Find My Ancestor Blog

From Disaster to Organization

Genealogy conferences are great. At conferences you get to meet new people, reunite with friends, learn from some of the most knowledgeable people in the field, learn organization techniques, and so much more.

One of the things that is so great for me about going to conferences is that it gives me the motivation to get organized and stay organized. As most of us know, that organization isn't a permanent thing. It may last for a while, but along the way we let things slide a little and before we know it, our desks are back to being so cluttered that it makes it hard to do any research.

Well, when I returned home on Sunday after Jamboree I looked at my desk and realized that I had let thing slide. It was so hard to find things on my desk and there wasn't even a spot to put my laptop I had to move things to the side to even make space for it.




What Kind of Documents Do You Search For?

There are so many documents and records that are available to genealogists to help us find our ancestors, but sometimes it is hard to know which documents to look for and which ones give us the most information.

Some of the most common records we search for are birth, marriage, death, census, and military records. As we do more research and learn new techniques we learn there are records and documents out there that we never would have thought of using to help us break down those brick walls.

We all have those specific records we search for because we know they can be a goldmine of information. Some of us treasure one record type over another because of the time it was created, where it was created, or because of who it is about. Many of us have a "checklist" of items we search for for each person we do research on. The question is, what records or documents do YOU use to find the most information about your ancestors? Why do you use those documents? Where can they be found? Are they available online, microfilm, or only in person at an archive? Do these documents cost money to access or are they available for free to everyone?

Please take a minute or two and give your input on what kind of records and documents are the most beneficial to your research. Use the form "Genealogy Checklist" to give your input.


New FamilySearch and Their Cloud Computing

Recently Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings blog had an interview with David Rencher, the Chief Genealogical Officer for In the interview Randy and David discussed the New FamilySearch(NFS) website and database. They talked about some of the process that has taken place for the NFS to become available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and how NFS is going to become available to non-members.

For quite a while we have been told that they are working on making NFS available to non-members but we have never been given an exact date. In January when I was in Mesa for the Mesa Family History Expo, Bryce Roper, Product Manager for FamilySearch, said that they were working on it. Then again in February at the St.George Family History Expo I asked him if there was any new information regarding when it would be available. This time he said that they were hoping for sometime this year. I wonder if any new developments will be announced next week at NGS? I will definitely keep you posted if I hear anything new next week.

Later on in the interview they are talking about some differences in their new "rollout" of NFS and David mentioned something that I think many genealogists don't agree with, including me. He states:
The other major difference is that it removes the need to have your own personal desktop data management software. You can manage all of your data now on New FamilySearch. Where I've used Personal Ancestral File for years on my laptop, I don't have to have my own Personal Ancestral File database any more. I can simply go to New FamilySearch and manage all of my content there. So that's a pretty radical departure from the way most genealogists have learned over the years to manage their data.
I noticed there were a couple of comments on this post, one by James Tanner and another by DearMyrtle. They pretty much both said that they don't think genealogists will give up their desktop databases anytime soon. I agree with them. Even though cloud computing is becoming the new way of storing data, I believe that there are a lot of people out there like me who want their own database that they can add media files to that they may not necessarily want shared with everyone on websites like or I know in my personal desktop database I have birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other documents that are "sensitive" information that the individuals would not want shared online and accessible to anyone and everyone. Granted, there are options in these online databases to decide on the privacy levels, but in the end I think it is safe to say that most people would still feel better knowing that the sensitive information isn't out there on the web but rather on their personal computer.

I am very interested in knowing how others out there feel about what David Rencher said in his interview. Do you think cloud computing will take over our desktop genealogy applications? How safe do you feel about putting sensitive information online even though you have set your "privacy filters" on these online databases? In your opinion, what are some of the advantages/disadvantages of storing your genealogy database online versus your personal computer?


Free Census Tools Online

This is kind of a "re-post" from Dick Eastman, but I figured I would post something about it just in case there are followers here and not Dick's site.

Earlier Dick posted an article on some free Census tools available online. I had never heard of this site so I went and checked it out. The gentleman who owns the site has made multiple Census spreadsheets for you to input your family data into that looks just like the Census. I downloaded them and tried them out, and they are great! I have been thinking about doing something like this for myself, but now I don't need to.

Some of the available downloads include:
  • U.S. Federal Census(1790-1930)
  • State Census
  • International Census
  • Cemetery Data
  • Passenger Manifest Data
  • Research Log
  • Family Group Record
If you have been looking for a good way to transcribe all the data from those census records or old family group records, I highly recommend you check out this site!

To learn more about Census Tools and download these forms, visit All forms are both Windows and Mac compatible.