Family History Episode 7 – Best Genealogy Websites, Part 1

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy PodcastOriginally published Fall 2008

Republished November 19, 2013

by Lisa Louise Cooke

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 7: Best Subscription Websites for Genealogy Research, Part 1

In our first segment, my guest is Lisa Alzo, popular genealogy lecturer and writer (now the author of nine books and online genealogy instructor at Family Tree University and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies). We talk about her reasons for researching her family history and what she’s learned in her genealogical journeys (which include international travel in Eastern Europe).

In the second half of the show, we tackle an essential topic: the best subscription sites for family history records. This is a two-part topic: in this episode I talk about the best genealogy websites that require payment to access their core content. In Episode 8, we’ll talk about the fantastic free websites that are out there.

Keep in mind that this episode was recorded a few years ago. As I mention in the show, the online records landscape is constantly changing. Here are a few updates:

  • The biggest powerhouse paid subscription website is still Ancestry: it’s just bigger and better than what I originally described. As of fall 2013, they host 11 billion historical records. Member-contributed items include over 50 million family trees and 160 million uploads of photographs, stories and scanned documents. They still have a free 14-day trial membership and multiple subscription options: check out current ones here.
  • WorldVitalRecords is still a great website, though it’s grown more slowly. At our republishing date, it boasts over 158 million digitized images, (including US and UK censuses); 300 million names from vital records; 75 million names from military records, over 100 million pages of newspapers dating from 1739; 1.5 million historical maps; 8000 yearbooks and over 30 million tombstone photos. WorldVitalRecords is now part of the MyHeritage.com family of websites. Click here for a free 3-day trial membership.
  • Findmypast now has two web storefronts: findmypast.com (recommended for folks in the U.S.) and FindMyPast.co.uk (which specializes in British and Irish roots and records). At last glance in fall 2013, findmypast hosts over 1.5 million family history records. It offers great search options and a budget-friendly pay-per-view model or a more traditional subscription.
  • RootsIreland is now home now to over 20 million Irish records.
  • Genline.com for Swedish research is still online, though it’s part of Ancestry.com now. It’s home to over 20 million church record images and more.
  • Scotland’s People is still your official home for online Scottish records, including an enormous collection of parish records with births and baptisms, banns and marriages and deaths and burials.
  • Many other sites support specific topics in genealogy research. An example on my side of the pond is Fold3 (formerly Footnote) for American military records. This site is home to over 400 million total records from the Revolutionary War era forward. Check with others who research families from the same location or ethnic background as your family to see what sites would be perfect for you.

Links

Ancestry

Findmypast.com

Findmypast.uk.com

Fold3

WorldVitalRecords

My website mentioned in the podcast, GenealogyGems.tv, is now better known as www.genealogygems.com. The Genealogy Gems newsletter mentioned in the episode is now my blog, which you can find on my website.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 229

with Lisa Louise Cooke
May 2019

Listen now, click player below:

Download the episode (mp3)

In this episode:

  • Two listeners shares an exciting find using Lisa’s research strategies
  • Lisa provides next steps on German research in response to a listener question
  • Your Master Family Tree, and Sharing Branches Online Explained
  • The unusual history of one of the earliest forms of the World Wide Web

 

NEWS:

Lisa Louise Cooke is back in the studio after two weeks on the road speaking at the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) Conference and the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference.

Each conference was great and had its own unique feel, and there were many new genealogists in attendance.

Genealogy Gems listener Carol stopped by and enthusiastically shared with how the eBay search strategies for family history that Lisa discussed in episode 140 paid off in a big way!

Carol and her ebay find

 

family name on back of postcard

MAILBOX:

Robin wrote in to share how Sydney Orton’s song with her grandpa in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 228 brought her to tears in a toll plaza while driving!

Steve wrote in to rave about the value that his new Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning membership has brought to his family history research.

Rylee says she’s grateful to have found the podcast and she shares a story of genealogical discovery that she hopes will inspire others. Rylee asks “How do I find sources for these people? I have searched all over ancestry and Family Search and have had no luck again. I really want to believe that the people I have as Adam’s parents and siblings all the way through his 2nd great-grandparents (paternal) are truly his family but I need to get more information. Where can I go for help with German records and where can I continue my search?”

Lisa’s comments:  You’re absolutely right, what you found are just hints. It sounds like it’s time for you to move on from the “Genealogy Giants” (Ancestry, FamilySearch, etc.) and into German records websites, libraries, and archives to find real sources that nail down the family tree.

Lisa recommends the Genealogy Giants quick reference comparison guide.

We have several articles and episodes at Genealogy Gems that can help you do this:

  1. Go to genealogygems.com
  2. At the top of the home page select “German” from the “Start Learning” drop down menu
  3. That will take you to these results pages featuring our German research strategies.

I’m optimistic for you because Germans are known for keeping excellent records, and I have had good luck in searching them.

 

GEM: Your Master Family Tree, and Sharing Branches Online Explained

planting your master family tree

I describe it this way: Plant your tree in your own backyard and share branches online.

A master family tree has three important characteristics:

  1. It is owned and controlled by you.
  2. It is the final say on what you currently know about your family tree.
  3. It is protected with online backup to ensure it is safe.

Plant Your Master Family Tree
Lisa uses RootsMagic software for her master family tree. Learn more about GEDCOM files in this article: GEDCOM File (What is It & How to Use This Genealogy File)

Protech Your Master Family Tree
Lisa uses Backblaze to back up her master family tree and computer. Visit www.backblaze.com/lisa
(Using this link also helps keep this free podcast free. Thank you!)

Read more: How to Download Backblaze in 4 Easy Steps

Share Branches Online
Genealogy Giants Guide available in the Genealogy Gems store.

Read Lisa’s article: Planting Your Master Genealogy Family Tree for all of the strategies mentioned in this episode.

The free podcast is sponsored by:

Rootsmagic

PROFILE AMERICA: Friday, May 24th, 2019

In a way, today marks the 175th birthday of the World Wide Web. Only it was electro-mechanical, not digital. On this date in 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse activated the first telegraph line, sending a dots-and-dashes code message from the U.S. Capitol building to a receiver in Baltimore.

By the late 1850s, the first telegraph cable had been laid across the Atlantic Ocean, and in 1861, the telegraph spanned the continental United States. Over the ensuing decades, the wires wrapped around the world.

From the 1844 demonstration, telecommunications today has grown into a half-trillion dollar a year industry, and employs more than 1 million workers in over 59,000 industry establishments.

You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at www.census.gov.

Sources:

Joseph Nathan Kane, Kane’s Famous First Facts, Fifth Edition, H.W. Wilson Co., New York, NY, 1997, #7692.

 

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Genealogy Gems premium elearning

 

Gain access to the complete Premium Podcast archive of over 150 episodes and more than 50 video webinars, including Lisa Louise Cooke’s newest video The Big Picture in Little Details.
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Download the Show Notes PDF in the Genealogy Gems Podcast app. 

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