Friday, July 24, 2009

What is a Pioneer?

I had no idea there were pioneers in my family until my college years when I started to gather my genealogy. The dates and places in my early ancestors’ history were my first indication that they had come from somewhere else to the Utah territory when it was settled by the pioneers. Fleeing persecution for their religious beliefs in Nauvoo, Illinois, my ancestors traveled overland in wagons and handcarts. What a fun discovery. Now the Utah history books I studied took on new meaning for me as they were talking about my family members.

In the first grade at Eureka Elementary, my mom made me a long pioneer dress out of her kitchen curtains complete with a bonnet, I was so excited! Now, wearing my authentic costume and pulling a small red wagon with a covered cloth top, I was in my first July 24th parade. Celebrating my first Pioneer Day, it took years before I would gathered their stories of immigrating to Utah.

Pioneers are found in all families. Defined as someone who goes into previously uncharted or unclaimed territory with the purpose of exploring it and possible colonizing or settling it. Even our Native Americans had ancestors who pioneered this great land of America immigrating over the Bering Strait or sailing across the oceans to this continent. People from throughout the world have traveled to America to start new lives and raise their families.

Another definition of a pioneer is a person or group that is the first to do something or that is a forerunner in creating or developing something new. Many of us are pioneers in terms of starting new projects, organizations, trades or moving to a new area. My aunt and uncle were the first in our Utah family to move to Southern California during WWII times. After they initially settled there and found employment, other relatives followed their example and moved to new jobs in that promising land of sunshine and sea.

Our modern day children seem to be more adventurous in their quest for new areas to move to and raise their families. Nowadays, I find my own immediate family members not residing in Utah where I live, but in such far flung places as Seattle, Sacramento, Santa Fe and Silver City, New Mexico––continuing the family tradition of being pioneers.

Do you know who in your family came to America first? (The photo above is my great grandfather Joseph Vernon who came to Utah in 1867 at age four with his family from England as converts to Mormonism.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My book is published!

This book is a collection of my column articles published in St. George, Utah’s “Senior Sampler.” It's entitled LOOK-ING BACK...At the “Good Old Days.” Being a retired educator and an empty nester, I have more free time now for pursuing my lifelong passion for genealogy through publishing my ancestor’s stories and writing articles for columns, blogs, and magazines based on my life’s experiences in a family.

Finding a passion or interest you enjoy can add richness and interest to your days at any age, whether you are able to make it into a livelihood or just a leisure activity. Spare time to pursue hobbies or talents was a rare commodity for our parents and grandparents as they used all their time just to put food on the table and take care of their family. Recreational activities were few and far between for them. Holidays and family celebrations were opportunities to gather and enjoy each other’s company. They would have loved to have had more breaks from every day work activities to pursue their individual talents, and hobbies.

Hopefully I have cap-tured some of the experiences from their lives that show the passion and legacy they left for their descendents. We all have grandparents and parents who loved, nurtured and molded us as we grew up under their influence. May my stories bring to mind your recollections of your earlier days and perhaps light a fire under you to write down some of your experiences so they won’t be lost to your descendents.

Self published, 80 pages with photos, bound paperback and available for purchase NOW for $10 plus postage ($2 in USA). Just email me: lin at sunrivertoday dot com for my mailing address so you can send payment for your purchase. Thanks for your support. All money earned goes to my youngest son's college fund.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

History and Me

If you're like most kids, HISTORY of any kind is/was your most boring subject in school. I remember memorizing facts in elementary school on up to college just to pass tests while having no interest at all in the subject.

It wasn't until I matured (read aged a bit) that I began to see the interaction between HISTORY and ME. My awareness may have started when I became aware that I had Mormon pioneers who immigrated from Europe to America after their conversion. I was curious about their homelands and lives there. Also traveling in Europe and other places in the world made me aware of the great differences between countries and cultures. Which led me to say...How come?

Well, being a curious person, I started reading history books for my own personal satisfaction and not to fulfill requirements for a class or to study for a test. Now I was motivated to learn. Perhaps if I'd had a really good HISTORY teacher sometime in my school days, I would have had more interest in this subject earlier.

Nowadays, I'm amazed by what I don't know. Reading the newspaper or watching TV I keep finding subjects that I know nothing about. Lately, we've taken to watching documentary DVDs about the HISTORY of America and I have learned so much more about my own country's development and struggles. I never really understood much about the War of 1812 until I studied it more. Of course watching a well organized DVD is so much easier than reading a dry boring HISTORY book with few illustrations.

As I've studied the lives of my early ancestors, I realized their histories needed to be written so my family members would know more of our heritage and background. That's how my interest in HISTORY really developed when I began the search for my genealogical ROOTS 49 years ago while a college student. I think if I were to start over in college, I'd be apt to major in HISTORY and/or writing. I love HISTORY of any kind.

Tell us how you feel about this topic.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dads are Different

Father’s Day might be a good day to consider starting to compile your dad’s life story, if it’s not written. Some men are journal keepers, most aren’t. When you finally decide to record his history, it can be a challenge. Remember to ask open-ended questions you want answered before you interview him. It does takes time for that special man in your life to feel comfortable enough to openly discuss his life.

Years ago, I compiled a history of my step dad who was a stoic WWII veteran. He didn’t say much unless you got him talking about the war or politics. No one had ever written his life story down. When he was in his late 80s and having health problems, I decided it was time to interview him and compile his life story for his posterity––many who lived in other states and didn’t see him often. I took notes which I transferred to the computer later for him to check for accuracy. At first I got just the facts ma’am. Later after he was more comfortable talking to me and enjoying telling his story, I started to ask more probing questions like…How did you feel about the war and the Japanese soldiers you were fighting?

His completed story was only twenty pages long and focused mainly on his war years, but I added some background information about his parents. His father was from Sweden and had served in the Swedish army. His mom was from Kansas and met his dad after he’d immigrated to America to work on the railroad. With family and military photos, my stepfather’s history started to come alive. From this project to preserve his legacy for future generations, I learned to understand and appreciate him more.

To be successful in writing a dad’s history, you need the cooperation of your subject. Finding a topic he likes to talk about is the beginning, whether it’s his military experiences, hobbies like hunting or fishing or his work. Listening carefully with genuine interest will build a relationship of trust. If your dad is deceased, it’s still possible to write a story of his life, but it will take more effort and research into his life and background. Interviewing your oldest remaining family members and others that knew him is important. Do it today, as none of us are getting any younger. It’s time to preserve your dad’s legacy.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Check out FACEBOOK

Oh no, you say I'm already BLOGGING and TWITTERING how could I possibly add Facebook? Well, let me tell you some of the benefits I've found. It's less demanding than blogging-you don't need to write as much each time or put any photos or clipart or backgrounds on your posts. Just make short remarks to other's comments or questions. It's part of GOOGLE and social networking. What it does make possible is finding long lost friends, roommates and high school buddies. Everyone uses their real name and maiden names so you can search for them and make contact again. No one can access your page without your permission to make or read comments. There's also a more private email function if you don't want the whole wide world to read what you are writing to someone.

What I've seen happen is more interaction between individuals in my OWN FAMILY. Individuals who normally wouldn't write an email to each other are now having mini exchanges and getting to know each other better. All ages can join-kids to retirees. And there is a fun area called FAMILY LINKS where you can upload your genealogy and ancestral photos into MY TREE then make it available to others. Check it out under We're Related-Tree. Here's four generations of my family.
There are also lots of little cutesy things like games and things to send to each other if you really want to get more involved and have the time. I just make comments and check on activities of family and friends. Posts can be as simple as nite nite. Guess that does it for this blog too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Silence and peace prevail
Where once they fought
On far off battlefields
Giving their last breath
To preserve our freedoms

Now a simple headstone
Testifies to their bravery
WWII, Vietnam war and others
Called to them to service

Challenges and horrors
Too difficult to recall
Plagued the survivor’s
Thoughts and dreams

Many never returned
Gone to a higher place
Of rest as we remember
Their sacrifices for us

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New website to me...

Just tried and put in an ancestor's name from my Vernon genealogy "Ephraim Green" and found several books where my ancestor is mentioned. Now I'm going to try to get one book by inter-library loan that I haven't seen before: Over the Rim: the Parley P. Pratt's Exploring Expedition to Southern Utah, 1849-1850 written by Wm. B. Smith, published by Utah State University in 1999. It's available at a local University library in Cedar City, Utah nearby.

When you put in a name or word to search in all its books, it brings up the actual sentence where that word/s are found on a page from different books they have digitized in the google collection. In some cases out of print books not copyrighted, they will have the actual book there for you to read or where to buy it or get it from a library. It's an amazing world we live in. Try it, it's an exciting site.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Yesterday I went to a DUP (Daughters of Utah Pioneers) Jubilee celebration (see group photo above that I took) held nearby in Leeds. A very interesting program of songs and skits took place telling the history of their area complete from pioneers to miners. It was so fun to see my friends from the DUP camp I organized 7 years ago in New Harmony. Lots of memories and catching up on life events took place.

It made me think of all the REUNIONS we will have in the next life with family members and friends. I think that's one reason that Facebook and Classmates is so popular-it gives you the opportunity to hook up with old classmates and friends that you have lost contact with. I still keep in touch with my 5th grade girl friend from California although it's just a yearly Christmas card as she's not into computers or the Internet. It's a smaller world nowadays and easier to keep in touch with loved ones online-if they make the effort. Many are too busy or not interested in complicating their lives with computers. Communication is wonderful but there's still no substitute for face to face conversations.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Roots and Branches

Modern families come together in many ways
Few of us have a traditional family nowadays
with just a mom and dad and their own children.
Some couples just live together with no certificates.

There are widows and widowers, adopted kids,
divorced and step families, remarriage and
blended families filled with half siblings and
step siblings. My family seem to have them all.

But the bonding influence is the LOVE that can exist,
the caring and communication even sent to the lost
or rebellious ones who leave home never to return.
Families are the true constant in a world of change.

Even death and separation can not destroy the bonds
and relationships that endure longer than life.
One day we will have a grand reunion in heaven
of our larger extended family and departed loved ones.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Native American collection

I mentioned in an earlier post about my collection of Native American art-baskets, rugs, pots, etc. (See above.) So thought I'd show you some of my decorative shelves around the house. I've been collecting for years-a piece here and there. I've even written a poem about kivas and mesas top ruins. I must be part Native American but can't find any evidence in my genealogy only in my husband's.

A Kachini doll bought from a young Hopi girl in Santa Fe, NM-used to represent deceased ancestors in cermonial dances. The Native American flute I made in a class. The rock art image is from the Lost City Museum in Overton, Nevada-from Anasazis probably. The pot was a retirement gift from Ute Indians when my husband retired after working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Ft. Duschesne, Utah.

A Kumeyaay (from Baja California) basket made of willow branches with their leaves still on. They held acorns and were stored high in trees or behind rocks for safe keeping. Later the acorns were ground for flour. The willows contained aspirin in the leaves which was quite pungent and keep boring insects out. A large stone was placed on the lid to secure their food storage.

This small Navaho wall hanging is based on sand paintings used by medicine men for ceremonies to restore health, purchased at Cameron Trading Post in Arizona many years ago-one of my first authentic pieces.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Ancestors?

The closest I can get is Elizabeth Durrah Wilkins who was born in Scotland...but her parents lived in Ireland at times depending on economic conditions. I always have felt a leaning toward celtic music and Irish dancing so Ireland must be in my blood or DNA somewhere. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Don't forget to wear green today. Tell us about your Irish ancestors...if you have some.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Greetings to anyone visiting my blog for the FIRST TIME as well as my regular readers which include family and FRIENDS. Sure would like to have your comments and feedback on my efforts. (Click on the comments link for instructions on how to get registered with Google if you aren't already.) I plan to continue providing tips on doing FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH occasionally but will return to my former FOCUS of including everyday happenings, poetry and personal views. Hope you'll bookmark my blog and become a regular reader who comments.

Well, the FAMILY HISTORY EXPO of the past weekend is now a memory and I have new goals and adventures in mind for the future. I'm reading Julia Cameron's book on The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size. Great ideas...and I am loosing weight about 1 pound a week. Slow and steady. The principles she writes about are so cool. I love the idea of making a TA DAH! list at the end of the day of things you have accomplished that day. It's more motivational than a TO DO list-(although I still use that too). Try writing down your accomplishments daily and you'll be amazed.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I did it-my first power point presentation!!

Photos from the Family History Expo 2009. It was a fun though stressful experience to teach a class on blogging! Just getting all the software and hardware together was challenging but I did it! There were about 25-30 students in my class and they seemed interested. Maybe they'll visit this blog and leave some comments. I love to teach adults.

Family History Expo

I can't tell you the number of WORKSHOPS and GENEALOGY CONFERENCES I have attended over my 49 years of doing family history research. I've learned something NEW everytime. This year I'm taking on the challenge to TEACH a BLOGGING class at the FAMILY HISTORY EXPO 2009. A perpetual student is what I'd call myself, plus a teacher now of what I've learned. It's been a FUN journey. You certainly learn more by teaching than you do as a student. The KNOWLEDGE gained is one of the few things you can take with you at the end of this life along with your EXPERIENCES and RELATIONSHIPS.

A scripture that impressed me the other day in my daily studies...Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19) That thought gives purpose to my daily life and is an admonition to USE MY TIME WELL.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Need Help?

There are a ton of resources to teach you how to do just about anything connected with family history. Ranging from free TUTORIAL LESSONS to VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS to NEWSLETTERS to help you get started or continue with your genealogy research. One of the best sources is or use a search engine for assistance on any topic. Want to start a website or don't know how to use your PAF or Legacy database? Help is as close as your keyboard or at a LDS family history center where trained volunteers wait to assist you with your genealogy. Better yet find an Internet cousin or family member with more experience than you to teach you or take a CLASS online or at a local library-ask a librarian or join a local historical society. Every community has untapped resources to discover.

A new world of adventure and learning lies ahead of you as you pursue your FAMILY HISTORY and develop a new hobby as a GENEALOGIST. There is even an experienced researcher (me) who is offering a free hour of searching on your line if you will commit to PAY IT FORWARD and help three other people in some way-doesn't have to doing their research. Just send them some blog candy-a surprise gift. So far no one has taken me up on my offer. This could be your lucky day!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sharing your GENEALOGY

So after you've done all the research to find as many ancestors as you can, what's next? Well, first of all your genealogy is never done-there are always more sets of parents to discover unless you have ALL your lines back to Adam.

Part of FAMILY HISTORY is gathering histories and photos for as many of your ancestors as you can OR writing a history of them. (My first attempt to write a history was of my stepfather who fought in WWII. See cover on the left.)

Compile your PEDIGREE CHARTS and FAMILY GROUP SHEETS into some kind of notebook or scrapbook to look at or publish them online. More and more people are doing that. A WEBPAGE or BLOG is a perfect place to share your findings with others worldwide who could be interested. Depending on how computer literate your family is, you may need to publish online and in a paper format also. When I compile or write family histories I like to print them in paper format and also make a pdf file that I can save on a DVD or CD so others can read it on their computers. These self published collections can be given out at family reunions or family holiday celebrations and events.

Leaving all your research in file cabinets or folders is wasting all the efforts you've put into doing this work. DONATE a copy of your history and photos to local libraries or University libraries. There are many places just waiting for more contributions. The LDS Family History Library in SLC is one. So send them a paper copy and/or digital CD of what you've compiled. Guess what you are becoming a real FAMILY HISTORIAN, preserving your ROOTS and helping others in their searching.

Other creative OPTIONS for sharing your family history research are making a shadow box or photo collage of an ancestor or a decorated pedigree chart. (Above is a sample of a fan pedigree chart framed and decorated by Mary, a friend of mine. Check out her blog if you are interested in her work.) There are so many options-quilts, cross stitch, paintings, calligraphy, etc.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Finding our ROOTS

Many of our ancestors moved from country to country to better their living conditions. Some immigrated to America from Europe, Asia, South Pacific and Africa. Others left their homelands because of wars or to colonize new lands like Australia. Some still live in their native lands. It's fun to find out where your forebears originated. In the case of African Americans, there are few records available after a few generations back because of slavery practices, and that's where the new development of tracing your genealogy by DNA can come in handy.
How far back can you trace your ancestors? It is possible if you connect into royalty lines in England to go back to biblical times and our FIRST PARENTS Adam and Eve. I have one line that my cousin Jerusha traced back that far and it really is mind boggling to consider. My Icelandic line goes back to 800 AD because of their excellent written records. Then there are other ethnic groups like American Indians and Pacific Islanders who kept only ORAL GENEALOGIES and much of that has been lost with time. Without written records, your progenitors are still there to be discovered but it is almost impossible to reconstruct except through DNA.

You may reach what is called a BRICK WALL that stumps you from pushing your lines back further. It takes some time, dedication and skill to get past these obstacles but it can be done especially these days with the Internet making available more worldwide records daily and new Internet cousins to met. Don't give up but just take a break and search another line. Later come back to your brick walls with fresh energy and time and maybe you'll make a breakthrough-see a handout from Jerusha. It takes TIME.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tip of the ICEBERG

I've now been blogging for 3 weeks or 21 days about Family History Research and guess what? I've only touched the tip of the iceberg on what is available. More material is being added DAILY in the form of personal webpages, blogs, and actual digitized resources to search. You could get lost surfing in the Internet for your ancestors and never be missed (unless your spouse or family noticed your absence.)

What's to be done to prevent wasting your valuable time searching without any results? HAVE A PLAN-don't look for every surname on your family tree, pick just one branch to research. Then be SPECIFIC-what info are you missing? A death date for great grandpa? Well, then don't look for his birth record but focus on obituaries, death certificates and cemeteries just in the area where he possibly died. Always check HOME SOURCES first before turning to the INTERNET. Then try a GOOGLE SEARCH before checking out some of the websites I've suggested previously:,,,, among others. (Click on links for more info.)

Keep good notes in some kind of a RESEARCH LOG so you know where you've looked and jot down any ideas as you're working on where to check next...a TO DO list. Remember census records can be great clues if you're searching in America as to where your ancestors lived. This is like a mystery to solve. One thing leads to another until you discover the facts needed. Sometimes you'll find you need to write letters to Courthouses or make a visit in person or hire a researcher to find info for you. Maybe you'll get lucky and find an Internet cousin or two. Good luck!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I was thinking today about the MISSING LINK which in most families is our relationship with our great grandparents. We never knew most of them but may have heard ABOUT them from our grandparents. Unless someone writes down their information, it doesn't get passed down to our children and grandchildren. Will our great grandchildren know anything about us IF we don't leave a record, a HISTORY of our life either captured in a journal or compiled in a life story or scrapbook? (Photo of my mom and me above.)

It's not too late to start compiling a record of your life's experiences. What have you learned that you'd like to tell your posterity? Words of wisdom that can help them along their paths. I know some phrases that have guided me in my life came from a grandmother's wise words...if life gives you lemons make lemonade and this too shall pass. During my life and trials that have come, those words have sustained me as well as knowing the love my grandmother continues to have for me. (Photo above standing me and my mom, seated my grandmother holding my first son Frank-her great grandson. Unfortunately, she died soon after his birth but I've written her life story to pass to her great and 2nd great grandchildren.)

Death is just a passageway and we who remain behind for now are RESPONSIBLE to connect the missing links as we learn more about our ancestor's lives and pass that knowledge on to our posterity. For that is why I do family history research, collect old photos and write my ancestor's stories to ...turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.. (Malachi 4:6) So they are not forgotten by us. (Photo of me above as a grandmother holding my first grandchildren twins Heather and Emilee.)

Friday, February 20, 2009


Back in 1967 BC (before computers and the Internet), I was searching for my great grandfather Wm M. Johnson, and discovered looking through court records here in Utah that he had received an inheritance from an aunt in Middlebury, Knox County, Ohio. My mother remembered that her father (my grandfather) had received a small amount of money from this will since his father was deceased. So I had several clues to track down. I wrote to the COURTHOUSE in Middlebury, looking for probate papers or further information about this aunt. Unfortunately they couldn't locate anything for me. (Found out later Knox County was divided and her papers were filed in the next county Morrow.) It wasn't until 10 years later when I was finally able to make a trip to the courthouse in person, from California where I was then living, that the puzzle began to take shape. (Ohio state Knox County map below from

I found a wealth of information at the COURTHOUSE as I searched for VITAL RECORDS, WILLS, PROBATES, LAND, and other records for this aunt. Discovering a handwritten will of her father which filled in many gaps for me. It listed all his living children and descendents of his deceased children. Now able to link my great grandfather to his father, mother and siblings, many doors were opened for me. I was able to trace my Johnson ancestors back to VERMONT and discovered they were involved in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Seems that soldiers in the military in those days were given land grants in Ohio to expand the frontier. All of this I found when I made the TRIP to a quiet little courthouse in the midwest but these days FIRST check the Internet and you might save yourself a trip! I also put a personal ad in the local newspaper there and found a cousin who offered me many valuable tips in locating family living in that area. Today you would call him an Internet cousin.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Libraries and Family History Centers

LIBRARIES are wonderful resources and most of them have ONLINE CATALOGS these days. That means you can check out their holdings-books, old newspapers, histories, etc. from afar. If the library is not close enough to visit, it's possible to get interlibrary loans if you find a record you want to examine. Most university libraries usually have a SPECIAL COLLECTIONS section that houses valuable historical information for the genealogist. Everyone also has an LDS FHC-FAMILY HISTORY CENTER near them worldwide with trained volunteers who will assist patrons in searching for their ancestors and in ordering microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to search. Open to people of all faiths. Check for the addresses and hours of a FHC near you at

Many regional or COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETIES have their own libraries dedicated to preserving local history. GOOGLE search for one in your area of interest. I've had great experiences with librarians I've contacted over the Internet who did research in their facility and sent me copies of what they found for a small donation. Visiting the area you are researching is the best thing to locate information, old homesteads and cemeteries but finding a local person who will assist you in researching can save on travel expenses. There are even several websites that will do free lookups for you or film a cemetery headstone. Try looking a or Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness or findagrave. Have fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Checking out COURTHOUSES

Now I'm going to switch gears and talk about finding actual COURTHOUSE RECORDS which can include VITAL-BIRTH, DEATH, MARRIAGE RECORDS, PROBATES, LAND RECORDS, etc. Not many of these court records are online which means you may have to write to a court clerk or visit a courthouse sometime to further your research or hire a local genealogist to do that for you. Addresses of Courthouses can be found on or with GOOGLE. (Coryell Texas Courthouse below where my husband was born and raised.)

SUMMARY OF RECORDS available online, in Court houses and/or other places like libraries

1. LOCALITY records-censuses, histories of towns, counties, states, regions, etc.
2. VITAL RECORDS-marriage, death, birth, adoption, etc., kept in counties+towns, some online, varies by state or area when and how they collected info.
3. COURT RECORDS-probate, land, tax and adoption records, divorce, citizenship, naturalization papers, etc.
4. CHURCH RECORDS-can have vital records: births, deaths, marriages, confirmations, baptisms, etc.
5. BIOGRAPHIES-can be found in county and town histories and other local collections
6. MAPS-plat maps, etc. It's fun to find where your ancestors lived and walk on their land.
7. NEWSPAPERS-obituaries, marriages, etc-lots of digital newspapers on-line, do google search by areas-country, state, county and some towns have local papers with archives.
8. CEMETERY and funeral home records-may need to write to get these, check death certificates for where buried.
9. MILITARY RECORDS-many ancestors were involved in wars, Google search+, and
10. CITY DIRECTORIES and old telephone books-good for unusual last names, find in libraries
11. ORGANIZATIONS-State, County Historical Libraries and local Historical Societies can have good local genealogy collections.
12. Personal WEBPAGES and BLOGS-find with a search engine. Check out my family history webpage

Monday, February 16, 2009


Better than a search engine because it's more accurate and organized is Cyndislist your free CATALOG of GENEALOGY SITES on the Internet. It's an amazing collection of links to assist you with ANY genealogy problem you might have or direct you where to go to find answers online. Started in 1996 by Cyndi Howell, a family history librarian, she has been working steadily on this project, updating DAILY the latest links to keep you informed on how to accomplish your family history online. Want to know more about a certain country and their records or where to find someone to translate a record or how to make a family history webpage-it's all here.

You could spend the rest of your life just surfing the links on Cyndis and never get around to doing actual research. With a search engine like GOOGLE and CYNDIS list you can find lots of places to check out. So plan your work and be focused. Keep your RESEARCH LOG. When you finish a session of searching, make a TO DO LIST on your log for the next time you are going to work on your family history-so you'll know where you left off.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A commerical website that is adding searchable databases of digitized materials daily to their website. Some of it is free but to get full access, you'll need to PAY A MEMBERSHIP FEE on a monthly or yearly basis. There is a few 14 day free trial available, so try it. I love ANCESTY.COM and use it often to trace my relatives in their US Federal CENSUS databases which are indexed by states, and show you copies of the actual census forms 1790-1930. Lots of errors in censuses but they have great CLUES to where your ancestors lived and other info. depending on the year of the census. They can tell you: approximate age, occupation, marriage status, race, where born, where their parents were born, when immigrated, if they served in the military, if they were literate, etc. A must do for those searching in USA.

Lots of tutorials, free forms and helps on their website including a weekly free informative newsletter. Their maps are excellent also. Many different kinds of records are available and searchable including: vital records, court records, land, probate, books, military, newspapers and more. They have records of other countries here also-check it out. Some local LDS Family History Centers have free access to ANCESTRY. (Most local public libraries have a database called HERITAGE QUEST which will enable you to check the Federal censuses for FREE with only your library card # instead of relying on ANCESTRY.)

A great NEW feature on is FAMILY TREE which enables you to upload your family history information and post it for others to add to and for you to continue working on. The fun thing about this feature is it allows you to link VITAL RECORD certificates or CENSUS forms you discover on Ancestry with your ancestor then you can easily access it. You can also upload photos or GEDCOMS (genealogical data communication) files that can be shared between users of any of the software programs like PAF or Family Treemaker or Legacy. ANCESTRY has enabled me to find some Internet cousins of my husband's who had a ton of info and photos to share. If you're really serious about family history research ANCESTRY is well worth the money to have access to it 24/7. Then you know you are really addicted to GENEALOGY!