Tuesday, July 12, 2022

July Meeting: Breaking 1850 Brick Walls

 Come and swap tips for getting past your 1850 brick walls. Your great-grandparents are out there waiting to be found.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

June Meeting: Genealogy Websites You Use and Why

28 June 2022 10:30 AM

Genealogy Websites You Use and Why

A round table discussion to compare various sites and share tips and tricks.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

May Meeting: Documenting Family in Google Maps

Google Maps isn’t just for finding directions. It is a great way to document your family’s journey. 

This live demonstration will show how to create a visual representation of family story migrations, with homesteads, pictures, and other helpful information. 


Requirements: What do you need?
My Maps – Google Maps
Base Maps
Save Map as Image
New Research


Babs Deacon is a retired IT consultant with over thirty years’ experience in managing large corporate and government projects. 

She is spending her retirement as an amateur genealogy zealot. She was the WikiTree.com USBH Documentation Team Leader and is a member of the Ocklawaha NSDAR. She has no affiliation with Google or Alphabet Inc.


What is required to create custom Google Maps?

1. Browser

Google Maps doesn’t require any software or app other than a browser such as:
Google Chrome™️
Apple Safari™️
Microsoft Windows Edge™️
It is important to use a browser rather than the Google Maps App
Browsers run on any device: PC/Mac/Laptop, Smart Phone, or Tablet

2. Google Account

Please setup a Google Account before or after the meeting. We will not have time to set up Google Accounts during the presentation.


How to Setup a Google Account “Gmail”
• It's Free
• Passport to all Google Apps and Sites

It isn’t necessary to use the @gmail.com for email
1. Go to Google.com
2. Create new Account
3. Use my current email address instead

• If you’d rather use a preexisting email address to sign in, you can link a non-Gmail email address to the account
• You will need to create a @gmail.com account but you won’t need to use it.

  • Enter your first and last names Choose a @gmail.com address
  • Write down your new @gmail.com address
  • Click the Show password box Choose a password
  • Write down your password
  • Fill in the rest of the fields to create the gmail account

April Meeting: Great Turnout!

April 26, 2022 

It was wonderful to return to in-person meetings and we'd like to thank everyone who participated. If you weren't able to join us, the helpful handout is below. We recommend downloading the pages for easier reading.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

 We're Back!

The Mount Dora Genealogy Group has returned to the W.T. Bland Public Library in Mount Dora for in-person meetings.

We're meeting every 4th Tuesday of the month.

Spring Schedule:

  • April 26, 2022 - Breaking Down Brick Walls in Your Family Tree
Round Table Discussion

  • May  24, 2022 - Documenting Family in Google Maps

Babs Deacon will present a live demonstration of using Google My Maps to track family migrations and events.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Family Tree Magazine

The Family Tree Magazine is available at no cost through Flipster if you have a W.T. Bland Public Library card. The instructions for how to access the magazine via Flipster is available for Android, OIS (Apple) and Kindle below. For help, please visit the Tech Desk inside the library.

- Click on the instructions below for an easier to read version -

How Facebook Can Benefit Your Genealogy Research

How Facebook can Further your Genealogy Research

Utilizing Facebook as a genealogical tool might seem odd to many people. A recent article in Family Tree Magazine stated that “70% of Americans used social media in 2017… and more than half of that number use Facebook.” What other tool would give you such broad access to other people? What other tool would help you break through a brick wall, decipher records, date photographs, seek advice, request obituaries and newspaper clippings, interact with distant relatives, find information on an ancestor and, maybe even a photograph? The possibilities are endless!

Let’s explore the many ways Facebook can benefit your research ~

#1 – Connect with your DNA matches who may post old family photos on their page.

#2 – Create a ‘surname’ or ‘family’ group page and share information, research and photos with distant relatives. There are 3 different types of group pages: Public: anyone can find it and join; Closed: will show up when people search for it but they must ‘join’ to see posts; and Private: only for those who are invited to join.

#3 -  Break through a brick wall by seeking advice and help from other genealogy buffs on various pages such as Random Acts of Genealogy, DNA Detectives and Free Obituary Lookups, to name a few. Post your question and other followers will offer advice and share their experience. Many will even assist by searching for a record you might be looking for or a newspaper clipping.

Use the search feature at the top of the page (see below) to find a previous post that may answer your generic question(s).

#4 – Seek advice or request help translating a record from a group page that specializes in a specific area of genealogy research such as ‘German Genealogy’ or ‘German Translation of Records.’ There are many groups for every country that you might be searching in. Post your question for other followers to respond to.

#5 – Join an established ‘Family Association’ group or page to interact with distant relatives and share information.

#6 – Follow Ancestry.com , FamilySearch.org, FindMyPast.com and MyHeritage.com Facebook pages to keep abreast of the latest news, search tips and sales on their websites.

#7 – Join a group or follow the pages of libraries, museums and genealogical societies for the areas where your ancestors lived. Use the site’s ‘search feature’ to search for your ancestors’surname. My search resulted in 24 postings for Tanguay family members.

*Tips when joining a group ~

~ Read the group guidelines so you’ll know the proper information and questions to post.

~ Type in your ancestor’s surname in the ‘search feature’ to find a previous post or photo about your ancestor.

~ Before you post a random question, use the site’s ‘search feature’ to see if that question has already been answered.

~ Post specific well thought out, brief questions with pertinent details for the best success in receiving a helpful response.

~ Browse through the questions posted daily to help others and to pick up tips from others in the group.

Additional Helpful Resources ~

Legacy Tree - Why you Should join a Genealogy Facebook Group: https://www.legacytree.com/blog/facebook-genealogy-group

Family Tree Magazine – Using Social Media for Genealogy Research: https://www.familytreemagazine.com/index.html%3Fp=27469.html

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

German & Prussian Genealogy

German and Prussian Genealogy
Plus websites for other European Countries

Prior to 1871 there was not a single unified Germany. The German empire consisted of a series of kingdoms, duchies, principalities, individual cities and an imperial territory. At this time, Germany was larger than it is today. At the end of both World Wars, the boundaries of Germany changed dramatically. Regions of Germany were distributed to France, Belgium, Poland, Russia and Lithuania.

There is no single, overall central German archive or repository that contains all of the genealogical records. The records can be found in the archives of different regions (states) or cities.

#1 -  Begin your Search

In order to begin your search for German genealogical records, you MUST know the NAME of the city and REGION where your ancestor was born in.

Why is this important? - For example, there are two cities in Germany named Rothenberg. One is in the region of Hesse and the other in Bavaria (Bayern). If you don’t know the city and region, you might be researching the wrong family line.

There are 16 Regions (States) in Germany: Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt), Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) Saxony (Sachsen), Bremen, North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen), Hesse (Hessen), Thuringia (Thuringen), Rhineland-Palitinate (Rheinland-Pfalz), Saarland, Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria (Bayern).

Note: Tips for discovering the city and region your ancestor was born in can be found at www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Germany._Finding_Town_of_Origin

#2 – German Records

The churches in Germany kept family records dating back to the 1500s and more in depth records beginning in the 1800s.  There are millions of German records, for various regions, on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, especially for the Lutheran churches. However, most of the records, especially those for Catholic churches, are contained in various archives located throughout Germany, and are not available online.

Once you have discovered your ancestor’s town and region of origin, it will be important to know if they were Catholic or Protestant, as the records are kept in separate archives.

A Google search can be done on the town and region to find the names of the parishes in your ancestors’ town of origin, and to determine the location and name of the archive where the records are kept.

#3 – Online Records

Ancestry.com – contains church records, as well as WW1 and WW2 records which list the names of parents and town of residence.
Family Search.org
Genealogy.net (compgen.de) – German site
My Heritage.com – Appears to be the choice of German people for conducting research and building family trees.

#4 – German Archive Records

If you haven’t been able to find records for your German ancestors online there are various ways to continue your search. The majority of German genealogical records are located in the many local and regional archives across Germany. There are two ways to access these records:

*The first would be to locate the archive where your ancestors’ records are located. To obtain those records send an email with a written request for baptism, marriage and death records for a specific ancestor. There will be a fee for the research and a copy of the record. This will be a slow process but a workable solution for finding the records that are not online.

Keep in mind that, depending on where your ancestor is from, records might be found in archives in France, Belgium, Poland, Russia or Lithuania as areas of Germany were distributed to these countries throughout history.  (For instance, I have found my ancestor’s records in the archives for the Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin in Alsace, France which are online.

*The second option would be to hire a professional genealogist, who is located in Germany, to perform the research and obtain the records for you. To locate a professional genealogist refer to the Association of German-speaking Professional Genealogists (https://berufsgenealogie.net.) Locate the area where you ancestor lived on the ‘map’ (https://berufsgenealogie.net/english/map.html) and choose a genealogist who lives near that archive.

#5 – Family History Books

Another alternative would be to search for a Orsfamilienbucher (OFB) loosely translated as a community genealogical history book which contains records for a specific town or city. Many towns have listed the history and records for their area which might contain several generations for a family who lived in that particular town. Genealogy.net contains more than 600 searchable OFB’s. Search FamilySearch.org’s catalog via ‘place-names’ for their collection of OFB’s at: https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog. An additional listing can be found here: Kirchenbuch Portal: www.kirchenbuchportal.findbuch.net.

Articles on “how to” search for German Genealogical Records:

Family Search ‘German Genealogy Wiki’ - https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Germany_Genealogy

Family Tree ‘Tips for Tracing German Ancestors’ - https://www.familytreemagazine.com/premium/tips-for-tracing-german-ancestors/

Legacy Tree ‘3 Essential Websites for German Family History  Research’ - https://www.legacytree.com/blog/3-essential-websites-german-ancestors

YouTube videos on German Genealogy:

Crista Cowan (Ancestry.com) ‘Top Tips for Beginning German Family History Research’ - https://youtu.be/5G7quTs_zno

James M. Beidler – ‘Finding German Villages for Genealogy and Family History’ - https://youtu.be/lj_nACJZt94

James M. Beidler – ‘Finding German Ancestors: Tips’ - https://youtu.be/1FfS7XS5EZI

James M. Beidler – ‘Step-By-Step Guide to MeyersGaz.org for German Genealogy’ - https://youtu.be/h2aLSvE_upY

Compgen.de – ‘German Genealogy’ - https://youtu.be/7r-p55scBOc

The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide ‘How to Trace your Germanic Ancestry in Europe’ - https://youtu.be/FZy_SS2Ht28

Additional Germany Genealogy Resources:

Google Translation to decipher words or sentences on German records (http://googletranslation.com)
Facebook – German Genealogy Records Transcription - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1454015278205406/
Facebook – The German Genealogist - https://www.facebook.com/GermanGenealogy/

Genealogy Websites for other Countries:

These websites may not be in English. To read them look for the English translation (either EN, English or a British flag) or download the Google Translate app in Chrome.

A comprehensive listing of archives around the world: www.archivschule.de/DE/service/archive-im-internet

A master search engine of European Archives: www.archivesportaleurope.net

French Archives (more than half of the French vital records on available on FamilySearch.org): The National Archives: www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

German Archives: FamilySearch.org has partnered with German Archives. You can find an index of the records available on FamilySearch.org and then go to the specific Archive to find the record.
Baden-Wurttemburg: www.landesarchiv-bw.de
Rheinland-Pfalz: www.landeshauptarchiv.de
Nordrhein-Westfalen: www.archive.nrw.de
German Center for Genealogy: www.staatsarchiv.sachsen.de/index.html

Poland Archives:

Church Parish Registers:
Archion: www.archion.de – Protestant
Matricula: www.data.matricula.info – Catholic

Netherlands Archives:
Wie Was Wie: www.wiewaswie.nl
Amsterdam Archives: www.archief.amsterdam
Open Archive: www.openarch.nl

Austrian Archives: www.archivnet.at

Ireland Archives:
Partial census from 1821 to 1851 and the 1901 and 1911 Census: www.census.nationalarchives.ie
Birth, Marriage and Death (church records): www.irishgenealogy.ie

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Holiday Traditions brought to America by Immigrants

Our December 18th meeting was a fun get together in which we enjoyed some European holiday treats while taking a look at American holiday traditions started by immigrants. The following is the handout for that meeting:
Most of what constitutes a “traditional” American Christmas was brought over to us by immigrants, beginning with the Germans. The Moravians and Protestant Germans were the first to do so in America in the 1700’s with a Christmas tree and gifts. By 1856, the practice of “Christmas trees” had become so commonplace in the United States that President Franklin Pierce erected one in the White House for the first time. 
During the 19th century, a torrent of German immigrants were streaming across the Atlantic and into New York. These immigrants brought with them more traditions that we associate with Christmas today, from songs (“Stille Nacht,” written in 1820 in Germany, and translated to english in 1859 as “Silent Night,” to the sending of Christmas cards, popularized by German immigrant Louis Prang who printed the first card with Christmas greetings on it in the U.S. in 1875.
The Germans would soon be displaced on the Lower East Side in New York by a flood of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe, who would also contribute mightily to our common observances of Christmas — a holiday they did not themselves celebrate. 
If you’re dreaming of a White Christmas, you might thank Irving Berlin, who penned the famous song. Berlin, born in Russia in 1898 of Jewish parents, came to New York as a child and began a prolific songwriting career that generated many of the standards we still hum today, including “God Bless America” and “White Christmas.” 
Berlin was hardly the only Jewish songwriter to pen a Christmas classic: in fact, when the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers posted its list of the best 30 Christmas songs ever written in 2014, half of them (including seven of the top 10) had either a Jewish composer or lyricist. Another Russian emigrant, George Balanchine, would create one of our most cherished Christmas traditions, The Nutcracker ballet, in 1954.
The Dutch popularized the legend of St. Nicholas around this time, and Washington Irving introduced him to a more national audience. Through the imaginations of a few different writers and poets, St. Nicholas was slowly transformed into the jolly modern American Santa Claus with sleigh and reindeer.

Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in central Italy. Today, many churches and homes display a nativity scene during the holiday season.

The Answers are in the Details

Our November 27th meeting was about finding the answers you're seeking in the many details you've collected for an ancestor.  There's not always that "one" definitive record that provides you with the answer you're seeking. It's a matter of collecting each and every detail possible, and then using them to build a case of proof. 

All of us have run up against a brick wall in some way or another in our genealogy research. A brick wall provides us with an opportunity to enhance our research skills. It’s the time to dig deeper into Ancestry and Family Search OR search for information on other websites OR get out into the field to dig up clues the old-fashion way.

Following are 8 tips for finding information in the details of your research:

#1 - Review and study the details in the ‘actual image’ of a record. It’s quick and easy to look at the transcribed record to determine if it’s your ancestor, but there are many more details to be gleaned by looking at the actual record. Don’t be in a hurry! Look the record over well.

#2 - Add all the details you find to your ancestor’s page. Include even the mundane details that you don’t think are important such as: godparents, witnesses at a wedding, the names of all people listed on the census record living with your family such as a grandparent, nieces, nephews, a boarder that a daughter might eventually marry, etc.

#3 - Expand your tree out to include siblings and their spouses. By adding siblings you will eventually begin to find information about your own family through the families that they married into. This is a suggestion that most people will not do! Yet, it is one of the best way to collect more information about your own family and to create a larger picture of their lives.

#4 - Study other people’s family trees. Note, that I said “study” and not “copy” what other people have on their family tree. Lots of hints can be found on other’s trees and then you can research the information yourself, or file it away until you’ve collected more information that might substantiate or disprove it.

#5 - Seek outside help. Communicate with the individuals who share some of the same ancestors as you, as well as your DNA matches. You might look at their trees and think that they don’t have the information you’re seeking but keep in mind that people do not put all of their information on their trees. They might have one record or a small bit of history that helps connect the dots for you.

If you’re frustrated or don’t know how to interpret a new piece of information, bring it to our Genealogy Help Desk on Wednesdays between 10 and 2, or post it on a FaceBook Group page. A fresh set of eyes just might pick up on some small detail you’ve missed.

#6 - Learn how to search in the area where your ancestor is from. Google the Internet for a genealogy wiki page (generally a FamilySearch.org page) that will provide information on how to do genealogy research in a county, city, state or foreign country. The more you know about the records available, the more successful you will be.

#7 - Be open to a different family story. Too many people stick hard and fast to the stories that have been handed down through the generation. I’ve seen the records prove these stories wrong many, many times. There’s usually some grain of truth in the stories but the details and many of the big events are not fully accurate. Remember, people kept family secrets - - a secret!

#8 - And, most important - - Review, Review, Review. If you’ve listed all the small details you’ve discovered in your research on your ancestor’s page it will make it easy for you to continue to review it over and over again. Look at the individual details and then sit back and look at the ‘big picture.’ Does it all work together? Does it make sense? Is something out of place?

We’re all looking for that one record that will provide us with the one piece of evidence we’re seeking. In actuality, we might need to take the small details and build a case to find the answers we seek.

November 2018

The following is a case study of how I found the hometown of my ancestor in Alsace, France without actually finding a record that provided me with the name:

Case Study of the Search for Alois and Regina (Meyer) Walter’s town of origin in Alsace, France

Background: Alois (Aloysius) and Regina were a quiet, hardworking German farm family that arrived in New York in 1840, stayed briefly in Buffalo, NY and then settled in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I searched high and low for a U.S. or Canadian record that listed the name of their town of origin in Alsace without success.

I feared I would not be able to find the “one” document that listed their town of origin, so I decided I would expand the family tree out to include all of their children and the families they married into. At least if I could not find their town of origin, I would write their history in Canada and eventually, the United States.

The Details leading to their hometown in Alsace, France

Detail #1 – Reviewed the Records & Documented the Details: I reviewed all of the records I had found on them looking for every little detail and added it to their ancestry page.

Detail #2 – Expanded the family lines of Alois & Regina’s children: When expanding their lines, I came across a lot of information on the Walter Family from books written by families they married into. A review of these family trees indicated they came from Eberbach-Seltz in Alsace, but there were no records listed proving this. I was reluctant to accept this without any substantiating documentation. I contacted some of the people and asked where they found this information. Unfortunately, they had copied it from another family tree. I never did find the tree they copied it from.

Detail #3 – Searched the Internet for other sources of information: While searching the Internet for any bit of information about this family, I came across an individual whose family history blog had the names of the cities his Alsatian ancestors originated from. We did not share any common ancestors, but I was interested to know how he had found the names of his ancestors’ towns of origin. I contacted him via email and he told me that the Alsace records for the Bas-Rhin area were online. He even located a birth, census and marriage record for Alois and Regina, from Eberbach-Seltz, for me. I was excited that this could be my family but without more proof I was hesitant to just accept it.

I looked at the Bas-Rhin, Alsace records website and discovered they were in French. I was able to use Google translate and view them in English but soon became frustrated with trying to figure out how the website worked, so I procrastinated on learning how to use it.

Detail #4 – Received an email from a distant relative: Two months ago, a distant relative, Mike Walter, discovered my tree and contacted me via Ancestry. He wanted to tell me that I have the wrong passenger list record for Alois. The one I found had him arriving in 1938. He sent me a copy of the record he found on EllisIsland.org for Alois & Regina Walter, as well as Regina’s brother Martin Meyer with an arrival date in New York, NY of January 1, 1840.

Detail #5 – Searched the Bas-Rhin Website: With this new information, I figured out how to search the Bas-Rhin website (www.archives.bas-rhim.fr) for the town of Eberbach-Seltz. I located Alois’ birth record and their marriage record dated Sunday, January 5, 1840. Now I had a new dilemma. The passenger ship record indicated an arrival date of January 1, 1840. The Bas-Rhin Archive indicated a marriage date of January 5, 1840.
Detail #6 – Reached out for help: Not knowing where to go from there, I posted my dilemma on the Facebook group page for “Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness” asking “how do I know which record is accurate?” One individual found the same record and the entire ship’s passenger list on the Ancestry website. It never showed up as a hint or in any searches for me because Alois’ (Aloysius, Aloys) name was listed backwards as being: Walter Aloys.

She flipped back through the pages to the first page of the passenger list and discovered that the three of them had arrived on June 18, 1840, and not the January 1, 1840 date as specified on the Ellis Island website. That dilemma was now resolved. They married January 5, 1840 in Alsace and arrived in New York harbor, five months later, on June 18, 1840.

Detail #7 – Searched the Bas-Rhin Website:  I continued to search through the Bas-Rhin website (www.archives.bas-rhim.fr) for the town of Eberbach-Seltz. As I browsed through the birth and marriage records, I started to recognize some familiar names that I had come across on other people’s Walter family trees: Arth, Stoltz, Meyer, Walter and Illig. My plan was to see if any of these or other Eberbach-Seltz families had traveled on the same ship with Alois and Regina, or had lived near them in Canada. The ‘illig’ name stood out because I remember it was such an unusual surname. At first, I thought it was an abbreviation for ‘illegitimate’ but realized that didn’t make sense. I knew the exact record I had seen that name on. It was the baptism record for Alois and Regina’s first born child Bernard born in Buffalo, NY shortly after their arrival. Upon reviewing that baptismal record, it was confirmed that Bernard Illig and Marguerite Lorentz were his sponsors.

I searched the Alsace records for them and found birth records for both of them. At this point, I was feeling very confident that both Alois and Regina were from Eberbach-Seltz. When I jotted down the names of the parents of Bernard Illig, I discovered that he and Alois’ mothers have the same surname. At this point, it is unknown to me if they are sisters or cousins.  These records also reflect that the families mentioned above have inter-married many times in Alsace. Bernard Illig also immigrated from Buffalo, NY to Ontario, Canada and lived in the same area as Alois and Regina.

The records also revealed that Alois & Regina are from the district (Arrondissement) of Wissenbourgh located in the town (Commune) of Eberbach-Seltz in the region (Department)of the Bas-Rhin (lower Rhine) area in Alsace, France.

Ending Note: Hopefully, this case study and the ‘eight tips handout’ will open your mind to the possibilities of ways you can find missing pieces of information in your own family tree. It NEVER occurred to me that I might be able to locate their home town by putting details together and asking strangers for help. Your unanswered questions might be different from mine but I do believe the same tips will be beneficial in any situation.

Using Google to Enhance your Genealogy Research

Our September 25th meeting was an introduction to:

Using Google to Enhance your Genealogy Research

Google has many features that a family genealogist can use to find genealogical records, assist with organization or enhance their family tree and history. Today, we’ll take a basic look at 7 of their top features.

#1 - Google Search Engine

We all know that Google has a powerful search engine. You can harness that power by knowing a few tips to maximize and streamline your results.

* Start by searching for information on “how-to” search for genealogy records in county, state or country.

Examples:        Ontario Canada genealogy records
                        Waterloo, Ontario, Canada genealogy records
                        How to search for genealogy records for Ontario, Canada
                        Genealogy records for Westmoreland, Pennsylvania
                        Bas-Rhin Alsace genealogy records

* Create some basic search phrases to help find information on your ancestors:

Examples:        Sebastian Phillips Family Tree
Alois & Regina Walter in Ontario in the late 1800’s
Walter Family Genealogy in Ontario 1840-1950
Alois Walter Family genealogy in Ontario
Alois Walter Alsace early 1800’s

If you’re not getting the results you want:

Tip #1 - Add the county where they lived.

For instance, instead of: Alois & Regina Walter in Ontario in the late 1800’s  
Change it to:                  Alois & Regina Walter in Waterloo Ontario Canada in the late 1800’s  

By adding the name of the county “waterloo” you will streamline the results to a specific area.

Tip #2 - Shift the order of the words.

For instance, instead of:          Genealogy records for the Bas-Rhin area of Alsace
Change it to:                           Bas-Rhin Alsace genealogy records

Tip #3 – To search a specific time period type your phrase like this:

Alois Walter in Waterloo Ontario Canada 1840..1915

Tip #4 – Search for ‘family genealogy or history’ blogs with these phrases:
Alois Walter family genealogy blog
Walter Family history blog
Alsace France genealogy blog

When you use the phrases listed above, with targeted or unique words such as “Alois” or “Ontario,  you can expect better results.

Note: There are many ‘genealogy’ blogs that provide educational benefits for all of us who are learning new tools and tips for researching our family trees. A brief list of some can be found on our webpage, or you can search for some in the towns, states and/or countries where your family research takes you.

Tip #5 – If you use quotation marks around your search phrase, the search will produce information with that exact phrase in its contents. For instance, if I Googled for “Alois & Regina Walter” then the search results will only produce websites, blogs or documents with that exact phrase in it.

Tip #6 – If you find a particular website or blog that contains information relevant to your family history, you can find more relevant websites by using the following phrases in the Google search engine box:


For a definition of a word, or in this case an occupation, enter the following phrase:

Examples of other types of search phrases:

Look for specific records - If you know your family’s religion, you can search for churches in the area where they lived in hopes of finding records that aren’t on Ancestry.com. A typical search phrase might be: Catholic Churches in Alpena Michigan in the late 1800’s

Broaden your search  - The search phrase - Tanguay families in Michigan early 1900’s – found a lot of old message boards. While these boards aren’t in use that much these days, the information contained in the string of messages can prove quite helpful.

Additional suggestions for creating ‘search phrases’

*      Keep your search phrases simple, use focused key words
*      Tweak your search phrases by eliminating words or rephrasing them
*      No results? Get creative and use your imagination when creating a search phrase
#2 - Images

After looking at the website results that your search produced, click on ‘Images” on the Google Toolbar. Some helpful information under ‘Images’ might be:

1.      Photos of your ancestors, their cities of origin or residence, maps of towns, states and countries where your ancestors lived.
2.      Drawings (i.e. a sketch of the old European city that your ancestor hailed from)
3.      Old Postcards of the town your ancestor emigrated from or lived in within the U.S.
4.      Clip Art to use when writing your family history or your family tree (i.e. I use flags of countries my ancestor immigrated from in my Ancestry.com tree)

#3 - Google Books

There are 3 types of books under the Google Books section:

1 – Public domain books show full text and are downloadable to a PDF file
2 – Out-of-copyright books show a preview and some full text
3 – Copyrighted books sometimes show partial text. It might be enough to know if it warrants making a trip to your local genealogy library in search of the book or purchasing a copy online.

To locate information in a book about your pioneer ancestor, search for county, town and state histories of the area where your ancestor lived. Even if your ancestor wasn’t a pioneer ancestor,  his or her name might be mentioned in another book, such as a centennial book of a town.

#4 - Google Alerts

Google provides you the ability to set up an ‘alert’ of names or phrases of information you’re interested in. When a new item is posted online that contains the name or phrase of your choice, Google will send you an email of that item. This allows you to keep current with new information that might help in your genealogy research.

1 - To set up a Google Alert, sign into your Google account or go to ‘http://www.google.com/alerts’

Type in the names of your ancestors and/or a search phrase such as:
            “Alois * Walter”   
    “Alois * Walter” Waterloo “Ontario” 1840..1914

*      The ‘quotation marks’ for Alois Walter or Ontario will produce results that have these three words in them.
*      The asterisk * will produce results with a middle initial or without a middle initial.
*      The ‘1840..1893’ will produce results for anything with a time period between 1840 and 1893.

2 - Click the ‘Show Options’ box to select certain variables for your search.

3 - Click the ‘Create Alert’ button to finalize your Google alert.

Additional suggestions for ‘Google Alerts’ –
*      Google Alerts can always be edited or terminated
*      Establish an alert for each of your surnames

“Cooke” “Waterloo Ontario” 1840..1893
“Cooke” “Wilmot Ontario” 1840..1893

#5 - Gmail

Use your current Gmail account as a filing system for any emails you send or receive regarding your genealogy inquiries or communications. Simply, create a label for each surname that you’re researching. File all pertinent emails in your labeled files.

Use the ‘search feature’ in Gmail to quickly find a past correspondence that you’ve filed away.

#6 - Google Translate

Google offers a service that will translate a document or a webpage for the reader. To translate a document just enter “Google translate” in the Google search engine box. Two text boxes will be provided and you will be able to choose which language you want to translate from and to. Either type in the information in a foreign language or cut and paste it into the first text box. Google will automatically translate the foreign words for you.

To translate a website into English, such as the www.Bas-rhin.fr website (which is the French archives for the Bas-Rhin area of Alsace, France), simply click on the two boxes located on the far right of the search engine box area where the web address is shown (one box is black with a ‘G’ in it, while the other box is white with an ‘R’ in it) and select ‘translate.’ The webpage will automatically translate to English and you’ll be able to maneuver around it in search of records.

#7 - YouTube

Yes, YouTube is not only owned by Google, but it’s a GREAT resource for locating “how-to” videos on everything related to genealogy. When you get stuck in your genealogy research, it’s important to enhance your knowledge on how to search for records in specific states or countries. YouTube videos are a great way to learn more. You’ll find videos on a number of genealogy topics: DNA, chain migration, finding female surnames, courthouse records, searching oversees, etc. The list is endless, and the more you know the more successful your research will be!