San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Digging for Roots Online

By Dennis L. Maness, MLS

In a piece written by Harold Henderson called Climbing The Spiral Staircase: Learning Genealogyfor the website Archives (formerly he lists four practical tips. Number four is “Don't stop learning. If you're scared of heights, you may want to switch metaphors right now. Genealogy learning does differ from an actual spiral staircase in one interesting way: I see no reason to think that it has a top.

The goal of this column will be to guide you to some of the steps on that staircase, ones that can be found online. We will discuss webinars, online classes, blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, wikis, and other sources that can help you build your tree and expand it into a family history. I have used many of these sources and will be learning others right along with you.

Since I’ve quoted from the Archives site let’s start with what they have to offer us. Archives is a subscription site much like, Fold3, and Find My Past but what I’m interested in is the free content that is on this site. At the top of the Archives opening page click on the “Learn From Experts” tab. Their goal here is stated as “At, we feature guest experts every week. Each of our experts offers new tips and lessons on topics that help you learn how to trace your family history.”

On the first page of this section you will find highlights of recent articles. The subjects range from the area-specific (“Finding Your Massachusetts Ancestors: Genealogy Research From The 17th to 21st Centuries” by Diane Rapaport) through database research (“How To Prepare For The 1940 U.S. Census” by Thomas MacEntee) to thoughtful essays (“Online Family Trees: Blight or Blessing?” by Claudia Breland).

On the right hand side of the page are links to articles by subject including Ancient & Medieval Genealogy, Find Living Relatives, International Records, Military Records, Research Strategies, Tracing Ethnicity, U.S. Census, and Vital Records. At the bottom of the list is a link to “View All Articles”, which, as of this writing, numbered 61!

And remember, as Legacy Family Tree’s representative Geoff Rasmussen says at the end of his live Webinars, “Life is short; do genealogy first!”

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