Step 3: Paper or Digital »
Online Sources & Tips
I actually started this post a week or so ago but unfortunately ended up with a nasty infection that had me laid up for the last week so I apologize for that. Today’s post is one of the most interesting since it deals with the use of online sources. Personally I love this since I never have to leave my computer for this – or even get out of my PJ’s!
Through the years there have been several ways to research online but most involved message boards, forums and email lists. Many sites were free to use although some came with a steep price tag. It was tedious work and results were often slow as it could be weeks, years or even never before you received a reply to a question.. Then came Ancestry who charged us ridiculous (and inconsistent) prices to access it’s site (I spent $800.00 the first two years alone). In hindsight, I don’t regret using it – although I wouldn’t have kept it as long as I did if it wasn’t for my clients and websites – but there were other, less expensive options I could have used for some of the resources instead. Luckily for the genealogy community FamilySearch offers many of the same resources for free. Below I will list a few resources that although are basic, I can’t live without to help me with me research. These are the resources I find myself using time and time again regardless of what I’m researching and most are really more of a jumping off point to researching online more than anything else.
5 Resources I Use When Researching
Resource 1: Make the most out of search engines. Google, Bing or if you want to make a bit of money when searching you could try something like Swagbucks search engine. I often use this to search as I receive points which I later cash in for money or gift certificates. Registration is free and if you don’t have an account you should consider it. After all, you’re searching anyway right? Make sure to use the map, images, and translation features available to you to help you create timelines and chart distances.
Resource 2: Many people have heard of Cyndis List. Lets face it – the site is truly a great resource of genealogical links and Cyndi herself is an amazing woman. She has links to about 334,000 different resources – but they are not all specific to Italian records. However, I would still use the site for links to newspapers, funeral homes, libraries, etc.
Resource 3: Read obituaries, check out local funeral homes and libraries in the area where your ancestor lived using one or both of the above mentioned methods fo locate. If the town has it’s own website then visit and read up on the history. Early on in my research I contacted the local library in Trinidad, Colorado for help on locating my great grandfather, John Polito. The librarian there, Alice was so wonderful about sending me documents and she even located his grave and sent me pictures!
Resource 4: Websites come and websites go so it’s important to keep a list of some of your favourite sites in case they suddenly “disappear”. Should this happen you could try using the Wayback Machine to locate the site and hopefully retrieve some of the info you had previously looked at. (It’s also fun to check out current sites and see how much they have changed over the years.) I visited two sites early in my research that I didn’t think too much about but many years later I found I needed the information there to connect me to a branch of my tree. Fortunately the Wayback Machine had indexed the pages I needed!
Resource 5: Check out Italian Websites, Forums, Blogs (check out Geneabloggers – the ultimate online genealogy blog community created by Thomas MacEntee) and lastly of course, is Facebook (where as for February there were over 6000 links to groups/resources!) The fairly recent Italian Archive site has also really been stepping up lately and adding records rapidly. I was able to complete a whole branch on one of my lines 5 generations in an afternoon! Keep in mind the images are NOT indexed so you will really have to work to find what you need – but it can be done!!
That’s it folks. I told you it was simple but it is a very effective way to start researching. I’ll be updating the links section here to include several newer sites that have come online in the near future so please check in periodically. Meanwhile thanks for stopping by and if you like this post then please help us out but sharing it!
Next: Step 5: Microfilm vs Snail Mail
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