Friday, January 9, 2015

10 Steps to Start Your Family Tree

Not sure where to begin your genealogy search? Follow this sure-fire checklist.

1. Gather what you already know about your family.

Search your basement, attic and closets (and those of your family members) and collect family records, old photos, letters, diaries, photocopies from family Bibles, even newspaper clippings. E-mail far-flung relatives to ask whether they have records that may be of help for your genealogy quest.

2. Talk to your relatives.

Ask your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles about their memories. Don't ask just about facts and dates—get the stories of their growing up and of the ancestors they remember. Try to phrase questions with "why," "how" and "what."

3. Put it on paper.

Write down what you know so you can decide what you don't know yet. Start with the five-generation "pedigree" chart.  

4. Focus your search.

What are the blanks in your family tree? Don't try to fill them in all at once—focus on someone from the most recent generation where your chart is missing information. Try to answer that "mystery" first, then work backward in time.

5. Search the Internet.

The Internet is a terrific place to find leads and share information—but don't expect to "find your whole family tree" online. You can search records on the website for free. subscribers can search that site from home, or use it for free here at your local library as we offer Ancestry Library Edition on our public computers.

6. Explore specific Web sites.

Once you've searched for the last names in your family, try websites specifically about your ethnic heritage or parts of the country where your relatives lived. You may even find websites about your family created by distant relatives researching the same family tree.

7. Discover your local FamilySearch Center.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than 4,000 FamilySearch Centers where anyone can tap the world's largest collection of genealogical information. Using your local center, you can borrow microfilm of records such as the birth, marriage or death certificates of your ancestors. More than 2 million rolls of microfilmed records from all over the world are available. Compare the information in these sources with what you already know, fill in the blanks in your family tree, and look for clues to more answers to the puzzles of your past.

9. Organize your new information.

Enter your findings in family tree software programs or on paper charts (make sure you note your sources). File photocopies and notes by family, geography or source so you can refer to them again. Decide what you want to focus on next.

10. Plan your next step.

Once you've exhausted your family sources, the internet and the FamilySearch Center, you may want to travel to places your ancestors lived, to visit courthouses, churches, cemeteries and other places where old records are kept. This is also a rewarding way to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors and bring your heritage to life. You'll find that the quest to discover where you came from is fun, as exciting as a detective story, and never-ending.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

7 Genealogy Facebook Apps

By Thomas MacEntee

Facebook is a great tool for genealogy: You can keep in touch with family, share photos and even tap into free apps designed with family historians in mind.
Family history buffs have been flocking to Facebook recently -- and not just to reconnect with high school buddies or play FarmVille. The popular social media website is actually a great tool for genealogy: You can keep in touch with family, share photos and even tap into free apps designed with family historians in mind. The seven apps highlighted here can help you find resources and family connections. In addition to genealogy-focused options, look for other handy research helps, such as the WorldCat app for locating items in libraries. As with all Facebook applications, be sure you fully understand what types of personal data an application collects from your account when you install it. See Facebook's Controlling How You Share page for guidance.

Family Tree

This social networking app from FamilyBuilder lists 270 million potential relatives.

You can:

    build your family tree
    add photos
    connect with and search for family members

Tip: Be prepared for a plethora of ads -- some of which will appear related to FamilyBuilder, but aren't.

Family Village

Facebook's first family history game, Family Village is like FarmVille for genealogy.

You can:

    build your family tree
    create an ancestor village and "immigrate" others to it
    invite family members
    learn about your ancestral heritage

Tip: The app is still in development mode, so you may find some glitches. Family Village encourages feedback.

I Remember

Fold3 brings its popular pages feature to Facebook, letting you create a memorial page for a friend or relative.

You can:

    add photos
    create a timeline
    map locations
    post memories
    share stories

Tip: Before starting a new memorial page, search to see if one already exists.

Live Roots

Tap into a specialized search index listing more than 230,000 resources (about 25 percent are fee-based).

You can:

    discover new resources
    navigate locations
    search keywords and surnames
    suggest other genealogy resources

Tip: Search for your surname on more than 15 websites, including and Google Books, simultaneously.


Mundia is's app to locate family and search for ancestors in public trees and message boards on .

You can:

    build your family tree
    track family events
    create a photo gallery, tag pictures
    search message boards
    send messages to family members
    view family facts

Tip: Use the Find People function to search 1 billion people in more than 10 million family trees.


This app from family website service OneFamilyTree has the ability to import a GEDCOM file.

You can:

    build your family tree
    collaborate with family members
    share photos
    track family events

Tip: Check Privacy Settings under the Admin tab to control visibility of your Anniversary Calendar and Family Wall.

We're Related
FamilyLink's helps you find other relatives on Facebook and share information.

You can:

    build your family tree
    connect with relatives
    create a family "photage" to post on Facebook

Tip: Again, expect a barrage of ads.