Saturday, February 20, 2010

Want to Access the Genealogy Fee Sites for Free?

Have you ever wished you could access some of those paid genealogy websites for free?  You can!  It is time for you to visit your local Family History Library.

Through the Family History Center "Portal" offered at most LDS Family History Libraries, including the Phoenix Family History Library, you can access all of these sites for free:

Find My Past -- this was my all-time favorite find through the Portal.  I do a lot of UK research, and this website can be pretty costly.  And, it is the only site who is offering access to the UK 1911 census.  I was very happy when I found that I could access Find My Past for free via the Portal.  I was able to find several ancestors in the 1911 census, which filled quite a few gaps in my husband's family tree.

Footnote - great for historic documents.  I have also uploaded historic photos to share with others via my free access login, but it is nice to be able to access their content for free through this Portal.

WorldVitalRecords - I had a start-up membership to this website a few years ago, but it didn't seem to grow as fast as I wanted it to, so I let my membership lapse.  I did miss getting the chance to check this site every now and then, though.  Now I can - through the Portal.  It now seems to have a lot more content too, and I have always appreciated the fact that the content was first-source type of records.  (I even found a recent newspaper article that mentioned my husband's name!)

I know the Portal used to offer access to Heritage Quest, but a couple of weeks ago it was not available.  Never fear - with my Phoenix Public Library card, I was able to get to Heritage Quest via their website - again for free.

These are my favorites, but I know there are more access points via the Portal.  I'll explore those other access points and report on them next Saturday - my day to work at the Phoenix Family History library!

Phoenix Family History Center 
3102 North 18th Avenue (Map it!  North of Thomas, East of 19th Avenue)
Phoenix, AZ 85015-5811
(602) 264-2825.
Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 9pm, and on Saturdays from 12-5pm.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The New Phoenix Family History Library is Open!

In October 2009, a new Phoenix Family History Library opened, located at 3102 North 18th Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona.  This library was the dream of Gene and Janet Carruth, created from three separate small family history libraries of the Phoenix East Stake and the Phoenix Stake.  The library offers computer-aided research (free!), as well as a wide selection of films, microfiche, and an extensive print library (over 5,000 reference books).

Join us on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 9pm, and on Saturdays from 12-5pm.

Phoenix Family History Center 
3102 North 18th Avenue (Map it!  North of Thomas, East of 19th Avenue)
Phoenix, AZ 85015-5811
(602) 264-2825.

Phoenix Public Library - What's Available to Genealogists? is sponsoring "52 Weeks To Better Genealogy," and I decided to work on Challenge #6 - Online Databases.  The challenge for this week was to visit your library's website and see if your card grants you access to online databases.  My main library?  Phoenix Public Library.

First, do you have a library card?  Sign up!  After you sign up and log on, click on the Research tab to get to this page:

You can browse by subject or index.  You can look at all Databases, Websites, or just the Magazines & Newspaper Index.  I selected to browse by subject “Family & Home” and these options were available:
  • Adoption 
  • Birth, Death Certificates & Obituaries, which showed 3 sources:
    • Arizona Republic 1999-Present (database, that takes you to ProQuest)
    • Mesa Regional Family History Center (web site – can search AZ Obituaries, Arizona Births and Deaths, Arizona Cemeteries (entire state, or by counties)
    • Obituary Daily Times (part of and
  •  Find a Family Member – led me to several options, and a new website I was unaware:  Obituary Links Page (
  •  Research Your Genealogy – took you to more genealogy website links such as, etc.
I then returned to strictly database searches, and learned the City of Phoenix Library has 105 online resources available.  I found the following sites helpful to genealogists:

Heritage Quest (obviously!).  Heritage Quest has information covering America since the late 1700’s, including census images (1790-1930), 25,000 family and local history books, Revolutionary War records, Freedman’s Bank Records, and PERSI (Periodical Source Index) covering 6,500 genealogical periodicals since 1800.

ProQuest Obituaries Online.  Over 10.5 million obituaries and death notices of Atlanta Constitution, Boston Globe, Chicago Defender, Chicago Trubine, Los Angeles times, New York Times and Washington Post.  1851-1994, depending on newspaper.

Residential Phone Directory – Reference USA:  120 million+ listings, searchable by name, location or phone number.

EBSCOhostWeb:  Searches 25 EBSCO databses at once, including the Bibliography of Native North Americans (1600’s to present - and has more than 132,000 citations for books, journal articles, essays, and government documents of the US and Canada), Newspaper Source Plus (1,500+ full-text newspapers, and 684,000 television and radio news transcripts).

Ancestry Library:  This confirmed to me that the library still offers, but only available when you visit the library.  (At least it is still free, if you can get on a computer at the library.)

Arizona Republic 1999-Present – Full text access, which is great for searching individuals, and especially obituaries.

Frankly, this exercise showed me several sites I should be including in my genealogy searches.  Hope you find this helpful as well.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Using Google for Genealogy, Post 4 of 4: Cool Google Items, Google Help

Cool Google Items and Google Help (Post 4 of 4):

Google Toolbar (download it to your computer):
  • Don’t have to go to “” to start your searches
  • Remembers websites you’ve visited
  • Highlight button – makes finding most relevant results easier
  • Search Site button (continue searching within one website only)
  • Can customize Google to fit your needs.
  • Remember to turn off tracking (don’t give google your search results).

Google Alerts – set up a search bot to search for you! Go to In the type field, you might want to include News, Blogs, Web, Video and Groups for genealogy searching.

Google Dictionary (Example: define:genealogy)

Google phonebook (Example: phonebook: carruth +Arizona)

Google location/maps search (Example: 7110 N Central Ave, Phoenix AZ – home of John McCain)


Google Help Central. (NOTE: Hard to find this page – you cannot find it by googling “google help central.”)

Google Cheat Sheet. (or type in google search: google cheatsheet)

Free Genealogy Search Help for Google: After I created a four-page outline on my tips for using Google for Genealogy research, I came across this webpage that helps do the work for you!  Enjoy.

Using Google for Genealogy Research, Post 3 of 4: Google Things to Remember

Things to Remember When using Google for Genealogy Research (post 3 of 4).

Abbreviations – avoid searching using abbreviations. Google may not know that PA means Pennsylvania, nor does it know that CO is an abbreviation for Colorado and County. And, remember some websites may have used old abbreviations: PA, Penn., Penna. Tip: This website has a list of Old-Style State Abbreviations:

Google doesn’t know Soundex. Include in your search additional spellings. (Example: Smith, Smyth, etc.)

Google spell checker – can offer alternative search words for you. (Example: a search for Meyers, Google will ask “Do you mean Myers?” You might want to search Myers too.)

Remember initials and nicknames when searching. Initials and nicknames are typical, so try searching W. F. for William Franklin, and Bill, Wm, Will for William.

Stop words. (NOTE: Google ignores “stop” words such as: the, or, not, and, will, etc. If you want these words to be included in your search results, use + (plus sign). (Example: John Parham +will)

Website link won’t open? Bypass the pop-up blocker. Some sites open links in new windows (or “pop up” windows). If at first it doesn’t open, hold Control button and select link again. (Control button allows you to bypass the pop-up blocker temporarily.)

Tip: Create a website research log. While searching online, use Word or Notepad to copy and paste website URLs (addresses). Use same search results later on, but use Google’s “Show Options” feature to search by date (to exclude previously viewed websites).

Using Google for Genealogy Research, Post 2 of 4: Google Features

Here's Post 2 of 4 of my class on Using Google for Genealogy Research:  Helpful Google Features.


Searching by date range. Search a range of years by using 3 periods between the years. (Example: obituary winterburn England 1920…1925).

Google can calculate on the fly: (Example: In the 1930 census, his age was listed as 75. Type in 1930–75, and Google will calculate his approximate date of birth = 1855.)

Similar word (synonym) searching. ~ (tilde): Finds synonyms (Example: Searching for ~genealogy, it will also find family history, family tree, etc.) NOTE: Some websites don’t use the word genealogy, but they do use words like “family history” and/or “family tree.”

How to get around “File Not Found” when you search (using cached pages): Hit the back button and look at your link for the “cached” copy. (Google takes a picture of each website and saves them, even though they may be later deleted by the website owner.) (See "Cached" to the right of the website listed in the image below.)
What is that “Similar” word underneath my search results?  (See "Similar" in the website address lited in the image above.)  This is GoogleScout, and it will help find sites with similar content without having to worry about selecting the right keywords. (Good for topic searching, not so much surname searching.) (Example: Dalton gang search takes you to “Similar” pages does give some more interesting websites you can search.)

“Show Options” feature: displays after you perform a search (see image below). Select Show Options and filter your search:
  • Types of files (great for getting to books or blogs)
  • Date: Can search by date, or enter a specific date range
  • All Results – can search web pages you haven’t visited yet (if History is enabled), and search by time periods types of data, time periods, web pages NOT yet visited (if your History is activated)
  • Timeline – great for finding old publications (Example: “John D Lee” search finds period newspaper articles on his trial as reported in the NY Times.)
  • Wonder wheel – great for finding relationships (Example: “John D Lee” shows descendants, Mountain Meadows Massacre, Joseph Smith, etc.)
    Google Advance Search – helps you to narrow your search using a fill-in form.  (See image above.)  Top features:
    • Date
    • Occurrences (can search anywhere in any website page (not just the title, the URL, etc.)
    • Domain (great for searching genealogy sites with large amounts of data. (Example: looking for that German word list at, type in: “ german word list.”)
    Specific searching of words in the Title of a webpage – use “allintitle:” Specific searching of words in the webpages – use “allinurl:” Examples:
    • Plain ol’ google search: Stollsteimer (27,700 hits)
    • Allinurl: Stollsteimer (2,810 hits)
    • Allinurl: Stollsteimer (6 hits)
    • Allinurl: Stollsteimer ~genealogy (8 hits)
    • Allintitle: Stollsteimer (3,790 hits)
    • Allintitle: Stollsteimer genealogy (40 hits)
    • Allintitle: Stollsteimer ~genealogy (39 hits)
    Found a great webpage? Search other websites that link to it. Use the link command (link:) along with the URL (website page) to find other sites linked to it. (Example: Dalton gang search showed one website called In the google search bar, type – to see sites linking to this website.)

    Having trouble finding something in a website? Search within it. Using the following command “site:” before your URL will allow you to search that specific site for the key word(s) you enter. (Example: to search all of for entries pertaining to “Carruth,” type: carruth

    The FIND button. Don’t forget you also have the FIND button in your internet browser to assist you when searching a word on a specific webpage (go to Edit | Find).

    Don’t forget to search for photos from the past. Click on Images on Google’s home page to search for photos. “Carruth” search of images (after weeding through the current photos) shows a website called that has many historical photos. In addition, there was a link underneath that said “find similar images” which resulted in more historical images. (Google also offers a “SafeSearch” feature – select OFF, MODERATE, or STRICT).

    Do a Google News Archive Search. Go to (Example: search “Levi Ward Hancock” reveals a newspaper article from 1997.)

    Google for Genealogy Research, Post 1 of 4: Google Basics

    I use Google quite a bit in my work (paying job), but I have had several great finds using Google for my genealogy research. I have to teach a class on using Google for Genealogy tonight, so here's my tips from the class. My four-page paper is a little long to put on a blog, so I'll split it into several posts.  This is Post 1 of 4:  Google Basics.


    Search key words only. Use key words when searching (not long phrases). Google only searches first 10 words.

    + (plus sign): Use plus sign before words that are absolutely critical to your search. (Example: George Lumpkin Morris +Arizona)

    - (minus sign or hyphen): Excludes that word from your search. (Example: Ford -car)

    “…” (quotation marks): Use for exact searching or phrases. (Example: “George Lumpkin Morris”)

    * (wild card or asterick): Use wild card when searching with quotes to find middle names. (Example: “john * smith” will find John A. Smith, John Allen Smith, etc.) Caution: It will not return the name John Smith (since there is nothing in between).

    The OR (all caps) operator. Google tries to search ALL of the words you type in your search query. So, if you are looking for other instances, use the OR operator.
    Examples: (1) “Samuel Gordge” OR “Samuel, Gordge” OR “Samuel * Gordge” AND (2) Myers obit OR obituary OR obituaries.


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