Sunday, February 27, 2011

Google Discontinues its Phonebook

Google has dropped the phonebook: and rphonebook: operators used for finding U.S.  phone numbers.  The phonebook: operator was for both business and residential phone numbers while the rphonebook: operator was for residential phonebook and focused on home phones.  

In addition, phonebook results no longer appear among regular Google search results.

The Google phonebook operator was a great way to locate long-lost friends and family and was my favorite people finder search engine.  It was also convenient way to find long-distance phone numbers.  I'm going to miss it.

Also gone is GOOG-411,  Google's voice-powered directory assistance service, which was free of charge and connected to businesses across the U.S. and Canada.  I had used goog-411 from my cell phone while out and about.
Meanwhile, there are other free U.S. phonebooks that can be used:

And there are other ways to find a long-lost mother, father, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather or other missing family member:

The Kim Cattrall episode of Who Do You Think You Are? shown in the U.S. may encourage others to try to locate missing family members.  The internet and technology certainly makes the search easier, but, as this WDYTYA? episode shows, collecting information by talking to family and even their neighbors provides a great starting point.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kim Cattrall on U.S. WDYTYA?

I watched Kim Cattrall on Who Do You Think You Are?, and found it very emotional, heartbreaking, and moving.  But I noticed that this WDYTYA? show had a different feel than the other shows this season.  Kim was interested in finding out what happened to her grandfather who walked out on her grandmother and three young children.  Her search for her family tree stopped when she solved the mystery of what happened to her grandfather.

I wonder if the different feel to the show was because this same show with Kim Cattrall was shown first on the U.K. version of WDYTYA? on the BBC  last year.  It appears that the voiceover was changed to an American accent, but the entire showed was filmed in England and Canada, unlike the U.S. version of the show where the family tree search has so far always originated in a U.S. city.

As far as I know this is the first WDYTYA? that was first shown on the BBC UK version of the show, and then shown again in the U.S. on NBC.  I think it is a good idea to share shows between countries if that gets us more episodes to watch here.

I also noticed that Kim searched on the show, but at the end of the show, the credits listed   Searching the website, Kim found a family tree called the Cattrall family tree - her family tree all filled in.   Didn't quite make sense that it would be called the Cattrall family tree unless there happened to be another Cattrall who had previously done this same hunt for George Baugh. 

But Kim's grandfather, George Baugh, is found in an family tree called the CROMBIE - BAUGH - ELLIS Family tree.

There was very little research of records on this show.  Just one shocker mailed to her by an off-the camera researcher and a quick scan of  some Durham records   Much of what was found was done by following up on a 30 year old newspaper clipping Kim's mother had saved which led to meeting and speaking with previously unknown family.

I was truly moved by this show, and can't even imagine the pain her mother and aunties felt when they found out what happened to their father.  Even 70 years after being abandoned, their hurt was still raw.

Want to know more about your family? Start your FREE family tree online to enter what you already know about yourself and have help you find your family story.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Episode Schedule 2011

This is the Who Do You Think You Are? episode schedule for the next two weeks:

Kim Cattrall
Season 2, Episode 4
February 25, 2011

Kim Cattrall digs into her family roots, centering her investigation on the mysteries surrounding her grandfather. Before long, she uncovers a haunting truth and forges enriching connections with the women in her family.

Lionel Richie
Season 2, Episode 5
March 4, 2011

Singer Lionel Richie charts his family history by focusing on his maternal grandmother's ancestry. Determined to solve mysteries surrounding her father, Richie takes an investigative voyage from Alabama to Nashville and Chattanooga, ultimately digging up a connection to the dawning days of the civil-rights movement.

And good news!   Who Do You Think You Are?  has been renewed by NBC for the 2011-2012 season.

Sunday, February 20, 2011 1910 Census Free for 2 Days

Last Two Days - Free 1910 Census at has improved the 1910 census and offering a free look.
The 1910 U.S. Census at is looking better than ever — just like your chances of finding your parents, grandparents or other relatives in it. enhancements include:

  • Clearer, crisper images
  • Improved indexes with two new fields: mother's and father's birthplace
  • Millions of alternate names to help you with hard-to-find relatives

Search the images for free through Feb 21.

Search 93 million improved records from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, plus U.S. Military and Naval Forces — free through February 21.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rosie O’Donnell, Ireland and Canada - WDYTYA?

In her quest for her family roots on the TV show, Who Do You Think You Are?, Rosie O'Donnell asks the same two questions that many U.S. genealogists ask.
  • Where (what country and what town) did my family originate?
  • What caused them to immigrate?
In Rosie’s search, she was able to find the answers to both questions. 

Her family was from Kildare, Ireland, and they came because they were the poorest of the poor living in an Irish workhouse in horrible conditions. Their transportation to Canada was paid for by two benefactors. This info was found in the Irish Poor Law Union minutes in Ireland.

The show didn’t state why they were given tickets to Canada instead of the U.S.  But I've always heard the answer is that passage was cheaper from Ireland to Canada than to the United States, and, also, they didn’t have to change citizenship.

Many Irish immigrated to Canada before coming to the U.S.  They came to Canada before, during, and after the Irish Famine.  They came even before the creation of workhouses in 1838.

Just briefly, we see Rosie at the National Archives of Quebec looking at the the Drouin Collection.  The Drouin Collection records of Quebec province spans the years 1621 to 1967 - (yes, 346 years of records) .  It has over 30 million names taken from baptism, marriage and burial records of Quebec, as well as church records from Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and some of the New England states. Those with ancestors in Canada, or even those like Rosie whose ancestors were in Quebec for a brief time before immigrating to the U.S.should be very excited.  We don’t have to travel to Montreal to see these records.

The records of the Drouin Collection are primarily French-Canadian, but many people of Irish descent will find their ancestors' name in these French-Canadian records because so many Irish immigrated to and lived in Quebec.  Some of the Irish immigrants stayed in Canada while some went to the United States like Rosie’s ancestors (and mine).

If you have Irish ancestors, it might be worth a look to see if your ancestors came to the United States via Quebec. For example, in the Drouin Collection, there are over 20,000 search results for the Irish name Murphy, and over 10,000 for the Irish name Sullivan.

Records in the Drouin Collection can be searched in French or English by name, date, place, church or institution, and religion. You will find some of the records of Irish immigrants are recorded in French. You can use this French Genealogy Glossary to help translate.

This collection is  available online through a subscription to but you can view them via a Free Trial or at your local library.

I enjoyed the show a lot.  It showed Rosie staring with what she knew about her family, working with original documents, reading info on a microfilm, and meeting previously unknown second cousins.  She said she felt moved than she expected to.  I think anyone who has begun to trace their own family tree can relate to all of that!

But the question Rosie didn’t ask, and that I really wanted to know, was why her family left Canada for New Jersey.  My Irish family did the same and I have never been able to find the reason.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Series One DVD

If you missed Season One of Who Do You Think You Are?, or  if you would like to see see the series again,  the DVD  Who Do You Think You Are?: Season One is now available for pre-sale at

The companion book for WDYTYA?, written by Megan Smolenyak is also available Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

George Washington, Tim McGraw, and Historical Connections

I watched the TV show Who Do You Think You are? with interest because I was curious how Tim McGraw was connected to George Washington.  I knew our first president had no children of his own, so just how was Tim McGraw connected?

Turns out that when George Washington was 16, he surveyed Tim McGraw’s ancestor,Jost Hite’s land in the Shanadoah Valley and wrote about this in his journal. 

It reminded me that I also had connection to George Washington where a member of my family crossed paths with him, and I wondered how many can find this type of connection to him.  If you can trace your ancestors back to pre-Revolution history, then I'm thinking there is probably a fair chance that George might have crossed paths with a member of your family. After all, George Washington was a surveyor of frontier land, was a Colonel of the Virginia regiment in the French and Indian War, then was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

My own family’s connection to George Washington was that my 5th great-uncle, Harmon Aughe of Chester county, Pennsylvania, was an Revolutionary War soldier who wintered in Valley Forge with General George Washington.  In Harmon’s Revolutionary War pension application, he stated that he personally knew General Washington, as well as General Anthony Wayne, because he drove a wagon that brought supplies to the Valley Forge encampment.

I know George Washington was proud of the courage of his soldiers that wintered in the terrible conditions at Valley Forge.

I found Harmon Aughe’s 35 handwritten page Revolutionary War pension application on  If you want to browse the pension files at Footnote, you can get a 7 day Free Trial

More About Harmon Aughe's Revolutionary War pension application

Did your family have a connection with George Washington?  Is a family member crossing paths with George Washington as “shocking” as the TV show WDYTYA? made it sound, or are there many of us in the U.S. that have an ancestor with some type of connection to George Washington?  Let me know in the comments.

Want to know more about your family? Start your FREE family tree online to enter what you already know about yourself and have help you find your family story.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tim McGraw and his Palatine ancestor Jost Hite

After seeing the show Who Do You Think You Are? last Friday night, I realized I wanted to know more about the German Palatine ancestry of Tim McGraw.  Having Palatine ancestry myself, I feel a connection to his story.  I like to find out how a family’s history fits into the history of our country.  I like to find out why families do what they do which I guess is a reason I am drawn to genealogy.

You can read a transcribed story of the History of the Palatine Immigration.   It begins with the earliest Palatine immigration and where they settled in the United States.  It also tells about the “Golden Book”, mentioned on Who Do You Think You Are?, which encouraged the Palatine people to leave their homes in the Rhine country for London to eventually settle in the Carolinas, or other of Her Majesty's colonies. It also tells of the tremendous hardships the Palatines found as they settled, and how they were cheated in New York.

I did find the story of Hans Josh Heydt, or Yost Hite, as his name is sometimes written, in a digitized book at called Virginia Prominent Families, originally published in 1907 by Louise Pecquet du Bellet.

Chapter XIII Hite, Madison, Fontaine and Maury Families.
The Hite Family in America begins:
“In 1710, Hans Josh Heydt, or Yost Hite, as his name is spelled in English documents dated at the time of his emigration, a native of Alsace, Germany, came from Strasburg to New York, with his wife, Anna Marie, née du Bois, and their little girl, Mary. He came in his own ships, Brigantine Swift and Schooner Friendship, bringing with him sixteen (some say more) Dutch and German families, as tenants for lands he expected to settle.
Hite remained in Kingston, New York, until 1715, when he came south to Germantown, Penn. In 1717, we find him on the Schuylkill River, where he bought lands, and in 1720 built a mill at the mouth of Perkiomen Creek, and a dwelling house, which is at present (1907) the country home of Gov. Samuel Pennypacker, of Pennsylvania, and became a thrifty, enterprising farmer and manufacturer. The mills are now called Pennypacker's Mills.
At this time the Indians, maddened by the encroachments of the whites, took revenge by making raids upon the colonists in both Pennsylvania and Maryland, ruthlessly murdering settlers and destroying property.”
More about Yost Hite and his move to Virginia
The book continues telling the story of Jost/Yost Hite and their children. It states that Yost Hite could not get the Governor of PA to help protect the settlers from the Indians, so he left for Virginia. 

Magdelene Hite, Jost’s daughter, and Jacob Chrismann , her husband, were the ancestors of Tim McGraw.
Magdelene Hite, third daughter of Yost Hite, like her two older sisters, married before she came to Virginia. Her husband, Jacob Chrismann, was a German and came to America from Swabia. They also settled near Yost Hite and their home became known as Chrismann Spring, where they died, leaving a large family of children.
Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants,  digitized by Google Books, also tells the story of “Joist Hite”.

I enjoy reading the stories of the pioneer families, but I found the story of Tim McGraw’s ancestors sadly ironic.  Jost Hite left New York to settle in Pennsylvania.  Because of the Indian raids there, he left Pennsylvania in 1730 to go to the Shenandoah Valley where years later (according to the historian on Who Do You Think You are?), Jost Hite’s grandson (and Tim McGraw’s ancestor), Isaac Chrismann, was killed along with two of his sons in an Indian raid.

Hans Jost Hite can be also be found in the family trees at This family tree which includes Hans Jost Hite is well-sourced with a source citation for almost every entry. In addition to the family tree which includes his parents and descendants, there are written stories and photos of documents, houses, and monuments including one of the Historical Marker for Jost Hite.

Want to know more? Start your FREE family tree online to enter what you already know about yourself and have help you find your family story.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

German Palatines and Tim McGraw

I found it interesting to hear about Tim McGraw’s German Palatine background when watching him on the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? .

The historian on the TV show said that the term Palatine is what the English called the Germans, and while that is so, the Palatine is actually a specific area of Germany.  See map.

Having Palatine ancestors myself, I feel a connection to Tim McGraw’s ancestry (and apparently Elvis’ ancestry too since his ancestors were on the same ship coming over as Tim’s). 

Palatines immigrated to the British colonies before the American Revolution and Tim McGraw’s Palatine ancestors, who were some of the first to arrive, came to New York in 1710.

My Palatine ancestors came to Pennsylvania in the mid-1700’s.  Since the English in Philadelphia didn’t want the German immigrants in the city of Philadelphia,  they sold them land outside the city so these German settlers could act as a buffer between the Indians and the English in Philadelphia.   That land which later became known as Lancaster county turned out the be some of the most fertile land in the country.  The descendants of these Palatines became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch (Pennsylvania Deutch or Pennsylvania German).

Other Palatines settled up and down the east coast.  Like other early settlers, they were subject to terrible privations and extreme hardships.

If you are interested in learning more about the story of the Palatines, where they settled, and the hardships they bore, there is an free online transcription of the fascinating History of the Palatine Immigration  written by Daniel Rupp in 1876.

Like Tim McGraw’s ancestor, Johan Jost Hayd, many of the German immigrants eventually prospered.

Some Palatine German Immigration books are free to read on

I read once that each Palatine who immigrated in the 1700s has 10,000 descendants, so there are many of us in the US who descended from these brave immigrants.  Have you been able to trace your ancestry back the the 1700s?  Start your FREE family tree online to enter what you already know about yourself and have help you find your family story.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Civil War Pension Files at NARA

Vanessa Williams’ journey to find her ancestors on the TV show Who Do You Think You Are?  took her to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. to see the Civil War pension file of her great-great-grandfather where in addition to the written pension records, she found a tintype of her great-great-grandfather.

But did you know that you don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C. to see your ancestor’s Civil War pension file?  You can order a copy of your ancestor’s complete pension application file from the National Archives and have it mailed to you.

Before you order a Civil War pension or military file from NARA (the National Archives), you need to do some research on your soldier. NARA says:
"NARA cannot do substantive research for you. Reading several files to see if any of the match meager identification is substantive research. If you request a specific file, we can search for that file and provide you with copies. Our success is based entirely on the work that you do before you send the request to us. If there are too many soldiers in a unit with the same name, we will return the request to you for additional information. Using the Civil War Pension Index is one way to ensure that the file you want is the file that you get."
First, you must determine if you have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War.  Like any genealogy project, to find out if you have a Civil War ancestor, start with what you know and take your research back generation by generation. Start your FREE family tree online to enter what you already know about yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and as far back as you know.  Find your family in the 1930 census and continue to trace your family back through the earlier census. 

There are two US Census years that show if a family member was a Civil War veteran:
  • 1910 Census lists if a person was a veteran and a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy.  If your ancestor was a Confederate soldier, order his pension file from the state repository.
  • 1890 Special Veterans’ Census lists the veteran's name or widow's name, rank, year of enlistment, and year of discharge.

Union Soldiers
If you have found you have an ancestor who fought as a Union soldier in the Civil War, you can check the Civil War Pension Index to see if he filed an application for a pension.  Not every Civil War soldier did.   But all soldiers should have a service file.  Check the:
  • Civil War Pension Index
    The index from is used to order Civil War Pension records from NARA.  The index also can provide clues such as wife’s name, to help narrow down the correct soldier.  It also lists the regiment which you can verify against the 1890 Special Veterans’ Census
  • Civil War Pension Index
    The index from Fold3 (formerly often includes soldier's death date and place.  This can also help narrow down the correct soldier;i.e. if the index file states that the soldier died in 1902 but the soldier you are looking for was alive and listed in the 1910 census, you know you have the wrong soldier.
Union soldier pensions are ordered from National Archives. In addition to the pension index file, has a huge database of Civil War soldiers .

If you want the pension file for a Union soldier ancestor, make a copy of the Civil War Pension Index card to send with your request to NARA.  NARA wants as much info as possible so they can pull the correct file to copy.

Order the Civil War pension file online from the National Archives (NARA) and include the name, state, regiment, and especially the application number and the certificate number from the index card. Click on Order Reproductions, then click Military Service and Pension Records, then Federal Military Pension Application - Civil War and Later Complete File (NATF 85D).  There is a fee which includes up to 100 copied pages.  The amount of genealogy information generally included in a pension file is pretty amazing – an  incredible amount of genealogy info. They typically have birth dates, addresses of next of kin, medical information, proof of marriage, proof of children's births, a summary of military service, neighbor interviews, and sometimes death certificates.  I personally have never found a tintype or a photo.

If you live anywhere near D.C., take the time for a visit the National Archives to see the files in person.  It’s a special experience.

Fold3 (formerly has started to digitize the actual pension files, not just the index cards.  It is a monumental task, and they have completed about 3% of the Civil War Widows' Pensions files.  It is worth it to check to see if your ancestor is included in the completed online files.

Confederate Soldiers
Confederate soldiers pensions are ordered from the state repository. They are held in the state where the soldier lived at the time of the pension, not the state where he served.

Some of the Confederate states pension records are online:

Fold3 (formerly has placed online digitized copies of the Compiled Service Records for the Confederate State soldiers. When you look at these records, don’t stop at the first image.  Compiled Service records sometimes are many pages long.  Union and Confederate Soldiers has a large database of  Civil War Records, both Union and Confederate.  It has records of  more than 6 million names of servicemen — Union and Confederate — who fought in the U.S. Civil War plus POW records.  is a subscription website, but you can use the 2 week Free Trial for quick access to find your family in the different census years and Civil War Pension index so that you can then order Pension file from NARA. Fold3 (formerly also has a Free Trial for quick access to the Civil War Pension index and Confederate Compiled Service Records

Monday, February 07, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Episode Schedule 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Season 2 Episode Schedule  2011

 NBC has just released the following dates for WDYTYA?:

Vanessa Williams

Episode 1 - Feb 4, 2011
Vanessa Williams travels to Washington, DC and to Tennessee to find family that had the courage to break barriers.

Tim McGraw

Episode 2 - Feb 11, 2011
Tim McGraw researches his father's ancestry and discovers a link to descendants who were among the U.S.'s first settlers and discovers a connection to George Washington.

Rosie O'Donnell

Episode 3 - Feb 18, 2011
Rosie O'Donnell explores her ancestry by focusing on her late mother's life.  She goes to Jersey City, N.J., and then Ireland, where she uncovers various hardships faced by her family.

Kim Cattrall
Episode 4 - Feb 25, 2011
Kim Cattrall digs into her family roots, centering her investigation on the mysteries surrounding her grandfather. Before long, she uncovers a haunting truth and forges enriching connections with the women in her family.  

Lionel Richie
Episode 5 - March 4, 2011
Singer Lionel Richie charts his family history by focusing on his maternal grandmother's ancestry. Determined to solve mysteries surrounding her father, Richie takes an investigative voyage from Alabama to Nashville and Chattanooga, ultimately digging up a connection to the dawning days of the civil-rights movement.

The other celebrities that will dig into their family roots this season are:
  • Steve Buscemi
  • Gwneyth Paltrow
  • Ashley Judd
but NBC has not yet released their scheduled dates.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Ways to Find Photos of Your Ancestors

One of the things that I found most moving about Vanessa Williams’ appearance on   Who Do You Think You Are?  was that she was able to find a photograph of one great-grandfather and tintype of another. 

I remember having the same exciting feeling the first time I found a photograph of one of my ancestors - an ancestor I only had just learned about from my genealogy research.  It was a very emotional moment.  I couldn't help but look to see if I recognized family features, and the photo gave me the desire to learn more about who this person was.

A photograph of an ancestor can really bring your family history to life -  a reminder that this is a person who really lived.   But if you are like me, you don't have many or even any photographs beyond your grandparents. 

How can you find photos of your ancestors?  Here are some places to look:

Family Members
  • Ask your family members.   You never know who in your family may have the passed-down photos of grandparents, great-grandparents or even further back, and never mentioned it because they thought no-one was interested.  Today, it is easy to make copies – you can go to their house and take a digital photograph of the photo or take your laptop and scanner to scan the photo.
  • You may be able to find unknown distant cousins on the internet  by posting a query on the  RootsWeb Mailing Lists, either the county or surname mailing lists. You may find someone with a common ancestor and be able connect to share information and photos.  I found a 3rd cousin this way who been handed down the portrait of our mutual ancestor and she gladly sent me a photograph of the portrait. It was one of my most rewarding moments in genealogy to see a photo of my 3rd great-grandfather who born in 1811.
  • Ancestry Photos and Scanned Documents - This database contains photos submitted to Ancestry family trees by users who have indicated that their tree can be viewed by all Ancestry members, including those with a free membership. You will find submitted photos of people, tombstone, documents, and more.  According to the Ancestry Card Catalog, this database has over 26 million records. Free.
  • Build Your free family tree online and will connect you with other members who also happen to be researching your ancestors. You can contact them to share research and photos. Free.

Search Engines
  • Google Image Search There are a lot of ancestors images that can be found using Google Image Search.  Google finds the images on personal genealogy pages, Google books, and all the typical places that Google searches.

Photo Archives

County Books
County History Books contain thousands of county resident photographs as well as biographical sketches.  These books were very popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900s.  Every biography I have seen is for a male, however.  If there is a bio in the book, there may also be an accompanying photo. Many of these books have been recently reprinted and may be available in the county library where your ancestor lived. If you don't live near a library with the book, you can request an interlibrary loan from your local library.  Places to search for county books:
  • The county library where your ancestor lived.
  • Google Books   Search Google books for the name of your ancestor and the county where he lived. 
  • US Genweb Archives,  It is worth a try to take a look, but it has been my experience when the bios were transcribed from a county book, the photographs were not included.
  •  has digitized many of these books.  When you search Ancestry for a surname, check the box that restricts your search to Stories and Publications.

Historical or Genealogy Society
  • Search the photograph archives of the Historical Society located in your ancestor's county.

Many times old newspaper obituaries include a photograph or illustration, just as they do today.  Here are some places to find old obits.

Images of America Series
The Images of American Series, available for many towns across the US, have photos generally culled from the town’s historical society.  While the book may not have close-ups of people, they generally have group shots of the townspeople.  I found an ancestor in a group shot of the local Volunteer Fire Department taken 140 years ago.  These books are available at local book stores, libraries, and at It’s worth a browse, but no guarantee you will find your ancestor.  You will, however, find some pretty good photos of your town as it used to be.  To find these books at, search for your county or town name with the words Images of America. Be sure to check out the years the book covers as some of these books have historical photos while some have contemporary photos.

Friday, February 04, 2011

African-American Genealogy

Start Your Family Tree
If you watched the compelling TV show Who Do You Think You Are?  which led Vanessa Williams on a journey back in time as she discovered more about the ancestors that came before her, you may be wondering how to do your own African-American family tree.  Like any genealogy project, you start with what you know and take your research back step-by-step.

Begin with yourself and work backwards as they do in the TV show. Start your FREE family tree online to enter what you already know about yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and as far back as you know.

Invite your parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins and other family members to contribute what they know to add to your online tree - fill in names and dates, tell stories and upload photos. will automatically use what you enter to try and find more about your family in the world's largest online collection of historical records and family trees. Look for the green leaf.

Talk to the older people in your family.  You may be surprised what they know but never talked about because they thought no one was interested.  Here are some suggested questions to ask them to get the ball rolling.

African-American Genealogy at

African American Collections at
Start searching the world’s largest online collection of African American family history records now. You could find ancestors who served their country in wartime, learn about their homes, their careers and much more.. is a subscription database, but you can examine all the records for free for 2 weeks with a Free Trial.

African-American Research
Step by Step Guide to finding your African American family tree. Learn how to do the different phases of African American Genealogy from gathering oral history to finding the slave owner to going back to Africa.

African American Research Center
Learn how to begin building your African-American family tree. For many African Americans, tracking down ancestors can present a unique set of challenges. Fortunately, a vast collection of resource materials are now available.

African-American Heritage Search Tips 
Tips and hints for getting the best results when searching Google and other search engines for African-American genealogy

Additional Websites
Here are some other free online  resources for finding African-American ancestors.

Here are further resources to begin your genealogy search. And here is a unique African-American search engine that searches multiple African-American genealogy sites across the web.

If you would like to use the same professional genealogists that helped with the research for Who Do You Think You Are, Contact ProGenealogists for a free estimate.

Your family story is waiting to be found.   "To know who you are you, you have to know where you came from."  Your journey can be as exciting, as emotional, and as surprising as the stories on the TV show because it is your personal family history.  The excitement and surprises happen as you uncover that story

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Free Genealogy Online Books

There are many free books on the Internet that are invaluable in the pursuit of family history.  You may think it is not worthwhile to search historical books for your ancestor because you have ancestors who are just ordinary folks and not newsworthy enough to be in a book. But you may be surprised at what you will find in these books.

Many historical books are county books that include biographies of regular citizens, others are military regimental histories, family history books, historical society publications, county commission reports, court cases and city directories.  These books have info about regular people.  The public domain books can be read online, downloaded to your computer, or transferred to your e-reader such as the Kindle

The following online book archives are searchable by title, author or any word that may appear within the book.  You can search for your surnames, words that may appear in the book, or the location such as city or town.

  • BYU
  • The BYU Family History Archive is a free collection of approximately 18,000 family histories, local histories, city directories and other genealogy books online from nine major genealogy libraries.  These books can be search by title, author, and/or a surname.   If I am just browsing, I usually search for just a surname.

  • Google Books
  • Google books include many county histories with citizen biographies published in the late 1800s and early 1900s, family histories, historical society publications, county commission reports, court cases as well as military regimental histories.  These books can be search by title, author, and/or keywords that may appear in the book such as surname by using the Google Book Search or the Google Advanced Book Search
    Many, but not all, of the Google Books are in the public domain.  Once you have search results, click on  free Google ebooks in the left column if you only want to search free public domain books.  These can be read fully online, downloaded to your computer, or transferred to your ereader.    
     Once you have found a book, the contents can be searched using the searchbox in the left column.

The following books are searchable by title and author only.  Since many of the genealogy books within this archive seem to be county related, the best search strategy I have found is to search by county name.  Once you have the books with the county name in the title, you can search each for your surnames.
  • Internet Archive
  • Over 2 million public domain free books to read online, download to your computer, or transfer to your Kindle. Search is by title and author only. Search for book title first (if you search for county name - the search will bring up all books that include the county name), then search within book for family surname. 
    In the drop down box, you can choose American Libraries, Canadian Libraries, or Project Gutenberg, among others.  Or choose text to search all books.  While there are many genealogy books included in the mix, not all are genealogy related.

  • Open Library
  • Over 1 million free titles, but of course, not all are genealogy related. Search for county in book title and make sure to check the 'Only show eBooks' checkbox.  When viewing a title, click how you want to read the book; such as, the 'Send to Kindle' link next to the edition in which you're interested.  I was surprised how many books I found that interested me.   
     If you do not check the "only show eBooks" checkbox, you will be shown hardback books which are available for purchase or free from a library.  If the libraries shown are not near you, you can always visit your local library and request an ILL (Interlibrary Loan) where your local library might be able to borrow the book from another library for you.