Are You Sure They Really Are Your Ancestors?

Family History Daily has a very interesting article on common mistakes we all seem to make.  As you know, family history research is a fascinating and rewarding hobby, and it’s getting more exciting all of the time. With new records and tools and research methods appearing every day, there are seemingly endless opportunities to explore and collaborate.

But, as most of us already recognize, there are also endless opportunities to make mistakes. And, in the connected world of online research, those mistakes can spread like wildfire.

One very important part of our family history research that can easily go awry is the connection between generations. More than any other area, this one is the most vulnerable to the kind of mistakes that can completely crush the accuracy of an entire branch of our tree.

To read the entire article and perhaps gain some insight into not making the all-to-common mistakes in connecting generations, please click here.

Good luck with your ancestor hunt!

Exploring the Hidden Features of Ancestry’s Image Viewer

Over the years Ancestry has made changes to its image viewer.  The latest change is one you just might not realize is there and if you are a long-time user you may be wondering where some features went.  If you are a new Ancestry user, you might thing the image viewer is a bit lacking. It turns out that some of the most powerful features of the image viewer are hiding behind a simple icon.

If you are looking at a census return image, it isn’t immediately obvious what you are looking at, even though the name may be highlighted in yellow.

That information (and more besides) is hidden behind one of the icons on the right-hand side of the page. Look below the green “SAVE” button and you’ll see several icons, including one that has a straight vertical line with an arrow pointing left. When you click that icon, you’ll get an expanded menu with more information and more options. On that expanded menu, you’ll get three tabs.

  • The Detail tab (as shown above) provides the information that was indexed for that record.
  • The Related tab has links to other records that Ancestry thinks pertains to that person.
  • The Source tab includes a source citation, information about where this image came from, and the ability to browse other years and locations in this collection (the options for browsing vary by collection.).

Good luck with your research!

Genealogy Around the Web – March 26, 2017

Which Genealogy Program Should I Use?

Windows computers will run almost any Windows genealogy program, such as RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, AncestralQuest, Family Historian, Family Tree Maker, and other Windows genealogy programs. It also will run almost any genealogy program that runs in a Web browser, such as: MyHeritage,, The Next  Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG), WebRoots, and similar programs.

Macintosh computers will run most any Macintosh genealogy program, such as Reunion, Mac Family Tree, Heredis, Personal Ancestry Writer II, or “PAWriter II,” Family Tree Maker (for Macintosh), and other Macintosh genealogy programs. It also will run almost any genealogy program that runs in a Web browser, such as: MyHeritage,, The Next  Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG), WebRoots, and similar programs.

Linux computers will run most any Linux genealogy program, such as GRAMPS. It also will run almost any genealogy program that runs in a Web browser, such as: MyHeritage,, The Next  Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG), WebRoots, and similar programs.

Chromebook computers will run most any Chromebook genealogy app as well as almost any genealogy program that runs in a Web browser, such as: MyHeritage,, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG), WebRoots, and similar programs.

iPad and iPhones will run most any Apple iOS genealogy program, including all genealogy programs listed in the Apple App Store.

Android smart phones and tablets will run most any Android genealogy program, including all genealogy programs listed in the Google Play Store.

Source:  Dick Eastman On-Line Genealogy Newsletter


New Collections at FindMyPast

Canada – FindMyPast has put online the Lower Canada census of 1842. This collection of some 46,000 records covers the Province of Lower Canada, which is basically the southern part of modern-day Quebec plus Labrador.

This census lists the name of the head of the household, whether they owned their own property, whether they were entitled to vote, occupation or trade, country of origin and total number of people in the household broken out by gender and age group. This collection can be searched by first name, last name, occupation, town and county. Access is by subscription. [Lower Canada 1842 Census]

For those who do not have a subscription to FindMyPast, this census is also available for free on FamilySearch.

United Kingdom – FindMyPast has added some 295,000 records to their collection of Anglo-Boer War military records. This database comes from a wide variety of sources (apparently some 470 different sources) and contains a wide selection of information, including medal lists, honors lists, award lists, casualty records, etc.

Most records in this collection list (at a minimum) the person’s service number, rank, unit and regiment. The records can be searched by first name, last name, service number, rank, regiment and keyword. Access is by subscription. [Anglo-Boer War Records]

Source:  Genealogy in Time


England and Wales  General Register Office Pilot Project Phase 3

The General Register Office is now at phase 3 trial   from 16 March, 2017 GMT to provide pdf copies of our non-digitized records. Records will not be immediately viewable, but emailed as a PDF.

Applications for each PDF cost £8, must be made online and include a GRO index reference.

England and Wales records which are available as PDF’s in pilot 3 include:

  • Births: 1935-2006
  • Deaths: 1958-2006
  • Marriages: 1837-2010

Note: A PDF is not a certificate and has no value for services where a certificate is required e.g. a passport, driver’s license application, or notice of marriage.

Pilot phase 3 closes at 4:oo p.m. GMT on 12 April or when 40,000 pdf’s have been ordered, whichever is sooner.  Analysis of the pilot will then follow.

Alberta Provincial Archives Vital Statistics Indexes Now Online

For years, the question has been asked, “When is Alberta going to get historical vital statistics online?”

The time is now!  The Provincial Archives of Alberta has digitized vital statistics indexes and or registers and are now available online.

You can now browse the indexes for births to 1897, marriages to 1942, and deaths to 1966. Note that these are indexes, not the actual records. But think of the time you save by looking at these indexes from the comfort of your home, instead of travelling to an archival centre to view microfilm images. From these indexes alone, genealogists are discovering the year their ancestor was born.

Genealogists can thank blogger Shannon Switzer Cherkowski for sharing the news on her blog, Shannon’s Research Services, and for writing her guide.

Surprisingly, the provincial archives did not announce the release of this index, so thank goodness for all the bloggers who jumped on this right away!

Good luck with your research!

Canada On-Line Historical Newspapers

Newspapers are an invaluable source of information for genealogists, ranging from the social pages – births, marriages and deaths –
to articles of interest about your ancestors.  There are about 2,600 historical newspapers that are available online for free. All publication dates for each newspaper are not online and not all newspapers ever published in Canada are either. But the 2,600 newspapers that are available online are a great place to start.Several provinces have province-wide online databases, whether sponsored by a government agency or university or library, and other provinces have multiple collections. Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario all have sizable collections. Most of the other provinces have added many more digitized newspapers as well.

Click here for more information on accessing the newspapers currently available.

Source:   Ancestor Hunter


Note:   On our website, one of the pages in the Genealogy Toolbox, Parksville, Qualicum Beach  & Area Resources, contains a link to newspapers on microfilm in British Columbia and also a direct link to the Victoria newspapers from 1858 – 1926.

Happy hunting!

Using Wildcards to Search Genealogy Databases

Some online genealogy databases allow you to search on names using wildcards—characters that can stand in for any letter of a name—to catch alternate spellings of the name.

A wildcard is a character that substitutes for another character or string of characters when searching a database.  Using wildcards will find different spellings and name variants.

On most sites, an asterisk * stands in for zero or more letters in a name, and a question mark ?  stands in for exactly one letter. Various websites have different rules for using these wildcards, though.

Ancestry – you must have at least three non-wildcard characters in a name. You can use a wildcard as the first or last letter, but not both. After an initial search, you can change your wildcards using the Refine Search panel on the left side of the results screen, but what you’re really doing is performing a new search.  (Ancestry’s blog post has more in-depth instructions) – you can use a question mark (?) to represent one missing letter. An asterisk (*) can replace zero or more characters. You can use both wildcards in the same search if desired. You must have at least one letter in the search box, and you can place the wildcard at the beginning, middle, or end of a search field. Search alternate spelling with the asterisk * which represents 0 to 5 unknown characters. The query Bolan* will return results for Bolander, Bolanger, Bolandre, etc. A query for Smel*er will search for Smeltzer and Smelzer among others (read more on the FamilySearch blog).

Scotland’s People – can substitute * or % for zero or more characters. Substitute ? or _ for one character only. These characters can be substituted anywhere in the surname or forename and can be employed in various combinations.

The FindMyPast database is similar to Ancestry and Family Search as it recognizes both the ? mark and asterisk*.   You can use an asterisk* in a search field where you suspect there may be an alternative spelling. This will pick up places where a letter may be missing, repeated, or incorrect.

If wildcards aren’t giving you the information you need there are other ways to search.  Three methods you may want to try are:

  1. Try leaving out a surname when searching and just use a first name with a known attribute such as an occupation or place of birth. Not all databases allow this type of search but it is worthwhile trying if possible.
  2. If you are fairly sure where someone lived, then try browsing through images of the records for that area to look for possible matches.
  3. If you have found a possible match for a person on a database but the name presented just doesn’t look correct (or even probable) try saying the presented name out loud. For example “Marilous” could be Mary Louise.

Last, but certainly not least, be sure to keep a Research Log while you are searching.  Write down who you searched for, where you searched for them, which search variations you tried, and what your results were. This will help keep you from spinning your wheels and duplicating your research time as you move ahead with your research.

Good luck with your searches!

Victoria, BC Family History Conference

The recent LDS Church Victoria Family History Conference held on March 10 – 11, 2017 in Victoria, B.C. had some very interesting and informative classes, far too many to list here.

We are very fortunate to be able to review the list of handouts from the conference. You will be able to either read, print or download any handouts on the various topics covered at the conference that may be of interest to you.

One handout that I found particularly interesting was the comparison of the “Big 4 – Comparing Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage” by Sunny Morton.   We are definitely among a huge group of “genealogy addicts” when you read the number of subscribers!

These handouts will only be available until March 24, 2017 so be sure to visit the site soon.


Around the Web – March 1, 2017

Dublin City Libraries release free Digital Repository

 Dublin City Libraries and Archive Digital Repository was released last with some 43,000 historic photographs and documents freely available to search and download. The material includes photographs, postcards, letters, maps, and historical memorabilia.

Highlights of the collection include the Fáilte Ireland Photographic Collection with images dating from the 1930s onwards of people, places and tourist locations from across Ireland, and the Dublin City Council Photographic Collection


Free or Almost Free Genealogical Education

One of the sources of free or almost free genealogical education is the proliferation of blogs that exist today. Signing up to have the blog postings come to your inbox is an easy way to learn from the experiences and expertise of others in the field of genealogical research. The risk in doing this too often is information overload. At some point in time you want to stop reading and actually do some research and recording related to your own family.

How much information is too much information and which bloggers should you follow?  Please click here to continue reading.


Take Another Look At Your Documents

Do you merrily go along downloading documents and only look at what you were looking for?  We are all guilty of doing that!    Janine Adams on Organize Your Family History blog talks about what can happen when you read the fine details on the document you downloaded or perhaps take a look at the documents you do have with a fresh eye.


The FAN Club

The FAN Club, if you haven’t heard of the term coined by genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills, is a cluster of people in the milieu surrounding a mystery ancestor, and may present some viable clues about those research brick walls we struggle to overcome. The acronym FAN stands for friends, associates and neighbors.  But what do these terms mean, and why does it matter? We all have those ancestors who seem to have dropped straight out of the sky and don’t connect to anyone of their same surname. Or an ancestor whose surname is Jones, Smith, Williams, or Davis, and everyone in the community shares their same surname. Then there are the women, whose maiden names and parents can often be a mystery lost to the past. Researching an ancestor’s FAN club may not be a magic bullet in those situations, but it can come pretty close.

Legacy Tree Genealogists talks about how you can effectively use the FAN club principals to further your research.


It’s Complicated: Unique Relationships in Historical Records

Leslie Albrecht Huber on the blog talks about how relationships can be complicated. Everyone knows that. There are many songs, movies, and plays out there detailing the tangles and twists of relationships, each with their own dose of dramatic flair. And despite what anyone might say about life being simpler in the good old days, complicated relationships are nothing new…

Every one of us has plenty of these messy relationships in our family tree. Sometimes the juicy details get lost in the abyss of history, but other times family stories that offer glimpses into our ancestors’ complicated relationships survive. Occasionally, evidence of these relationships has been preserved in the records …  continue reading.


Good luck with your research!

Genealogy Around the Web February 21, 2017

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

If the recommendation to “think globally, act locally” is applied to genealogy, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness comes to mind. You probably can’t travel everywhere you’d like to go to research your family tree. When you have a simple request or two that would normally require you to travel to a location more than fifty miles away, a RAOGK volunteer close to the area might just be able to help.

Once you’ve registered on the RAOGK website, you’ll have access to a directory of volunteers informing you where each person is based and what tasks each is willing to help with. Volunteers do not charge for their time, but only for reimbursement of actual expenses such as photocopies, postage, and occasionally parking fees. Common services include doing lookups, taking tombstone and cemetery photos, and locating a document at an archive and copying it. To learn more about how to submit a request, check out their FAQ section. And don’t forget to say thank you or perhaps even volunteer your services.


Ancestor Search

Are you researching your ancestors in England Wales?  Ancestor Search is a website that provides guidance on WHERE to find information on your English and Welsh ancestors from the basic “where to start” information and on to links to various research sites and information.   Well worth taking the time to go through the information on this site.


General Registry Office – England

GRO indexes have been on line for some time but sometimes we forget that it is now easier and cheaper to order certificates via the government’s own official website. Certificates cost £9.25 including postage.

Searching is free but you do have to register first.  You have to register to use them.  Go to then click on order certificates online >register/login in upper right corner box, then register to create an individual account.  It is free.

It is a bit cumbersome in that you can only search in five-year blocks and only either male or female but if you are searching for a birth record, you will be able to find the mother’s name from 1916 back to 1837.

Good luck with your research!

Facebook for Genealogy

Gail Deaver has added more than 100 groups and pages to the latest edition of Facebook for Canadian Genealogy on her Genealogy à la carte page.  

On the list, you will find hundreds of Facebook groups and pages. They have been separated into Canadian provinces and territories, and special interest areas, such as Acadian, British Home Children, cemeteries, DNA, family names, First Nations, military, New France, newspapers, old photos, United Empire Loyalists, and US groups with a focus on French Canadian and Acadian family history.

Visit the Facebook for Canadian Genealogy section on the Genealogy à la carte website to view the entire list.

Thank you, Gail, for providing this valuable and helpful information.