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2013 has seen the advancement of the online pursuit of family history to new milestones. Many are using DNA to prove connections and establish relationships. Ancestry.com was purchased by Permira for $1.6 billion dollars.
Several sites either merged or went out of business. Two of my favorites merged, Geni.com and Heritage to combine the best of both sites. They are still free but the paid features open many more doors to research. Ancestry has many online features that are free. For Premium services, they are still offered as a free service at Family History Centers throughout the world. FamilySearch has added Family Tree to its web site and has become more accessable to the public. It is a good place to build your family tree and avoid the possibility of loosing thousands of names if your computer crashes, which was a major problem just a few years ago. There are many sites now where you can download your files back into your computer.
Online training in genealogy has blossomed on YouTube and is still a free course offering at BYU and on FamilySearch websites.
A BYU student project has produced a Famous Ancestors site for those using FamilySearch. See: FAMOUS RELATIVES
Whether you are just starting or are seasoned in your research, you can find more information now than was ever before available. Although there are many research sites that are expensive, there is so much that can be secured without additional expense. You are using one of the best tools for research that has been invented and genealogy is fast becoming the world's most favorite hobby. New web pages are added daily and search engines have become quite effective in locating posted information.
You will need a storage program for your data. Available for download for free is PAF (Personal Ancestrial File) available at FamilySearch.Org. Ancestry.Com has Online Family Tree that can be used to build and post online. It is also available as part of the web sites at MyFamily.Com. My favorite site is GenCircles.Com where you can post your family information and then find Smart Matches (other submissions of the same relative) and thus locate many cousins.
To get started you might choose to visit a Family History Center where qualified researchers are available to assist you with forms, encouragement, and personal assistance. Times and locations vary and most centers will work with you on appointment if their posted times do not meet your research needs. Most now have internet service and access to sites that normally charge for their services. You might pay a small fee for internet access, but can avoid the subscription costs associated with access from your home computer.
There are also basic courses available online. Some are for a fee and generally worth the investment, but many are free. Even the paid sites offer basic information for free. I have found these helpful:
The saddest thing for a researcher is not having wrong information, but having no information. A missing or incorrect birthday can be corrected, but a loss of all information in your data base can be devastating. One reason my favorite site is GenCircles is because I had posted my data base to their web site and then my computer crashed. My only backup was my posting at Gencircles. They have a wonderful program Family Legends but their free membership allows backup as well.
Their are many forms available to use in your research. Many researchers recommend their favorite research tools. The important thing is keeping things together where you can find it and keeping source notes so you can check back on sources without having to do all the research over. It is good to try different approaches. Online their is a section on each individual entry for notes and pictures. I find that when I visit a web site that gives me additional information about an ancestor, that I can keep the information in notes. Pictures are usually stored on your computer and not transferred when you transfer a file to another by way of the internet. You can keep your photos on a storage disk and send photos as attachments. Among the first things you should learn is how to download and upload files. Software such as PAF have resources that will guide you through developing a web page.
When I search the internet for a web page containing my ancestors I usually submit an inquiry to Google I enter a couple as ("john doe""jane smith"). By doing so I look for all the John Does and Jane Smiths and not all the Johns, Janes, Does, and Smiths. For example, if I put my husband's name in as ("Val John Jennings") I get about 160 returns. If I put in (Val John Jennings) I get almost 27,000 returns, most of which have nothing to do with my husband. If I enter ("Val John Jennings""Karla Casper-Jennings" I get 4 returns. If I use my maiden name I get no returns. I need to correct that.
Those closest to the source of information you seek are your best contacts. Family information, however is based on family recall. Some family information based on best memory can result in improper birthdates, incorrect names, etc. Even official documents are subject to mistakes. An obvious error is when a father or brother is listed as female. You know that is not correct. However, when a birth certificate contains a different name than the individual used during his lifetime, it is possible that the name was changed traditionally and not legally. Sometimes a person can grow into maturity and then find that they went unnamed at the Dept. of Vital Statistics. Legal documents, wills, newspaper articles, etc. are confirming sources that are used to substantiate data. Don't let the lack of information be a dead end. Note what information you have and sources and recheck occasionally. Checking the social security death index and the telephone book helped my brother-in-law find his father's long lost brother and descendants. It resulted in a family connection that was unknown until he discovered his cousin by calling and asking if he knew of his father.
Fifteen minutes a day over 40 years is over 3600 hours of research. Persistance is needed to get results. If you feel that your research is going nowhere, research someone else and return to your dead end later. The subconcious and divine providence will play a very important part in finding lost ancestors if you are persistant. Help someone else with their family tree. it can revitalize your own enthusiasm.
My husband was a cubmaster for several years. He say's they had a catchword called KISMIF which stood for Keep It Simple, Make It Fun! He says it could also stand for Keep It Secret, Make It Fail. When others know we are looking, they become researchers also. Many a letter or phone call has returned to the inquirer volumes of information. Those who are your close family, friends, group members, or fellow worshipers can become your extended eyes and ears. Have fun, but SHARE! (Simply Help A Relative Explore!)
It may very well be that your grandfather is also your greatgrandfather, or that you share a common ancestor with your wife. But just because the name is the same is not confirmation. If the families match and birthdays coincide, it is likely the same person. One of my husband's ancestors given name was listed at Biel Bishop. It was several years before he discovered that it should have been William (Bill) Bishop. Confirming the ancestor then followed a line back to his Puritan or Pilgram ancestors. Birth certificates, census records, submissions by relatives, etc. can be considered sources. Primary sources are confirming, secondary sources are circumstantial and make a good case. Remember the old computer saying, garbage in, garbage out. Be as accurate as possible. My husband says, "An increase in accuracy is an increase in honesty." Many pedigrees have changed as truth comes to light. When in dispute, follow all leads, but document. Following the line that continues is tempting, but is it accurate? Be willing to change your research in the light of new information.
I remember radio talk show from half a century ago that had a theme: "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of". Christ said, "Ask and ye shall receive." There are many accounts of miraculous intervention assisting in compiling family trees. I believe our departed ancestors are assisting us in knowing who they were. Knowing them helps us know who we are.
Keep a file of your completed research. Share your files with others. If cousin "Sue" received a CD or floppy from you with all your family data and then your house burns down, she would be happy to return it or make you a copy. As before mentioned, many online web sites allow you to archive your files and share them online.
My husband has been doing web sites for a few years. He has helped me with this one. He says that his older sites had to be revisited because his e-mail address had changed and needed to be updated. We blocked one of our email sites to junk mail and limited it to only those in our address book. It then dawned on us that no one could contact us from reading our web page or discussion group postings. If you create a guestbook and then change email addresses, you may not know who has an interest in your data. Be sure the serious researcher can contact you. You can keep your personal information and private postings in a web site that requires a user name and password such at is found at http://www.myfamily.com. I am adding a guest book. Hope to hear from you! Success in your research!
PLEASE SIGN MY GUESTBOOK!
The Ancestry of Val John Jennings includes 3 of the 10 children of Henry Adams and Edith Squire, grandparents to Pres. John Adams, and great-grandparents to Pres. John Quincy Adams. Henry and Edith are also ancestors to Pres. John Calvin Coolidge and Vice President "Dick" Cheney.
Henry Squire, father of Edith, is ancestor to Presidents Millard Fillmore and William Howard Taft.
Lynne Cheney, wife of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, is encouraging others to do family history research. In a speech given at the National Museum of Wildlife Art's Distinguished Lecture series , Cheney spoke of learning about her ancestors, some of whom traveled west along the Mormon Trail. "Family stories can do more than inspire appreciation of the past," she said. "They can enlarge our understanding of the present."
WEB RINGS WE HAVE JOINED
Visit Poets' Paradise
My Favorite Genealogy Web Sites
Especially For Genealogists
Genealogy and Recipes
Jennings at Genealogy.com
My Other Homepages
Ethnic Genealogy Pages
Gensource Ethnic Groups
Some Generalities of Genealogy
Genealogy Resources Page
Lifespan Genealogy Center
BRANCHES The Genealogy Treehouse
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