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Finding my ancestors: Genealogy sites

One of my more obscure hobbies is researching my family’s genealogy. I’ve gotten quite nerdy about it actually.

Omg you guys, are you as excited as I am about the 1940 U.S. census being released to the public this spring?!!!

 I’ve found that with my very common (but fantastic) Spanish last name and a family of farmers and former slaves, very little was documented about where we came from. Still, it makes the hunt for my ancestors oh so much more interesting.

My research started around 2007 and so far I’ve been able to track down most of my ancestors as far back as the 1800s. My most recent achievement has been finding my great-grandfather’s baptism record from 1898 (the same year the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico) ! I imagine adults in the commotion of having foreign invaders and yet my little great-grandfather off to church to get baptized. He was 10 years old. 🙂

If you are interested in researching your family’s history, below are some of my go-to resources for a genealogy hunt. I believe all contain information about the U.S. and Puerto Rico, but ancestry.com has loads more countries as well.

Ancestry.com

The mother of genealogy sites. I really recommend ancestry if you want to take a first peek at what information is out there.

Pros:

  • Hands down the most user friendly geanealogy site I’ve used.
  • Creating a family tree is free and you can export family trees to other software (through GEDCOM files)
  • You can create multiple family trees
  • Active forums with plenty of folks to help around
  • Free membership at many libraries
  • FANTASTIC search engine…picks up variations of names very well
  • Contains census, birth certificates, passengers lists for ships and so many more

Cons:

  • Payments is required if you want full access at home
  • No private messaging between members if you dont have paid account

FamilySearch.org

A fantastic service from the church of the latter day saints, this is my new favorite place for all things genealogical. They have a decent search engine and a suprising amunt of church and civil records available for free!

Pros:

  • Linked to Family Search Centers and the Family Search Library, places where you can request other materials that are not available online
  • Incredible variety of records available online (I found church records from my little town in puerto rico dating back to the 1700s)
  • Good search engine; not as good as ancestry but superior to others I’ve seen.

Cons:

– None that stand out

HeritageQuest (with library membership)

This little site is a really nice place to do some searches from home. My library provides a free account to its members and best of all, you can access it outside the library!

Pros:

  • Free access from home with account from local library
  • Census images available for download

Cons:

  • Inferior search (compared to Ancestry.com) I think its case sensitive and it really doesnt pick up all the search results. Also, I read the sites Help page and it usually searches for head of household only (not spouse or children)
  • Limited to census
  • Not sure if available for non library members

 

There you have it! Hope this helps you if you decide to hunt for your ancestors too…

 

xo,

Laura

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