard before.

A family who had a daughter by artificial insemination of the husband’s sperm eventually decided to do some DNA testing for family history. Imagine the wife’s shock when she discovered that her husband and daughter shared no DNA!

They got a bigger shock when they did a little research. Apparently the biological father worked at the lab that handled the family’s insemination process. The man is dead now, but it appears he may have deliberately swapped in his own sample for the father’s.

Of course lots of questions have come up–including how many other children may have received the DNA of a man who was a convicted kidnapper.

My heart goes out to this family and to others who now fear their genetic fatherhood was hijacked. Read the full story here (it’s popped up in several news outlets now, but I first saw it at KUTV.com).

CeCe Moore: DNA for Genealogy and Adoption and MORE on Free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 178

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryThe latest episode of the free Genealogy Gems podcast (Episode 178) has been released and it’s PACKED with gems you can use now to inspire your family history!

Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 178First, nationally-renowned genetic genealogist CeCe Moore joins me on the show to talk about using DNA for genealogy research, adoption, and the Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. TV show.

I love CeCe’s analogy of using different DNA test providers to “fish in different ponds.” She talks about using different types of genetic tests (autosomal, y-DNA or mDNA) to chase answers to specific genealogy research questions, and the importance of using test results together, not in isolation. Because autosomal DNA is coming onto so many people’s radar, I ask her to explain that in more depth–its uses and its limitations. CeCe shares her favorite tips for people who are getting started and gives us lots of great buy gout medication examples, including a helpful example for African-Americans who are trying to identify a genetic ancestor (who may also have had a slaveholder relationships with the family).

Also in this episode, we announce the newest featured title in the Genealogy Gems Book Club: The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist) by British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Listen to the episode to hear what this mystery novel is about and why we chose it.

Finally, I share some fantastic new record sets that are online now and ready for you to explore, and a Genealogy Gems listener shares an important update on adoption records in Ohio.

Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems PodcastClick here to listen to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 178. Click here to learn more about this free podcast and see an archive of past episodes. We recently celebrated more than 1.5 million downloads of our podcasts!

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Boston Catholic Records Now at Ancestry.com, and Other New Collections

New at Ancestry.com are Boston Catholic records, thanks to a partnership with the New England Historical Genealogical Society. Also new this week are big updates for the Big Apple with lots of new and updated collections for New York. Additional new collections for the United States, Australia, and New Zealand are highlighted this week. 

Boston Catholic Records

Boston Catholic Records Now at Ancestry.com

Ancestry and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have collaborated to make Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records now available on Ancestry.com. This unique collection includes approximately 10 million names from Massachusetts Catholic records from the late 1700s to the early 1900s.

“The detailed documents in this collection are a critical resource for researchers, historians, and genealogists, especially when secular records are spotty or lost,” said Brenton Simons, President and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The records within the bound volumes contain several sacraments of the Catholic Church, including baptism, confirmation, holy communion, marriage, holy orders, and the anointing of the sick.

Big Updates for New York

You can search a free index of New York City marriages, 1908-1929, at Internet Archive, thanks to a “Reclaim the Records” initiative. This is an index to an important set of records originally kept by the New York City Clerk’s Office: “the 1908-1929 application, affidavit, and license for a marriage, a…three-page document that is generally dated a few weeks before the actual marriage took place.” MyHeritage has also just added the New York City Marriage License Index 1908-1929.

Boston Catholic Records

You’re likely to spot some famous folks like Humphrey Bogart in this NYC Marriage License Index at MyHeritage!

New York City Marriage Announcements, 1833-1836 are available at Findmypast, with notices from two newspapers: The Sun and the New York Transcript.

Also new at Findmypast is an Image Browse collection of New York State Religious Records 1716-1914. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society transcribed and published religious records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths from dozens of New York State churches of various denominations.

Back over at MyHeritage is a collection of New York Newspapers, 1806-2007 with nearly 2 million pages from various cities and towns throughout the state.

Lastly, the Troy Irish Genealogy Society has published Transcriptions from the St. Agnes Cemetery Tombstones in Menands, NY. From the description: “The inscriptions are overwhelmingly of Irish immigrants to the Capital District Region. While some inscriptions merely say “Ireland” a large number are more specific and identify the County in Ireland along with the name of the town and the name of the Parish.”

Additional United States Collections

Illinois. The State of Illinois has repaired and digitized 57 maps that the Illinois National Guard used during World War I. According to the description, “the maps feature the guard’s 33rd division, which was the only distinctly Illinois division that saw active service during the war in France.”

North Carolina. The State Archives of North Carolina has announced the launch of the Brimley Collection Online. Named for Herbert Hutchinson Brimley, the first leader of The North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, this collection of photographs from the late 19th and mid-20th century include people both common and renowned, scenes of cities and towns, rural landscapes and farms, agricultural activities and products, industrial concerns, and more.

Arkansas. More than 200 issues of the Commonwealth College Fortnightly are now searchable online. This newspaper ran from 1926 to 1938 and this digital collection provides a complete record of activity at Arkansas’ historic radical labor school.

Australia & New Zealand Databases

You have to love records that include photographs! Ancestry.com has a new collection for Queensland, Australia, World War I Soldier Portraits, 1914-1918. This unique collection comes from portraits taken at the soldier’s camp at Enoggera, Queensland and published in The Queenslander newspaper until the end of the war in 1918. 

A newly digitized archive for New South Wales is now available online. Prisoners in Pictures details the stories of nearly 50,000 prisoners incarcerated in New South Wales between 1870 and 1930. The prisoner stories are told through photography, text, an online catalog, and short films with interviews from archivists such as the one below:

https://youtu.be/QJmBRdEmXS0

In New Zealand, the Victoria University of Wellington has released a database of 12,000 imperial soldiers who fought in the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s. From the description: “The database provides searchable public access to the names, regiments, and dates of service of soldiers who fought in New Zealand. It is the first installment of what will grow into a larger publicly accessible resource.”

 

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