I am willing to pay for access but I want the best bang for my buck.
With all the crappy weather, I think this could be a fun project.
I have no idea which is best.
But I understand that there is no substitude for the good old leg work.
I bet your town has a geneological society. Usually a bunch of old people We lived next door to them a whole back, Nice folks. COntact them, they can help you more than any website ever could. (plus hit your library)
Originally Posted by Bristol Bay
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According to Mr. Foxhound (an historical archaeologist, who uses this sort of stuff in his research), Ancestry.com and the Mormon Church pretty much have the market cornered when it comes to online ancestry research. A lot of this stuff is also available in old US Gov't records, but it's hard to access online.
If you don't want to pay for an Ancestry.com membership, he recommends going to your local library. A lot of libraries have memberships that they allow patrons (with library cards) to use at the library computers. They may also have access to other databases that you can reach for free from your library's computers.
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Part of the answer depends on where your ancestors are from / how far back you want to go.
Ancestry.com is fairly good for US information (immigration, census). It becomes less good for overseas locations and very old information.
If you are working with overseas records, some countries now have their own search sites and are indexing their own records. I have been working on my husband's family lines, looking for very old records in Scotland -- pre-1727. (The US stuff from 1727 forward is already available to me, thanks to the heroic efforts of his late Aunt ... she ran down a huge amount of info long before the internet and indexing existed.) Scotland has a lovely site for old church and civil records.
In trying to do the same thing for my side of the family, I have been able to get a some info from Ancestry, but have run into a wall at the moment because so few of the older Danish and Polish records are indexed in any detail. For that info, I will need to sit in front of microfilm and read the data for myself.
"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
- Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926
My uncle has been doing a lot of ancestry research since he retired. He's used ancestry.com and the Mormon church a lot. Be careful with the user-generated genealogies though, it can be quite easy for people to mix up ancestors and make assumptions, especially with a common last name like ours. He's gotten the most interesting (and personal) information using legwork. The coolest so far was a letter home during the civil war.
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden
Through ancestry.com, have found some relatives that I was kind of aware of and a few that I didn't know I had. Been working on both sides of the family but keep running into language barriers and lack of records from the intense bombings in Europe during WWII
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While I am also a fan of legwork and seeing things for yourself, Ancestry is the total bomb when it comes to putting together your framework. I can find more information in census records through Ancestry in an hour than I could with a month off from work!
The hints that come from user trees are very helpful, though as someone else mentioned, you do need to be careful in what you determine is reliable. When I first got started, I hooked into the wrong family that way and was really glad when someone helped me to figure it out -- I've been able to cross reference stuff in the first five generations. The older stuff I'm less positive of, but am checking as I go back. It is fascinating stuff!
Ancestry.com and LDS site have been most helpful to me, and have provided quite an extensive family history in this country, England and Scotland. Some of the family myths have been verified, and the direct lines to these myths are pretty much documented.
While the Danish side shows quite a few generations, the naming protocols of Scandinavia make verification difficult.
DH's family also has been difficult to trace back more than three generations, except for his maternal grandmother's line, which is old New England.
If you hit on a well-known ancestor, you will find it easier, of course.
The most fascinating aspect to the ancestry search is learning about history from a personal level. Loved finding out about areas of the country, other nations, or eras, and the leaders/events/lifestyles thereof.
I spent all winter last year on this and while, as stated, some of the earlier things can be taken with a grain of salt, it is still fun to be able to say 'Gee, I was able to go back 197 generations!' ( as One Great Family claims) with tongue firmly in cheek!
Beware - it can be addictive
Form follows function, or does function follow form?
I found that when I began my search I googled the name I had. I knew nothing of ancestery, the mormans etc. I just had a name that dated to the mid 1600's and a location Phila Pa. My uncle had found a document or something that had that name on it but he has/had no internet access.
When I googled it I got over loaded with hits. Like well over a million.. I could of course skip over the ones that were current people.. Which widdled it down not by as much as I would have thought. Perhaps 5-10k hits. then the ret pretty much related to this one person. Apparently my family took the go forth and populate seriously. In the last 11 generations only 3 maybe 4 if ounting current have less than 10 kids...
As others said once I found ancestery and the mormans some people do not necessarly research compleatly what they are putting forth as their family trees. I am still ( almost 10yrs later) having a friendlt argument wit hone perons who fond my grt grandmother name in the ohgeesh cant remeber teh part of the cleveland public library which archives old obits... But she keeps saying no this lady buried in the cleveland area is the Maude Miller Framton that we are looking for. Where as I have her original death cert. and the original obit with funeral and cemetary on it given to me by the last of her surviving children. ( my grt grandmother had 12 children).
One thing also you will want to be careful of no matter which direction you choose ot do the looking is spellings of maden names. 2 of my grt ( many generations of grts) grandmothers Ihave found 6 spellings of her maden names on one. and 2 on another.
The one with 6 diffrent spellings 2 of them come off civil war pension files one while grt grt grandfather was stil alive the other widdows bennies. Both filed by the same person which makes is even weirder..
The other most of us agree who are reseaching the same line is the local accients. New england/ New York vs New Hampshire.. One has Potter the other has Porter..
Oh yeah IF you find that you are desscendant of a quaker they also keep wonderful records. and ther is a university which slipps my mind right now that has all the old archived meeting records.. there is a fee for the information again can not recall what hte fee is.
I as well as others who are researching the same family have run into a few road blocks on ancestery/ mormans/ family. We have found various documentation of all the marrages going back to the 1600's. With exception of 2. One from late 1600's the other from the 1920's.. the one fro mteh late 1600's we 'think' that perhaps the couple got married not in favor of either family. He was put out from the Phila Quker meeting because of the marrage( well really that was the last straw).
the other well noone knows where they got married. ther is speculation on narrowed down to 8 states.. We have an idea with in 2 or 3 yrs of when they got married but nothing certian. and noone upon either of their deaths found anything that gave the yr of marrage. Even in their obits it just states in the 1920's...
I've been doing this since mid 2002 started with 15 names.. now I have files on DVD that are over 28k names.. the 28k names is just in one family. My moms mothers family..
But it helps to have a family that went forth and populated.. And having a family that has had 4 or 5 books written about it one as late as the 1960's..
Last edited by bumknees; Feb. 6, 2011 at 12:04 PM.
Reason: to add information
You can get a free Ancestry.com account for a couple of weeks. Then just go crazy and get all the info you can. Another great website is geni.com. It's more geared toward building a family tree as opposed to researching family history, but if you get back far enough, you might find someone with a link to your family and get some good info. That's what I did in November.
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The LDS website is the best place to start, since it's good and free. When you locate materials on microfilm you can go to the genealogy section of the nearest LDS stake that has one, and the people there will be very helpful. There are also a few other free websites available-part of the New England Genealogical Society datafiles are free (the Social Security Master Death Index is one), and then you can go to the Ancestry.com site when you have the preliminary information and use it to fill in blanks.