Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ancestry Free Databases has recently expanded its list of free databases.  These always-free databases are available without a subscription or free trial.  A few days ago, there were slightly over 400 free databases listed in the Ancestry card catalog, and today there are now almost 3000 which include many international titles.  The additional databases that Ancestry has opened may only be available for a very short time.

UPDATE 11/1: The additional free databases have already been closed, but the rest of this article still applies for finding the 400 or so always-free databases.

To find the Ancestry free databases, go to Ancestry’s card catalog (which can be found as a drop-down choice on the "Search" bar), and enter the word free into the keyword box located in the left hand column.

As you scroll down the page, you can filter the free databases by collection, by date, by location, and by language in the left column.   I found that once I filtered by location, I got a list of all free and fee-based Ancestry databases, and had to enter the keyword free again.

On the green bar, there is also a sort available.  By sorting the list of free ancestry databases by date added or date updated, you can make sure are haven't missed any of the newly added or newly opened free databases when you next return to the card catalog.

Sometimes only the index is free and not the image, but info from the image has been transcribed and is available to view for free.  Sometimes, both the image and index are available for free.

You will be asked to register at to view the free databases, but the account is free.  Here is a list of some of the more popular free Ancestry databases.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The following press release was sent to me by Leland Meitzler.  I've never attended this particular tour, but I've talked to someone who has, and not only is it a great way to research, but a good time was had by all.  I have been in Salt Lake City in December and it is beautiful.


Featured Speaker To Offer Technology Education for Genealogists

October 13, 2010 – Bountiful, Utah: The 2010 Salt Lake Christmas Tour – an annual genealogy event in its 26th year and celebrating its 25th anniversary – is pleased to announce that noted genealogist and technology educator Thomas MacEntee will be joining in the holiday fun as its featured speaker. The Tour takes place beginning Sunday, December 5, 2010 and runs through Saturday, December 11, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Over a five-day period, MacEntee will offer eight different presentations covering various aspects of genealogy and how technology and social media can be used to expand the genealogy experience. Topics include “Building a Research Toolbox,” “Facebook for Genealogists,” “Build a Genealogy Blog,” and “Twitter: It Isn’t Just ‘What I Had For Breakfast’ Anymore.”

The Salt Lake Christmas Tour ( ) is an annual event attracting genealogists and family historians and is renowned for the genealogy research success of its attendees, many of whom come back year after year. The Tour provides the highest ratio of professional researchers to attendees of any genealogy research tour utilizing the Family History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Throughout 2010, Thomas MacEntee has been covering the United States and Canada presenting technology education to genealogists and family historians in an easy-to-learn format. All presentations demonstrate applications such as Facebook and Twitter in real time and include cheat sheets and other handy reference materials.

Leland Meitzler, of Family Roots Publishing Company and owner/organizer of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour, says “we think that this year’s Tour not only offers an excellent research opportunity at the Family History Library but also provides a way to increase your technology knowledge especially as it pertains to genealogy. Thomas has a way of making technology approachable no matter what your computer skills.”

Register before October 31, 2010 to take advantage of special savings and to reserve your space on the Salt Lake Christmas Tour. Not only will you be amazed at the progress you can make in your genealogy research, but you’ll do so in good company and be able to witness the sights and sounds of Christmas in Salt Lake City.

About Thomas MacEntee

As a genealogist specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and to interact with others in the family history community, Thomas MacEntee relies upon his 25 years of experience in the information technology field. And as the creator of, he has organized and engaged a community of over 1,300 bloggers to document their own journeys in the search for ancestors.

Thomas shares his knowledge of technology and experience as a genealogist with others through various forms of social media and speaking engagements. Through his business High-Definition Genealogy, he provides consulting services in the genealogy industry covering such areas as market research, education, technology and more.

Thomas MacEntee is available nationwide for presentations and classes focusing on social media and technology as a way to assist genealogists and genealogical societies.

About the Salt Lake Christmas Tour

The Salt Lake Christmas Tour specializes in professionally assisted genealogy research at the world-famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now in its 26th year and celebrating its 25th anniversary, the tour is renowned for the high success-rate of its attendees, due in part to the outstanding professional to attendee ratio. Hosted by Leland K. Meitzler, Patty Meitzler, Donna Potter Phillips, and Bill Balter, the 2010 tour promises to be one of the best ever! For more information and registration, see:

Contact: Leland K. Meitzler
Salt Lake Christmas Tour
PO Box 830
Bountiful, Utah 84011

+1 (801) 992-3705

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pennsylvania Genealogy Links

Here are some of my favorite state-wide free PA genealogy links.

Land and Maps

You can learn a lot about an ancestor from his military pension records.  Here is how to
Order pension records from NARA.

  • Pennsylvania Archives
    The Pennsylvania Archives were originally published as a 10 series of historical records in 135 volumes, covering the initial colonial settlement through the Civil War. The series contains military, tax, marriage, and land records, as well as documents from American history covering the Revolutionary War and the Whiskey Rebellion. Pennsylvania researchers will be glad to have these archives online and searchable. The Archives include:
    • Early Pennsylvania settlements, from 1664 to 1780.
    • The Revolutionary War (1775–1789).
    • The Whiskey Rebellion (1794).
    • The War with Mexico, 1846-1847
    • More Pennsylvania history through 1880.
Vital Records

    Search for obits, birth announcements, marriage announcements and other newsworthy events.
    Free Ancestry Ancestry has some totally and always free Pennsylvania databases in addition to their fee-based Pennsylvania Databases.  The PA databases below are always free - no free trial necessary, but you may be asked to register.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Finding Living People

    Genealogists search for their ancestors - people long dead; but sometimes they have a need to find a living person to help with genealogy research.

    Losing touch with a cousin or the need to find a distant relative to help with research are just a few of the reasons to search for a living person.

    There are a number of people finder search engines that are very good at what they do.  Some of them search the web; some search public records; some of them can search the deep web databases that don't normally show up on a Google search.

    Sometimes they point to pay-for-databases, but most of the information is free.  There is generally enough free info that it usually isn't necessary to pay for a living person search.

    Here are my favorite US-based people search engines:
    Searches not only the web, but also the deep web or invisible web.  Since most personal profiles, public records and other people-related documents are stored in databases and not on static web pages, this search engine finds the higher-quality information about people that is simply "invisible" to a regular search engine.
    Free people search engine that gives address and telephone number for free. ZabaSearch also supplies the birthdate which can help narrow down the correct person.
    White pages results show age and related people to help narrow down the right person.
    Find people through the company they work for.
    Step by step ideas for finding people - long lost mother, long lost father and other relatives.

    US Search

    When the free people search engines can't help, you can always try one of the pay people finders.  They say "Guaranteed - no results, no charge".

    When I saw how much information was available to other people when I searched for my own name, I was tempted to opt out of these search engines.  It is public information and posted for all to see.  But then I realized if a long-lost or distant relative was searching for me, I didn't want to close the door by opting out.  Opting in or opting out of these people finder search engines is a hard decision to make but everyone must choose for themselves how much info about themselves they are willing to have available on the internet to help people find them.

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    Family Tree Maker for the Mac!

    Family Tree Maker - Mac Version

    Hurray! Mac users have been asking for  Family Tree Maker for Mac and now it is almost here. Millions of people have used FTM to discover, preserve and share their family stories. Now Mac users can too.

    Ancestry says the FTM for the Mac was constructed from the bottom up to take full advantage of the Mac platform in terms of technology and user experience.

    Family Tree Maker for Mac, which is based on Family Tree Maker 2010, makes organizing, researching and sharing your family history easier than ever, whether you're just getting started or already an expert.

    What can you do with Family Tree Maker for Mac?

    • Build your family tree. Start your family tree from scratch, download a tree from or import a family tree file from a family member. Then use the powerful sourcing tools in Family Tree Maker for Mac to document and rate each fact in your tree.

    • Enhance your family history. Illustrate your family story with photos, historical records and audio and video files. The easy-to-use tools in Family Tree Maker for Mac let you scan images right into your tree and even create slideshows. And don't miss the interactive maps that can give you a bird's-eye view of your ancestors' homelands.

    • Share your discoveries. Create a variety of colorful family tree charts, such as pedigree, descendant, bowtie and fan charts, among others. Play with custom templates. Add personal touches like family pictures and backgrounds. And create reports that provide a snapshot of your family tree and help you plan what to research next. You can also combine charts, reports, timelines, photos and stories in a custom book that your family will treasure.

    • Transfer files to and from the Windows version. You can bring files into Family Tree Maker 2010 for Mac directly from Family Tree Maker version 4 through Family Tree Maker 2006. To import files from Family Tree Maker 2008 or a newer version, simply use the Windows-based conversion tool included on the Family Tree Maker for Mac disk.

    • Search the billions of historical records on from within the Family Tree Maker for Mac software. Take advantage of Ancestry Hints linking you to historical records that might contain more information about people in your tree and simply click to merge records that are a match into your tree. You can also upload your tree to and connect with millions of other family historians across the world or import a tree you've created on to Family Tree Maker for Mac.

    Although I don't use a Mac, I'm looking forward to connecting and sharing files with my many relatives who do use a Mac.

    Now Available - Family Tree Maker for Mac You can enter the coupon G5JXTRY at checkout in the box marked Redeem Coupons for a 20% discount.