"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance"
-George Bernard Shaw

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Top 10 Genealogy Website Picks

So I've decided to talk about my top 10 Favorite websites that I use for my own personal Genealogy research.  These are in no particular order. 

1. Google  A General search engine, of course, is hand because I am always looking things up.   I use it to look up words and medical conditions I'm not familar with, to find addresses for places to write letters to, sometimes I just do a search for the ancestor I'm currently researching, and then my own personal email is a gmail account.  Some other features of Google that I really like is the mapping feature, the online google books and the ability to store files online. 

2. Family Search I like Family Search a lot.  I mostly use the Pilot website.  I like to be able to see the images of the sources.  Indexing isn't always perfect for a number of factors, old handwriting, clearity on the screen, typos, etc.  I love the fact that this website is also free to use and supported by volunteers.  Don't forget to include the website in your source citation!  I also volunteer to help index the records on this website.  It's because of people willing to help out and index the website that helps keep it free!

3. Ancestry I think every modern day Genealogist knows about Ancestry.  Ancestry has given me a lot of information for my research over the years.  And if you can't afford the subscription to ancestry, most public libraries have free access to the site as long as you are onsite at the library.

4. Find A Grave I love findagrave.  Not only is it a good source for information, it is also a great way to get photos of your relatives and ancestors graves.  Some people put a lot of work into their online memorials.  One word of caution here, although Findagrave is a good resource, it is only as good as the person creating the memorials.  I have a previous post on Findagrave from a geneabloggers challenge.

5. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindess  This is another site that I love to use.  If you've never used RAOGK I highly recommend that you check it out.  People sign up based on Geographical location and list the Acts of Kindness that they are willing to do in those areas.  For example, I am a volunteer in Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties in Michigan.  Under my listings are the following acts that I have said that I would do: "Public Records lookups and copying, courthouse & library. Obituaries. Gravestone pictures, Reimbursement may be required. I will travel to any cemetery in Grand Traverse or Leelanau Counties, weather permitting."    If there's no volunteer in the area you are looking for, keep checking back, new volunteers come in all the time.  Also don't forget to sign up to be a volunteer to help out fellow genealogists!  Also please, please, please read the guidelines before making a request.  I don't know how many times I've gotten requests that are something like "Looking for any information possible on the Joe Smith family in Leelanau County."  Seriously?! 

6. Genealogywise Another website that if you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend you do.  This is a social networking website for genalogists.  There you'll find people brand new just beginning in genealogy to seasoned researchers, experts and professional genealogists.  There are groups to join for just about every topic thinkable to genealogy from surnames to software programs.  There's also a great chat room where there are chats almost nightly with different educational topics.  I've also seen several members connect with other members of Genealogywise as genealogy cousins.

7. Newspaper Archive Old newspapers are a great source for genealogical information about our ancestors.  They are also a great source to learn about everyday events in our ancestors' daily lives.  Recently I was listening to a presentation by Karen Krugman about female ancestors with no surname and one thing she mentioned is when you are looking through the rolls of old newspaper on microfilm or microfiche is to browse the social pages.  You never know who your ancestors had over for a dinner party....and who might be related to them.  Recently I discovered quite a shock in the old newspapers about my ancestors (you can read about it under my last topic of Shocking family stories).

8. Footnote Footnote is fast becoming my most favorite paid site.   It is great for military records.  I have recently heard a lot of the documents that are in the National Archives are being put up on footnote!  WooHoo.  Fortunately I have a lot of family that had spent their time in the military.  If you've never purchased a pension file or a compiled military file from the National Archives, you're missing out....well now you can get some of them on Footnote.  I've found out so much information about my ancestors.  Although some of the records I have come straight from the archives, and you pay a hefty fee for them, to me it was worth it for the family members that I have followed up on.

9.  Seeking Michigan  I think every state should have a 'Seeking' website.  The newest and most valuable addition to the Seeking Michigan website is the addition of the 1897-1920 Death records.  Yes, that's right, the state held death certificates for your Michigan ancestors if they died between 1897 and 1920 are online with images of the original documents.  I have found so many of my Michigan relatives on there it's crazy!  The best part is the site is free!!!!! So if you have Michigan relatives it's worth a look.

10. USGen Web Another free website with information compiled by volunteers.  It is broken down by State then county.  The amount of information is variable by each location.  It really depends on how much the volunteers of that county have put onto the website, but not to be discouraged because I have found some good information on the website, in fact I recently found a bunch of information on my GrGrGrGrandpa's brother's family, like birth dates, death dates, marriage dates, and where a bunch of people are buried.