RootsWeb Update from Ancestry


If you’re interested in the latest RootsWeb update, but aren’t on their mailing list, here’s the information I received today. (Haven’t used RootsWeb? Here’s a glimpse at the offerings.)

RootsWeb Mailing Lists

“Dear RootsWeb Mailing List Member,

We’d like to provide you with an update on the RootsWeb mailing list service.

We are on track to bring the mailing lists back online by the end of this month. The mailing list archives will be up and running with current emails in them. We are in the process of importing the old archives into the new system which will take some time.

We appreciate your patience as we continue upgrading the systems that run the RootsWeb mailing lists. We know how much value this service provides to our members.

Updates on our progress will continue to be posted on the RootsWeb homepage:

Thank you for sticking with us as we work to make these systems more secure and reliable for the future.

The RootsWeb Team

You are receiving this email because you have used the RootsWeb mailing list feature in the past.

Your privacy is important to us. View our Privacy Statement: of is subject to our Terms and Conditions:

Copyright 2018 ANCESTRY.COM Operations Inc. 1300 W Traverse Parkway, Lehi, UT 84043, USA”



What are RootsWeb Mailing Lists?

RootsWeb Mailing Lists are online genealogy groups you can join (subscribe to) that are specific to a Surname, Ethnicity, or Locale. You can share any information or expertise you have on the group topic, ask if anyone’s also descended from one of your ancestors & if they can share information with you, and generally connect with people who have a similar interest. They predate Genealogy Facebook Groups but still have active participants and have a wealth of genealogical information in the archived posts. Each RootsWeb Mailing list will usually have:

  • a Group owner with an email address provided

  • an email address for Subscribing to the Mailing list

  • an email address for Unsubscribing (when you’ve found all your ancestors, hahaha)

  • and an email address where you can Post Messages to the Mailing List

And again, if you’ve never used the RootsWeb mailing lists, here’s a glimpse of the offerings at RootsWeb, check back at the end of the month and see what you’ve been missing!

February 9, 2018 |

African American Genealogy Research



In honor of Black History Month and the contributions made by African Americans, here are curated files of African American Family History resources. These have been set up in digitally tabbed file folders–just select a tab and the file contents will be displayed.

LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and Kunta Kinte of the 1977 “Roots” miniseries) gave a powerful keynote address at last year’s RootsTech. Maybe you had to be there or maybe you had to have lived in America in the 70s when almost every household, probably with an average of ten TV channels, tuned in to watch Roots. When parents were torn between “is this too graphic for the kids” and “is this too important to not let them see?” Burton summed it up perfectly when he said ‘one family’s story changed how America saw slavery’ and that every story mattered. Black History Month celebrates all African Americans. From the first African American president to the most humble slave narrative, every story matters.

Don’t have African American or slave ancestry? Consider donating some time helping index records at the US Freedmen’s Bureau. They need volunteers to extract names & ages & family members from all types of records and put them in appropriate birth, marriage, and death indexes. No one should have to look through deeds of sale to find their kin.

US Freedmen's Bureau project and African American Genealogy Research online

Some ideas for African American genealogy research include:

SLAVERY – most African Americans have slave ancestry which makes the research more difficult because there are fewer records and the records created by slavery are objectionable

US FREEDMEN’S BUREAU – the US Freedmen’s Bureau has the best African American & slavery records and these records are being digitized and indexed but are only partially available online, new records are added regularly so check back for new and updated collections

EXPAND YOUR SEARCH – you’ll probably need to expand your ancestor search to include your ancestor’s relations and, if applicable, the slave owner & slave owner’s relations (look for the slave owner’s will, an estate inventory naming slaves and if they will be freed or go to someone else after the owner’s death)

TRANSPORT – search passenger lists, ship manifests, and slave registers

MILITARY – Military records are great & Civil War pension applications are so valuable, they’re worth obtaining in their entirety

The Freedmen's Bureau African American Genealogy Research online

BEYOND INDEXES – if you don’t find what you need in indexes (where names have been extracted from all types of documents), you’ll have to steel yourself and master searching through property records, because slaves were not treated as persons, but as property; search slave insurance records, runaway slave newspaper advertisements, property deeds (slaves being some of the last property mentioned), loan collaterals, county taxes (noting slave owners), estate publications (estate value may be low even though they owned many slaves), court records/judgments, and any financial transactions

NETWORK – descendants of slave-owners may unknowingly hold family records, letters, etc. in their private collections that will unlock your past & you may have to navigate how to successfully reach out to them

LIBRARIES & SOCIETIES – local libraries and genealogical or historical societies in the locale where an ancestor lived may have the valuable records you need-don’t underestimate societies & libraries

CONNECT – most genealogists specialize in a locale or ethnicity, join social media sites and follow bloggers and genealogists who specialize in African American or slave research-the techniques you’ll need to master are different and you should let a professional be your guide

DNA – if you hit a brick wall, modern DNA testing with ethnicity, triangulation, & shared matches may be a necessary step in your research

THE NEVERENDING STORY – this list of resources will never be complete in any way and I haven’t added collections at subscription sites (unless I did so by accident); I absolutely will if it’s by request, but I personally hate anticipating a free collection and then hitting a paywall

Birth RecordsMarriage RecordsDeath RecordsResidenceDaily LifeMilitaryModern Helps

General Freedmen Bureau Records Name Search – a FamilySearch site “The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War to supervise relief efforts including education, healthcare, food and clothing, refugee camps, legalization of marriages, employment, labor contracts, and securing back pay, bounty payments and pensions.”

South Africa Register of Slaves, 1762-1838

US Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of Freedmen, 1865-1872 – birth, marriage, labor contracts, rations with locations where an ancestor lived and who slaveholder was, letters with great info

Slave Archival Collection (RootsWeb site at Ancestry that is temporarily down)

RootsWeb free Birth Records Database Search (RootsWeb site at Ancestry that is temporarily down)

General Freedmen Bureau Records Name Search – a FamilySearch site “The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War to supervise relief efforts including education, healthcare, food and clothing, refugee camps, legalization of marriages, employment, labor contracts, and securing back pay, bounty payments and pensions.”

United States Freedmen’s Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872

Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records (an alternative site for the same records)

US Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of Freedmen, 1865-1872 – birth, marriage, labor contracts, rations with locations where an ancestor lived and who slaveholder was, letters with great info

African American Marriages URL is   (RootsWeb site at Ancestry that is temporarily down)



General Freedmen Bureau Records Name Search – a FamilySearch site “The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War to supervise relief efforts including education, healthcare, food and clothing, refugee camps, legalization of marriages, employment, labor contracts, and securing back pay, bounty payments and pensions.”

African American Death Records an AfriGeneas searchable database

African American Obituaries, Funeral Programs and Cemetery Records – an AfriGeneas database

Richland County Public Library Obituary Index – “obituaries and death notices from various local newspapers dating from 1875 to the present.”

Slave Archival Collection

Lynching Information & Records

Christine’s Genealogy Website – lynchings & wills

Freedmen’s Bureau Records Relating to Murders and Outrages


African American Cemeteries Online

African American Cemeteries at Wikipedia

US Cemetery listingsePodunk

City Cemetery Burial Database list of African Americans buried at City Cemetery

The Friends of Freedmen’s Cemetery – Virginia


Slave Data Collection at AfriGeneas slaves named in wills

Probate Record research tips from AfriGeneas

Christine’s Genealogy Website includes transcribed wills and inventory lists

Land & Property

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau, Land and Property Records, 1865-1872   “This collection consists of images of land and property records created by the Freedmen’s Bureau for the years 1865 to 1872. … and may include Full name, Residence, Document dates, Ages, Description of property, Name of property owner, Names of other members of the family


Sankofagen Wiki – Plantation records for most states, site is redesigned but select a state or file name and then look at plantations and slave lists

List of Plantations in the US – Wikipedia


African American Census Records an AfriGeneas searchable database

United States Online Census, 1790-1940 including 1850 Slave Schedule


Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

The African-American Migration Experience

The Great Migration: The African American Exodus from The South

African Origins Database, index  FSearch

Alabama Mapping – GIS by county (scroll to bottom of page for mobile view link)


United States Freedman’s Bank Records, 1865-1874

Court & Legal & Government

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau, Freedmen’s Court Records, 1865-1872  “This collection consists of an index and images of records relating to Freedmen’s court cases including proceedings, registers of cases tried, trial dockets, affidavits, depositions, testimonies of witnesses.”

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of Freedmen’s Complaints, 1865-1872  “Index and images of registers of complaints and other records related to civil rights complaints.” Person filing the complaint, the object of the complaint, action taken and the result of action.


United States, Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of the Superintendent of Education and of the Division of Education, 1865-1872 “Most of the collection will consist of monthly teacher reports and monthly reports of the sub-assistant commissioner or agents. The event date is the date the report was completed either by the teacher or agent. Reports can also identify the name and location of schools as well as the society sponsoring a teacher.”

Employment & Labor

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts, Indenture and Apprenticeship Records, 1865-1872 “The collection consists of an index and images of employment-related records for the years 1865 to 1872. It includes labor contracts, indentures and apprenticeship records” and may contain “Given and Surname, Age and/or Birth Date, Death Date, Residence, Spouse Name and Birth, Race or Color, Occupation, Marriage Date, & Military Unit.”

United States, Freedmen’s Branch Records, 1872-1878, bounty claims, labor complaints, pension claims; information may include: “Name(s) of the primary individual(s), Name of the freedman’s former owner, Names of family members, Residence, Age, Date of the record, and Birth, marriage or death dates and places”

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau Claim Records, 1865-1872

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau Ration Records, 1865-1872  applications for relief, rations, & more

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau Records of Persons and Articles Hired, 1865-1872

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872  “These records include, letters and registers of letters sent and received, reports, endorsements, telegrams, issuances, account books, applications for rations, applications for relief, court records, labor contracts, registers of bounty claimants, registers of complaints, registers of contracts, registers of disbursements, registers of freedmen issued rations, registers of patients, reports, rosters of officers and employees, special and general orders and circulars received, special orders and circulars issued, records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads.”

United States, Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of the Commissioner, 1865-1872  This collection includes letters, denials of claim, endorsements, and oversight of the Bureau. Information may include the “Name of the freedman, Name of the freedman’s former owner, Date of the record, Birthplace, Residence, Age, & Document dates.”

History & Oral Histories

Library of Congress African American oral histories and other historical material

African American Biographical Database (1790-1950) “The African American Biographical Database is a resource of first resort when you are looking for biographical information, including photographs and illustrations, for African Americans.”

Biographies of Famous African Americans

Biographies of Famous African Americans – a different site

Notable African American Women

First-Person Narratives of the American South “First-Person Narratives of the American South” is a collection of diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives written by Southerners. The majority of materials in this collection are written by those Southerners whose voices were less prominent in their time, including African Americans, women, enlisted men, laborers, and Native Americans.”

Voices from the Days of Slavery “All known recordings of former slaves in the American Folklife Center are included in this presentation. Some are being made publicly available for the first time and several others already available now include complete transcriptions.”

NYPL Slave Narratives, Books, & Publications

Slave Biographies

Stanford University – Diary of a Contraband

Lowcountry Africana a free website for African American Genealogy in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, with research tips for how to begin African American genealogy research.

Free Google Books Slave Narratives

See Libraries, Museums, & Archives for other Slave Narratives


Slavery Era Insurance Policies Registry – a pdf from the Illinois State Government with policies from the United States Life Insurance Company of New York, New York Life Insurance Company, & Aetna Life Insurance Company. This includes names of slaves from 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Slavery Era Insurance Registry – New York Life slavery database created by the State of California

Slavery Era Insurance Report prepared for the State of Iowa after a request for any insurance company doing business in Iowa to report slavery era insurance policies

Libraries, Museums, & Archives

DPLA – the Digital Public Library of American allows you to search across many US Libraries’ digital collections. A search of  “African American Obituaries” found 10 results, two of which were family bible records spanning 200 years with slave genealogies; a search for “Slave deaths” returned plantation ledgers with names of slaves and births and deaths for each slave family; searches for African American births, slave deaths, slave will, slave inventory, probate, land records, bible records, etc are ideas for more searches. (Remember to reset your search filters each time.)

How to Search at DPLA

ArchiveGrid is similar to DPLA and searches across more than 1,000 archival institutions. This link goes to a search for “Slave” records.

How to Search at ArchiveGrid

Umbra Search  specifically for African American collections at more than 1,000 Libraries

Internet Archive, this link shows search results for “Slave Narratives”

Finding Genealogy collections at Internet Archive

Alabama Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

Arkansas Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

Delaware Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

District of Columbia Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

Georgia Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

Kentucky Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

Louisiana Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

Maryland Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

Mississippi Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

South Carolina Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records online

Google Books, this link shows search results for “Slave Narratives”

How to limit results to only FREE books at Google Books

HathiTrust, this link shows search results for “Slave Narratives”

Tips for searching at HathiTrust

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – “BSNM is the only museum dedicated primarily to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American soldier in defense of the United States of America from the Revolutionary War to present.” The Cheyenne Tribe Native American warriors gave the soldiers the nickname “Wild Buffalo” out of respect for the 10th Cavalry (African American soldiers’) fierce fighting ability. The name Buffalo soldiers stuck and became a generic term referencing all African American soldiers.

Maryland State Archives

Multicultural  Genealogical Center

New Orleans Public Library online collections

New York Public Library Digital Collections results for “Slave” search

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture and Facebook Group

Richard B. Harrison Library Vertical Files, digital content, Mollie Huston Lee librarian collection

Duke University Libraries Digital Collections including American Slavery Documents

Pennsylvania State Archives

St. Louis County Library Collections including African American newspapers and more

Conducting African American Research in University Libraries Facebook Group

National Civil Rights Museum and Facebook Group

Magazines & Periodicals

African American Periodicals, 1825-1995

International Index to Black Periodicals

Muscogiana – journal of the Muscogee Genealogical Society


United States, Freedmen’s Bureau Hospital and Medical Records, 1865-1872 records may include “Name of the patient, Age, Sex, Date of admission, Date of discharge or death, Name and location of cemetery where buried, Estimated date and place of birth, Home residence, Marital status of deceased, & Names of family members”


Richland County Public Library Obituary Index – “obituaries and death notices from various local newspapers dating from 1875 to the present.”

African American Online Historical Newspapers


Pictures of African Americans in WWII

Beautiful Photographs of Our Black Unknowns Facebook Group

Vintage African American Photographs Facebook Group

Vintage African American Photography


Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Records

Sankofagen Wiki – Plantation records for most states, site is redesigned but select a state or file name and then look at plantations and slave lists

Graham Slave Records and Facebook Group

American Memory – Slaves and the Courts 1740-1860

Digital Library on American Slavery by The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

Slavery, Abolition, and Social Justice

Inspection Roll of Negroes Book No. 2; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention 1765-1821

Slave Narratives, Volume 1 free download

Slave Biographies: Atlantic Slave Database Network

See Slavery Insurance Policies above


Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and Facebook Group

Association for the Study of African American Life and History and Facebook Group

Massachusetts Historical Society

Descendants of American Slaves & Friends Facebook Group

The Ft. Ward and Seminary African American Descendants Society Facebook Group

Indivisible: African-Native American/ American Indian/Indigenous Ancestry Facebook Group

Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI) Facebook Group


African American Surnames – AfriGeneas


Blogs, Bloggers, Researchers

AfriGeneas – An African American genealogy research site with online databases, research tips, and other resources.

The African-Native American Website A founding member of AfriGeneas, Angela Walton-Raji is a genealogist who specializes in African and Native American research. “Her great-grandparents were African slaves of Choctaw Indians, and that her Walton ancestors were among several thousand Africans who were enslaved by Native Americans, including those who migrated west on the Trail of Tears.”

Who is Nicka Smith? “Nicka Smith is a professional photographer, speaker, and documentarian with more than 18 years of experience as a genealogist.  She is the host of BlackProGen LIVE, a web show focused on people of color genealogy and family history.”

Our Black Ancestry by Sharon Leslie Morgan, a founding member of AfriGeneas and Diana Roman, a descendant of one of the largest slaveholding families in American history.

Lowcountry Africana a free website for African American Genealogy in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, with research tips for how to begin African American genealogy research.

Tony Burroughs, FUGA

Genealogy Blog Finder: African American Blogs 

I’ve Traced My Ancestor’s Slaveholders Facebook Group with tips for linking slaves to slave owners

Enslaved Ancestors and Freedmen Genealogy! Just Ask! Facebook Group

Traci’s African American History in Missouri blog and Facebook Group

Our Black Ancestry Facebook Group

Roots Matter ~ Blacks in Genealogy

African-American Genealogy Forum on Facebook

African American Griots Genealogy & History Facebook Group

African American History, Ancestors & Descendants in America and Worldwide Facebook Group

African-Native American Connection Facebook Group


African Ancestry DNA testing and Facebook Group


Family Tree DNA

MyHeritage DNA


The African Descendant’s Genetic Genealogy Facebook Group

DNA Tested African Descendants Facebook Group


The National Archives (National Archives and Records Administration) explanation of African American records

NARA African American & Slavery records

Black Family History Research at NARA

Using Military Records at NARA

Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau descriptive guides for each state with Freedmen’s Bureau records

Family Search

The Beyond Kin Project  and Facebook page “an effort to create genealogical documentation for historically enslaved populations”

Arkansas History Commission

Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City “The Black Archives of Mid-America serves to collect and preserve the history of African Americans in the Midwest.

Georgia’s Virtual Vault “Georgia’s most important historical documents, from 1733 to the present.”

AfriGeneas online databases, research tips, photos, and other resources and Facebook Group

BlackPast and Facebook Group

Lowcountry Africana a free website for African American Genealogy in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, with research tips for how to begin African American genealogy research.

Missouri State Archives

Institute of African American Research at UNC and Facebook Group

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Facebook Group

Chattahoochee Trace – promotes heritage of an 18 county Alabama and Georgia region

Our Folks Tales stories of enslaved people and African American genealogy links

The Slave Dwelling Project preserves slave dwellings and Facebook Group

African American Registry alphabetical order & Facebook Group


LegacyFamilyTree Webinars has a couple free African American genealogy webinars planned for 2018, and members have access to 13 webinars with handouts

The African Roots Podcast since 2009


Canadian African American ResearchCaribbean African American Research

Caribbean Islands Records

Caribbean, Births and Baptisms, 1590-1928

Caribbean, Marriages, 1591-1905

Caribbean, Deaths and Burials, 1790-1906

Caribbeana volumes at Internet Archive – a few references to named slaves, use “Search Inside” feature to search a volume

Digital Library of the Caribbean – dLOC


West Indies

A Guide to the Letterbook for the Simon Plantation, St. Kitts – authored by Samuel Cary. “Throughout the letterbook, Cary provides information about the African slaves owned by the plantation, listing about 300 at one point. He describes the shipping of slaves, the purchase of slaves, their labor and health, and the escape and death of slaves.”

Jamaica Records

National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) – including collections about the slave trade and slavery

Jamaica Births and Baptisms, 1752-1920

Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880

Jamaica, Civil Registration, 1880-1999

Bahamas Records

Bahamas, Births, 1850-1891

Bahamas, Civil Registration, 1850-1959

Dominican Republic Records

Dominican Republic, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1955

Dominican Republic Baptisms, 1726-1924

Dominican Republic Births 1801-2006

Dominican Republic Civil Registration Records 1801-2010

Dominican Republic, Marriages, 1743-1929

Dominican Republic Deaths, 1666-1862

Dominican Republic, Miscellaneous Records, 1921-1980


Marronnage in Saint-Dominigue (Haiti) – with slavery databases

Haiti, Port-au-Prince, Civil Registration, 1794-2012

A Guide to the Jeremie Papers – possibly including slave information

If you have a favorite resource to add, including your own African American blog or forum, please leave a comment on the OnGenealogy Facebook page and we’d be happy to include more resources. We’re still planning to switch to a new website soon and allow on-site comments and permit registered users to add resources to this site directly. Best in your research and enjoy Black History Month!


February 1, 2018 |

How to Create a Free FamilySearch Account


FamilySearch is the largest provider of free genealogical records in the world. They have almost 4,000 Family History Centers worldwide as well as a website where you can access more than 4 billion names for free and upload a personal family tree or create a FamilySearch family tree.

Some of the collections we list at OnGenealogy are from FamilySearch and while they are a completely FREE website, FamilySearch now requires everyone to register for a free account before searching any records.

If you are signed in to a FamilySearch account BEFORE searching for records at OnGenealogy, when you follow links from OnGenealogy to FamilySearch collections, you’ll immediately be able to search the records.

If you’re NOT signed in to a FamilySearch account before searching records at OnGenealogy, when you follow a link to FamilySearch and try to search a collection you’ll be sent to a window to create a free account and after you’ve created an account, you won’t be sent back to the original collection you were trying to search. You’ll have to look it up again.

If you’re wondering, “Why does FamilySearch require me to create a free account?,” well, I had the same question but I didn’t get a response when I sent them an email, so I asked an insider and included the response in this blog post.

Regardless of why you need a free account to use FamilySearch, we’d encourage you to CREATE a free FamilySearch account and take advantage of this great resource. You can opt out of emails and control privacy settings and we’ll show you how in another post.


1. Go to

If you already have an LDS account, your account is the same as an LDS Account and you can use the same login & password. (You’ll be prompted to provide your LDS Church membership number to create an LDS account if you don’t already have one. If you’re LDS, you should create a free LDS account because you’ll have free access to partnering websites. There’s no sneaky way to opt in to this great deal if you’re not LDS. Sorry.)

2. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen, select the Free Account link

Image of FamilySearch homepage with arrow and text overlay showing where to select Free Account


3.  Provide your First Name, Last Name, Username of choice, and a Password

Image of FamilySearch free account sign up window requesting Name Username Password


4. Provide an email address OR mobile phone number

Image of FamilySearch free account sign up window requesting email and mobile phone number


5. Agree to the terms and conditions and privacy policies

6. Select the Create an Account button

Image of FamilySearch free account sign up window requesting Contact name, gender, country, birth date, member y or no, captcha, agree to terms


7. IF YOU PROVIDED AN EMAIL ADDRESS, check your designated email account for a confirmation letter from FamilySearch asking you to activate your account; Select the Activate Account link, you’ll be taken to FamilySearch; Sign In with your new username and password

8. IF YOU PROVIDED A MOBILE PHONE NUMBER, you’ll receive a text message with a verification code. On the screen, a window appears in which you can enter that code; you’ll be taken to FamilySearch; Sign In with your new username and password

9. You’ll now be signed in and can see your name in the upper right-hand corner.

Image of FamilySearch search window when you're signed in with text overlay showing where your contact name appears in upper right corner

When you sign in to FamilySearch, they give you the option to stay signed in for up to two weeks. If you’re on a personal device and use the collections frequently, this is a great option.

With your new FamilySearch login, you can:

  • search all the collections at FamilySearch

  • build a free family tree

  • upload Memories

  • join an Indexing Project

  • give Apps permission to download your tree and then enjoy the App

  • explore everything

Best in your searches!




January 24, 2018 |

Family History Month Day 31 – Use Elephind for Genealogy


On Day 31 of Family History Month, use Elephind for genealogy research. Elephind is a free, historical newspaper site that is able to search across more than 3,000 newspaper titles at 25 institutions. The website has a very clean design and is easy to use.

Elephind OnGenealogy Family History Month


Elephind includes titles from Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States. They have a specific list of titles from each country on their site. As well as institutions they are able to search (in the image below).

Elephind sources


Elephind has some standard search features you’ll want to use including:

  • using the OR search operator if multiple words don’t need to be in the same search result

  • using the – search operator to exclude a word

    • Madison -James

    • would return mentions of “Madison” but not mentions of “James Madison”

    • this is helpful if you’re searching for an ancestor, James Wells, and see tons of articles with someone of the same name involved in oil drilling, so you  search for

      • “James Wells” -oil

      • and those articles won’t be in your search returns

  • using quotation marks to search for an exact phrase (example in image below)

  • using the ~ search operator with a number to say how far apart two words in your search can be

    • “Sarah Webber” ~3

    • allows you to search for Sarah Webber when Webber is no more than 3 words apart from Sarah; this will return instances where her middle names are included in an article, such as “Sarah Jane Webber” or “Webber, Sarah”

  • Elephind doesn’t distinguish between capital and lowercase text in searches

    • If I’m searching for “James Wells” I can’t exclude water wells by searching for

      • “James Wells” -wells

      • this search yields no results because Elephind doesn’t distinguish letter case

In the example below I searched for an ancestor, Harry Webber, who performed in a traveling play, Nip and Tuck. I wanted to find articles about his performances so I put his name in quotation marks, “Harry Webber” and the play name in quotation marks “Nip and Tuck”. Elephind returned only newspapers that contained both “Harry Webber” and “Nip and Tuck”. Technically, you don’t need the AND operator, but I like to use it for consistency to show what I was searching for. If you don’t use an operator between the phrases, Elephind assumes there is an AND search operator.

Elephind AND search operator


You’re also able to refine your search results using the options in the left column of your search results page. These options include:

  • Country/State of Publication

  • Decade

  • Source

  • Publication Title

  • Language of Publication

Elephind search options



These are extremely helpful search tools. In the case of my ancestor, Harry Webber, if I know Harry Webber never traveled to Australia, I can refine my search results to include only publications in the United States. If I know he was traveling in the 1880s, I can also refine my results by decade. If I don’t know how widely he traveled, I let Elephind search every source and publication in the United States, published in the 1880s.

Elephind refined search results


Best in your searches at Elephind!


October 30, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 29 – StackExchange for Genealogy



On Day 29 of Family History Month, use the Genealogy and Family History StackExchange for your genealogy questions.

StackExchange OnGenealogy Family History Month

StackExchange is a Q&A network for computer programmers that has expanded into Q&A for other topics, including genealogy and family history.

Stack Exchange for Genealogy and Family History


Anyone can read questions and answers on StackExchange, but in order to post questions or answers you’ll need to be a registered user.

You don’t have to be that heavily invested to benefit from StackExchange. I often go to StackExchange when I’m digitizing photos to remember the recommended file type and size. It’s a great site for a quick refresher on various genealogy topics and is worth checking out.

If you become a registered user and want to post questions and answers you should understand more about the community. Registered users gain or lose Reputation or trust within the community based on how other StackExchange users rate their questions and answers. A higher reputation earns you Privileges. StackExchange has an information page about gaining and losing Reputation and the Benefits of participating. Basically, voting/ranking helps direct other users to more trusted responses and benefits the community.

StackExchange is still primarily used by programmers, with over 40 million participating each month, but whatever your profession or hobby, it’s worth checking to see if it’s on StackExchange. (Genealogy falls under the Life/Arts heading.) Best in your research!

Stack Exchange topics

October 29, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 28 – HathiTrust Digital Library for Genealogy


HathiTrust Family History Month

The HathiTrust Digital Library is an online archive of content in and out of copyright. They receive content from Google, Internet Archive, Microsoft, and other partnering institutions. This is one of several digitized book sites that’s useful for genealogy research.


Hathi Trust Digital Library for Genealogy

You can search for an ancestor by surname or by collections. Searches can be made by Material type (book, periodical, etc.) or Language (many languages) or year range. Search for family names, genealogies, city histories, or family interests, like “Loyalists”, for leads on those hard to find ancestors. After your initial search results, be sure to start a further digital search within the book.

A few helpful search tips:

  • Use quotes to search for an exact phrase “James Webber” or “Webber, James”.

  • Use the wildcards * or ? to search for alternate spellings “James W?bb*”.

  • Use Boolean searches AND or OR (capitalized) to include or restrict search returns.

  • Use a minus sign – to restrict search results Levi -jeans -company -strauss to search for the surname Levi and remove any search results for Levi Strauss Jeans/Company.

    For more search tips: HathiTrust Digital Library Search Tips.

Happy Family History Month and best in your research!


October 27, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 27 – TinEye Reverse Image Search for Genealogy


TinEye Reverse Image Lookup





On Day 27 of Family History Month try out TinEye for Reverse Image Lookup. If you have an image in your digital files and you don’t know the source of the image, you can upload it to TinEye and let them search for a match online. The searches and image returns are free.

“Using TinEye, you can search by image or perform what we call a reverse image search. You can do that by uploading an image, or searching by URL. You can also simply drag and drop your images to start your search.”

“TinEye constantly crawls the web and adds images to its index. Today, the TinEye index is over 23.2 billion images.”

TinEye for Reverse Image Search




I had a map in my digital files but didn’t label the image with the website where I found the map. I uploaded the image to TinEye and let them search for matches. In the picture below, TinEye found two matches on the internet and the second match,, was where I’d found the map. Now I have the source I need.

TinEye matches


I personally haven’t had any success using TinEye to find family photos I need to identify, but I’ve had great luck with maps and images from websites.

You can also upload any stock image and see where it’s been used, in case you don’t want an image that’s been used too many times. And you can upload your own social media photos or copyrighted images and see if they’re being used on any other sites. (TinEye doesn’t save the photos you upload for searches.)

Best in your searches!


October 26, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 26 – Try a Country-Specific Google Search


Revisiting an old blog post today, on Day 26 of Family History Month, try a country-specific Google Search for your genealogy searches. Searching as if you were actually in a certain country can result in different search returns.

Country specific Google search engines OnGenealogy




By default, Google searches are localized and you’ll get different results based on where you’re located. But you can tell Google to perform searches as if you were in a different locale.

If you live in the United States but are searching for an ancestor in Ireland, select the Ireland Google Search Engine from the table below for your research.

When I searched for my ancestor “Edward M. Morphy” at, I had 155 search results (image below). search results




When I search for my ancestor, “Edward M. Morphy” at (Google Ireland), I receive 2,250 search results (image below). (I also get a privacy warning. If you search in another country it appears that Google is required to post a privacy warning letting you know they’re gathering search information from you.) results




Also, when you search Google as if you were in a different country, Google will offer to let you search in the native language. For, Google offers to let me see the results in Gaelic. And if you input your search in Gaelic, by default your results will be in Gaelic.

Gaelic option


Best in your searches!

List of Google Domains. (2017, March 14). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from

October 25, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 24 – Set Google Alerts




On Day 24 of Family History Month, let Google do your research and email you the results. You just need to set up some Google Alerts.


Google Alerts for Genealogy Family History Month



I set up a Google Alert for “Family History Month” and here’s an example of an email I received (image below).


Google Alert




To set up your own alerts, go to The image below is what you will see when you’re on the Google Alerts page. They offer “Alert suggestions” you may want to look through.

Google Alerts opening page




Some things you may want to create Google Alerts for include: a family name you’re researching, surnames, a surname and “DNA”, genealogy, family history, genealogy apps, or even your own name.

I’ve created an alert for an ancestor and put his name in quotation marks so Google will only alert me if the entire name appears as I’ve typed it in the quotation marks. You can see in the image below, Google immediately returned any appearances and the only one they could find was from an OnGenealogy blog I wrote.


Google Alerts Query




You’ll be prompted to enter an email address where they should send your alerts. Before entering an address, you’ll probably want to select “Show options” and filter your request. (See the image below.)

Show Options for your Google Alerts



The first filter is “How often would you like to receive alerts?” Your options are:

  • As it happens

  • At most once a day

  • At most once a week

I use once a day but I only look at my Google Alert emails once a week. I just like having the option to look at them more frequently.


How often to receive Google Alerts




The next filter is “From what sources?” I leave it on “Automatic” and let them come from any source, but depending on the type of alert you choose, you may want to filter by source.


Sources to search for your Google Alerts




The next filter is “Language”


What languages do you want Google Alerts to search




Then you can filter by region of the world. In the case of “Abel Waters Wells” I would select the United States and Canada because I’m trying to obtain information about Abel Waters Wells while he lived in those two countries.

What region do you want Google Alerts to search




Finally, you can ask Google to apply a qualitative filter on your search results with:

  • Only the best results

  • All results

How Many Results Google Alerts




Now you can enter an email address where you’d like to receive these Google Alerts. It doesn’t need to be a Gmail address.

Enter any email where Google Alerts should be sent



I prefer to use a Gmail account because they sort my mail for me. The image below is an example of what my email looks like. I have five folders where Google sends my email: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, & Forums. There’s also a + tab if I want to create another folder for another type of email.

Google makes pretty good guesses as to what type of mail each item is, so my most important mail goes into my “Primary” folder and Promotions, etc, go into other folders. If Google guesses wrong, I drag the email to the appropriate folder and Google asks me if it wants me to always put future emails from that sender in that folder.

Gmail folders




Here’s an example of an email I received from Google Alerts for an alert I created for Genealogy.

Google Alert for Genealogy



Google Alerts is a fun way to put the internet to work for you. Happy Family History Month and best in your research!


October 23, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 22 – BAnQ for Quebec Genealogy


BAnQ, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, (English: The National Library and Archives of Québec), is the official governmental archive and library for the Canadian province of Quebec.

BAnQ for Quebec Genealogy OnGenealogy

BAnQ has many digitized and freely available collections of interest to family history and genealogy research.


BAnQ for Quebec Genealogy

The institution is actively adding newly digitized collections and updating existing collections. Some highlights of the collection are:

  • Vital Records including birth (baptism), marriage, and death records since 1621 through the 20th century

  • City Directories

  • Newspapers




Vital Records

Following a practice in France, Catholic priests created two copies of each of the registers–a copy that was kept in the church archives and a copy that was sent to the government each year.

By the mid 19th century the right to collect vital records, following the same practice described above, was extended to Protestant denominations and Jewish congregations.

BAnQ is gradually posting these registers covering the earliest time periods through 1917 – following a rolling one-hundred year cut-off policy.

Vital Records at BAnQ




City Directories

Two companies dominated the publication of city directories in Quebec from the early 1800s. The Marcotte company focused on the City of Québec and its surrounding cities, towns, and villages; and the Lovell company primarily focused on Montreal and its environs.

BAnQ has excellent digitized and searchable collections of both Marcotte and Lovell produced directories:


  • Marcotte Directories (1822-1976):

    From approximately 1860, most directories published by Marcotte contain complete lists of all head-of-household inhabitants with information on their residence, address, and occupation. While French Canadians compose the largest population, significant populations of British, Scottish, Irish, Germans, and Americans are enumerated.

    Marcotte City Directories at BAnQ


  • Lovell Directories (1842-2010):

    The earliest directories published by Lovell (circa 1842) contain complete lists of all head-of- household residents with information on their residence and occupation.





The collection of digitized newspapers at BAnQ are an important source of genealogy and local history reflecting the daily life and events in the communities served by these publications. Many of BAnQ’s newspapers have been digitized and published online with full-text search and images.

Newspapers at BAnQ

Happy Family History Month and best in your research!

October 21, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 18 – General Land Office Records (GLO)


On Day 18 of Family History Month, visit the US Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records (GLO) and track where your ancestors lived. Where they lived and why they lived there is a good part of your heritage.

General Land Office Records Family History Month

The Bureau of Land Management has digitized records of land grants, survey plats, field notes, land status records, and more. For a more thorough description of the collections available at the BLM, visit this page listing each collection.


  • Federal Land Patents

    Here are two examples of land patent records at the Bureau of Land Management. Land patents show the transfer of land from the Federal government to individuals. The first is a land grant for Homestead property, land granted to someone when they met the requirements of the 1862 Homestead Act.

Mathew Mansfield Homestead grant

Here is another example of a land grant near Montgomery, Alabama at the BLM site:

Land Patent records


  • Survey plats

    This is a survey of the same piece of land near Montgomery, Alabama. The BLM site allows you to zoom in and out to get a perspective of the surveyed area.

Land Survey

Land Survey closer up


  • Field notes

    Field notes are attached to some land surveys (this is a different plot of land)

Survey Field Notes at BLM


  • Land Status records

    In this survey map, you can select the “Related Documents” tab and look up the ownership and more information about any section of this surveyed land (look up who is the assigned owner of area “15” for example)

Land Status records


  • The Control Document Index

    The CDI “includes BLM documents that affect or have affected the control, limitation, or restriction of public land and resources. …CDI documents have been kept on microfilm since the 1950’s, but are now being scanned and linked to existing data records from BLM’s LR2000 database.”

    Land Classification document

If you can’t find any General Land Office (GLO) records for your ancestors, here’s a map of which states are Public Land States and which states are State-Land states meaning land grants came from the states/colonies themselves and you’ll usually look to individual states for land grant records.

If you find a land grant to one of your ancestors at the BLM site, you’re able to print copies of these land certificates directly from the site for free.

Best in your searches, whether they’re by fee or free!




October 18, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 17 – Visit AfriGeneas


AfriGeneas OnGenealogy Family History Month

On Day 17 of Family History Month 2017, visit AfriGeneas and see what they have to offer!

AfriGeneas is a free website for anyone with African ancestry to help them find the resources they need for their family history research. Many of the collections are uploaded by volunteers and you’ll need to register with AfriGeneas if you want to volunteer and upload files. AfriGeneas also has message boards/forums for exchanging information.

Some collections you can explore at AfriGeneas include:

AfriGeneas Slave Data


AfriGeneas Searchable Surnames

State Resources at AfriGeneas

Country resources at AfriGeneas

And don’t forget to follow AfriGeneas on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Best in your searches whether they’re fee or free!



October 16, 2017 |

Family History Month – Day 16 Sign up for the Worldwide Indexing Event!


Get ready for the Worldwide Indexing Event October 20-22!


Family History research can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.


Needle in a haystack Family History Month



Indexing creates a digital, searchable record of an older historical record, and is like tying a ribbon to that needle in the haystack, allowing it to be found with ease.

Tying a ribbon to a needle is like indexing


The Worldwide Indexing Event October 20-22 is a great time to give back to the family history community.

I once heard an indexer explain what motivated him. He was indexing records for children in an asylum.

They were called “inmates.”


He had this visual image of a child behind prison bars, unable to find his or her family. Even if someone knew to look for these children, finding the right record source would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. He realized that every name he indexed was like tying a ribbon to one of these needles.

By donating a bit of time to type old records into computer fields and make them searchable online, we help family find their kin. Images are great, but indexes make searching the images or scans much faster and simpler. How many people will patiently flip through images, like the one below, hoping to see a family name? Diehard researchers will do this but indexing opens family history work to the masses because it simplifies the task.

I’ve been indexing some birth records and I came to one page where a lot of the given names were missing.

Indexing birth records

I saw one set of children was listed as “Twins” but the male twin was unnamed.


I went to MyHeritage and looked up the female twin, “Helga M. Carlson,” in the census.



There is no male twin for Helga in the census record so I assume the male twin died. If you went off the census records alone, you wouldn’t know the story of this family included this lost child.

Most people use censuses because they give us a glimpse of the family. But if a child dies before their first census, the family picture we assemble from the census is unwittingly incomplete. Indexing other primary records helps people more thoroughly create a portrait of their families.


Worldwide Indexing Event

When we’re indexing, if the records are hard to read (pictured above), we can either select a new project or use the “Project Helps” for clues to guide us. In the batch above, I couldn’t read the writing even after I’d adjusted the contrast and brightness, so I sent this batch back.

In selecting a project, my rules of thumb are:

1) Can I see the writing?

2) Can I read the writing?

3) Can I make educated guesses?

If I can see and read the writing, I scan the whole page to get an idea how the record taker wrote certain letters, so I can make educated guesses where the handwriting slurs. Anything we index will be reviewed by another indexer so we’re not the final arbiter of the spelling of a name, which gives me some peace of mind.

I was doing a batch of records from Michigan (below) and couldn’t decipher the residences. (And I have family from Michigan and know a lot of the place names there.) I could make out “Twp” for Township so I Googled “Townships in Michigan” and found a Wikipedia article with a list of townships. I went to the C’s and then the M’s and found the townships I needed: “Chocolay” and “Michigamme.”

Web Indexing example




To join the Worldwide Indexing Event, go to and you can look for an Indexing Project by Country



Find an indexing project by country




Or by Project Type, Project Name, or Project Language.





Find an indexing project by type or language



One popular project is the Freedmen’s Bureau Project. These are records of “freedmen, slaves, refugees, and others” being assisted by the US Freedmen’s Bureau shortly after the U.S. Civil War. These will be some of the first records ever created for some African Americans and is a vital project to help families find their ancestors.

If you want to get better at searching online records, join the indexing effort. You’ll experience the flip side of the problem and will gain new insights into how to search for an ancestor. Best in your research!




October 15, 2017 |

Family History Month Day 14 – OpenArchives for Netherlands research


free Open Archives Family History Month OnGenealogy

On Day 14 of Family History Month, check out OpenArchives for Netherlands research.  The Netherlands has an open data policy and most government records are free to access. OpenArchives is a newer company that has built a very user-friendly system for searching Dutch family history records.

OpenArchives Family History Month OnGenealogy



OpenArchives searches are free and may link to free scans.

OpenArchives also has subscription offerings allowing users to download records as PDF files, GEDCOM files, CSV files, or XLS files. Subscribers also enjoy the benefit of the system’s automatic searches for related family members and children of any primary search you enter.

See the OnGenealogy listing for searchable collections available at OpenArchives.

OpenArchives receives data from the following archives:

  • AlleFriezen

  • AlleGroningers

  • Amsterdam City Archives

  • Archive Delft

  • Brabant Historical Information Centre

  • City archive Breda

  • City archive Deventer

  • City Archives Enschede

  • City Archives Rotterdam

  • Drenthe Archive

  • Dutch Institute for Military History

  • Eemland Archive

  • Gelders Archive

  • Heritage Achterhoek and Liemers

  • Heritage Leiden and environs

  • Historic Centre Leeuwarden

  • Historical Center Overijssel

  • Municipal Archive Borsele

  • Municipal archive Ede

  • Municipal Archive Goes

  • Municipal Archive the Hague

  • Municipal archive Hengelo

  • Municipal Archive Kerkrade

  • Municipal Archive North Beveland

  • Municipal archive Roermond

  • Municipal archive Schiedam

  • Municipal archive Schouwen-Duiveland

  • Municipal Archive Tholen

  • Municipal archive Venray

  • Municipal archive Wassenaar

  • Municipal archive Zaanstad

  • Municipal archive Zeist

  • Municipal archives of Venlo

  • Municipality Lisse

  • Municipality Steenwijkerland

  • National Archives

  • National Archives / Archives South Holland

  • Nieuw Land Heritage

  • North Holland Archives

  • Regional Archive Alkmaar

  • Regional Archive Langstraat Heusden Altena

  • Regional archive of Zutphen

  • Regional Archive Tilburg

  • Regional Archives Dordrecht

  • Regional Archives Nijmegen

  • Regional Archives Rijnlands Midden

  • Regional Archives Rivierenland

  • Regional Historic Center Limburg

  • Regional Historic Centre Eindhoven

  • Regional History Center Vecht and Venen

  • Rijckheyt, center for regional history

  • Tresoar

  • The Utrecht Archives

  • Waterlands Archive

  • West-Brabant Archive

  • Westfries Archief

  • Zeeland Archives

Follow OpenArchives on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for their most recent offerings. OpenArchives is owned by Coret Genealogie and you can check out their other genealogy sites including online tree building and resource guides. Best in your searches, whether they’re fee or free!


October 14, 2017 |

#FamilyHistoryMonth Day 10 – Use ArchiveGrid to find Collections


ArchiveGrid OnGenealogy Family History Month


ArchiveGrid is a free, online resource for finding archival materials worldwide, primarily manuscript collections, historical documents, personal papers, and family histories.


They have over 5 million records contributed by more than 1,000 libraries and archives. “ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums, and historical societies.”

ArchiveGrid for Genealogy

Useful searches include:

  • surname

  • location

  • topic (genealogies, history, land, deeds, maps, wills, etc.)

Search results will show descriptions of the items and links to similar collections.

If you didn’t inherit the family bible and papers, someone else did. And maybe they donated them to an archive or historical society. It’s worth a shot to check ArchiveGrid. Best in your searches! #FamilyHistoryMonth




October 10, 2017 |
Vantage Theme – Powered by WordPress.
Copyright © 2017‎
Skip to toolbar