Online Genealogy Intro for Mendon NY Public Library and Historical Society

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An introduction to using the Internet for doing genealogy research, given at the Mendon NY public library


  • Netting Your AncestorsWe will find out how to trace members of your family tree on the Internet. Learn how to go to free sites and get some of the information that you need to fill in the blanks on your family chart. Local resources as well as standard state, national and worldwide sources are discussed. Handouts are available. Questions are welcomed!For the Mendon Public Library& Mendon Historical SocietyOctober 2014

  • Genealogy is about putting the past in order



    the kids!



    Uncle Joe

    Old King Cole


    and who else?

  • Why?to share with your family in the present and future I hope to show you some helpful ways to do this...

  • But its all on the Web!No, its not...

  • But the TV ad and the web site saidRight after they asked for your credit cardAnd gave you 6 million hits for your nameso be prepared...

  • Preamble, courtesy of Dennis Hogan:Genealogy Research is NOT = Internet/Google5% of the worlds genealogy content is on the web - (Randall J. Seaver, Genea-Musings blogger)5% of the internets genealogy content is indexed by Google ( cited by Robert Gardner of Google) X% of Googles index shows up on Page 1 of results (For easy math lets use 1% - but thats high)So 1% of the 5% of the 5% (.01 x .05 x .05 = .000025) or about .0025 of 1% of the worlds genealogy content can be accessed via Google. You get better amounts from a bank these days!Genealogy Research is NOT = Internet/Google5% of the worlds genealogy content is on the web - (Randall J. Seaver, Genea-Musings blogger)5% of the internets genealogy content is indexed by Google ( cited by Robert Gardner of Google) X% of Googles index shows up on Page 1 of results (For easy math lets use 1% - but thats high)So 1% of the 5% of the 5% (.01 x .05 x .05 = .000025) or about .0025 of 1% of the worlds genealogy content can be accessed via Google. You get better amounts from a bank these days!

  • Aint it the truth.?

  • You should have a sense of humor as well as searching skills

  • As Honest Abe said

  • Its not all serious government work, though

  • Ellsworth Co., KS, 1870:

  • Never knew they existed.I do not use libraries.They did not exist before the Internet when I was doing my research.I use Google.Never used an online catalog.I don't use the public library for genealogy at all.Please keep this in mind. One librarian got these results when she polled members of her local genealogy groups about using library catalogs in person:

  • When you get to a stopping point, if you wish, you can bring the collateral lines forward down to the present.And note every fact that you find as you go along. It is far easier to do that than go back and source several findings for 6000 people in your family tree after the fact.

  • Start with yourself and work back through your parents, grandparents, etc. Note their names, dates and where these events occurred. Are there patterns?Use good research practices - do one thing at a time.Remember that the web makes much research easier, but hardly everything is available online.Wide variance in reliability and content - dont be a genealogical sheep and accept everything that you find at face value.

  • Why are you doing this?What are your goals? Personal interest? Helping patrons? School project? Family reunion? Publishing? Joining a hereditary society?

  • Kinds of info to seekBasics - names, places, and dates (using digital images). Charts and other helps are online.Search for work already done - family trees as found on personal sites, WorldConnect, FamilySearch, etc. [can you trust them? O.M.G.]Census, vitals, military, immigration, pictures, newspapers, printed histories, directories, yearbooks, phone books, land and surrogate records, PERSI, message boards, DNA, learning pages on sites.Evaluate evidence carefully!

  • What are some sources?Useful materials include directories (city, suburban and rural), yearbooks, vital record certificates (births, marriages, and deaths), censuses, military records, diplomas, pension and other military papers.Remember that everything is not online. Most is not. Libraries and their finding aids.Indexes, and the original records.Documentation - how good is it?

  • Pros and cons of online.AdvantagesMore convenient - 24/7/365 access from any internet accessible computer, including tablets, laptops, desktops, and phones!Ease of use - type in a name and get instant resultsSaves $ on traveling to distant locations to look at the recordsLearning materials are available from various sitesAccess information from all over the worldConnect with blogs, webinars, message boards etc. Correspond with your relativesFind photos, certificates, documents, newspapers

  • DisadvantagesLess than 5% of the worlds records (or less than 1% of Canadian records) are actually available online because mass digitization is very expensive. Canadian archives are in a tough placeLittle editorial vetting of data. Ease of use - type in a name and get instant results- which is good and bad. Inaccurate indexing and transcription.If the electricity goes off, you are stopped cold. What about privacy issues - kids, marriages, crimes, etcShortcuts in analysis of dataTediousness of citing everything - but necessary. (Treeconnect add on for Familysearch.)The web is a jungle of inaccurate and badly presented information. The problem of crufty junk[how do I really feel?]

  • How many things look strange on this contribution?

  • Or this one?

  • Concentrate on one family branch at a timeDo background research Dont assume everything is online or in a single resource. Use common sense. Keep organized - if you use a computer, consider keeping your data in a program.

  • Enough already! Where do you look? How do you keep track? Programs, forms, backups? Privacy of data vs. sharing sensitive or hurtful info.Places to get forms for free? Storing info online? Backups?


  • 101 best websites:

  • Census - film, online, books, indexes. (numerous sources for these). Include many different kinds of censuses.Borrow through ILL for items not held locally, including newspapers from the NYS library.Does what you find online meet standards - or have a plethora of exclamation marks!!!!?

  • Web can offer indexes to vital stats, directories of various kinds, cataloged web site content, personal web pages already out there, genealogical discussion groups, city, county state genealogical or historical society pages, items like, and individual librariesBut you will not find everyone, and any given site may or may not have accurate data. For example, personal experiences indexing 1940 census.Soundex, directories, maps, tax lists, etc.

  • FormsWhy should you use forms?How should you fill them out?Where do you get them?

  • Help!!!All kinds of formats and helps - wiki (research guides, thesauri, word lists, how tos), online research guides, translatable web pages, overseas records, privately done pages

  • What about stuff in the wild?the RGS CRPC locally.Or the lady with 1000 pages of church records in St Louis, or the one in Newark with 100,000 names from Newark NJ cemetery. Or the Rochester city employee who did a listing of the missing/destroyed Britton Rd. Jewish cemetery records?How do you find them?Word of mouth, message boards, writing to libraries and archives, blogs such as EOGN, etc.

  • RGS CRPCThis group has digitized over 150,000 pages of records, and has received national recognition for its work.

  • MapsLooking at maps will help you determine where people went to church, may have moved (or not), and likely places of emigration. But people do weird things, and what is apparent to you might not be the actual truth. Folks moved around a lot more in the past than we credit them for.

  • CensusThere are numerous censuses - federal, state local, school, church, etc.See, Dollarhide books on census, etc. for sites which hold them.And ask online.

  • Local maps available at -

  • Sample page from

  • Online records hereAncestry, Rootsweb, HQ, GenealogyBank, and of course locally, RPLs sources at

  • What you see at an FHC

  • Look at the variances in the SSDI!

  • Online sources vary tremendously.NY holds back even the indexes to vital records from 50 to 75 years. But Minnesota and Familysearch are different as you will see.

  • But New York holds back the birth INDEXES for 75 years!

  • Locally we have these

  • Our neighbors to the west:

  • And our neighbors to the east:

  • Online records overseasOnline OFBs, local associations, Adeloch

    There are far more - these are just a sample.

  • Samples from Adeloch:

  • A Dutch site:

  • Another starting spot:

  • How to read old German script - translate with Google

  • Archives?Some countries have great helps - Czech Republic, Sezam (Poland), Central Bureau for Genealogy (Netherlands)

  • Dont forget booksThere are many printed histories of families, of locations, and how-to help books for various kinds of research.

  • Newspapers onlineIt is becoming common to see newspapers digitized and searchable for free on various sites - at the same time that newspapers themselves are getting pricier and more difficult to access.See: www.fultonhist