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When I am researching one of the tools I like to have handy is a Records Selection Table. I have created a table that works well for me but, I have found a generic table that could be very helpful if you aren’t sure what to look for, and where the information might be found. The table has 3 columns which read, in part:

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This table is found on FamilySearch.org  and is free to look at even if you do not have a free FamilySearch Account. Below the table there are links to various States and Topics. These additional pages will allow you to link to the record pages that you need. If you are researching other than the US you may want to save the table and add your own unique record collections.


If you are interested in family history aka genealogy you a books.pngneed to have a free account at familysearch.org. Even if you don’t use the collaborative tree, you
should be looking at the records. The count of digitized records just reached 2 Billion, yes with a B.

These records cover Africa and the Pacific, Asia, Europe, Middle Ease, Latin America, and North America. These records are digitized, and while not all of them are indexed yet, they are findable and viewable on family search.

Once you have signed in with your free account, you should click on the ‘Help’ tab in the upper right of the screen, go to ‘whats new’, and look at the article announcing the reaching of this milestone, and there you will find a link to a free guide with step-by-step instructions for how you can locate and search:

  • The catalog where you will find links to digital films
  • Books- where you will find books that have been digitized
  • Records- where can search collections using your ancestor’s name, locate a specific collection or browse by country. You may filter these searches by place, date or collection type.


I found a website that helps us  understand the meaning of the names of English towns. My mother’s Finlinson, Trimble and Lennox came from Thursby in Cumberland England.

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I looked up the name Thursby in the “Key to English Place Names “website, and found that Thursby comes from old Norse – “thurs” = pers.n, and refers to a personal name, and ‘by’ is Old Norse meaning farmstead or village. So I looked up a couple of other towns that these families lived in, and  checked  some of the other towns/villages in the area. This search revealed that many of these town names also come from Old Norse, such as Aikton,  Orton, Kirkbride.  and Curthwaite, which was apparently is too small to get its own description, but is also Old Norse.  However, I had to do a bit of extra research to find that information. This helps me understand my 24% Scandinavian DNA. The website, Key to English Place-Names, can be found at http://kepn.nottingham.ac.uk/.


Photo Distater 2.jpgAs I watched the recent news showing people evacuating  from fires and floods. I noticed one thing they had in common was that they were grabbing their photo albums, which to me meant they were trying to save their memories and family history. What would you take if you had minutes to evacuate your home, not knowing if it would be standing when you returned? Hopefully, most of us have an evacuation plan, and have gathered our critical papers and put together an emergency kit of some kind. But what about your Family History?

How do you save all those years of pictures, histories, letters and documents that you have collected and that mean a lot to you? Besides natural disasters, there are man made ones, such as computer viruses and backup failures, which can wipe away years of work.

We are fortunate in today’s world to have a variety of ways to save and retrieve information. Pictures and photo albums can be digitized by scanning or photographing with your digital camera. You should also share copies of those really old photos with cousins and websites such as FamilySearch to help insure that other copies are preserved and available.

Documents such as birth, marriage, and death certificates can be treated the same way. You might also consider copying those obituaries and old letters you have tucked away. The same goes for special items you may have, like grandma’s old treadle machine or grandpa’s old horse hair rope. A picture will allow you share the treasure, even if the article is lost.

If your information is stored digitally you can save it on an extra external hard drive or a removable flash drive. If you are using an external drive, it will still be vulnerable to viruses if it is continually attached to your computer, so attach it only when necessary.

  • Make a plan.
  • Copy pictures and documents and save them several different ways in digital format, and on backup drives, or off site in a program such as Dropbox
  • Take pictures of family heirlooms.
  • Make several copies to store at different locations, preferably away from your home.
  • Check your backups occasionally to make sure they are working.
  • Share – what you give comes back to you, sometimes literally.

There are, of course, some commercial web sites that will back up your system for a fee. Whatever you decide and even if you never have a disaster to deal with you will have peace of mind if you take time to make certain you won’t permanently lose your valuable family information.

5 Step Process.pngI’ve seen the genealogy research process with various different steps involved. I made my own which I call  a ‘5 Step Process.’

  1. Step One – Gather Tools – You can’t build anything without tools. The tools I use: are a timeline of the ancestor I’m researching, a research guide (I use the FamilySearch Wiki ), and a map [of course I love maps], and of course your research log.
  2. Step Two – Decide What You Need to Find – This includes making a list of missing information and a list of the sources you will need to check.  You can create this list when you look at your research guide.
  3. Step Three- Look for Sources- Check the internet for sources; be sure to look at any online libraries and archives. Check out WorldCat [to see if there are libraries in your area that may have the books you may need]. Check Google Books since most genealogy related books that most of us need will be in the public domain.
  4. Step Four – Collect and Organize- Collect  and ‘pull out’ the information from your sources. Read everything you have found for hidden clues about your family.  Use forms to help you organize your information. For example, a census form will help you see the family in context. Use your timeline throughout this entire process to help you know which information will be of value to you.
  5. Step Five – Enter and Evaluate -Put your data into a database program such as a free online tree [rootsweb.com or FamilySearch.org,  a free genealogy program such as RootsMagic Essentials, or subscription site such as Ancestry.com]. Then evaluate what you have by adding historical context, updating your timeline and identifying new records that may need to be checked.

No, you are not finished. You now go back to Step 3 and continue to drill down until you have found what you need. That is why they call it research – because you Re-Search.

While getting ready for a class I’m teaching I came Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 3.17.47 PM.pngacross a resource that I hadn’t used for a while. Is is called Linkpendium. It is a directory to everything on the web regarding genealogical information. This directory has over 10 million genealogy links.

Linkpendium was developed by the founders of RootsWeb. Since so many subjects fall within genealogy, the links seem almost endless. I won’t take time here to list everything that you  find.  For that you will want to go to the site itself; however, I will identify a few categories: Census records, Church records, Court records, Ethnic sites, Immigration and Naturalization records, Land records, Libraries and Archives, Maps and Gazetteers, Military records, Newspapers, Obituaries and Funeral homes, Surname websites, Tax lists and Vital records–and there are more.

To use  Linkpendium start with the Family Discoverer, which is the search engine at the top of the page which searches nearly 3 million indexed pages.

  • My search today for ‘Fanny Bliss Tuttle” led me to a different county in New York than I had been researching for this family.  It was a website on Jefferson County [New York] Migrations. I probably would never have found this information without a Linkpendium search.
  • It then led me to early maps from the 1868 Beers Atlas for the towns that Fanny lived in, in New York, and Massachusetts, and a Gazetteer which helped with the historical context of the area she lived in.
  • There is also a Locality Directory search. Using Berkshire MA as an example, I was able to find a County Court Records Directory, a link to an article in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and a special Revolutionary War Pension Census. I actually found an article that I had written a few years ago on the FamilySearch Wiki, and a link to my own website.
  • There are records for other countries as well, however, mostly they are for the UK and Ireland.
  • It also provides links to message boards within RootsWeb where discussions may be taking place regarding your ancestor.
  • As usual with a linking site like this one, you will want to keep a research log to track the many places you will be visiting.

Happy Hunting!

If you are stumped in your Family History ResearchBest brick wall.png you might want to take a look at some of the following.

  •  City Directories – occupations, etc. – Cyndi’s List
  • State Censuses –FamilySearch, look in Search Records
  • Tax Lists – shows property ownership and substitutes for Census –
  • Mortality Schedules – 1850-1880 list people who died the year prior to the census – Heritage Quest free with your library card number from most libraries
  • Newspapers – even the ads can be valuable – Genealogy Bank $ subscription or check your local Family History Center for free newspaper sites.
    • Look for ethnic newspapers that apply to your family.
  • Church Records – can tell when people moved in and out of an area –
  • Court Records – in the US at either a County or State Courthouse.
  • Funeral Home Records –
  • Historical Societies – [may be worth joining temporarily]-
  • PERSI [Periodical Source Index] Index is free at Find My Past
  • School Records –
  • Fraternal and National Organizations – [such as Elks, Masons, Grange]
  • Old Photos – Dead Fred
  • Library of Congress
  • NUCMUC [National Union Catalogue of Manuscript Collection]
  • State Archives and University Libraries [see blog July 2016]
  • Maps such as Dave Rumsey Maps and Perry Canstaneda Library Map Collection
  • Newberry Library interactive ‘Atlas of County Boundaries’
  • Google Books has great collection of digitized historical and genealogical books-
  • Google News Archives
  • Internet Archive

These sites and record groups often get overlooked. I have found them to be very valuable, so maybe they will help you also.


I had always known I had ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War, and kept promising myself that I would join a Lineage Society like the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR. Then one day my friend, Terry, announced that she had bought me a ticket to the DAR Christmas Dinner and told me when and where to meet her. I just needed a not so subtle push. I joined after proving my lineage to Eleazer Bliss who served in the American Revolution from Massachusetts

If your ancestors lived in any of what became the 13 Colonies, you probably have family who fought in the Ward of Independence. To find ancestors during the Revolutionary Ward period (1764-1783), you want to look for someone who was born between 1710 and 1765, though there may have been older men who served.

You may not be just looking for someone who served in a military capacity, but someone who supplied food, served in the Continental Congress, cared for soldiers families, ministers who encouraged patriotic service, persons who gave material aid to the soldiers, which includes Dr.s and Nurses. Your ancestors may also have given service by serving in town governments and other civil service responsibilities.

My ancestor, Adaonijah Bidwell, was a minister who donated 3 years of his salary to help fund the War. Jedidiah Dewey, another ancestor, was also a minister and was part of what is called the Black Robe Regiment. While not an actual fighting unit, it was comprised of ministers who kept the spirit of the revolution alive in their congregations by promoting American Independence and mustering support. Both men are considered Patriots. I have others who served in local militias and one who was killed at the battle of Saratoga, If you find one ancestor who served you probably have more, as fathers, sons, and grandfathers often rotated their service times to have someone at home caring for fields and herds, and their wives families often lived close,  and the wife’s father and grandfather may also have served.

The following Databases are free to search;

  • DAR Patriot Database where you can find your ancestor’s  name, their Patriot ID number, rank, where they served from, death date and location of records., unit name and commanding officers.
  • The DAR Descendants Database, which allows you to find out if you have an ancestor in the database by searching starting with your 4th g grandparents.
  • There is also a ‘learning document’  found on Finding A Patriot that can guide you through this process if you need help. Scroll down the page to where you see the Databases listed, and you will find the tutorials.

Whether or not you decide to join an organization such as the DAR of SAR [Sons of the American Revolution] these records give documentation to help you prove your ancestry.