Category Archives: Genealogy-suggested solutions

helpful ideas to solve a stated problem

Ancestry vs. FindMyPast – another view

This came from the Lost Cousins website newsletter (another fee-based resource for UK research, btw). (It’s free to search, but one has to pay to subscribe – it will match you to others researching the same names, by examining your data.)

Perhaps their viewpoint can add to the discussion we had re Ancestry and Find My Past at our meeting.

Choosing between Ancestry and findmypast

Earlier this month, possibly for the first time ever, there were special offers at both findmypast and Ancestry – so I got quite a few emails from members asking which site is the best.

The simple answer is that there isn’t a simple answer. Apart from basic resources like censuses and the GRO indexes there’s very little overlap between the records at the two sites – which means that whichever you choose you’re going to miss out on the records at the other site.

If you can afford subscriptions to both sites then that’s the ideal solution – when I’m researching my own family tree I move between the two sites frequently. For example, findmypast is usually the best site for searching the GRO death indexes, but Ancestry has the probate calendars; Ancestry has most of the major military collections for the Great War, but findmypast has by far the best collection of pre-1914 records; findmypast has the parish registers for Hertfordshire and part of Kent, where several of my ancestral lines started out – but Ancestry has most of London, which is where they ended up.

But if you really can’t afford two subscriptions (even after making savings on your gas, electricity, mobile phone, Internet security software, groceries and goodness knows what else by following Peter’s Tips) you’re going to have to work out which of the two sites offers the most useful records for your research at this time.

It might be as simple as switching from the site you’re currently using to the other one, on the basis that for now you’ve found as much as you can on the site you’re with – but it might entail reviewing what each site has to offer, especially in terms of parish records, and comparing this against your current needs.

These links will help you get started on the comparison:

Special Collections (at findmypast)
Parish Records (at Ancestry)
British Newspapers (at findmypast)
Military Records (at Ancestry)
Military Records (at findmypast)

The important thing is to be ready to make a decision, because sometimes there will be a discount offer that only lasts a few days.


Greetings, and our first meeting

Hi Everyone –

Never thought I’d be learning how to Blog, and set up a WordPress site, to tell you about our meetings and related subjects. But here goes! (and please, be patient – this will get better over time… I hope!!) (This is my second try with this post, as some folks couldn’t read it. Privacy gone wild??<g>

THIS BLOG IS NOW OPEN TO EVERYONE – no one needs to join WordPress in order to view it. (That is, IF I’ve changed the proper settings.)

We had a great meeting Jan. 18th, and decided quite a few things. The one you’ll notice most is this site; we wanted a way to tell everyone what’s happening, and allow each and every one of you to add information, correct anything necessary, and make suggestions or give ideas. So – this is the result.

We’ve agreed that the last Saturday in the month would be best to have meetings; we opted for the morning (10am) and agreed 1 1/2 hours would be perfect. Unless you’re told differently, it will be at the MGS offices. Lois assures us that we can always use GoToMeeting – which you can access from a laptop or desktop, a tablet, a cell-phone, or even a regular telephone! It’s free, and if a subject’s not of interest you can drop out at any time.

Please, feel free to join in the discussion here – I might very well not explain something clearly where someone else can. (now, about how parishes evolved….hehehe.)

We’re a nice mix of experienced/not-so-experienced folks; many have done lots of work in the U.S., but not much in the U.K. And some have done quite a bit of U.K. research. There’s a group of folks interested in UK to Canada to US, another group interested in Cornwall, another in Wales, and some aren’t sure in which county their families resided. Unless their surnames are quite unique, that’s very difficult to determine without specific information.  It was suggested that death certificates (in the US) might help,  as might Wills and land records. And discovering siblings may be crucial, as their records might produce the needed nuggets.

Everyone has questions – so 30 minutes of our meeting will be devoted to “problem solving” and everyone can learn at the same time. Lois has kindly volunteered to use her subscription to FindMyPast Worldwide, a fee-based website that has a huge collection of records. Ancestry has different, complimentary records. Library editions of Ancestry and FMP can be accessed for free from any LDS Family History Center, and many local libraries have Ancestry as well. FMP (library edition) will be added to MGS this summer. It was pointed out that Worldwide (paid) memberships have different search engines and parameters than the Library editions, so a search in Worldwide will return different results!

What about the rest of the time? We’ll have learning sessions for 20 – 30 minutes, the first being a tour of the MGS library collections focusing on England. (That will be in February.)

Everyone agreed to bring one or more URLs of websites they found helpful so we can build a great reference tool.

Lots of subjects for the learning sessions surfaced this time – what records exist prior to government requiring them (pre-1700) & how to access them, how to locate Quaker records in England, how best to learn about the governmental structures of each county (they’re all different, of course!) & their evolution, etc. Please feel free to add any subject you might find of interest – or we’ll soon run out of subject matter.

As for places to obtain answers on your own, it was suggested that GenUKI is a wonderful place to start. It’s been built and maintained by volunteers, is free, and each county has a coordinator, so if you have questions, there’s a way to obtain an answer.

The BBC has a great website devoted to “How To…” as well. (They have a hit tv show entitled “Who Do You Think You Are?”, which inspired them to develop the site.)  And the National Archives has tutorials which are very, very thorough – and well written.

The LDS FamilySearch website has ORIGINAL parish records online for many counties; for instance, every parish in Cornwall which had parish church records filmed are available. Unfortunately, only one parish in Yorkshire has been included – but who knows when YKS might appear. (Hope springs eternal.) Perhaps your county has been included, or soon will be. ‘Tis worth a check, at least.

The Mailing Lists at Rootsweb were also discussed. The lists are easy to locate; they’re about 2/3 down the left-hand column on the Rootsweb home page. You can Browse and Search the older posts, even if you don’t join – so be sure to look for your surname or location. You can also get an idea of how ‘lively’ the list is; if there are only 1 or 2 posts per month, why join? It’s free to join the Lists, and you don’t ever have to post – but then, you’ll miss the best benefit of membership. There are some wonderfully reliable, helpful people just waiting to help you – and they may have access to  records you’ll never be able to find.

To maintain privacy, it was suggested that some choose to set up a separate email address to use just for lists, so they won’t have to publicize their main address to those with whom they’re not acquainted. Just be sure to check the box for that addie, as that’s where your list messages will be delivered. (It can get confusing.)

The last half-hour of our meetings will be general discussions – wide ranging and open.

My recommended website this week?   Peter Christian has put the entire group of links he references in his book “The Genealogist’s Internet” (currently in it’s 5th edition) online, for free; he’s a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists (FSG), and revises the list yearly.  Have fun browsing this huge compendium! (It took me about a month to read entries under “Property, taxation, and the law”.  My favourite?  The Feet of Fines.)

Don’t let that put you off. It has great links to ‘basics’, as well.

It will fun to hear what you think of the site – good or bad. And I’m excited to hear what you think of this blog idea – good or bad. Feedback is needed!!