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New Free Library in the AutumnLet’s face it.  There are a lot of different resources out there that will help us track down elusive ancestors. It can be overwhelming.  It’s tricky enough dealing with American ancestors.  The problems multiply exponentially when you have to work your way back to one or more foreign countries. Over the years I have started putting together lists for patrons who need help, especially with foreign research. I create a list, store it, and add to it as I find more resources. If one person needs it, more will.

When I start a resource list, I pull together materials that I think will help a patron without overwhelming them.    I always build off books we have here in the library. I can often request a purchase for a book we don’t have it if it is still in print.  If not, I refer to holdings at other librarys. These books are usually within our (Minuteman) network, but not always.  I can usually find at least one “how to” book that covers a specific country. I then use articles and Internet sources as supplements.

Genealogy Books -- vertical picutreBut once in a great while I can not find one book that zeros in on a  specific country.  Two examples of this are Spain and France.   I have found no book entirely devoted to either country.  Hispanic and French Canadian research, yes.  But both involve research on this side of the Atlantic. I recently completed a list for Spain where I had to branch out beyond my usual resources.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to list various types of resources and where to find them.  I’m hoping this will  help you with your own research.  You may even decide you want to make up a  list for yourself or to help someone else.

Remember, if you are doing a research list, it can be short or long. It can be exhaustive or cursory. You can cover several categories or just one type of item like books or blogs. You create it to meet your needs. I would never attempt to create a list that was exhaustive unless it was for a large number of people interested in various aspects of one topic. An  exhaustive list for just one person tends to be overwhelming and discouraging. It is fine to create a short list of particulars for yourself that also includes general suggestions of where to go next. You could have a list of specific books that also includes “Check Cyndi’s List next” with a link.

DSC03522  Collecting Family HistoryIf you do decide to create a list for yourself, I have one word of warning. Once you start looking for website suggestions, you will be tempted to explore a particularly enticing blog or website.  Trust the voice of experience. (I make the mistakes first, then try to warn you away from doing the same thing.) It is best to finish up the areas you are trying to cover and then go back and explore.  Otherwise your list may never get finished and you will miss items that may be of more use to you than the one you are exploring.

O.K., so where’s the list of resources?   I have decided to make separate blog entries for each category.  I’ve finished writing the list.  This posting is already long.  I think it will be an easier read if I break it up.  You can read this in order going down.  (I cheated and posted them quickly in reverse order, so this is at the top.)  Hope this helps.

vea/7 August 2014
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  http://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

 

 

Genealogy Books - special collections -- horizontal pictureBooks always come first with me. When I am starting a new topic or discovering a weakness in my research methods, there is nothing like following an explanation in a book. They tend to start simple and explain things step-by-step, rather than hurling you into the middle of things unprepared.  I first look for what is available locally, both here at Newton and then within the network. Anyone with a computer should be able to check any library’s online catalog.  You could do a keyword search, just putting in the name of the country and the word genealogy.  Besides books devoted only to that country, this would also bring up books that had just a section or a chapter on the topic. An example is The Family Search Guidebook to Europe by Allison Dolan which has sections on both France and Spain. If you get too many hits, you can limit your search to  subject. Change your selection from “Keyword” to “Subject.” Next type the name of the country or topic, then the word  “genealogy” followed by the word “handbooks.”  The word handbooks will tell you that it’s a “how to” book.

9. Use online catalogs and Interlibrary loan.What if your local libraries have nothing you can use. If a local or network search doesn’t work, you might want to check the Library of Congress catalog (http://www.loc.gov) or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (https://familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlc).  (The Family History Library will even let you know what books you can access directly online.)  Once you find a title that interests you, you can always go into  the mother of all catalogs known as World Cat. Going to its web address of  http://www.worldcat.org will show you if a copy of the book of interest exists in a library closer to home. You can then put the books on your  list, noting where they are located. If you are keeping your list online, you can add a live link.  When you want the book, you can request it through your local library’s Inter Library Loan system.  Just give yourself plenty of lead time.

Internet Archive sign at the BPLTwo other sources for older, out-of-copyright books are the Internet Archive and Google Books. Internet Archive actually has an entire section devoted to genealogy.  Go to https://archive.org/details/genealogy and take a look. To find out more about how to use Google Books, click on http://www.google.com/googlebooks/about.  Thomas Kemp of GenealogyBank has done an article on using both Internet Archive and GoogleBooks  that you can read by clicking HERE .  I always check out Internet Archive first. I find it easier to find books there.

vea/7 August 2014
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  http://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy
Periodical Area

Some of the Periodicals Available at the Library

Don’t leave articles out of your research.  Sometime they have just the nugget of information you need to break through a brick wall in your research. And it doesn’t have to be a genealogy magazine that has your information.  You can look for likely suspects in your library’s online catalog for in house magazines. These are real magazines that you can hold in your hands. No devices. Titles such as American Ancestors and Internet Genealogy often have sections devoted to different aspects of research, including country research.

Then there are individual articles that you will find online. These you locate by searching various periodical databases. Many public libraries subscribe to groups of magazine databases such as those provided by Gale. If your library makes them available, you should be able to access them at home by signing in with your library card. On this type of search you can and should use very specific keywords.  Remember, you are looking for articles, not entire magazines or books. Using too broad a term will swamp you with tons of articles that you would not need.   You can check with a reference librarian at your local public library. Often there will be one with an interest in genealogy. You can ask this librarian if you find you need help.

If you want to start with a database that includes only articles relating to genealogy and family history, you can’t do better than Heritage Quest.  This database is only offered to libraries, not individuals.  If your public library, network, county or state library subscribes to Heritage Quest, you should be able to access it from home. Once you click onto it, you want to search the PERSI archive.  It stands for Periodical Source index. It includes 2.5 million articles covering topics of genealogical and local history topics. Note the word “Index.”   PERSI does not provide access to the article itself.   However, if you want to see an article and your library does not own the issue of the magazine that published it, request it through you library’s Inter Library Loan (ILL) program. Sound familiar? I mentioned it above in the books posting.  ILL is a key tool in your genealogical toolbox. It often will provide you with the article at no or minimum cost.  Heritage Quest, on the other hand, refers you to the Allen County Public Library and charges $7.00 per article.  That quickly adds up.  To state the obvious, free is always better.

This should give you a good start if you want to investigate magazine articles.

vea/7 August 2014
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  http://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

Cyndi's ListCyndi Howells has spent the last eighteen years creating, maintaining, and improving an index to websites relating to family history and genealogy on the Internet. When I  want to check what is available online for a specific subject, my first stop is always  CYNDI’S LIST (http://www.cyndislist.com).   As of 31 July she has 332,821 links and 204 categories.  She includes live links so you can jump to a website if you wish.  If you are checking out countries, remember that Cyndi also includes smaller geographical divisions  such as districts, counties, provinces, etc. listed below the country being indexed.

Otherwise I have a fairly scatter shot method of collecting websites.  I will find them in my precious books, in magazine articles, in Facebook postings, blogs, patrons.  I then try to immediately attach them to my lists.  I subscribe to the Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, a weekly compilation of his blog entries with original articles by him added. I get a number of sites from that. If you are curious, you can access his blog for free at http://blog.eogn.com.  But none of this is organized.  It’s catch as catch can.  If you want organized, trust me, Cyndi’s List is the place to go.

This is an extremely short posting for me.  I was looking around for other sites to add.  You know what?  This is the best.  I’ve been using it for years.  I don’t think you can do better.  But I open to suggestions. But if you have one, check it against Cyndi’s List first to see how it compares.

vea/7 August 2014
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  http://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

Geneabloggers Blog RollBlogs are an often overlooked source of information.  They can be especially useful to you if they are written by people who are researching your areas of interest.  Blogs are one of the most under utilized sources of general information after ILL.  People just don’t know how or where to search for a blog. Thomas MacIntee, the person who created and maintains Geneabloggers, has been a great help to me on this topic.  To give Geneabloggers a well deserved plug, it should be your first stop if you are searching for relevant blogs. (The same is true if you are thinking of starting your own blog.) Once you get to geneabloggers, you’ll want to check out both “Search Blogs” and “Genealogy Blog Roll.”  In either of these choices you will find a search box.  Type the name of the country or topic you are looking for.  Note that you can search your family surnames here, as well. Two other sites recommended by Mr. MacIntee are http://blogfinder.genealogue.com (with gives you a list of topics to pick from) and http://blogsearch.google.com (with Google’s usual minimalist search interface.) If you want still more information, go to the category “Blogs for Genealogy” on Cyndi’s List.

One tip.  If there is a website that you like and use a lot, such as FamilySearch or Cyndi’s List, always check to see if they have a blog.  These can be extremely useful for learning tips and tricks that will help you use a site more effectively (so you don’t miss important information or waste time). It’s not the type of blog you would usually put on a research list, but it may very well end up in your bookmarks, favorites, or blog feed.

FacebookThe only other Social Networking that I’ve had time to get into is Facebook and I use it carefully.  I have two Facebook accounts,  One I use to follow specific genealogy groups. The other is to keep up with certain family members and share information.   I have exactly five people on it.  If another family member want in, they have to ask to be included. This has never happened. Most of my family members are just not into Facebook.

One word of warning.  Family Facebooking can be a sticky wicket if you are not careful.  I learned this networking the old fashioned way — at a family reunion. A cousin tried to tell me a picture that I recognized as my father was my grandfather and vice versa. When I tried to fix the mistake, she would have none of it.  There are some family members that you simply do not engage in argument. This is why I keep my family Facebook small. If you think opening your own  would cause family problems, I would either skip it altogether or have several accounts.

Has anyone else had experience using other types of online social networking for genealogy that you would like to share?  Leave a comment.

vea/7 August 2014
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  http://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

SummerofSharing

Because I subscribe, I just received an email stating the above.  Normally I post here with information for you.  Now I’m posting looking for information.  The email basically stated what is normally said about acquisitions.  A bright new day is dawning and neither site will change.  Nothing about what this really means for subscribers.  How are we going to be affected?  Is anyone else out there getting really tired of all this acquisition news?  It may actually end up being an outstanding move.  But I do wish when something like this happens people would explain why this is so great rather than just telling us it will be.  I did sign into my account and the announcement there is the same as the email.  If you take a look at the Mocavo.com website, you will see that they have already made a slight change to their logo.

I just checked out Dick Eastman’s blog.  He has the news from the perspective of Find My Past which does give more information, though not how this is going to affect subscribers. http://blog.eogn.com/2014/06/23/findmypast-buys-mocavo/#more-1644

Does anyone else have any additional news or comments?

Ginny

 

vea/23 June 2014
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  http://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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