08 January 2012

Paid Online Genealogy Tools (52 weeks of Abundant Genealogy, Week 2)

In 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, this year's series of weekly blogging prompts by Amy Coffin, we are invited to make others aware of genealogy resources, share our tips on their use, and show the providers that we appreciate them.

Week 2 - Paid Online Genealogy Tools.  Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? What special features put it at the top of your list? How can it help others with their genealogy research?

Last week's LostCousins newsletter referred to a 7-page article in which four family historians compared the four main subscription sites. Three of the four historians said that overall they preferred FindMyPast. I agree - partly because FindMyPast's transcriptions and indexes are the most accurate, and partly because my research is mainly in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.

I suspect that many posts this week will be about the 'Big Four', so instead of dwelling on FindMyPast I want to highlight the smaller LostCousins. Its claim to fame is that it is the only web site that is virtually 100% accurate in identifying people who share the same ancestors. You do not waste time corresponding with people who are not related to you! The automated system also keeps your data hidden.

To use LostCousins you need to find your relatives in the census for England & Wales 1841, 1881 or 1911; Scotland 1881; United States 1880 (and USA 1940 has been added since I wrote this post); Canada 1881; or Ireland 1911. Then you enter the source/page details at LostCousins. Read the instructions carefully (see 'Information - Read this first') before gathering and entering data, as requirements for each census are different. If you prepare well, entering the data is a lot quicker. Be sure to include brothers and sisters of your direct ancestors, because it is their descendants who are the cousins you want to contact.

After entering your relatives' census references, click 'Search', and the system checks whether anyone else has already entered identical data. Remember to log in periodically, go to your 'My Ancestors' page and repeat the search.

I recommend subscribing to the free email newsletter, which is packed with useful information.

Although you can join LostCousins and enter data free of charge, I choose to pay a small annual subscription (currently just ten pounds) so that there are no delays in making contact when the system identifies my 'new relatives'.

The more people who enter census data for direct ancestors and their siblings, the greater the chances of finding our 'lost cousins'. Maybe you are my distant relative! I'm waiting to find you - so please... start using LostCousins today!
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(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/paid-online-genealogy-tools-52-weeks-of.html.)

Blogs (52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, Week 1)

In 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, this year's series of weekly blogging prompts by Amy Coffin, we are invited to make others aware of genealogy resources, share our tips on their use, and show the providers that we appreciate them.

Week 1 - Blogs.  Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?

For blogs, the word 'abundant' is an understatement. The Genealogy Blog Roll lists over 2,000 genealogy blogs, with more being added each week. In addition to genealogy blogs, I also look for those about the history of places, occupations, health, education, religion, clothing, food and so on. To understand our ancestors, we need to study them in the context of local, national and world history.

I follow many of the blogs recommended by others this week, but I want to highlight two that receive less attention than they deserve.

Sassy Jane Genealogy:

Practical advice from Nancy Loe, a family historian who is also a librarian and archivist, includes 'Five Simple Things You Can Do Today to Preserve Your Family Papers', 'Step Away from the Laminator!' and 'Planning a Genealogical Research Trip'. Nancy's e-book, Sassy Jane’s Guide to Organizing Your Genealogical Research Using Archival Principles, is also very helpful.

London Roots Research:

Rosemary Morgan shares information and tips on research in the Greater London area in England. My favourite posts in London Roots Research include 'London Parish Records Uncovered' (parts 1 & 2), 'A Place in the Sun - using Fire Insurance Records for London Genealogy Research', 'New FamilySearch - Some Tips for UK Genealogists' and 'Spotlight On: The Parish of St George The Martyr, Southwark'.

I learn so much by reading blogs, and I appreciate the time and effort that goes into writing them. On a personal note, I would also like to thank Pauleen Cass for mentioning my blogs in her post Blogs to Inspire.
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This is my contribution to 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 1. Each week's topic will be listed on Geneabloggers.