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Archive for April, 2020

union jackIf you are researching at all in the British Isles, you may want to check out British History Online, which has made its digital collection of primary and secondary sources free during the pandemic. This includes free access to all BHO content and it will remain free until 31 July 2020. This site houses records from England, Ireland, and Scotland and includes records from 1300 to 1800 AD.

If your ancestors came from the British Isles, now is the time to do a deep dive into this website, British History Online. Set a bookmark for this site as a reminder to explore it over the next few months. There are lots of websites free online at this time. If the British Isles isn’t one you are interested in – do a Google Search using your area of research and the word free.

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There are more ways to connect socially while working on family history in this digital age than I can cover in two blogs, Linkso I’ll just cover a few more.

Twitter – yes twitter. It is a great place to get quick information from genealogists and archivists. It is now 260 characters or less, usually, with genealogist it is less because they are most likely going to point you to their latest blog, webpage update, upcoming conference or free record collection. Regarding Twitter, I’m mostly a follower but have found it to be helpful. Example:

  • Caroline Pointer, who I follow, posted a couple of weeks ago that British History Online is making all primary research content free, and then she added the link.
  • David Allen Lamber announced a Twitter Chat happening tomorrow on how to do Family History from home.
  • Get a Free Twitter account, search for family history or genealogy, and follow those you are interested in.
  • Don’t know how to use Twitter? – go to YouTube and search for videos on Twitter. March 25 blog.

Instagram – I know you thought it was just for you to see those instant photos of your family. Not only can you share your family history with those who follow you, but you can sponsor or attend an InstaMeet. One you might like to attend is #familysearchlive, held every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am and 4pm MDT. [It is also held on Facebook every Wednesday at 4PM MDT]

FamilySearch Communities. This is sort of a ‘clearing house’ for locating family history communities. Go to familysearch.org and sign in to your free account. Search and go to Research Wiki, the last item on the drop-down list. Type in the name of the area you are researching and click on the top item that comes up and it will have your location followed by the word “genealogy.” Open that link. As you view the page click on the button that says “Ask The Community.”

  • You will be taken to a page that you need to drill down on. You will see three columns. One for FamilySearch Communities, one for FamilySearch Facebook Groups, and one for Misc. Groups/Pages.
  • You will need to drill- down by country, and possibly state, but then you will be given links to ‘Communities’ of other researchers that can help you.
  • Last week I posted in an Isle of Man Community, and not only got an answer to my question, but learned that the Isle of Man newspapers were being made available free and the link to the website was given.

The FamilySearch Communities and the FamilySearch Facebook Groups are monitored by FamilySearch volunteers, and are watched closely for content.

As we stay home in “Quarantine” think of it as a reprieve, a time to focus on your family history without many interruptions. This can be a time of learning, and of great productivity.

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Social Networking In a world that was still working, I would be teaching a class this week on Social Networking for Family History. So here it is.

The benefits of social networking can be tremendous, especially now when many of us have been asked to stay at home for health reasons.

  • You can connect with people you might never meet under normal circumstances.
  • You can find with people who are related to you or who come from the same area as your ancestors – and they can find and connect with you.

I’m only going to cover a couple of options today but will talk about several more in my next blog. The first one is Facebook. If you are not on Facebook or are concerned about using it here are a couple of tips.

  1. When you get your free Facebook account make sure your settings are giving you the privacy you want.
  2. Not everyone who wants to be your friend on Facebook needs to be your friend on Facebook. Keep your friend list small so you know who you are connecting with – and who can connect with you.
  3. Do Not Give out your phone number, email or address to anyone until you are certain of who they are.
  4. Be careful about clicking online links on Facebook pages, or in any emails you receive.
  5. Be careful about online polls. While it might be fun to find out what your Cowgirl name is, remember these polls are mostly phishing to find out your interests so they can target advertising.

Facebook has been extremely helpful for me as I worked on my Family History.  When my cousin and I were trying to find as many cousins as we could to put together for a Family Reunion, I set up a Facebook page for the ‘William Theobald Descendants’, with 3 members and it now has 160. We use the site to:

  • Post family photos and we often get help identifying old family photos.
  • Send out and plan for Family Reunions.
  • Post obituaries and gather and post histories and other family information.
  • We have one member who is very good at restoring old family photos, and he will touch up any old faded pictures for us.
  • We also use it to ask questions of other cousins about the family to help further our research.

Search to see if someone has already added a page for one of your ancestors; many of mine had been added. When you find one you are interested in, ask to join the page. You can start your own page if you wish. 

The second great Facebook help comes from Family History Pages. Search for the locality your ancestors came from, and again ask to join any site you find that might be helpful. These are good places to ask about others researching your particular surname and to share facts.

  1. Denmark Genealogy Page has connected me with others’ research in Denmark, and I have been able to post handwritten notes, in Danish of course, which others have then translated. While Google translate does well with typed documents -handwritten documents need someone who can read the language
  2. Connecticut Genealogy connected me with others researching in Connecticut and gave me quick answers to where I might look for missing records.
  3. “Isle of Wight Family History” has site members who currently live on the Isle of Wight, and have not only connected me with others researching my family surname but also have inside information about where to locate obscure records.

Another overlooked site for Family History is Pinterest. If you are new to Pinterest, you will need to create a free profile. Then search for either “genealogy” or “family history.” You will find genealogists, many professionals, who have posted helps on how to preserve your records, how to organize your collection, and how to identify and organize photos, forms for success, and even ideas for family reunions, etc. Click on a post photo, such as, “Free Forms for Genealogy” or “10 Genealogy Tech Tools,” and you will access the actual post. You can follow any posters that you feel can be helpful to you.

There is too much about Social Networking for one Blog – so this will continue next week

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