#FamilyHistoryMonth – On Day 7 Discover IntoThePast


Family History Month IntothePast for European records

IntoThePast is a site in development that was introduced at RootsTech 2017 (the largest genealogy and family history convention in the world).

IntoThePast will specialize in hosting European records, primarily archival handwritten records, that have been digitized and made searchable with their proprietary Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology, SearchInk.

IntoThePast with SearchInk








“ is an online meta-search engine that allows users to search for parish records with a focus on European records. is powered by the SearchInk Handwritten Text Recognition technology.”

IntoThePast will be the website where archival materials are hosted and presented to the public for searching. SearchInk is the technology that converts handwritten text to searchable content. ARQI is the company that negotiates with archives to digitize their materials. And Qidenus Technologies is the parent company that has developed the patented products for book digitization.

IntoThePast will offer subscription services and it remains to be seen if they’ll offer a level of free service. It’s definitely a site worth watching if you have European ancestry!

IntoThePast join their launch listFollow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and go to their website and join the launch list to enjoy 6 months of free premium membership.

October 7, 2017 |

#FamilyHistoryMonth – On Day 6 try Storyboard That


family history month storyboard that

On Day 6 of #FamilyHistoryMonth try the free version of Storyboard That, a site that allows you to create storyboards and comic strips online.

This would be a fun way to illustrate or tell a personal history.

I’m using it to create comic strip versions of my children’s daily lives. My kids aren’t inclined to journal so I have them draw at least one picture a week of something funny or embarrassing that happened. Now I can take their drawings and put them into digital comic strips that we can enjoy forever.

Here’s one I made from my own daily life:

A Storyboard That at OnGenealogy
I asked my son to get rid of the garbage in his room so he threw out items that were sentimental to me.

Panel 1: “Your room is a wreck. Here are some garbage bags. Throw away anything you don’t care about.”

Panel 2: Two hours later. “I’m done.”

Panel 3: Thrown away: his baby book, all K-6 artwork, anything sentimental.

Storyboard That’s award-winning, browser based Storyboard Creator is the perfect tool to create storyboards, graphic organizers, comics, and powerful visual assets for use in an education, business, or personal setting. The application includes many layouts, and hundreds of characters, scenes, and search items. Once a storyboard is created, the user can present via PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Apple Keynote, or they can email the storyboard, post to social media, or embed on a blog. Storyboards are stored in the users’ account for access anywhere, from any device, no download needed. Storyboard That helps anyone be creative and add a visual component to any and every idea.”

I want to try writing my own personal history through storyboards. I think this will make it more fun for me to write and more enjoyable for others to read someday.

experimenting-with-a-family-recipePanel 1: “Do you want my opinion on the brown sugar on the bottom of the banana bread?”

Panel 2: “Sure!”

Panel 3: “It’s a nightmare. And that’s being generous. I’m going to amputate the bottom.”


Storyboard That has several pricing options, including a free option with a watermark on your finished product. Other options include a Personal plan, an Educational plan for schools and teachers, and a Business plan.

I started with the free option, but I liked it so much and didn’t want the watermark on my comics, so I went with their Personal plan. Storyboard That’s Personal plan permits light usage for books and blogs. (It may be necessary to purchase a business plan for serious publishing endeavors-refer to their Terms of Use and Storyboard Copyright). They’re currently offering a sale on their Personal Plan, $19.99/quarter or  $59.99/year. They appear to have very generous terms for month-to-month usage and cancellation. (I’m not affiliated with them; I just love their product.)

Storyboard That has many language options. If you don’t see the language option at the top of the page, scroll to the bottom where you’ll see “Prefer a different language?” in a dark blue header and select the language of your choice.

Check out Storyboard That tutorials on YouTube or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google+ for the latest news and offers. And best in your choices whether they’re fee or free!


October 5, 2017 |

Fee or Free Photo Scanning

E-Z-Photo Scan at RootsTech 2017


Fee or Free Photo Scanning

If you’re like me, you have piles of old, printed photos begging to be digitized. I even took mine out of old albums & scrapbooks and threw the albums away (I don’t recommend this). But before you take on the enormous task of digitizing your photos, make sure you have the right tools. It makes no sense to hand scan small photos, one by one, on a flatbed scanner or with a phone app. There’s a better tool available that is a huge time-saver–E-Z Photo Scan.

E-Z Photo Scan sells & rents multiple scanners but my favorite by far has been the model that allows you to stack 30-60 smaller photos in a pile and it auto feeds them into the scanner, names the file (according to your instructions), and can output in multiple file formats. It will run a stack of photos through in minutes. It can take a scan of both sides of your photo as it runs it through. (There are other options for larger photos and photos/scrapbooks that can’t be bent in any way-I’m not addressing those in this blog.)

Below is a video I took at RootsTech of a patron using the E-Z Photo Scanner to scan a few photos. This doesn’t do the scanner justice because she’s just dropping photos in one-by-one with what she has on hand.

This is the vision: you will have a nicely organized box with stacks of photos and you will put a stack of photos on the scanner and let it feed them through while you sit back and watch digital versions appear on the computer, with files named so you will be able to locate and identify them in the future.

Personally, I wouldn’t attack the scanning job without this tool. If you don’t have access to this type of scanning equipment or a similar time-saving tool, prepare your printed photos now, for a time in the future when you will have access to this type of equipment. Prepping the project will take far more time than the actual digitizing. (Or work on renaming and organizing your most recent digital photo files and master the art of file naming with current photos before you attack old photos.)

E-Z Photo Scan just advertised a Monday webinar (that’s today, Monday, May 15th) at 1 pm EDT and is inviting people to pre-register. The webinar will address file naming techniques, “tools, strategies, and ways needed to turn naming file names into high-performance search bots.” I wish I’d taken a class on file naming before I scanned my photos. I should have spent time organizing the photos into the batches I wanted to scan together, labeling the piles with how I wanted the system to automatically name them, etc. I was just so excited by the time-saving technology I jumped in without much planning. (Again, I don’t recommend this.)


E-Z Photo Scan

E-Z Photo Scan sells this equipment or will rent the equipment in the United States and Canada and they offer financing for purchases. This is a display from RootsTech 2017 showing how the rental process works and what is delivered when you order.

E-Z-Photo Scan at RootsTech 2017

E-Z-Photo Scan at RootsTech 2017

If you choose to rent you will definitely want to do all the organizing and prep work before the machine delivery date. And by organizing and prep, I mean gather every possible photo you can digitize, put it in the stack you want it digitized with, have it in the exact order you want the files to appear in, and pre-label each stack with the file naming format you intend to use (ideas from the webinar or any other file naming source you trust). This is a massive project and most of the work will be preparation. You might want to ask family or neighbors if they’d be interested in sharing the rental fee and allowing them time with the equipment. I’ve heard of groups sharing the costs and taking turns using the equipment that was set up in one person’s garage. I also have a girlfriend who purchased one of these for her family (she’s a diehard librarian/archivist). So even though the rental or purchase price seems like a high start-up cost, people do it and love it.

Epson, Canon, Wolverine, etc

Epson, Canon, Wolverine are just a few companies offering similar products in my area. Search online for other digital, auto-feed, photo scanners available in your area. Some computer and office stores in my area sell this equipment but options will vary based on your location.


LDS Family History Centers

Many LDS Family History Centers located throughout the world have this equipment available for free. You’ll need to contact your local family history center and ask what digitizing equipment they have and how to reserve a time to use it. You’ll want to plan on at least 30 minutes to familiarize yourself with the system, even if a volunteer is there to assist you. (I’ve heard a few people say they’re afraid to use these facilities because they don’t want to be proselytized and in my experience, this is not the purpose of the LDS Family History Centers and religion has never been discussed when I was working, but if religion did come up, a respectful “I don’t like to discuss religion” would end it.)


Libraries and Archives

Libraries and Archives worldwide have digitizing equipment and some make it available to patrons and offer use of the equipment free-of-charge. Others may charge a fee. I used this or similar equipment at a local college (free of charge) and actually reserved two machines for 2 hours each, and had my sons feeding photos through one machine and batch naming them while I fed photos through the other. (We brought USB cards with inadequate storage space and an external hard drive with 1TB of space that was more than adequate.)


Genealogical and Historical Societies

Genealogical and Historical Societies would also be a great place to check. I suspect if they offered use of the equipment for free, that would for members only, and they would charge a fee to other patrons.


It’s been four years since we scanned our photos and I recently saw new equipment for digitizing scrapbooks that allowed the patron to flip through page after page as it digitized. The equipment took a photo, a digital version appeared on the computer, then the patron flipped to the next page, etc. No need to take apart scrapbooks and albums. Anyway, that’s another blog for another day, but the point is, don’t start a project until you’ve researched the latest and greatest tools. Nothing is more frustrating than learning you were inefficient with your time because you chose the wrong tool for the project. E-Z Photo Scan is aptly named, it’s easy to use and is the right tool for the job.

Best in your digitizing whether it’s fee or free.

May 14, 2017 |

Fee or Free 1875 Norway Census


The 1875 Norway Census (Norwegian: Folketellingen for kongeriget Norge den 31te desember 1875) began December 31, 1875 and is expected to include 99% of the population of Norway. Information was gathered by census takers throughout the country who spoke to any family member living at an address or a neighbor if family wasn’t on-site. Some people were enumerated twice because they were temporary residents in one locale but their names were also given at their home residence.

Some information contained in the 1875 Norway Census includes:

  • Name

  • Gender

  • Resident or Temporary Resident

  • Whether Absent from parish and location at time of Census

  • Position in family

  • Occupation

  • Marital Status

  • Year of Birth

  • Place of Birth

  • Religion (if not the state church)


Where to find the 1875 Norway Census?


Fee Sites

  • Ancestry

    Ancestry has the Norway, Select Census, 1875 and their records came from FamilySearch, so have the same benefits and limitations of the FamilySearch collection (the records are currently from Akershus county, Hedmark county, and Østfold county in Norway)

  • MyHeritage

    MyHeritage has the 1875 Norway Census and this appears to be the same data as Ancestry and FamilySearch with records currently from Akershus, Hedmark, and Østfold. MyHeritage has excellent translation services which might help bridge any language barriers as you search these records.


Free Sites

  • FamilySearch

    FamilySearch has the 1875 Norway Census limited to partial returns for Akershus, Hedmark, and Østfold and will add data as it is acquired.

  • Norwegian Historical Data

    Norwegian Historical Data is a national institution at the University of Tromso in Norway and has a partial, searchable transcription of the 1875 Norway Census. They transcribe and index censuses and church records in Norway for statistical and historical research purposes but make their work freely available. Their 1875 Census includes more locales than FamilySearch, Ancestry, or MyHeritage and you can see a chart showing the number of transcribed census records by year and municipality (not parish) as well as a list for the 1875 Norway Census of who performed the transcriptions if it was not Norwegian Historical Data (RHD).

  • DigitialArkivet

    DigitalArkivet, the digital arm of the National Archives in Norway, has many 1875 Norway Census returns searchable online. All records at the Digital Archives of Norway are free and they have vast, online collections.

For more information on how to best search the 1875 Norway Census (and other Norwegian records), I’d recommend you follow a native blogger who has invested a lot of time in the research. I follow Martin Roe Eidhammer at Norwegian Genealogy and then some and there are probably others as well. Best in your searches, whether they’re fee or free!

May 8, 2017 |

US Census Records – Fee or Free Comparison Chart


Here’s a comparison chart of US Census Records available at FamilySearch and some partner websites including AmericanAncestors, Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage.

Each title links to a record collection. FamilySearch is the only entirely free collection but you can use the other links to get a feel for the look of each site. AmericanAncestors links to a general search window and you’ll need to select the database, “United State Census …”

“Index only” means a site provides a name index, which is information extracted from the handwritten census record. This usually includes every name in the census, the census year, the place the record was collected, the age and gender of the family member, and possibly information about other family members living at the residence, etc.

“Index and Images” means the site provides the index and an image of the handwritten census record. The image allows you to verify the extracted information, and possibly see other census information not extracted for the index.






1790 US Census at Family Search

Index and Images

1790 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1790 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1790 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1790 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1800 US Census at FamilySearch

Index and Images

1800 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1800 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1800 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1800 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1810 US Census at Family Search

Index and Images

1810 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1810 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1810 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1810 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1820 US Census at FamilySearch

Index only

1820 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1820 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1820 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1820 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1830 US Census at Family Search

Index and Images

1830 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1830 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1830 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1830 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1840 US Census at FamilySearch

Index and Images

1840 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1840 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1840 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1840 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1850 US Census at Family Search

Index and Images

1850 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1850 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1850 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1850 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1850 US Census Slave Schedule at FamilySearch

Index and Images

1850 US Census Slave Schedule at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1850 US Census Slave Schedule at Ancestry

Index and Images

1850 US Census Slave Schedule at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1850 US Census Slave Schedule at MyHeritage

Index only

1860 US Census at FamilySearch

Index and Images

1860 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1860 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1860 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1860 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1870 US Census at Family Search

Index and Images

1870 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1870 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1870 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1870 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1880 US Census at FamilySearch

Index and Images

1880 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1880 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1880 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1880 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1890 US Census Fragments at Family Search

Index and Images

1890 US Census Fragments at Ancestry

Index and Images

1890 US Census Fragments at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1890 US Census Fragments at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1900 US Census at FamilySearch

Index and Images

1900 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1900 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1900 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1900 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1910 US Census at Family Search

Index and Images

1910 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1910 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1910 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1910 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1920 US Census at FamilySearch

Index and Images

1920 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1920 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1920 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1920 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1930 US Census at Family Search

Index and Images

1930 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1930 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1930 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1930 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

1940 US Census at FamilySearch

Index and Images

1940 US Census at AmericanAncestors

Index only

1940 US Census at Ancestry

Index and Images

1940 US Census at FindMyPast

Index and Images

1940 US Census at MyHeritage

Index and Images

April 22, 2017 |

The Barbour Collection – Fee or Free


The Barbour Collection is the best early vital records collection for Connecticut birth, marriage, and death records, aside from town vital records. It’s named after Lucius B. Barbour, Connecticut’s examiner of public records in the early 1900s. It’s a statewide index of Connecticut birth, marriage, and death records listed alphabetically and by towns.

The date ranges vary by town, based on when the town was created and started keeping records. In Connecticut, by law, each town was and still is responsible for keeping and maintaining the birth records, marriage records, and death records for that town.

Barbour, as well as those he enlisted, went town to town copying these vital records. They attempted to compile records through 1850 but some towns have records up to 1870. The Barbour Collection is not complete, and AmericanAncestors (NEHGS) has a great article explaining some known deficiencies.


David Rumsey Map Collection 1855 Map of Connecticut published by Desilver & Butler Cowperthwait

David Rumsey Map Collection 1855 Map of Connecticut published by Desilver & Butler Cowperthwait


Fee options for the Barbour Collection

AmericanAncestors has the Barbour Collection published as images from typescripts donated to the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) by Mr. Barbour’s family in 1938. It’s organized first by town, then alphabetically. 

Ancestry has the Barbour Collection online searchable by either births, deaths, marriages, or towns and their data comes from The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Vol. 1-55, Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002, edited by Lorraine Cook White. – books

Genealogical sells individual volumes of  The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Vol. 1-55, Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002, edited by Lorraine Cook White. – books

Amazon sells individual volumes of  The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Vol. 1-55, Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002, edited by Lorraine Cook White.

FamilySearch microfilm

FamilySearch has microfilms of the Barbour Collection available for research at any of their participating facilities. Search for a facility near you to order and view these films.

Connecticut town clerks 

Connecticut Town Clerks have the Barbour Collection and more. They have records from the time the town was formed to the present. There is usually a fee for requesting a record look-up at the town clerk’s office and they may require a request for a certified copy. As far as the specific Barbour Collection goes, according to AmericanAncestors/NEHGS, “a copy was sent to each town clerk. The town books are labeled “The Arnold Copy” and are known to many town clerks only by that name.”

VitalChek for a few towns

VitalChek doesn’t have the Barbour Collection, per se, but VitalCheck has access to birth, marriage, and death records for a few Connecticut towns for a fee.


FREE options for the Barbour Collection

Online Transcriptions

Several sites have posted free transcriptions of parts of the Barbour Collection. The two websites with the most transcriptions are CtGenWeb and New Horizons Genealogy. I’ve found about one-third of the Barbour Collection town records available online as free transcriptions. (For example, CtGenWeb has Barbour collections posted for Windham County.)


Some libraries and archives, including NEHGS, have the complete set of The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Vol. 1-55, Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002, edited by Lorraine Cook White


I’ll be updating this blog with a link to a comparison chart* where you can access the fee & free online Barbour Collection sites. Best in your research whether it’s fee or free!

*Comparison chart for Fee or Free Barbour Collection options

March 27, 2017 |

Fee or Free 1911 Ireland Census


The 1911 Census is the most recent Ireland Census available online. The Irish censuses are tricky to search because many people spoke Gaelic and their answers may have been written in Old Gaelic, then transcribed into modern Gaelic but not translated into English, so you’ll need to explore all possible search options. (Each site will have tips and tricks for searching the 1911 Ireland Census including using wildcards (*). Be sure to exhaust all your search options.)

Fee or Free 1911 Ireland Census OnGenealogy


Fee 1911 Ireland Census

“Find ancestors from all over Ireland in the most recently available complete census for the country. A great place to begin your search, the 1911 Census can show you where your Irish ancestor lived, the members of their immediate family, their ages, occupations and whether they could read and write. For the first time you can search for more than one family member at the same time and by year of birth, and our powerful search can also look for name variants. Start your journey and see who you can find.” This is a subscription site but they’ve got some helpful search tools for getting around the variations in spelling that are problematic in Irish records.

“All data in this third-party database was obtained from the source’s website. does not support or make corrections or changes to the original database. To learn more about these records, please refer to the source’s website.” Ancestry has the 1911 Ireland Census and it’s records came from the National Archives of Ireland.

The 1911 Ireland census covered all 32 counties of Ireland and enumerated the entire Irish population (about 4.4 million people). This census was conducted on the night of Sunday, 2 April 1911. The “Household Return”—also known as “Form A”—enumerated one household per page, recording information such as name, relationship to head of household, age, marital status, occupation, and birthplace. …Images and index to this census were created by and obtained from the National Archives of Ireland.”

RootsIreland is an all Irish records subscription site and currently has a few 1911 census returns by county, but it’s very incomplete at present. “The Irish Family History Foundation has been the coordinating body for a network of county genealogy centres and family history societies on the island of Ireland for over thirty years.” “A computerized index of the 1901 and some 1911 returns was compiled by many of our member centres in the early 1990s. …You will need to check what is available in the Online Sources list for each county.”



Free 1911 Ireland Census

The National Archives of Ireland

The 1911 Ireland Census is free at The National Archives of Ireland. This online database was a cooperative effort in partnership with Library and Archives Canada. The basic search on this site searches by surname/last name, forename/first name, county, District Electoral Division, townland/street, and age and gender. The advanced search allows you to search by religion, occupation, relationship to head of family, literacy status, county/country of origin, and more.

“It is important to remember that the names on this site have been transcribed as they were written into the census forms. We have not corrected spellings. Some names are illegible, or appear on a damaged form. You may, therefore, have to try a number of strategies to find the person you seek.” Tips for searching surnames. Do a general search or search by county/parish and select transcription or image.


March 20, 2017 |

Fee or Free African American Newspapers


African American newspapers are one place to look for news about black communities that wasn’t always reported in the popular press. It’s possible to find names, marriages, and births and deaths in these collections. (And for African American research you won’t want to limit yourself to strictly African American newspapers, just don’t overlook them.)

I’m easily distracted in newspaper research and find myself just reading random articles which isn’t a very efficient use of time, but I have one relative I could only trace through newspapers. He was in the theater circuit and moved from city to city and lied about his age. I found his family by following him through newspapers. They’re a valuable resource but it’s easy to get sidetracked and just soak up the historical context. That’s my disclaimer if you lose a day or more in newspapers.

Fee or Free African American newspapers


Fee/Subscription African American Newspapers

Accessible Archives

Accessible Archives has 9 African American newspapers ranging from 1827 to 1909. “The collection also provides a great number of early biographies, vital statistics, essays and editorials, poetry and prose, and advertisements all of which embody the African-American experience.”

Ancestry has a collection called US, African American Newspapers, 1829-1947 with over 200 African American newspapers.

Genealogy Bank

Genealogy Bank touts itself as being the “largest newspaper archive for genealogy research.” I’ve used their site before and it was a fast and efficient way to get newspaper search results.  From what I remember, I paid for limited access, so only a certain number of searches/month but they have an unlimited access subscription price of $35.00 for 6 months which seems very reasonable. “Search our expansive collection of African American newspapers to discover the details about the daily lives of millions of Black Americans from 1827-1999.”


ProQuest used to be the company for digitized papers and they have a collection called ProQuest Historical Newspapers – Black Newspapers. “Each of the nine Historical Black Newspapers provides researchers with unprecedented access to perspectives and information that was excluded or marginalized in mainstream sources. And, all are cross-searchable with all other ProQuest Historical Newspapers–including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times–allowing researchers to evaluate history from multiple points of view. …The ProQuest platform offers powerful and easy-to-use tools, including: full-page and article images in easily downloadable PDF format, complete newspaper runs, and the ability to search 21 different article types.”


Free African American Newspapers

The Ancestor Hunt summarizes African American newspaper collections by state and has online tutorials for newspaper research. This site will list both fee and free collections. links to current Black/African American newspapers and says some of these papers have online archives. “Listed below are links to major African American newspapers, magazines and journals.  In some instances these links also include the archives of these media sources.”

Chronicling America

Chronicling America is the US Library of Congress’ website with free, digitized collections. They have a list of all known African American newspapers and where they can possibly be found (over 2,000 exist but most won’t be online). Or a list of 55 African American newspapers digitized and online at Chronicling America. There’s a new free app, OldNews USA, currently only for Android phones, which aids in searching newspapers at Chronicling America. OldNews USA won the 2017 RootsTech Innovator Showdown so it’s worth checking out if you want to search these papers on a handheld device. (Be sure to search all the papers at Chronicling America, not just the African American ones I linked to above.)


I’ve added smaller collections as I’ve found them including runaway slave advertisements from newspapers, and collections related to slaves (not newspapers and not necessarily African American), and also some general African American collections, not just newspapers. My site is a bit slow to search so my apologies in advance-site speed is on my to-do list.


Wikipedia has a good article on African American newspapers as well as a couple of books that are recommended as “essential starting points for understanding the early history of African American newspapers.” This article also includes the names of some African American newspapers, not nearly as complete as the one found at Chronicling America.


I’ve had my best newspaper successes with subscription sites, because they do the work for me and return the specific newspaper page I need to see, so it’s harder to just browse the paper. But, some of these papers and free sites will have search engines that may yield similar results. Again, I almost hate to recommend newspaper research because it’s so easy to lose track of time, but if you’re learning the history and culture of the area where your ancestors lived, I guess that’s time put to good use. Best in your searches, whether they’re fee or free!



March 13, 2017 |

Family Tree Charts and Family Tree Art



Here are some ideas from RootsTech 2017 for family tree charts and family tree art. (This post will highlight the printable and custom family trees, not the many book options.)


I’m going to start with two I didn’t see at RootsTech, but they’re the cheapest options I’ve used, i.e. practically free. The ones that follow range from very affordable to custom and more pricey. Hope you enjoy!



TreeSeek is a free website for creating printable family tree charts. TreeSeek uses the FamilySearch family tree so you’ll need to have a free account with FamilySearch and build your tree there to use this partner site. You’ll allow TreeSeek access to your FamilySearch tree, they’ll build the chart of your choice, then you’ll download the chart to your computer or a thumbdrive and print it at your expense. I’ve downloaded charts and then printed them at a local copy store and love them.

TreeSeek free printable family trees



FamilySearch Keepsakes

FamilySearch is the preeminent free family tree, free genealogy records website and offers a few free, downloadable family tree prints. You’ll need to build a free family tree at FamilySearch and allow them to pull your data into the tree. I’ve downloaded a couple of these trees and printed them at a local copy shop. The two I chose had three generations in the tree and I just threw the 8×10 print into a frame for an inexpensive family tree display.

FamilySearch keepsakes free family tree art




GenealogyWallCharts is a website for affordable, though not free, printable family tree charts. GenealogyWallCharts currently only accepts family trees from FamilySearch, the free tree site, but follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates including other GEDCOM options in the future. Their site will pull ancestral data as well as pictures from FamilySearch trees into their charts. They have many print options and affordable pricing. They were running a hopping business at RootsTech 2017, printing thousands of charts and selling beautiful wood engravings as well. Caveat: I haven’t been able to get my FamilySearch tree to download but they have contact information on their site if you need help.




Family Chartmasters

Family Chartmasters is a family tree chart printing company with multiple chart options including fill in the blank family wall charts. They had a very busy booth at RootsTech and for good reason; visit their Gallery for family tree chart options. Follow them on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube for updates and offers.

Family Chartmasters




MyCanvas is a company owned by Alexanders Print Shop that specializes in printing family tree charts, family history books, calendars, and custom albums. MyCanvas uploads data from trees. You can create a free tree at Ancestry if you want to purchase MyCanvas products. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates and offers. I haven’t purchased any charts from MyCanvas but I have purchased a family history book populated with 4 generations of data and photos from my family tree. I created it as a gift for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday and it was a very high quality, bound book and was customizable in many ways. I would definitely order from MyCanvas again.

MyCanvas books and posters



Family Trees and Timelines

Family Trees and Timelines is a more artistic and expensive option done with calligraphy. “Our customized family tree is a unique fine art creation that a person or family can display in their home. Each family tree documents your family genealogy back four generations, or five generations if modifications are made to include the names and photo’s of children beneath the tree.  Ancestor names are handwritten in copperplate calligraphy by Janet for every customized family tree, uploaded into Photoshop, and placed on the tree in the proper place.  All photos are restored and enhanced by Robert prior to being placed in the ovals on the tree.”

Family Trees and Timelines


Family Tree and Me

Family Tree and Me focuses on photographic family trees. “Our products are designed to showcase the family! They are attractive and eye-appealing! They make memorable keepsakes! They can be given as gifts! They’re great for family reunions! They are more than just art pieces– they are conversation pieces!” Follow them on Facebook for updates and special offers!

Family Tree and Me family tree charts art




Branches is a custom family tree chart business (owned by Matt and Carolynn Reynolds) that exhibited at RootsTech 2017. “We are a husband & wife team that have a passion for art, design & families. We design our products with the hope that they will bring families together & inspire others to seek after & appreciate their unique family histories.” Both Matt and Carolyn are graphic designers and have worked many aspects of the design trade, including custom fine art. “As a team, we hope to provide high-quality art pieces that our customers will treasure for their lifetime. …We started Branches with the sincere hope that we could spread our love for family and genealogy to people around the world!”

Branches Family tree art



Tapestree – Family Tree Art Displays

“Handcrafted from copper in O’Fallon, Mo, the Tapestree’s design allows each branch to safely and securely hold a variety of small ornaments and keepsakes. … From our photo frame charms used to create a unique family tree, to large hole Pandora style beads, crystals, jewelry, and other miniature collectibles, Tapestrees can be used to capture and showcase special memories and milestones throughout the years.” Follow them on Facebook for new products and special offers.

Tapestree Family Tree



Okay, so this is not a family tree chart, but it definitely falls under family tree art in my book so I’m throwing it in. I love the idea of capturing family history through caricatures/art. So, if this is your thing, follow their blog and check them out on Facebook and Twitter.


And one that was not at RootsTech:


AsynjaArt in Sweden

AsynjaArt “is a family tree art company based in Sweden owned by Anna Edin. “The niche I have chosen is to paint personal family tree.” “There are large original hand-painted in tuschlavyr, watercolor or acrylic, pre-printed trees to fill in yourself or maybe a tree on the wall?”

“The technique I mostly use my paintings are a combination of tuschlavyr and watercolor. It is a legacy of my mentor Rolf Lidberg but also inspired by other masters such as Carl Larsson, Elsa Beskow and Ilon Wikland. For larger paintings on the walls and I use acrylic paint as a medium.” Follow AsynjaArt on Facebook and Twitter for more offerings.

AsynjaArt Family Tree art

And one more that was not at RootsTech, but hey, this one’s great if you love DNA or if you haven’t researched and documented your tree but wish you had something to display.


Dot One in England

Dot One is a DNA genealogy company based in London that provides DNA testing and then uses your DNA results to code designs for personalized posters and textiles. Follow Dot One on Facebook and Twitter for the latest DNA product offerings.

DotOne DNA posters


I think family tree charts and art are a well-earned treat for those who explore their heritage. So after your investment in research, indulge, and display your passion!

March 2, 2017 |

Fee or Free Genealogy Sites-a Comparison


In these Fee or Free posts I’m going to highlight popular subscription site collections and share free alternatives.

Fee or Free Canadian Census Records


I currently use these subscription sites:

  • Ancestry

  • MyHeritage

  • FindMyPast

  • AmericanAncestors

and I’ve used GenealogyBank in the past. I love them all. ???? Each has valuable collections that aid research but many hobbyists don’t keep a subscription with one or any of these companies and they do a lot of legwork hunting for free genealogy records.

My New Year’s Resolution is to post free alternatives to everything I consider awesome at the fee sites.


Maybe weight-loss would be an easier goal? ????

We shall see. It’ll be a fun challenge.

????Happy New Year and Happy Hunting!

December 29, 2016 |

MyHeritage DNA


MyHeritage DNA tests are a new way to learn about your family heritage and complement your family history research. It takes about 30 seconds to use the home testing kit and about 3-4 weeks to receive results from the MyHeritage DNA lab. Thanks to MyHeritage DNA matching, MyHeritage DNA tests can help you discover relatives you haven’t previously connected with and can help you learn about your ethnic and geographic ancestry.

MyHeritage DNA match examples


Benefits of MyHeritage DNA

“Testing your DNA with MyHeritage offers significant benefits even if you have already taken a DNA test elsewhere. You will be able to get unique matches to users who have only tested with MyHeritage, as well as matches with users who uploaded their results to MyHeritage from other providers. Thanks to MyHeritage’s availability in more than 40 languages and wide international reach, you will have better chances of being matched with relatives who live in other countries. You will also receive a comprehensive ethnicity analysis on MyHeritage that may reveal new information.”

“We are the most global company in the family history space. So testing with us will give you the best chances of being matched with relatives in other countries.”

Benefits to AncestryDNA & 23andMe customers

“AncestryDNA customers who want to be matched with 23andMe customers and vice versa cannot enjoy that on those services but will be able to benefit from cross-matching on MyHeritage, and it is completely free of charge. …Follow these simple instructions to export your raw DNA data from the service you tested with and import this data to MyHeritage.”

MyHeritage DNA


Tests are on sale now–$79 instead of the regular $99–a great price for the holidays. Is it time to take the next leap in your family history research and leave some breadcrumbs for family to find you? Happy Hunting!

November 8, 2016 |

Héritage for free Canadian Genealogy


Heritage is a free database at Canadiana of some of Canada’s primary source documents. Héritage searches the archival material of Library and Archives Canada, “Chronicling the country and its people from the 1600s to the mid-1900s, this collection represents a vast and unique resource for Canadian historians, students, and genealogists.”

Heritage for free Canadian Genealogy


Search the entire database or check out their featured collection of Genealogy records.

Subscription to Canadiana supports their digitization efforts and grants you full access to view all images and download PDFs and subscription rates are $10 (Canadian dollars) for one month’s access or $100 (Canadian dollars) for one year’s access and subscriptions don’t automatically renew.

Happy Hunting! #FamilyHistoryMonth


October 19, 2016 | for Free Family Tree Checks

0 for free family tree checks is a new website that offers free family tree analysis of FamilySearch family trees.

Kinpoint has free services as well as premium services. Free services include checks to verify vital information is properly recorded for each person in your tree. Kinpoint puts a yellow circle by a person’s name if there is any vital information that needs to be properly sourced: a death location is missing, a birthdate, etc. For LDS users Kinpoint also looks for any ordinance work that still needs to be done for ancestors in your tree.

Kinpoint’s premium services include looking for possible problems in your tree, like a parent born after the birth of a child, and they have source hints and matches that can help you find more documentation for people in your tree. Work done in Kinpoint updates into your FamilySearch tree reducing the need for duplicate work.

I have several trees on different sites and one on my home computer but was surprised to see that my free FamilySearch tree has so much vital information missing. This will be a fun clean-up chore I’ll let my kids help with because the information will be so simple to document. It’s rare to find such low-hanging fruit on a family tree and I’m excited to use Kinpoint to introduce my kids to family history work in a way that’s visual and will give them instant success. Happy hunting during #FamilyHistoryMonth!


October 6, 2016 |

Historic Journals from RootsTech 2016


If you have old letters, diaries, and family papers that have been stored for years but not transcribed, Historic Journals from RootsTech might be the site for you. And even if you aren’t the one who inherited the family papers, maybe the one who did has shared it online and you’ll find it here.

Document uploaded to Historic Journals

Document uploaded to Historic Journals

Historic Journals is an online family history website with both free and fee offerings for finding and sharing your ancestor’s journals, wills, letters, photos, and more. Historic Journals pulls data from the free family tree site, You can upload documents and allow others the privilege of helping transcribe them. “The privilege” haha. We all know there’s a reason they’ve been sitting in boxes for years. It’s work. It takes time. And it can be tedious. The problem is, yours might be the last generation that will be able to read them and these documents often contain important leads and clarify relationships and once they’re lost, those helps are gone.








Screenshot of Historic Journals page where you view and transcribe documents and tag ancestors

Screenshot of Historic Journals page where you view and transcribe documents and tag ancestors

When you upload an image and give rights to others to transcribe the document, you or anyone you’ve given rights to, can choose to add a transcription (there are options to zoom in and out), edit the transcription, etc. You can also tag individuals named in that document and once they’ve been tagged, if you’ve chosen to make the document public, they’ll go into a database where Historic Journals will allow other descendants to view the document and transcription.









How am I related? feature on Historic Journals

How am I related? feature on Historic Journals

Historic Journals has a “How am I related?” feature that detects any tagged person in a document who is your direct ancestor using the free trees on  Historic Journals will highlight your ancestor’s name and prompt you with “How am I related?” and if you select this question it will pull up the inserted fan chart with your descendancy from the tagged individual. So in my case, Joseph Pomeroy Cass-Hannah Cass-Polly Lamb Wells-Eudora Adelia Stone-Martha Eudora Randall-Randall Webber Tayler-me









Shared letters, biographies I can access because my ancestors are tagged

Shared letters, biographies I can access because my ancestors are tagged

This is a screenshot of the library on Historic Journals where I can see:

  • what I’ve contributed
  • what others have contributed and shared that pertains to my ancestors
  • what others have tagged my ancestors in
  • other public items

In each of these groups I’m given the “How am I related?” prompt with a descendancy chart if my direct ancestor is tagged.




Free Genealogy Fan Chart from Historic Journals

Free Genealogy Fan Chart from Historic Journals

My husband thinks my fan chart is embarrassing because I haven’t completed all my 6th generations, but if you can overlook my struggles, here’s a view of Historic Journals feature where they give you an expandable fan chart for your ancestors. You can search the fan chart for some common genealogy problems:

  • loops
  • duplicates
  • birth after child’s birth
  • birth after death
  • birth after marriage
  • marriage after death

Historic Journals highlights these potential problems in orange. Yikes! I have a marriage recorded after the person died, so I’ll have to check into that one.

Historic Journals also has a pioneer feature and if you have ancestors who were Mormon pioneers they’ll all be listed on this page, with “How am I related?” prompts.

They also have a Mormon Migration feature where they’ll list any ancestors who are part of the Mormon Migration database (1840 and 1932).

Even if you don’t need to transcribe and share letters and documents, if you have a free tree on, you’ll want to check out Historic Journals for free features to see if anyone’s shared documents that might help you with your family history research.

April 22, 2016 |
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