Genealogy 101: Finding websites

More tips on how to trace your family tree from Margaret Houben

There are a large number websites on the internet that are dedicated to genealogy, some are free, some you pay for.  All have their own pros and cons for joining or not, and depending on where your ancestors originate from, may or may not be worth visiting.

At the website genealogyintime.com, there is an article about the ‘Top 100 most Popular Genealogy Websites’ which is well worth bookmarking or printing off for anyone researching their family history.  It’s the list you want, not the article.  The list is on page three of the article and besides a link to each site, it includes whether or not the site is free and the country of origin of the website.  My favourite genealogy website is ninth on the list – geneanet.org.  While it is actually based in France, there are many, many names from the Netherlands to be found and it is where I upload my family tree for others to view.  An added plus for this particular site, is that it is free.  Oh, there is a paid version which allows for a few extra search options, but I’m cheap (or at least, not rich) and do not want to pay if I can help it.

The site I mentioned in my last article, genlias.nl ranks number 76 on the list and is also free – in fact you don’t even have to register with them.

For myself, 99 per cent of my relatives are from Europe.  On my dad’s side they are almost all exclusively from the Netherlands, and the majority of them from a little town called Sevenum in the province of Limburg.  On my mom’s side, one great-grandfather was from Denmark, the other three great-grandparents were all from Germany.  So for me, a site like ancestry.com (number one on the list), which concentrates highly on U.S.A. census, military, newspaper, and church records, is virtually useless, as none of my ancestors have lived in the U.S.A.

Ancestry.com is a great site if your ancestors emigrated to the U.S.A. in the 1700’s or 1800’s, and the site has divisions for many other countries including Canada, the U.K., Australia and so on, so if you can afford about $30/month, it may be worth paying for.  It does have a free search, but will not let you view the details of the results of your search without paying for the membership.

What I did was search for each of my mom’s grandparents by full names, to see if it would bring up any hits that sounded right – ie. that the individual found was born in Germany or Denmark around the right approximate year – for me – no hits that came close, so for me it would not be worth it.

I only just recently found this list of top genealogy sites and plan to work my way down the entire list.  Those that require a paid membership, I’ll see if they allow a free search or a free trial period and will test each of them out.  Of course, this list is just a starting point.  There are many more sites that the list doesn’t cover.

Then there is Facebook.  Facebook has multiple sites that are worth at least a look.  One such page is Ancestorville Genealogy, a page that I’ve only just recently found.  They are an active page with lots of posts, covering not only information about all sorts of people, but also tips on things like how to salvage old damaged photos.  They even do ‘chats’ on researching genealogy in specific cities. In the search bar at the top of the Facebook page, try typing in “genealogy”, “ancestry”, “family tree”, or the last name you are interested in researching, and browse through all the hits you get.  If you get lots of hits, you can narrow the list down by selecting ‘group’ or ‘page’ on the left of the list under ‘search filters’.

If you don’t have internet at your home, or if you only have dial-up, remember that you can book some online time at the Barriere Library.

If you are not very familiar with computers and want help, let me know, and I’ll meet you at the library (Friday evenings or Saturdays only); I’d be happy to help you with the first few searches until you get the hang of it.  You can reach me most evenings at 250-672-9330.