Sunday, August 17, 2014

Favorite Websites for Research

Some people are fortunate enough to live in the area where their ancestors lived, which makes research much easier. You might be able to visit the libraries, town halls, cemeteries, churches, and other repositories of information with records of your ancestors without having to drive very far.

Many of us, however, either live far from our ancestors' homes or even in another country. I spent the first 25 years of my life in Massachusetts (except for 3 years in New York), which made research very simple in a few different New England towns and states.

But I have lived far from home since 1999, including in two different countries overseas. Since then, I have relied heavily upon two websites.

The first is www.AmericanAncestors.org, which is the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. It is probably the best repository of Massachusetts vital records - and so, so much more - out there. Membership in NEHGS is well worth the $79.95 a year for anyone with New England ancestry, whether they live in the Boston area or not.

The second is www.FamilySearch.org, the website of the Church of Latter Day Saints. While I am not a member of the LDS church and not necessarily in agreement with their religious practices (i.e. baptizing the deceased), I appreciate the records they have provided the public free of charge. Those records range from vital records to land to court records, and more.

Of course, I still send an old-fashioned letter to request specific vital records when working on applications for lineage societies or trying to fill in research holes when I cannot find answers online. But the internet has really changed genealogy, making it so much more accessible to people all around the world.

What are websites you rely upon for research?



Copyright (c) 2014 Wendy L. Callahan

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Underutilized Resources

There have been quite a few changes in my household (one adult starting a job, the other ending one), a few visits to conventions, not to mention the usual, so I haven't posted since March. My gosh, that is too, too long.

So - DNA!

What a fascinating tool, and one we still don't understand perfectly. However, I think our understanding of it is getting better.

In 2012, I splurged on the Family Finder test on FamilySearch. I don't think I've quite explored its full potential since my results came out. My main reason for upgrading to Family Finder was the hope of finding a Murphy cousin - someone related to me through the parents of my mysterious great-great grandmother, Emma Anna (Murphy) (Reagan) Shaw.

It was also interesting to see it break down my ethnic heritage a bit more than the mtDNA test.

To date, time has not really allowed me to play with the results or the matches. So I'm sure I'm missing out on the benefit of having upgraded. It's something I really must delve into more deeply.

Is there something out there you know might be helpful to you but, for whatever reason, you haven't fully utilized it yet?



Copyright (c) 2014 Wendy L. Callahan