Free Databases on Subscription Genealogy Websites

My article in the March/April 2016 Family Tree Magazine

My article in the March/April 2016 Family Tree Magazine

Did you know most subscription-based genealogy websites make some of their databases available for free? They do this so you can get a taste of what using their site will be like. The databases they offer range from very narrowly focused ones (such as the New York Marble Cemetery Records, NYC, 1830-1937 on Ancestry.com) or large databases with millions of records (such as the 1880 U.S. Census available for free on Ancestry.com).

In the March/April 2016 Family Tree Magazine, my article features 50 free databases you can access on subscription websites such as Ancestry.com, Archives.com, Findmypast, WorldVitalRecords, MyHeritage, Fold3, and AmericanAncestors (the site run by the New England Historic Genealogical Society).

In addition to the 50 databases covered in the article, here are seven more databases with narrower focuses you can check out:

MyHeritage.com

  • Homestead Records, Broken Bow, Nebraska: This database of more than 39,000 records includes land-entry case files from the Bureau of Land Management’s Broken Bow Land Office from 1890 to 1908. Each entry in this database includes the person’s name, date, place, certificate number, and legal land description.
  • Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland Marriages, 1808-1870 and Deaths, 1808-1888: In addition to the births database for this location mentioned in the Family Tree Magazine article, MyHeritage.com has two additional vital records databases: one for marriages (containing more than 4,000 records) and one for deaths (containing more than 10,000 records).
  • Scotland, Selected Prison Registers, 1828-1878: Information in these 15,000+ records includes the prisoner’s name, year and place of birth, year and place of imprisonment, place of residence and occupation.

AmericanAncestors

Fold3

  • Civil War Maps: Search more than 2,000 images from maps taken from diaries, scrapbooks, and manuscripts to “gain insights into the histories of battles, campaigns, and regions.”
  • Deseret Iron Company Account Book (UT): According to Fold3, these “ledgers list the names and occupations of the workers and amounts credited for their services.” The workers include iron workers and others associated with the Deseret Iron Company in what is now Cedar City, Utah.
  • Flossenburg Entry Registers: This database includes more than 75,000 records of French, British, Canadian, and American prisoners of war; Jews from Poland and Hungary; and French, Belgian, Italian, and Yugoslavian political prisoners who were taken to Flossenburg Concentration Camp during World War II.

ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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Personal Library Apps for Genealogists

Sept Family Tree Magazine

September 2016 Family Tree Magazine

Got a huge collection of genealogy books, as well as other books and movies? It might be time to consider using a personal library app to keep track of them.

In the September 2016 Family Tree Magazine, my article in the Toolkit section compares the features offered in five personal library apps:

Some of the apps are free, and the paid apps often offer “lite” or ad-based versions for free so you can try them out before you buy them. Most let you automatically import a book’s information using a barcode scanner or by entering the book’s ISBN or UPC code.

For more details on what each of these apps has to offer, check out my article on page 68 of the September 2016 Family Tree Magazine.

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The Freelance Life: Newsletter Writing

Freelance writing is a career path that’s a mystery to most. The type of work you can do as a freelance writer has endless possibilities—from writing copy for ads and marketing brochures to writing articles for newsletters, websites, magazines, and more. As a freelance writer, I enjoy writing articles for newsletters.

CIRAS News Fall 2015

CIRAS News Fall 2015

Recently, I wrote a few articles for a newsletter published by Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), which is the manufacturing extension partnership organization in the state of Iowa. Writing for this newsletter provides a unique opportunity to interview individuals and learn about the amazing things going on at Iowa companies, as well as ways the work done by Iowa State University faculty and students impacts the state’s economy.

Check out my latest newsletter articles in the CIRAS News Fall 2015 newsletter (see the articles on pages 4-5, 8 and 14).


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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Build Your FamilySearch Tree Tutorial

If you’re looking for a place to house your family tree online, consider the FamilySearch Family Tree. This tool on the free genealogy giant website FamilySearch.org lets you build your family tree as part of a world tree, which allows you to collaborate with others on your family history research.

By building your tree on this site, you can get Record Hints for historical records on FamilySearch.org that match your ancestors, as well as research suggestions and tips on possible data errors or issues.

For a quick step-by-step primer to build your family tree on FamilySearch.org, check out my tutorial in the December 2015 Family Tree Magazine.

 


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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2015 Recap: The Ever Evolving FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch.org is constantly changing and improving. Before 2016 gets too far underway, let’s take a look back at six significant changes that were made to the FamilySearch.org website in 2015.

Index appears with historical record image. After you search historical records and click on a record image to view, you’ll now see a split screen that shows a list of the names of people (the index) on that record image.

record image

Index shows with historical record image

Genealogies section now searches four collections. When you click on the Search tab and then Genealogies, it used to search only the Pedigree Resource File and Ancestral File. Now, this search form also searches Community Trees and the International Genealogical Index.

New option for finding individual historical records collections. In the past, if you wanted to search a particular collection, you had to click on the Browse All Published Collections link on the main Record Search page, and then filter a list of collections to find the one you wanted to search or browse. Now, there’s a Find a Collection search box directly on the main Record Search page. Just type in a word or words you think will be in the collection name, such as the state or country name or record type, and a list of links to possible collection matches pops up.

Find a Collection

The new Find a Collection search box on the Historical Records main search page

Internal messaging introduced. You don’t need to give out your email address to connect with other researchers on FamilySearch.org. The site now has a user-to-user messaging system, FamilySearch Messaging, that allows you to communicate with others while maintaining privacy. See more about how FamilySearch Messaging works (from the FamilySearch.org blog).

Ability to add children in Family Tree Landscape view is available. When using the FamilySearch Family Tree, you can now add children while in the Landscape view of your tree.

add children

New Add Children option in FamilySearch Family Tree

Changes made to who can delete a person in FamilySearch Family Tree. According to FamilySearch, “To delete a person, you must now be the only contributor to that person.” If you are not the only contributor and you try to delete a person, you’ll be given some alternatives, such as removing a person from a family.

To see what’s in store in 2016, check out FamilySearch’s “12 Things You Will See From FamilySearch in 2016” blog post.


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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How to Get the Most From FamilySearch.org Historical Records Searches

As the largest free genealogy website—which is rapidly adding historical record images—FamilySearch.org should be a frequent stop for any family historian. And don’t let the simplicity of the search form fool you: As I share in the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org (Family Tree Books), there’s much more under the hood here to help you ferret out your ancestors’ records from the gazillions in the site’s collections.

Let me introduce you to tricks for searching the historical records databases on Family­Search.org and arm you with strategies for finding the family history records you need.

Read the full excerpt from Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org to learn how to capitalize on your searches of FamilySearch.org’s historical records databases.


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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A Year in the Life of a Freelance Writer and Editor

2015 freelance projectsLast year, I wrote a blog post about the projects I worked on the prior year because I often get asked, “So you’re a freelancer. What do you really do?”

This year, I’m continuing this new tradition of taking a look back at the previous year as I begin a new one. 2015 was a year full of many professional and personal milestones for me, including the writing and publishing of my first book and the birth of my first child.

In 2015, I completed the following projects for clients:

  • wrote and published a 240-page book, Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org
  • wrote 65 blog posts/articles for websites
  • wrote 24 articles for magazines and newsletters
  • edited 49 magazine articles
  • wrote lessons for a new online genealogy course
  • wrote application generation campaigns for a higher education client (including 40 emails, 2 postcards, 4 letters, and 2 campaign website landing pages)
  • wrote product sales copy for 11 products
  • wrote and edited content for 15 miscellaneous projects (including nonfiction book editing and indexing and updating lessons for an online genealogy course)
2015 freelance projects

A visual summary of freelance projects for clients in 2015

I also wrote several blog posts on my own websites, maintained the @DanasCreative Twitter feed, and worked with my publisher to market my new book through activities such as developing a contact list, writing story pitches to publications, writing blog posts, and setting up an Amazon.com author page and a GoodReads author page. In addition, I took maternity leave to get to know my new daughter.

As I look back, I again feel blessed to have had many amazing opportunities this year. Thank you to all of my clients for allowing me to work on your projects. It is a pleasure to serve my clients, and I look continuing to meeting their writing and editing needs in the coming year.


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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How to Attach Records to Your FamilySearch Family Tree

FamilySearch.org has an awesome tool that lets you attach historical records you find on FamilySearch.org to your FamilySearch Family Tree. When you find a record, you’ll launch this tool when you select the Attach to Family Tree button.

This tool offers you many options for attaching the record not only to the person you were searching for, but also to other family members in your family tree. Use the diagram below to become acquainted with each part of the “attaching” tool, so you know what to expect when attaching records.Attaching records to family tree

1. Person of Record and Spouse. This shows the person on the record you found and the information from the record.

2. Selected Person and Spouse. This portion of the screen shows the information on that person that’s already in the family tree, so you know what new information to attach or old information you’ll be confirming by attaching the source. Looking at the information in this column can help you confirm the record truly is a match to your ancestor.

3. Tag Events and/or Add to Source Box. Check or uncheck these boxes to add the information from the source into your family tree and/or to your Source Box.

4. Reason to Attach Source. Type in the reason why you know this source is correct for this person, then click the Attach button. After you attach the record, you’ll see a detatch icon in the center of the listing. If you made a mistake, you can click that link to detatch the record from the person’s family tree entry.

5. Attach link/paper clip icon. For other family members listed on the record, you’ll see an Attach link/icon. You can attach the record to those other relatives’ records at the same time you attach it to the record of the initial person you searched for.

6. Children on the record. Link children on the record to the couple in your family tree by clicking the Attach link in the Children on Record/Children From Family Tree section. The information on children already contained in the family tree is listed on the right, and new information from the record is on the left.

7. Change. Clicking this link lets you change the focus person, meaning you could change the focus person from the mother listed on the record, to the child, for example.

Learn more about using FamilySearch Family Tree in the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org.


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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4 Tips for Organizing Your FamilySearch.org Source Box

If you’re like me, you enjoy having access to millions of free genealogy records on FamilySearch.org, and you may even find yourself having déjà vu as you conduct record searches. When I first started using FamilySearch.org, I didn’t really use its Source Box tool, but I’ve come to find this tool essential in my research.

The Source Box allows you to save records you find in searches.

Adding a Source

You can save records you find on FamilySearch.org to your Source Box

Use these four tips to better organize the items in your FamilySearch.org Source Box.

Source Box info

You can change the Source Title, file it in a certain folder, or add Notes when saving a record to your Source Box.

1. Adjust the title, if necessary, when saving a record.

FamilySearch.org automatically puts in a Source Title for your record based on the collection it was found in and the name you were searching for at that time. For example, one of their titles may read something like: Caroline Hachman in entry for Ferdinand Schmitt and Catherine Geber, “Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934.”

If this won’t help you find the record again later, change the title when you initially save it. Perhaps you could change it to say “Caroline Hachman in Marriage Record for Ferdinand Schmitt and Catherine Geber.” You could add the specific record date or location, too.

Remember to be consistent in how you label each record you save to your Source Box. Just like when you save file to your computer, it’s easiest to find them later if you use a consistent file-naming structure.

2. Use the Notes field.

When saving a record to your Source Box, there’s a field for Notes. Input any information you think will be helpful, such as what search terms you used to find the record, why there’s a difference in the name spelling on the record and the name you use for your ancestors (such as Susan in the record, if Susanna was your ancestor’s name), or other family members included on the record.

3. Create folders.

The default is to put all the records you save in one long list of sources. If you alternate between the families you’re researching, you’ll get a mix of records and families in this list. To help you find sources saved when you return to the site later, create folders in your Source Box.

For example, create a Source Box folder for each family surname you’re researching, or create folders for each record type, such as Censuses or Vital Records. When you save a record to your Source Box, you’ll see a drop-down menu of all your folders, and can choose to save it in the appropriate folder. You also can move previously saved sources into your new folders.

In addition, you may want to create a folder where you can save records that need more investigating to determine if the record is actually a match for an ancestor in your family. For example, you could create a folder called Needs Investigating. Once you finish digging into those records further, you can delete the source, move it to the appropriate folder, and/or attach it to your FamilySearch Family Tree.

4. Attach the source to your family tree.

If you didn’t attach the source to your family tree prior to saving it to you Source Box, no worries! You can attach a source in your Source Box to your family tree by clicking on the record in the Source Box.

A box will pop up, and then you can simply click on the record link. From the record page, click the Attach to Family Tree button and click the Attach or Add links to add the record to the appropriate people in the tree.


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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How to Find Unsearchable Genealogy Records on FamilySearch.org

Did you know that when you search the Historical Records collection on FamilySearch.org that you’re searching only a fraction of the website’s digitized records? That’s because many record image collections on the site are unindexed, and thus not included in search results.

So, how do you access these records? You need to browse through the records online, sort of like browsing through microfilmed records.

To find a record collection to browse, go to the published list of all Historical Records collections on FamilySearch.org. You’ll see that the unindexed collections don’t have a record count in the Records column; instead, it has a link to Browse Images. Use the filters on the left to narrow the options by location and/or record type, depending on what you’re looking for.

After you click a Browse Images link, you’ll be on a landing page for a particular collection. It will give you a brief description of what’s included in the collection. You can then click on another “browse” link to get to the actual images.

unindexed records

Landing page for an unindexed records collection on FamilySearch.org

In most cases, FamilySearch.org organizes the records by location, record type, date range, and/or alphabetically by name. This can help you focus your browsing on sections of the collection that are most likely to include your ancestor.

unindexed records

Sample of browsing options for a record collection on FamilySearch.org

For more tips and strategies for browsing unindexed records on FamilySearch.org, see the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org.


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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