Education & Methodology

Education – Honing Your Research Skills

Katherine Willson’s 16,000+ genealogically oriented groups currently on Facebook.
Pinterest – Find genealogy tips and resources
GeneaBloggers – lists of blogs. Need a way to keep track of new posts? Use Feedly, a free aggregator that will let you know when new posts are online.
Conference Keeper is a centralized calendar of upcoming free (if you watch them live) webinars that extends months into the future.
AmericanAncestors- The New England Historic Genealogical Society has a variety of archived webinars online and free to view.
Board for Certification of Genealogists – Even if you aren’t going for certification right now, there are links to many tips and resources on the home page. Their webinars are housed at Legacy Family Tree Webinars (see below) and are free to view any time.
Evidence Explained – Need help with citing your sources? Elizabeth Shown Mills’ website is the place to go. Check out all the Quick Tip lessons.
FamilySearch Research Wiki– FamilySearch provides multiple supports for genealogy education. The wiki is a fabulous, underused resource.
Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Live webinars are free to all; archived webinar access is by subscription.
National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair – This U.S. virtual conference is held each fall. Watch their calendar for upcoming virtual genealogy fairs.
YouTube– There are literally thousands of genealogically related videos on this site. Search for a topic and see what comes up. Be sure to search both “genealogy” AND “geneology” as the word is often misspelled.

By Tuition, Subscription or Membership:

National Genealogical Society – NGS provides many resources, from a first class publication to educational courses to a yearly annual conference.
New England Historic Genealogical Society – This is the oldest genealogical society in the U.S. Although its focus is on New England, the library also has significant holdings for New York and other places. Online courses are also offered.

College and University Courses:
Boston Universityoffers a Genealogical Research Program online
Brigham Young University – offers a bachelor’s degree in Family History (classes in Provo)
BYU – Idaho – offers a certificate in Family History online

Institutes, which are multi-day intensive programs:

Applied Genealogy Institute
Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh – aka GRIP
Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research – aka IGHR
Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy – aka SLIG

Genealogy Conferences:
RootsTech – the world’s largest genealogy-technology conference held in late February in Salt Lake City, Utah
National Genealogical Society – yearly, moves around the U.S.
Conference Keeper –  links to upcoming genealogical and historical conferences and events.

Building a Personal Genealogy Reference Library – Suggestions:

Courthouse Research for the Family Historian: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures by Christine Rose, CR Publications, 2004.
Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 4th Edition by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2024.
The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger, Family Tree Books, 2016.
The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors by Marsha Hoffman Rising, Family Tree Books, updated in 2011.
Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose, CR Publications, 2009.
Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, NGS Special Topics Series, 2013.
Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses by William Dollarhide, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995.
Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Co., 2018.The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 4th Edition, by Val D. Greenwood, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2017.
The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, Ancestry Publishing, 2006.
19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide by Gary W. Clark,, 2013.

Genealogy & Technology

It is not wise to have your one and only family tree on an online site. Why? If it is a subscription site and you decide not to renew, you will be able to view your tree but NOT ACCESS any of the images you have attached to it. If you save images directly to an online tree and the link goes bad, you have lost the image. If the website contract ends with a database provider, the database can disappear overnight and, with it, goes your images. Lastly, if the image came from someone else’s tree and they decide to take it down, you again will lose the image or document as the link will be broken.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use a home-computer based software program as your main family tree. ALWAYS,  ALWAYS, ALWAYS save online images and documents to your own computer and rename the file into a format you like. By following these two steps, you will maintain control of your personal family tree/s.

Genealogy Software Programs:
Ancestral Quest 16–PC and Mac, has a free version
Brother’s Keeper – PC only, has a free trial version
Family Historian 7– PC only, 30 day free trial, based in UK
Family Tree Maker 2019 – PC and Mac, no free version
Heredis 2024– PC and Mac, no free version, based in France
Legacy 10– PC only, free with access to all the bells and whistles!
RootsMagic 10–PC and Mac with MacBridge, free standard basic version
Reunion– Mac, no free version that I see

Collaborative Universal Tree Sites:

Host Your Own Family Tree Site:
TNG – The Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building

Finding Digitized Books Online:
Google Books
Google Scholar
HathiTrust Digital Library
Internet Archive eBooks and Texts
Free Irish Genealogy Books Online
Open Library
The Online Books Page

Reference Tools

Thank you to my young reader, Lily, who alerted me to the links for Genealogy for Kids and Researching Your Family’s History from Ships Passenger lists!

Census Enumeration Districts
Cousin Calculator
Cousin Relationship Chart
Genealogy for Kids: Building a Family Tree
Genealogy Research Forms
Geographic Names
One-Step Webpages by Stephen Morse
The Inflation Calculator
Linkpendium – 10,000,000+ links to worldwide online resources for genealogy
Researching Your Family’s History from Ships’ Passenger Lists
Tombstone Birthday Calculator
U.S. Dollar – Value Then and Now
What Does That Say??? Deciphering Old Handwriting
Finding Living PeopleAnyWho, Facebook, FamilyTreeNow, PeopleFinders, Pipl, White Pages, ZabaSearch

Writing/Research Organization

Creating a Genealogy Research Plan Like a Detective – Excellent article on ThoughtCo.

To record stories/information:
Audacity – free version to record stories, thoughts or whatever else you may want.

To create visual stories to share:
Adobe Spark – create stories and videos to share; free & easy to use
Sway – Microsoft product similar to Adobe Spark; create and share stories; free and easy to use
PowerPoint – for slide presentations, available with Microsoft Office

Using timelines to tell family stories:
HistoryLines – a subscription site at which you can enter information about ancestors and an interactive timeline in historical context appears.
Timetoast – Use a timeline to organize research about a specific person or family or time period.

Apps for telling family stories (both free and fee):
Cozi – online family organizer, free
Legacy Stories- write, record and curate your family history online and share
StoryWorth- weekly questions are sent out to family members and then collected into a keepsake book

Mind Mapping Tools:
MindMappingSoftware – Mind mapping is similar to story boarding, except that mind mapping helps your create streams of related thoughts that you might like to integrate into your story. Story boarding is more akin to arranging those thoughts in a logical fashion allowing the story to be told in an interesting way.
Coggle – mind mapping and collaboration

Note taking:
Evernote – cloud-based note taking program, which can also be used for collaboration/sharing; free with limitations on two devices
Live Scribe – smart pen for cloud note taking
OneNote – Microsoft product similar to Evernote

Reading old script:
BYU’s Script Tutorial – Learn how to read old script in 8 languages

Transcribing Digital Images:
Jacob Boerema’s Transcript – freeware program to help you transcribe text in digital images

Scrivener – is a program available for both Windows and Mac that helps you organize your thoughts through story boarding to produce a well written family history. There is a free 30 day free trial available (30 days of use, not 30 calendar days), but then it must be purchased.
Trello – an app that allows you to organize and share your work; free

Research Analysis and Logs:
Clooz – document analysis program for family historians; free 2 week trial
Custodian 4 for Family Historians– database software which helps you to store, index and organize information
Evidentia – 14 day trial version available; user can collect information, analyze evidence, highlight missed connections
Zotero – free online program to collect, organize, cite and share info

NOTE: Many genealogy software programs include research logs, sometimes categorized as “To Do” lists.

Create source citations:
BiBMe – free site to create citations, save and store bibliographies
Citation Machine – This site will generate citations in multiple formats.
Cite-Builder – free and premium versions to create source citations
Citing Archival Sources – Lakehead University’s site
Easybib – free/subscription, depending on the style of citation that you want to create. Non-MLA format is by subscription. Subscription is also required if you want to save and store your work on the site.
Evidence Explained – Elizabeth Shown Mills’ site that is a companion to her book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace.
Google Docs Template – Cite your sources using Thomas MacEntee’s ready-to-go template.
Ottobib – If you have the ISBN number for a book, it will create the citation for you; free
Record Seek – creates source citations from the web
Zotero – describes itself as “free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.”

Organize your personal library:
Library Thing – online catalog of books in your home library and more

Images and More Images

Web Clippers:
Evernote Web Clipper – This web clipper is part of the note taking system.
Irfanview – This is the program used in the Family History Library and the Family History Centers
One Note Web Clipper – This web clipper is part of the note taking system.
Screen Hunter – Free online clipper which is easy to use. There are also paid upgraded versions with more functions.

Editing Images:

  1. Adobe Photoshop – The program to use if you have major work to do on digital images. If you don’t have an older version on your home computer, currently this program is by cloud subscription. There is a Mac version.
  2. Adobe Photoshop Elements – This program can still be purchased. There is a Mac version.
  3. Snagit – This is much more robust than the free editing tools, but not as powerful as Photoshop or Elements.  There is also a Mac version.
  4. ACDSee Photo Software – Available for PC and Mac with three price ranges, depending on your needs
  5. PicMonkey – Utility program to edit photos. Subscription is offered both monthly and yearly.
  6. Fotor – Mac free photo editing program
  7. Be Funky – Another free photo editing program
  8. Pixlr – Free program to add a vintage feel to your photos
  9. UMarkOnline – Add a watermark to your photos. Free version.

For those who want to rename digital files and you have lots of them, there are two tools which have been mentioned to me. Both are PC only:

  1. Rename Master
  2. Bulk Rename Utility

Online Ancestor Photos:
Google Images – Images can be searched in the traditional way, using a surname and/or place. But there is another way. Notice the camera on the right side of the search box? Clicking on the camera allows me to upload an image of my own. Google will then search for a matching image! If anyone else has the same image uploaded to a website, Google will find a match for me.
TinEye –  like the Google images camera, is a reverse image locator. Just upload your image to the search box.

Dating Old Photos:
Langdon’s List of 19th and Early 20th Century Photographers – If you are looking for information about early photographers, this is a good American list.
Photographers of Great Britain & Ireland 1840-1940 – Here’s a website covering British photographers.

Public Domain Images:
If you need images to tell your stories, here are some websites that provide images that are in the public domain.

Whenever using images that are not your own, be sure to check for usage restrictions.  It’s the user’s responsibility to determine whether an individual image may be used for publication.

American Antiquarian Society
Art Institute of Chicago
Carol M. Highsmith Archives of Photos – Library of Congress
U.S. State Digital Archives – Search “name of state digital archives.”
U.S. Public Library Digital Archives
– e.g. NY Public Library
Digital Public Library of America
FamilySearch – FamilySearch policy – When someone uploads an image, they are automatically giving unlimited license to all.
Flickr: The Commons
Library of Congress –Many (but not all) of the Library of Congress images have no restrictions. To be sure, however, click on the image for its description.
Civil War Photographs by Mathew Brady – U.S. National Archives
Morgue File
National Park Service
New York Public Library Digital Collections
Temple University Digital Collection
The Old Design Shop
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Wellcome Images
Wikimedia Commons

For questions about whether an image is public domain or with copyright restrictions, PublicDomainSherpa can help answer your questions.

Genealogy Tips & Family History