This is topic Genealogy - Help? in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Hey guys.

I used the almight search function to look for previous threads on the subject, and found one started by quid last year, but all the links she had for free genealogy sites were dead ends. They just didn't have enough information to be useful.

Does anyone here do a lot of genealogical research into their families? What'd really be nice is if I could borrow someone's account for a couple days. I just can't afford a couple hundred dollars for my own account, and I'm getting nowhere with the free sites.

I know a ton about my mother's side of the family, we have them on record back to the 18th century when they came to Quebec and well documented after that (if I want more than that, I have to go to Avignon).

But my father's side of the family seems to dead end around my great grandfather. Beyond him, no one seems to know when the family got here, where we came from or anything, and it's bothering me. I have a half full 300 year old family tree crying out for completion and no real way of fixing it. Any ideas for what I can do from my laptop to find the information? I don't have the time while I'm in school to travel anywhere to get information from hospitals or cemetaries, I need to be able to access all that stuff online (where it SHOULD be).

Any and all help would be appreciated.
Posted by Lupus (Member # 6516) on :
You can sign up for a trial for free...I believe you can keep it for 14 days. Just remember to cancel it afterwards.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Yeah well, I'm leery of that. I've done things like that before and no amount of calling has gotten them to cancel my so called free membership, so I'm more than a bit hesitant to give them my credit card number. If the trial is free, I don't understand why they NEED my credit card info before they'll let me try the service.
Posted by GaalDornick (Member # 8880) on :
Because then you can just keep signing up for as many free 14-day trials as you want under different names. They need your CC number to verify that you can pay and that you exist.
Posted by Artemisia Tridentata (Member # 8746) on :
You could try the local Mormon Church. All areas have at least a rudimentry "Family History Center" They would have acccess to no-cost search tools and some live help in using them. They are avalable to all person no matter what or any religious affiliation. Just look in the phone listings for Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, Family History Center, and call for times. They are staffed by volunteers so they are not open regular hours. The volunteers are most likely from your area and may be familiar with local resources too.
Posted by sweetbaboo (Member # 8845) on :
IIRC, local LDS Family HIstory Centers have a subscription to ancestry that you are able to use for free. I don't know what websites quid suggested but I might be able to help if I know more about what you're looking for (specifically what type of records and location are two biggies). You can email me from my profile if you'd rather do it that way but I'd be glad to help if I can.

[ September 06, 2006, 09:10 PM: Message edited by: sweetbaboo ]
Posted by CaySedai (Member # 6459) on :
sweetbaboo: you are correct, and that's what I was going to suggest. The Family History Centers do have a subscription to The FHCs are open to anyone who wants to use them. They have volunteers to help if you need it. Of course, some have more than one volunteer at a time ...
Posted by CaySedai (Member # 6459) on :
More info on FHC: ours is set up so that people can save things to diskette. Our computer at home has no diskette drive. So, I save things to the desktop and send myself an e-mail with the file(s) attached.

Ours is small - only two computers, so if there are more people, you may have to take turns. There is a small charge for printing stuff out.

I believe that quidscribis is a FHC person and therefore more experienced with that end of it than I am.
Posted by quidscribis (Member # 5124) on :
The FHCs are all supposed to have a minimum of two volunteers per shift, and they will teach you how to do your genealogy.

I used to work in a FHC and I've trained the staff who worked there, plus gave Sunday school classes on family history as well, but now, I'm the district family history consultant in the LDS church in Sri Lanka, which basically means that, in our church, I overseee all family history activity in Sri Lanka, including training all the family history consultants at the congregation level (which isn't as impressive as it sounds - there are only 4 1/2 congregations here) and those who work in the one FHC we have, I train the church leaders, and I give classes, presentations, seminars, and all that good stuff on FHC. In other words, I'm the local expert who gets to spout off. [Razz]

You can also go to Family Search, which is the LDS church's family history site with loads and loads of good info. They have a Getting Started section.

I'd also suggest checking out Cyndi's List (which over 260k genealogy links) and Lindpendium with over 5m genealogy links. That'll point you to, oh, a lot of genealogy sites, and that ought to be enough to get you started. [Razz]

And Lyrhawn, for whatever it's worth, I'm with you on not wanting to give Ancestry my credit card info. They are actually notoriously difficult to cancel an account and many people complain about how they tried but because they did it by email (I think), it didn't work so they ended up getting charged anyway... If you do go with an Ancestry account, make sure you know EXACTLY what hoops you have to go through to cancel before you give them any financial information.

Let us know what kinds of questions you have. We'll do our best to help. [Smile]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Mostly all I'm looking for at this point is names and dates, so I guess the majority of what I want is birth certificates, and maybe death certificates and marriage licenses. I figured most of that stuff would be online, and it appears it all IS, but everything costs money.

I'm going to look into finding the local Mormon center and see where that goes. Thanks guys.
Posted by andi330 (Member # 8572) on :
Check out the National Archives website and see if they have a center in your area. National Archives allow you to check things like the Census and Social Security death index which often aren't available (or as complete) through websites. Here is a link to the geneology page. I didn't do a lot of looking around. It's changed some since I was last there. If you plan on going to an actual archives building, there are lots of rules, including how to arrange to visit so check what needs to be done before just showing up.
Posted by Avin (Member # 7751) on :
Hey quidscribis, do you think that I would be able to find information about my family through online tools? As in, would the information be there? I ask you because all my family was born and died in Sri Lanka, with the exception of my mother's maternal grandfather, who was English. Is the information from Sri Lankan birth certificates and such available online?
Posted by quidscribis (Member # 5124) on :
Some info will be, but I don't know about all.

Perhaps a better question to ask would be... Can I find that information without having to visit Sri Lanka? The odds on that increase dramatically.

I would suggest you start with subscribing to the Rootsweb list for Sri Lanka - you'll find all sorts of other people who are also researching their ancestors in Sri Lanka and they'll have ideas where you can look for information.

Also, you will want to know that 30+ years ago, the LDS church, with permission of the Sri Lankan government, microfilmed the information at the archives, ie birth, marriage, death certificates, census records, and so on through the British period. You can do a search through the records collection for Sri Lanka and come up with all sorts of interesting stuff. Then click on Film Notes and you get the film number, which you can then use to order the microfilm at an LDS Family History Center (FHC) so you can view it at the FHC. (You cannot order the film through the FHC and then take it to view it elsewhere - it's the property of the church and can't leave, but FHCs generally have microfilm readers. You pay a relatively small charge, around $6 or so, to use the film for a few weeks. You can also renew it for a similar amount.) You then have the happy pleasure of looking through microfilms to find information that's available in Sri Lanka through the National Archives.

Most FHCs also have special microfilm readers that have photocopiers attached, so you will probably be able to make photocopies of pertinent information for you to take home with you.

Start with that and see how far it takes you. [Smile]

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