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.)


  1. Thanks for suggesting LostCousins. There's today's activities sorted!

  2. Fi, I hope you have some success with LostCousins. For me, the first benefit (even before I found any new cousins) was that it made me look at my files and work out which census references I did not yet have. I'm not sure whether your local genealogical society library lets you have free access to FindMyPast, but the State Library of Queensland does.

  3. Hi Judy. You are the second person to recommend Lost Cousins recently. I've subscribed to the free email newsletter. July I'm impressed by the number of blogs you maintain. How do you do it? You must be very disciplined :). A trait I need to develop me thinks.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Alex. I don't have time to post as often as I would like, and it looks even worse because my posts are spread over several blogs! I often think it was a mistake to have so many; but at the time it seemed like a good idea to have different blogs for different geographical areas.

  4. The LostCousins site, www.lostcousins.com, is completely free for all members, new and old, until midnight on Wednesday 6th June. (That would be UK time, so Thursday morning in Australia.) When this free FULL membership period ends, standard membership will continue to be free. With so many extra people visiting the site this week, it's a great opportunity to find your living relatives. After completing your MyAncestors page, you must press the Search button. On your MyAncestors page, be sure to enter your direct ancestor's SIBLINGS. It is their descendants whom you want to contact, because they are likely to have letters and photos sent by your family.


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