Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Surname Navigator: - SUPER way to do a quick surname survey

Another - ExpertGenealogy Websearch Wizard:

The pre-eminent Rootsweb Surname List: -- don't just search it, also list your surnames!

GEDCOM index:

Linkpendium's Surnames - Web sites, obituaries, biographies, and other material specific to a surname:

TNG Network Search for Names:

UK Office of National Statistics database of surnames in use in England, Wales and the Isle of Man, September 2002:

Surname Profiler: The Geography of British Names:

Online English Names Directory:, also UK, 2001: You can leave messages on this site.

Namnsökning. Hur många heter...? - Statistik från SCB (Swedish Surnames & Forenames):
   Sök=search, efternamn=last name, förnamn=first name, båda könen=both sexes, kvinna=woman, man=man

You can use some of the general sites where you can search for surname distribution to pin down villages /communes for further study, if you are researching a relatively rare surname. Some of these sites for France are Notrefamille: (1890), GeoPatronyme: (1891-1915, 1916-1940, 1941-1965, & 1966-1990), and GeneaNet: (European GEDCOMS). The French Telephone Directories: or will do the same thing for surnames existing today. Some parts of the 1836 Census of the Alsace have started to become available. You can search the surname list to see if your people might be on the CDs issued so far:

World Telephone Listings:

All of Europe -

GeoGen, German surname maps:

For US surnames, try Search the USGenWeb Archives:
   State by State:

Surname Research Directories - England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man and Channel Isles:

Search most of the world - LDS FamilySearch:
   Largest collection of patron submitted and record extracted BMD data available anywhere in the Ancestral File, IGI, & LDS Pedigree File, plus the LDS Vital Record Index (some available only on inexpensive CDs). The 1880 US, 1881 English & Canadian census indexes can be searched there also.

Also, various Rootsweb searches can be found here: It may also be useful to search the archives of the Surnames list, although it is currently not working, because it was so busy and so structured, and mirrored the Surnames newsgroup: And don't forget the Rootsweb Surname List (RSL):

New! Now you can search one or all of the Rootsweb lists! Howto:

Finding Living Persons:

Searching vital records (birth, marriage, death, divorce, or BMDs), naturalizations and passenger is another good way to get surnames only.,,,,

A fun search -- see how popular your surname (or forename) is in the 1990 US Census:

US Surname Distribution over time:

Changing Immigrant Names (INS):

Search for (or add) your Female Ancestor:

For derivations of surnames, try
   Derivations of forenames:
   Surname Meanings:
   Surname Meanings & Origins:

Also see Kate Monk's Onomastikon (Dictionary of Names):

18th- and 19th-century American Nicknames:

Weaselhead, Devil and Drunkard: Surnames Originating As Insults - interesting tour of surnames we would now find insulting, profane, or puzzling:

German fornames - Vornamen: and

Places to search for your surnames (GEDCOMs) -

WorldConnect at Rootsweb: (one can also upload and/or search from; however, there are fewer options for customization on the Anc side. Common database.) Worldconnect/AWT Submitter Surname Search: - Thanks, Randy!

Tribalpages: (one can password the files, or leave them public)

Pedigree Resource File (LDS):

Genealogy For You: ($24 a year, uses TNG - see Bible Family for display)

GeneaNet (lots of European GEDCOMs, uses GeneWeb):

Genes Reunited for British Isles GEDCOMs:
Free to search, but you must be a paid member to contact the owner of a GEDCOM

Dave Wilks' free Gedcom server:


Family Tree (family tree descriptions, surnames):

Family History Books - BYU has scanned in 4000+ and put them online:

How easy is it for one benevolent being to diffuse pleasure around him, and how truly is a kind heart a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity to freshen into smiles. - Washington Irving, 1783-1859

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Starting Research in a New Locality

When you start research in a new area, it's always helpful to Google for basic sites, check out RootsWeb Guides to Tracing Family Trees:, Cyndislist:, and look at the Research Guides that the LDS puts out. These are now available, free, from

Bookmark all the good sites you find! When you run into a snag, look over the basic research information again. Perhaps you have neglected a basic step. Doing the basics is like building a foundation for your house. You can build a house without a foundation, but it won't LAST! Doing the basics, like moving from the known to the unknown, keeping careful records and citing your sources, widening your search to include siblings, collaterals and neighbors, etc. might seem to slow you down sometimes, but they will keep you going for the long haul.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. - Buddha

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Free Information at

There is still lots of free info on Ancestry. In fact, recently two Census indexes have been added; the US 1880 every-name index, and the 1881 UK Census. The Message boards are free, as is the Ancestry World Tree. The My Ancestry Search Profile is pretty cool, and is free, although the results may point to subscription databases. The Learning Center is still free, which has loads of great articles. They also offer the free trial program, Family Tree Maker, although you do have to register to get that. Finally, the Research Registry is free for all.

Two census indexes for free searching: the 1880 U.S. Federal Census and the 1881 England, Wales, Isle of Man, and Channel Islands Census. The 1880 U.S. Federal Census is an every-name index and the last census available census for the 1800s. More about this: The 1881 census every-name index includes enumerations for England, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.

Meyers Geographical and Commercial Gazetteer of the German Empire (Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs in German) now FREE at Ancestry:

Message Boards: or

Ancestry World Tree:
(database also accessible from Rootsweb:

My Ancestry:

Learning Center:

Ancestry has a Research Registry, which is a way for you to connect with people working on the same surnames or families as you. Access the Research Registry through the Message Boards tab on On the right side of the page you'll see a box titled Research Registry. From here you can search for others working on specific surnames or add your own research profiles so that others can find you. Note that if you are not an subscriber or registered site user, you will probably have to register your name and e-mail address in to access the Research Registry. This registration is free. Rootsweb has a similar, older database, the RootsWeb Surname List:

And don't forget, since Ancestry purchased Rootsweb, that all of that fabulous material is still available free, thanks to Ancestry: This includes all the 30,000 mail lists.

I have to admit, they seem to "hide" the free information, but it is there. I'm sure we all miss the "10 days for free on all new databases" that they did for so many years. Also remember, if you can't afford a membership, there are LOTS of library systems that subscribe, so be sure to check the website of your local or county library system. I have access to both Ancestry *and* Heritage Quest through my county library system.

Posting One (and only one) GEDCOM file at Rootsweb WorldConnect, Ancestry World Tree, and Ancestry Online Family Tree:

Search the White Pages at Ancestry:

$$$ AIS Census Indexes at Ancestry:

Interview Questions:

Charts and Forms (incl. blank census forms, Pedigree/Ancestral Chart & Family Group Sheets):

Rootsweb, and how to Use it:

Need to search list archives? Use Rootsweb Listsearches:

Easy List Unsubscribing:

Sharing Your Family History at Rootsweb:

Valorie's Genealogy Lists:

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. - Arthur Golden

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Easy List Unsubscribing

If you have changed your email address permanently, and no longer have access to the account, to to the Rootsweb HelpDesk and have them do a global unsub for all your lists:

More on changing your contact information at Rootsweb:

I did not write this article, previously published in RootsWeb Review: 16 June 2004, Vol. 7, No. 24.

RootsWeb Mailing Lists -- Gone Fishing?

"Summertime and the livin' is easy" is how the familiar song from "Porgy and Bess" goes. For RootsWeb users in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is nearly here and that often brings with it vacations (holidays), long weekend fishing trips, beach house visits or trips to the cabin in the mountains. All of which means time away from genealogical research, time away from your computer and your e-mail. What should you do when you are going to be away temporarily from your RootsWeb mailing lists?

Depending upon the length of time you will be away, the capacity of your mailbox, and the activity level of the lists to which you subscribe; you may choose either to remain subscribed to the lists and catch up on your mail when you return or unsubscribe (especially from the busiest high-volume lists) and re-subscribe when you get home. RootsWeb list software does not have a temporary "NO-MAIL" setting. However, unsubscribing and re-subscribing is easy and will accomplish the purpose.

If you choose to unsubscribe from all, or just some, RootsWeb mailing lists during your vacation, first check Password Central to verify to which lists you are subscribed.

Once you obtain a list of your subscribed lists, address a new e-mail message to the list "request" addresses for the lists from which you
wish to unsub. The "request" address is used to send your command or instructions that can either unsubscribe or subscribe you from a list.

The format for addressing a message to the request address is: -- if you are subscribed in mail mode (receiving every individual message list members send to the list) or -- if you are subscribed in digest mode (receiving list messages lumped together in digest format).

Replace the generic word LISTNAME above with the actual name of the list. For instance, if you wish to unsubscribe from the SMITH surname list and you are subscribed in mail mode, send your request to: or to unsubscribe from the digests.

Be sure to put the word UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject and message body of your e-mail and don't include any other text. If you wish to unsubscribe from more than one list at the same time, you can show multiple "request" addresses in the SEND TO box of your e-mail with the addresses separated by a comma just as you would if you were sending an e-mail to several individuals at one time.

Keep a record of the mailing list names for the lists from which you have unsubbed so that you can easily address a new e-mail to the same list request addresses when you return with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject and message body to get back on the lists you temporarily left. Note: Never send a REPLY e-mail to subscribe to, or unsubscribe from, a list -- always send a NEW e-mail.

Upon your return from summer fun, you can browse the archives of your mailing lists to catch up on the messages you missed. Start here:
Type in the name of the list you wish to browse and then select the month and year to view an outline of the messages you wish to read. Next, click to view any or all individual messages.

So, if the fish are biting this summer or the seashore looks inviting, leave the laptop at home and don't worry about the "the big one" getting away because you are not home to view responses to your genealogical research queries. You can catch up with mailing list messages when you return.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Make the Family History Library Catalog SING for you!

Start at Click the SEARCH tab, and then the Family History Library Catalog tab, or bypass the first two steps by going directly to:

Not all browsers will load an .asp page directly, so I give the alternate steps. Once you are there, click Place Search, then type the name of the village in the top box. Leave the bottom box empty. Once you get the results, be sure to investigate all the possible good options. If you want to keep that original results page open, right-click on the various options given, and choose to open in a new tab or new window. That helps me keep organized!

Once you get a list of what is available, there are a couple of interesting options that many people overlook. I put in "strasbourg" as an example, and here are the results:

Place France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg
References (Use for) France, Bas-Rhin, La Robertsau
Topics France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Archives and libraries - Handbooks, manuals, etc.
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Archives and libraries - Inventories, registers, catalogs
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Biography
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Church history
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Church records
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Civil registration
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Court records
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Genealogy
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Heraldry
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - History
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Naturalization and citizenship
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Nobility
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Nobility - Genealogy
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Notarial records
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Occupations
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Politics and government
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Population
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Probate records
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Schools
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Social life and customs

Of course, there are endless possibilities just in THAT list -- it could keep you busy for a long, long time. But look up on the top right -- there is a button called View Related Places. In this case, it doesn't give spectacular results -- the only choice is France, Bas Rhin, which yields:

Place France, Bas-Rhin
References (Use for) France, Rhin (Bas)
Topics France, Bas-Rhin - Archives and libraries - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Archives and libraries - Inventories, registers, catalogs
France, Bas-Rhin - Archives and libraries - Inventories, registers, catalogs - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Biography
France, Bas-Rhin - Census
France, Bas-Rhin - Chronology
France, Bas-Rhin - Church directories
France, Bas-Rhin - Church history
France, Bas-Rhin - Church records
France, Bas-Rhin - Church records - Bibliography
France, Bas-Rhin - Church records - Inventories, registers, catalogs
France, Bas-Rhin - Civil registration - Bibliography
France, Bas-Rhin - Civil registration - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Dwellings
France, Bas-Rhin - Emigration and immigration
France, Bas-Rhin - Emigration and immigration - Guidebooks
France, Bas-Rhin - Emigration and immigration - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Gazetteers
France, Bas-Rhin - Genealogy
France, Bas-Rhin - Genealogy - Periodicals
France, Bas-Rhin - Genealogy - Periodicals - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Heraldry
France, Bas-Rhin - History
France, Bas-Rhin - History - Periodicals
France, Bas-Rhin - Jewish records
France, Bas-Rhin - Land and property
France, Bas-Rhin - Land and property - Inventories, registers, catalogs
France, Bas-Rhin - Maps
France, Bas-Rhin - Military records
France, Bas-Rhin - Minorities
France, Bas-Rhin - Names, Personal
France, Bas-Rhin - Notarial records
France, Bas-Rhin - Officials and employees - History
France, Bas-Rhin - Schools
France, Bas-Rhin - Taxation

The other special button that lots of people overlook is the View Film Notes button, once you have found the listing for the film you want to order. Click that Film Notes button, and you will find out *exactly* what is on the film you are proposing to order. This is where you find the number you need to take with you to the Family History Center. In fact, I often print out that entire page, so that when the film finally arrives, I know JUST what I'm looking for. To get the "printable version", click the link in the bottom sentence, For a printable version of this record click here then click your browser's Print button.

You can make the FHL Catalog sing for you! The more you use it, the easier it is to hear that siren song. :-)

Fred H. Held has a great hint -- consider collateral villages as well as collateral relatives. Fred says, "Several times I have found my village of interest data on a nearby village microfilm." He continues, "The immediate thought is to reach for a good map and check the LDS FHL catalog to see if the surrounding villages have records that might help me. Unfortunately, the German practice of consolidating village administrations has resulting in many villages disappearing from the detailed maps.

"There is a better way. Those old village names are still recorded in the ShtetlSeeker search engine database ( In addition, there is a little used ShtetlSeeker feature that will list ALL those old village names starting with a central point (your village of interest). (Look at the last line at the bottom of the web page.) It is now a simple task to cut the name from the list and paste it into the FHL catalog place name search engine.

"This is also useful when your ancestral village is Evangelische and your ancestral family was Catholic, or vice versa. To find the closest village with the desired church, do exactly the same exercise." - Post to 10 Sep 2004 [note: This hint will not help you in France; just in Germany and further East. For the Alsace, you can use the Alsabase village map instead. Click: Bas-Rhin - Haut-Rhin.]

More about using your local FHC:

To get to the free Research Guides, such as the one for France, either start at the top and work down (How do I get Started, > Resources > Research Helps), or go to: and click Research Outline, and download the PDF file you want. These are GREAT!

Using Batch Numbers and the IGI:

I borrowed from all, without any exception.
I am sewn between ancestry and posterity.
I am a drop of water in a flowing river of time; a molecule in a
mountain; a cell in a great family tree.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

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