What online resources are available for family history research?

I thought that I would create this post to show what resources I use for my genealogy research.  This includes free and paid services.  It can be a bit overwhelming when starting out on family research on what to do and what to spend money on. It is also important when updating public sites or publicly sharing information that you don’t blatantly share erroneous data.

There are many online sources and is a great way to get information quickly if you know where to look.  There is also many other people in the same situation as you, possibly looking for same information as you, or you may have a piece of information that could help someone else.  Much like open source software, amateur and professional genealogists are always available to offer advice or family information.

Image result for online queries

Upload your family tree

There are many websites that offer family tree software, some good some not so good.  These are the websites that I have uploaded family trees.

Ancestry.com

Maybe the first port of call when someone wants to investigate their family history is to start a family tree in Ancestry.com.  It is great to start out with and the comparisons against other trees is a great resource when you are not quite sure about an ancestor.

The user interface for entering information is the best around, and can be done manually without any confusion.  Even when multiple parent groupings (foster parents or multiple partners) it is very easy to see what is being setup.

When using the paid service, you can use the tree hints to collect records against particular individuals, including census, christening, birth, marriage, death, and military records, all with images of documents which can be used to validate it is for the person in question.

There are a lot of useful features for your ancestry tree, there is a note section which is for private notes, comments which are public notes, you can add to your own or other tree.  One recent addition is the use of tags, which can be used for many types of categorisation. Put a tag on a person to indicate that they are a brick wall, or that you are actively researching them, or add a custom tag indicating they have come from a specific resource.

The only issue with Ancestry.com is the sharing ability is easy to spread mistakes.  This means you have to be vigilant when saving information to your own tree especially when others can see it.

ftdna.com

Family Tree DNA is another site where you can ad a family tree.  The user interface is a bit clunky when it comes to adding or amending to the family tree, it does not link to existing tree members very well, and does not offer many other options.  It is best to export your tree from other software, then import it as a whole into ftdna.
 

Family Tree DNA’s strength comes from it DNA reporting which I will go into later, but you can link people you have a dna link to, to a person in your family tree, any other reporting will then state the relationship from the tree as opposed to an estimate from the shared dna percentage.

MyHeritage.com

This is another similar site to Ancestry.  I uploaded my gedcom file and found that straight away I had added too many people to be able to continue maintaining this through a downloaded app.  I received a phone call and was offered a cheaper amount for the annual subscription which I have taken on.
 

I do not go into this app as much as I do Ancestry, this is really an alternate source for information which Ancestry may not have.

Should I take a DNA test?

There are several types of dna testing, autosomal for overall dna matching, Y dna for male line testing, and mitochondrial testing for female line testing.  If you don’t want to spend much money and you want to connect to cousins you didn’t know you had, take an autosomal test.  The best test for this is Ancestry.  You can then export the results into a text file, and import it into Family Tree Dna, and My Heritage.
 

If you want to spend a lot of money but need to take a more accurate test, do one of the other tests.  Only males can do the Y Dna test.

GEDmatch.com

If you take a dna test upload the results to GEDmatch.com.  This is a free, simple site where people can upload there tests to compare against other tests.  This just displays the percentage and has contact details.
 

Sources

Here is a list of online sources for information;

Papers Past

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

This is a good source of historical New Zealand news papers.  If you know a death or marriage, then you can search this resource for the original postings in the news papers.

Births, Marriages, and Deaths Online

https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz

A good place to get original documentation and legal certificates for these events.  Be cautious, even these records can be incorrect.

Find a Grave 

https://www.findagrave.com/

An online database spanning the globe.  This is a living database, where people enter the information, and someone else has to validate the information before it becomes public.  A good source to get images from other people who have visited the sites.

FamilySearch

https://www.familysearch.org/en/

A large database of documents run by the Mormons.  This is extensive and a very good source.  If all else fails try here, you might be surprised.

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