Category: Online Genealogy

May 14th, 2014

Speed Up Your Research with These Time-Saving Keyboard Shortcuts

Genealogy research can be time consuming, which can be financially draining as well. Speeding up research without sacrificing accuracy is not always easy, but there is one way it can be done with online research. Many of us are so content clicking away with our mouse that we don’t even consider keyboard shortcuts. They are called shortcuts for a reason, and like any short cut, they are a shorter way to reach a foal. Using the following five keyboard options may take some practice to master, but once you do you can save lots of valuable time and money during your online research.

Spacebar Scrolling
Most of us are happy to use the up and down arrows that allow us to scroll through a webpage, as the up and down arrows on a keyboard are not that conveniently located. One alternative method is so easy I am amazed it took me so long to use it. To scroll down a page you simply hold the Spacebar down .To scroll up, press Sift and tap the Spacebar. This saves lots of time, as you don’t have to take your hand off the keyboard. Give it a try!

Control Key Zooming
How often do you find yourself squinting at a map, image document, or historical photograph that you come across online? Believe it or not there is a simple shortcut solution that can help you to quickly zoom in and out of an image so that it is the optimal size for your viewing.

You simple hold the Control (Ctrl) key while tapping the Plus (+) or Minus (-) key. You can do this for an entire webpage to make the fonts bigger or smaller as well. If you are using a Mac, the Command (Cmd) key combined with the Plus and Minus keys does the same

If you want to return the page to its original size, simply substitute the Zero (0) key for the Plus or Minus on both PC and Mac.

Tip: On a laptop keyboard, you most likely don’t need to hold the Shift key to access the Minus and Plus keys when performing this shortcut.

Ctrl F for Find
If you are searching for a particular word on a website that contains lots of text, it can be time consuming reading or scanning through it all to find the word or name you’re looking for. Many use the find feature located in the toolbar of most browsers, however a simple keyboard shortcut is to press the Ctrl (Ctrl) key on a PC or the Command (Cmd) on a Mac and hold down the F key. This will bring up the Search Bar, and you can simply type in the word you are looking for.

Alt V for Full Screen Viewing
This feature can vary between browsers, but it is possible to sometimes temporarily eliminate the Search Bar or Menu in order to view a large image that doesn’t completely fit on the screen. You can suppress the Alt tab on a PC while pressing the V or F key (depending on the browser) or Control and Command and T on a Mac.

Tip: On a PC you can sometimes use the F11 key, depending on whether the browser you’re using supports that option. To get out of Full Screen mode simply press the Escape (Esc) key.

To Reopen a Webpage
When a webpage closes accidently when you are in the middle of your research, it can be quite irritating. Most of all, having to then go into your history to search for it and reopen it from there can be time consuming. Depending on the browser you’re using, you may be able to quickly reopen the page by using Ctrl and Shift and T on a PC, and Command and Shift and T on a Mac.

There are literally hundreds of keyboard shortcuts that you can use to speed up your online experience. The above are simple ones that you may find quite useful on a daily basis. If you’d like to learn more about keyboard shortcuts that you can utilize, the links below will take you to a comprehensive listing for each of the corresponding browsers.

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April 9th, 2014

Two Ways to Your Family History Online

Once you know how and where to find information online and to get in contact with other researchers, it’s time to take a more active role in genealogy by publishing your own information for other researchers to share. Some of the ways you can accomplish this are by using newsgroups, forums, or message boards, but those basic methods are limited and can only offer basic information. The alternative is to publish your family history online.

Your Publishing Options
The choice of how to publish your family history online really rests between two options; creating your own website, or submitting your pedigree to an online database. Each has its own benefits, and if you have the technical skills, creating your own website can be fun and fulfilling. But not everyone has the technical knowledge necessary or the aptitude to create their own website, for them submitting their pedigree to a database might be a better choice. Let’s have a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of both options.

Submitting to an Online Pedigree Database
This is a very fast way of getting your pedigree published online, and will also gain your pedigree exposure to a wide audience. There is a constant flow of visitors to these websites and it is a great way to make genealogical contacts as well. On the other hand, because your data will be held in a database that is only searchable through the particular website hosting it, your information will not be available to anyone making a general search of the internet. Your data can only be searched on the website hosting it, and with their search facilities. Also, your ability to add any new material that you may obtain from sources outside your existing database will be limited or in some cases impossible.

There is also the possibility that you may need to give up some of the rights of ownership of your material, so make sure if submitting to a pedigree database that you thoroughly read their terms and conditions. For no reason should you allow the disadvantages of submitting to a pedigree database to dissuade you from using that method. As long as you are clear on the terms and conditions it is an effective way to publish your family tree. But, you may want to consider building your own website as well.

Your Own Website
This option may be a bit intimidating if you don’t have the technical knowledge or time to invest in it, but there are certain advantages to going this route. They are:

  • Submitting your data to your own site is almost as easy as submitting it to an online database
  • You are able to material from outside sources
  • You can add your own images and scanned documents
  • Your pedigree can be found by anybody searching the internet for information on your pedigree
  • You maintain complete ownership rights to your material

Building your own website is very muck akin to creating a picture of your life online. You can do it at as leisurely or as fast a pace as you want, and also make it as detailed as you desire. There are a few issues to be aware of however, when building and publishing your own site. The first is; if you build your website of free web space by one provider and later switch to another, you’ll have to inform all of the search engines and anyone who has linked to your site. This could get a bit messy and complicated, so consider your options carefully. You’ll also need to learn how to create web pages if you want to add additional information rather than just displaying your family tree. It’s worth the effort however, and once you’ve learned you can create a website that is both informative and attractive.

Building your own website is the way to go if you want to share your information with other genealogists. After all, that is how most of the information is displayed on the internet. Whichever option you decide to go with, one thing to be careful of is posting information about living people. Even though they are your relatives, privacy issues are involved and you’ll want to have permission in writing form any living relatives you share info on.

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July 9th, 2013

How to Research Genealogy Online and Find Records Fast

Finding records is the goal of every genealogist, and locating them online is the initial preferred method. Once you know a record exists, you can order it from the repository that holds the original, but first it must be found. There are many websites that offer free records searches and free this and free that, but is what they offer really free, or real for that matter? Yes, it is true that many of the returns you get when searching for free genealogy records are from websites offering free trials of a subscription, but there are free records available and also sites to help you to learn how to research genealogy online.

Finding Records fast

You can begin finding ancestry records online in no time at They maintain the largest collection of ancestral records in the world. Their collection currently holds over 6 billion records and is growing daily. FamilySearch is run by the Mormon Church (LDS), and is an excellent starting point for anyone tracing their family history. In addition to their massive record collection, they also give excellent advice on how to access them, interpret them, and request copies of them from the various repositories. Their collection is of the highest calibre, and it is recommended you register with them to take full advantage of the superb resources they offer – all for free!

Pick an Ancestor to Search 

The first step to even finding an ancestor is to select one to search for. If you know the name of any relatives who are deceased, choose one that passed away before 1940, as they are the easiest records to find. Some records after that date have not been added to the online databases yet. If you don’t know the name of any ancestors ask other family members to choose one for you. If you can, ask for their date and place of birth or death as well, but don’t worry if you they don’t have that information. A name is enough to start off with, as discovering those other things about your ancestor such as their place of birth, where they lived, or when and where they died, is all part of the fun and challenge of genealogy.

Learn More About How to Search Genealogy Online at

The genealogy section right here at has tons of information and advice about how to research genealogy online. Our genealogy pages are chock full of resources with everything from Free Printable Blank Family Trees and Genealogy Forms, to instructional and informative articles about how to research every type of genealogy record.

The best thing about the genealogy resources at is that they are genuinely free. There is no registration involved, no hidden fees, and absolutely no obligation of any kind. We pride ourselves on being a genuinely free provider of quality genealogy resources, though if you like you can subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to find out about any new free resources we discover, and regularly access award winning content from experts in the field of genealogy.

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May 28th, 2013

Unlikely Indexers Lighten the Load for the LDS

I came across a great story today, and just had to share it with you. It’s about some volunteers who donate their time to help the LDS index records for the website. So what’s the big deal you might ask? There are many volunteers who do the same thing for a number of organizations around the world. What makes these particular ones so special? Well, let me tell you a bit about them!

Joey Robinson and Theresa Coggins love to spend their time adding to genealogy indexes. They spend hour upon hour indexing at least three days per week, and often imagine the stories behind the names they encounter. They are much like the many volunteers who donate their time and energy to organizations like the LDS, but they differ in that they perform their work from behind bars at the Weber County Correctional facility in Ogden, Utah.

In conjunction with the LDS church, the corrections facility implemented the program about 6 months ago, and it has been so successful that there are plans to extend it to every county jail in the state of Utah.

The initiative was begun by Ogden East Stake President Reed Richards a few emeritus Seventies in the area after holding meetings with those members from the LDS branch at the Utah State Prison. “The state prison is the largest extractor in the world. The inmates don’t have a lot going on, and this gives them purpose,” Richards said.

The Ogden East Stake (administrative unit composed of multiple congregations in the area) included the LDS branch in the Weber County Correctional Facility, so Richards was convinced the success at state level could transfer to the local level — and he was dead on.

The indexing program is run by twelve service missionaries from the stake, which holds two or three sessions composed of women and men every week. There is so much interest from inmates who want to get involved that sessions will soon be increased to twice daily, five days a week.

Seventeen laptops were donated by the LDS Church, and the jail subscribed to an internet provider in order to give inmates access to the databases. It took some time as the internet had to be set up, so that the inmates couldn’t visit any other websites, but it was managed, and the program is in full flow.

The inmates thoroughly enjoy the work. “I enjoy computer work, and I know we are helping someone,” Theresa Coggins said as she adroitly inspected data on her computer screen. “My mom is really into genealogy. I’m a federal inmate, so I have a lot of time here to do this.”

Coggins listed reason after reason that performing the indexing is a positive endeavor. Not only does it provide inmates with an opportunity to use their brains, but they acquire computer skills they can utilize upon their release. The situation is really a win-win-win one; for the inmates, the LDS, and genealogists like ourselves. It has given many of the inmates a sense of purpose, and accelerated the creation of the genealogy databases available at Family Search.

An added bonus of the program is that many of the inmates develop a genuine interest in and passion for the work, and continue after they get out. The prison staff also benefit as well, as the inmates stay busy and out of trouble. According to Weber County Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Porter, “We like to keep the inmates busy. The busier we keep them, the easier they are to manage,” he said.

The indexing has helped many of the inmates to develop a greater appreciation of family and its importance in our lives. Some have reconnected and even mended broken relationships since they begun the work. That of course is understandable; as every genealogist experiences the same appreciation of family once they begin to discover their past. The great thing of course is that even more records will become available online for future genealogists, and that can’t be a bad thing at all!

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March 15th, 2011

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day by Researching Your Irish Genealogy

It’s easier than ever to find out if you have Irish background. today released a definitive collection of Irish genealogical records in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, and the list includes data regarding famous personalities such as Walt Disney, Conan O’Brien, and US President Barack Obama. The collection gives wonderful insight into eighteenth and nineteenth century life in Ireland and spans the period from 1824 – 1910 making it a must have resource for anyone searching their Irish roots.

The collection includes:


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December 2nd, 2010

YouTube (Traditional Genealogy Source #3)

YouTube has become another one of those traditional sources of information for me.  I never cease to be amazed by the good historical film footage available and easily identified.

If you were not already aware, I am a big fan of gathering, providing, and attempting to understand historical context of genealogical events and activities.  I believe, very strongly, that context helps place family decisions in a more realistic light. And videos, when done well provide visual, audio and even textual context.  They are simply wonderful.

In order to provide a personal anecdote (story) I would share the following:

My mother grew up in Nazi Germany.  Her family home, farm and possessions were lost to Poland as part of the Allied Ethnic Cleansing of Eastern Europe following the victory over Germany. Because my grandmother was sent to a Soviet Gulag, my grandfather was forced into Russian servitude, my uncle was in British captivity and my mother was in the American Zone… I never received or saw images of their loss, expulsion, or imprisonments.  I can assure you each event was important but all I ever had was small verbal acknowledgments of the facts and few tellings of the stories along with no images.

As a result, I have been searching and gathering images and stories of the time.  American, German and all western history tends to gloss over the time frame, circumstances and events- but not YouTube.  I have found a wealth of videos. Naturally, many are disturbing.  However, many are very informative.  I have a much better idea of the time, place and circumstances of my families post-WW2 life and events.  I have been able to build a context that otherwise I would never have attained.

Here are a few examples:

As I said at the outset… YouTube is a wonderful traditional source of genealogical information.  You never know what you might find there!

copyright 2010 Mark F. Rabideau – ManyRoads

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May 30th, 2010

Miriam Robbins Midkiff: Online Genealogy

Miriam Robbins Midkiff writes a blog about her genealogy research, called AnceStories. Her blog has won several awards and it’s full of tips, links and advice. She also is an Online Genealogy Teacher through the community colleges in Washington and is available for genealogy speaking engagements.

I asked Miriam these questions:

  • What do you think the future can bring with regards to online genealogy research?
  • What online tools do you use to research your genealogy and why?
  • What is your general opinion of the advantages and/or disadvantages of using some of these online research tools?
  • This is what Miriam had to say when I asked her these questions:


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    May 19th, 2010

    Gena Philibert Ortega: Professional Genealogist

    Gena Philibert Ortega is a well known online genealogist. She writes several blogs, one about her own genealogy research; she is the editor of the World Vital Records newsletter; and she manages online genealogy social networking site, Genealogy Wise. She has a strong background in the relatively new field of online genealogy. So I asked Gena:

  • What do you think the future can bring with regards to online genealogy research?
  • What online tools do you use to research your genealogy and why?
  • What is your general opinion of the advantages and/or disadvantages of using some of these online research tools?
  • This is what Gena had to say when I asked her these questions:


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