A ton of genealogy and family history research can be done for free. In this episode I’ll share 15 fabulous free websites and what I love about them. These are essential for everyone serious about saving money while climbing their family tree.
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Colonial genealogy records are just the tip of the iceberg in this week’s new and updated genealogical collections. If your roots go back to the early days of the American colonies, you will want to get started in these unique colonial genealogy records. Additionally, some fantastic finds for the United Kingdom and Denmark are also available in this week’s gems.
United States and Canada – Transatlantic Migration
First things first: where and when did your early American family arrive in the New World? Findmypast has added a new collection titled United States, Transatlantic Migration. This collection offers more than 30,000 records shedding light on the lives of your migrating ancestors from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, and France from as early as the 1500s to as recent as the 1900s. Some information you may be able to find include: birth countries, date of emigration, ages, occupations, and names of family members. Once you have found where your family settled, head on over to the next record set for founding families.
United States – Colonial Genealogy Records
Findmypast’s colonial genealogy records set titled United States, Early American Families is a one-of-a-kind collection. These records will help you learn even more about your ancestral ties to early founding families in America. Dive into 140 publications containing over 86,000 records. These records provide details regarding the early families and their descendants. You might even learn the birth or death year of your family’s brick wall ancestor!
A sister colonial genealogy records collection titled United States, Early American Vital Recordswill also be of interest to those searching the colonial American family. This collection is filled with over 14,000 vital records as early as the 1600s! You will be delighted with the many birth, marriage, and death registers, gravestone inscriptions, and wills you can find here.
United States – Connecticut – Town Vitals
The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town records, also from Findmypast, contains over 18,000 vital record volumes pertaining to Connecticut towns. You will need to search these records by surname. If your ancestral surname is located, you will find a PDF image that may list the birth or death dates, names of family members, and other personal details of the Connecticut family.
United States – Colonial Williamsburg
The Colonial Williamsburg Education Resource Library has been made available to everyone with a thirst for learning. What better resource to learn about your colonial American family research than with the library’s more than 100 lesson plans, background texts, and primary source media.
You will need to create an account, but it is free. Even though the account sign-up page seems to be for educators only, it is for everyone! I made my own account and got pretty excited looking through the many videos available. My son, a big history buff, is going to love this! I am always looking for ways to get the kids interested in family history.
United Kingdom – Military
Over 1.1 million War Office records covering officers, nurses, and other ranks have been updated in the British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945 collection this past week. These lists cover the individuals reported as killed in action, wounded, prisoner of war, missing, died of wounds, dangerously ill, and more.
This collection at Findmypast is fully searchable and offers transcripts and digital images of the original documents. Most lists will give the person’s name, rank, service number, regiment, and status. It may also provide the date of death if applicable.
Denmark – Census
FamilySearch.org is where to look for your Danish ancestors! The name index of the Denmark census taken in 1911 is available for free at FamilySearch or with your paid subscription at MyHeritage.
The Denmark census of 1911 was the thirteenth census for the country. Though the census includes the countries of Greenland, Faroe Islands, and the Danish West Indies, what you will find on FamilySearch is only those enumerations for Denmark. The census is divided into three sections: Copenhagen city, other cities, and rural areas.
This census is written in Danish of course, so you might need a little help with some translation. Pop on over to FamilySearch wiki here to find a helpful chart of key words in both Danish and English.
This census asks questions pertaining to names of household members, birth date and year, birth location, religion, occupation, your means of getting to work, and how long it takes to get to your location of work! Isn’t that interesting?!
More Gems on Colonial American Family Research
Looking for even more tips and tricks to researching the colonial American family? Try these Genealogy Gem favorites!
If you haven’t been enjoying The Genealogy Gems (free!) Podcast, try it out today! A podcast is like listening to a favorite radio show from your computer or mobile device. Get up-to-date with everything new and exciting in the world of genealogy, learn a new tech tip, and find inspiration in these wonderful podcast programs!
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!
A free podcast series for beginner genealogy, The Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast series offers step-by-step how-to instruction and inspiration.
Are you just getting started in family history? Or are you ready for a genealogy “do-over” with a more systematic approach to learning and researching? My free beginner genealogy podcast series, Family History: Genealogy Made Easy, may be just what you’re looking for. Kim from Alpine, Utah, wrote in to say how much that series has helped her:
I’ve downloaded all of the Family History Made Easypodcasts and am making my way through them while I exercise. I just finished listening to your archived Family History Made Easypodcast #31 “Immigration and Naturalization Records, part 3” with Stephen Danko, not realizing there were also parts 1 and 2. When I got on my computer to look at the show notes and realized there were two more episodes in this series to listen to, I was thrilled: I have an incentive now to go walking at least twice more this week! The podcasts are the motivation for me to get out and get the blood circulating!
I was amazed at all there is to learn from ship manifests, and have a plan to go back and review those I’ve already captured. I’m sure there are many new things I will be able to learn from them, after learning about all of the marks and notations.
Thank you for producing this entire series of informative, educational, instructive, and interesting, podcasts, as well as the Genealogy Gems podcasts. They are a service to the genealogy community and help elevate the quality of our family history work. I wish you well and hope you continue producing them for a long time!
Here’s how to access the free series:
1. Go to www.genealogygems.com 2. Hover your mouse over Podcast 3. Click on Family History: Genealogy Made Easy 4. Episodes are in numerical order
5. Click the link for episode 1 called Getting Started 6. The web page is called “show notes” and has all the information covered in that episode.
7. Click “Play Now” link at the top and then click the Play button to listen on your computer, or you can subscribe through iTunes. Here’s a link to frequently asked questions about podcasts.
Along with the step-by-step beginner genealogy series, you can also listen to the entire archive of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, like Kim has done, for tons of additional ideas and strategies.
Adding Source Citations is our third post in the Inherited Genealogy Files series, and in this post, we answer a listener’s question.
We recently received this letter from a Genealogy Gems Podcast listener, Cristy. She says:
Thank you for your tip about starting from the present and working backwards. I was having a hard time knowing where to start. I had inherited a tree passed from my mom and my great-grandmother, that when combined with the information my husband’s aunt gave me [I had a] tree with almost 1200 names. But the information from my great-grandmother and my aunt does not have any sources and all of my mom’s sources got lost in our various moves over the years. She only had her old school database that just had the facts and no sources.
I determined that a genealogy book my mom used as a source for one of our lines [had been] copied [from] an older genealogy line that has been proven incorrect. So, my goal has been to re-find my mom’s sources and document everything. I didn’t know where to start. I have now made a second tree in my database keeping the original as a place to start and only putting what I have proved using actual sources and attaching the documentation as I go. Your episode on the Genealogical Proof Standard was really helpful. It will be a big help as I clean up my tree.
Finding Source Citations for Your Inherited Family Tree
Let’s first give a brief definition of source citation.
Source Citation: the information that tells your reader where you obtained a particular piece of genealogical data.
For example, a family tree should include a source citation for the birth date and place, the death date and place, and the marriage date and place…and that’s just the start.
Finding source citations is really easy if you are using FamilySearch. Let’s say I used a death record I found online at FamilySearch as the proof of my ancestors death date. What is so wonderful about using FamilySearch.org for finding records is that it includes a source citation for you to copy and paste. Take a look.
You can highlight the source citation text and copy it into your genealogy software. A bonus is knowing that FamilySearch is free and easy to use.
Adding Source Citations for Genealogy to RootsMagic Software
As I mentioned above, you can take the source citation you found on FamilySearch and copy and paste it into your genealogy software. RootsMagic is the genealogy software we here at The Genealogy Gems Podcast use (and we are proud that they sponsor our free Genealogy Gems Podcast.) It is an easy-to-use and effective software for both PC and Mac users. (To learn more about using RootsMagic, read here.)
Using RootsMagic, let’s add a source citation to an event in a family tree:
In this example above, we have double clicked on Clarence’s name and opened up the Edit Person window. We would like to add a source citation for Clarence Bowser’s death date and place. In the line for death, we click on the box in the source citation column. The source citation column is indicated by that little icon that looks like a record.
At the pop-up window, we click Add new source and from the options, choose Free Form and click OK.
Now, let’s assume you copied the following source citation from a record you found at FamilySearch.org:
“Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VKBM-BKN : accessed 8 December 2014), Clarence W Bowser, 09 Nov 1958.
The first part of the citation is the title of the collection and the location you found it. “Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VKBM-BKN. That front half of the citation is going to go in the Footnote area of the next pop-up window. The remainder of the citation you copied is going to go in the Page field. Then click, OK.
Notice, the entire footnote at the right of the screen looks like the one you copied from FamilySearch. You may wonder why on earth we separated the citation. Because, RootsMagic is going to remember you have a source citation from Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007. The next time you find an ancestor’s death record in this index, you will not need to click Add new source. Rather, you will click Cite existing source, and choose the Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007.
At the next screen, the Footnote field will already be filled out for you. All you need to do is fill in the Page field with the back-half of the new source.
You can get loads more tips and tricks in our helpful Evernotefor Windows for Genealogists quick reference guide (also available for Mac users). Also, get a quick overview about this amazing product from this video clip on our YouTube Channel.