Find My Ancestor Blog

In the Right Place at the Right Time

Isn't it funny how sometimes we are in the right place at the right time?

The other day during lunch I decided to head over to the local bookstore. I go there quite frequently on my lunch hour to see if they ever get any new genealogy books that would be good to read. Unfortunately this bookstore does not have a great selection of genealogy books. I am also ways asking them why they don't get a better selection. They don't even have Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History by Megan Smolenyak. I think that book needs to be in every library and bookstore for those who are just beginning their family history. To prove my point, they could have easily sold a copy of it to a genealogy newbie that day.

When I was there looking to see if they had any new books in their collection, which they didn't, I decided I would look just a few feet away on another shelf where some of the writing books are located. Along with many other bloggers, I would like to improve my writing skills and learn new techniques to improve my writing and make it more interesting. As I was standing just a few feet away from the genealogy section, a man walked up to one of the customer support desks and asked where the genealogy section was. The employee pointed this gentleman over to where the books were located. As the gentleman approached the books he started to look through the small collection and browsed through a couple of them. Still standing there just a few feet away from him I couldn't help but ask him if he was looking for something specific. I also wanted to become acquainted with another fellow genealogist.

We started talking and he said he was just starting his family research and that he was looking for resources on where to find his Italian ancestry. I hardly have any knowledge of Italian history or resources where to find Italian documents. I asked him if he has looked into any genealogy blogs about Italy. He looked a little surprised when I mentioned this. I told him there were hundreds of genealogy blogs out there and each one had its special niche. I recommended him going to the GeneaBloggers website to find some blogs that might help him find resources as well as others researching their Italian roots.

As we were talking about GeneaBloggers he mentioned he had just barely subscribed to and looked around on there. He also mentioned how expensive was I immediately remembered how the latest issue of Family Tree Magazine had an article 101 Best Free Websites for Tracing Your Roots. I took him over to the magazine section of the store, pulled it off the shelf and showed him the article. I told him about some of the more well-known websites like Cyndi's List, WorldGenWeb, and FamilySearch that could help with his Italian research.

It was really cool being able to meet this gentleman and the coincidence it was to be there in the genealogy section at the right time to be albe to meet him and help him get a head start on his genealogy research.


Mac Genealogy – Genealogy Software for Mac

The following post continues the series Mac Genealogy. This series will help you learn of different applications, tricks, and lots of other great things that will help you with your genealogy research. As Macs become more and more popular, more genealogists are moving to Mac. This blog series will also help for those who are thinking of switching to Mac, but aren't quite sure - yet! If you haven't been following the series so far, be sure to catch up on previous posts.

As a genealogist, one of the first questions you are going to ask yourself about switching over to a Mac is what kind of genealogy database programs are available for Mac? Will the current software I have work on a Mac? These are very important questions to ask yourself because you of course want all of your hard work you have done on your PC to be able to work on your Mac.

Most genealogists today have some sort of database program to keep all their information about their ancestors. Depending on each individual software, these database programs can include features to records events in your ancestor’s lives like birth, marriage, death, etc. Some of the more complex programs will let you attach photos and videos directly to your ancestors and sometime the actual event in their life.

Now, programming is so different between Macs and PCs that most of the time one program that will work on one won’t work on the other. The software developers have to pretty much make two different programs of the same software. Each one has to have different code to be able to talk to the operating system. 

At the moment, there is no genealogy software that will work on both Mac and PC natively - at least not that I am aware of. There have been software developers in the past that have had both operating system platforms, but until the past few years it wasn’t worth it for developers to keep their Mac versions because they did not see the demand high enough. Over the last few years Macs have become more and more popular and so software developers have been making more apps for Mac and there has even been an announcement in the last few months by that they are releasing a Mac version of their Family Tree Maker software. They say this will become available later this year. To learn more about Family Tree Maker for Mac visit their website.
To see more screenshots of FTM for Mac, click here.
I am assuming that integration between the PC and Mac version will be pretty smooth. Users who wish to go from one to the other will probably have a simple “transfer” process without errors or issues. We will have to see for ourselves when is come out.

Now, if you are completely new to genealogy or you are looking for a different genealogy software to use on your Mac, there are quite a few choices out there for you. There are a few programs that are the most popular and well known for Mac.

These are some more genealogy programs for Mac:

Next week I will post reviews of the first three softwares I mentioned above (Reunion, iFamily, and MacFamilyTree)


Information and Tips from FamilySearch

FamilySearch recently sent out an Information and Tips email to family history consultants, family history center directors, and other church leaders.

Below are 3 resources for helping you in your family history efforts:

"1.       Modern technology provides blind individuals an easy method for working on their family history. The new.familysearch.orgWeb site can be accessed using the JAWS (Job Access With Speech) screen reader. Keyboard commands support signing in to the site, searching for ancestors, combining duplicates, adding new individuals, and clearing names for ordinance work. Blind individuals can also access PAF (Personal Ancestral File) using JAWS.   

You can find documentation on how to access with JAWS in the Help Center (from main menu, select Help Center,  and then use JAWS as your search term). Also, blind individuals can receive personal training on how to use from a FamilySearch Support missionary at 1-866-406-1830 or by sending an e-mail to  
 2.       A series of online interactive courses on how to read handwritten genealogical records in different languages is available Additional lessons for each of the courses are currently being developed. The courses provide instruction and practice in reading documents written in 11 different languages or scripts.
To access the training, go to www.familysearch.orgclick on the Library tab, click Research Classes Online, scroll down to find the Reading Handwritten Records series, and select the lesson you want to complete.

3.       FamilySearch has announced a new test site where anyone can go and see the next generation Web site being built test-drive the site, and give early feedback so that changes can be made before the new site becomes official. To access the new test site, referred to as “Beta FamilySearch,” go to"


"Who Do You Think You Are" Review

Recently I finished the book "Who Do You Think You Are" by Megan Smolenyak. 

At first, many people thought the book was just a text version of the TV show that was on NBC this past spring, but in fact, it is a beginners guide to genealogy.

Even though the book is only about 200 pages, I was very surprised at the amount of detail that was included. Writing a "how to" book on genealogy can be very difficult because there are SO many things that can be covered making the book into a number of volumes. But like I said, I was very happy to see the topics that were covered and the amount of detail that she covered. Of course, if you are wanting to go more in depth on the topics she covers, there are a lot of books, websites, blogs, and other resources.

The book includes chapters on preparing for you research, online research, and the importance of passing on and sharing what you find with others. She describes some of the most used and popular records such as birth, marriage, death, census, military, and immigration/emigration. 

One of my favorite things about the book is that Megan included a lot of websites, both free and paid, to find the records she was describing. I am always excited to find new websites I can search for records or information about a particular topic.

As I was reading the book I kept telling my parents what a great book it is for someone who is just getting started in genealogy. As soon as I finished it my mother started reading it so maybe me talking about it sparked a little interest in her!

Click here to learn more about Who Do You Think You Are. If you are interested in learning more about Megan Smolenyak, visit her website Honoring Our Ancestors website.