Category: Google eBooks

My top ten: Best world-wide genealogy and ancestry websites.

After almost twenty years of genealogy research, there are certain sites that have become my ‘go to’ sites for certain aspects of my genealogy research. I thought it might be helpful for me to post my list of my top ten genealogy and ancestry websites.
Internet Archive

Internet Archive Search

I have also included a description of the reasons why these sites have proved invaluable to me. If you’re looking for information in these areas, be sure to check out these sites.

The headings are links to the sites described and paid sites are indicated by ($) following the heading.


Maintained and updated by the LDS (Latterday Saints) Church, this site has been invaluable for all of my time researching my family’s genealogy. In the past few years in particular, the databases have expanded substantially as the LDS organization works to digitize more and more information. Recently, the search feature has become much more effective and accurate. No matter what country, region or time frame you are researching, this is a wonderful site. Best of all, it is free.

2. ($) is a favorite for all of the reasons listed for, the only difference being that a paid subscription is required. Although I do use a great deal, I plan my research so I don’t have to remain subscribed all of the time. As I research and find gaps, I keep a ‘to do’ list and when it is large enough to warrant the cost, I will subscribe for as long as I think is necessary, tackle my list, and cancel the subscription when I have completed my list. It has been almost a year since I last subscribed because I’ve been finding a substantial amount of information elsewhere. I am due to subscribe pretty soon to tackle my current ‘to do’ list.

If you’re looking for one paid site that provides extensive data from around the world, this is the one.

3.  Cyndi’s List

Cyndi’s List is the largest site that offers extensive links to genealogy sites and resources on the internet. Cyndi has worked tirelessly for decades creating this site of over 300,000 links – sorted, categorized and constantly updated to maintain currency and functionality.

Recently, however, Cyndi’s List has been the target of a hacker who stole her entire site, making minor changes to ‘make it their own’ and attempting to divert revenue to themselves. Be sure the site you’re visiting is actually Cyndi’s List and help protect her extensive investment and our valuable resource.

4.  Olive Tree Genealogy

Olive Tree Genealogy is an extensive portal of links to valuable data and genealogy research information around the world. Although I do find this site somewhat confusing and difficult to navigate, my investment of time and effort has proved valuable as I have found wonderful, obscure data that I was unable to find elsewhere.

5.  Foundation for Medieval Genealogy

You should have seen my surprise when my husband’s ancestry connected directly to nobles and royalty in the medieval period. For the longest time this was a vast brick wall for me as there is very little quality data available online for researching this time.

I can’t remember how I found this site, but it’s an amazing resource as it’s extensively researched and sourced. The sources are described in detail and where there are questions about the data, they make it clear so we can note these gaps and questions in our own research. Where they have drawn conclusions from the existing evidence they examine the evidence and describe their conclusions.

6.  Directory of Royal Genealogical Data: University of Hull

This is another well researched site about royal genealogy from the University of Hull in England that also covers the medieval period, but they are not as clear about the quality of their sources, the evidence they’ve used to form their conclusions and the reasons they formed the conclusions leading to the published genealogy.

7.  Internet Archive

Besides finding and sourcing dates and events, I also enjoy finding the details of the lives of our ancestors through written accounts. Access to these publications has helped immensely with writing this blog by enabling me to understand the circumstances and times in which our ancestors lived.

Internet Archive tops Google E-Books on this list because it is totally free.

8.  Google E-Books

Google E-Books is essentially a site offering paid and free access to public domain written materials and books with a very accurate, intuitive search feature. If you use the link in the heading, however, it is possible to search only titles available for free access and download. To find free titles, be sure to check ‘Full View’ when conducting a search.

9.  Rootsweb

This is a free site offered by It’s a valuable resource for providing free access to user input data and family trees. Although I don’t entirely trust the data offered on this site for the simple reason that it is made up from ‘user input’, it has been very valuable to me when encountering those frustrating brick walls. I use the information here as ‘clues’ which have helped me break through those brick walls.

This data is recognizable in my Blythe Database because I do not enter sources or indicate very poor quality sources. Those using my database should interpret these facts as questionable at best.

10.  GeneaBloggers

GeneaBloggers was the genius idea of offering a directory of genealogy blogs. When I have some time on my hands and just want to explore what others are doing and saying, I start at GeneaBloggers.

Have fun checking out these sites!

My ‘must have’ list of top 10 genealogy websites.

This list of top 10 genealogy websites is a bit different than others because I have evaluated them based on the sheer quantity of data and sources I have found for my own personal research, regardless whether they are paid or free.
will of Richard Chatterton found on the UK Archives site.

17th century will of Richard Chatterton found on the UK Archives site, #9 on my top 10 genealogy websites list.

I will only subscribe to a site if I’m sure it’s worth it as I can usually find most other information on free sites with some effort.

It just so happens though, that my favorite site to conduct research is a paid site, while all the rest except one are free.

Ancestry ($)

Although this site requires a paid subscription, it is the one and only site I do pay for as I find I truly do get my money’s worth. No matter what location, type of record, or time period, I can usually find something of value on this site. The search feature is rather confusing and cumbersome. Just keep in mind it’s better to be as specific as possible and use the filters appropriately and you will get fairly accurate results.

Family Search

Over the past few years, Family Search has been quickly catching up to Ancestry because of the sheer quantity of transcriptions, images, and collections they continue to make available online. They have a very accurate and intuitive search.

Library and Archives Canada

I am Canadian, with roots in both French Canada (Quebec) and Acadia (Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). Anytime I am researching a Canadian line, this is the first site I go to – even before Ancestry and Family Search.

Nova Scotia Archives

My Acadian ancestors form a rather specialized area of research, and the Nova Scotia Archives genealogy research site is the first place I go. Original records are available for a per unit price, but I’m quite happy just printing the transcribed records for the most part.

Internet Archive

My husband’s Welsh Quaker, British, royal and new world ancestors are the largest part of my research and this is the one site I go to when I’m unable to find original records or even transcriptions of records elsewhere. I’ve found numerous genealogy studies, articles, and books; history books, etc. that have provided detailed information. It is important to remember, however, that errors were not uncommon in these publications, and I do continue to try to find more concrete sources.

Foundation for Medieval Genealogy

I am fascinated by my husband’s medieval and royal ancestry and this site is a well-researched site. Any suspect information is clearly identified and there is a clear explanation of why. Original medieval sources are cited in detail, supporting all facts and conclusions.

University of Hull Royal Database

This is also a very well researched site providing invaluable information about the royal lineages of Britain and Europe. I usually consult this site in tandem with the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy site above. This helps to confirm some information to a certain degree.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

About 1750, my husband’s Welsh and British ancestors started arriving in the new world and the branches that took root there flourished to impact all areas of American life. Next to Ancestry, I find this site valuable for actual military files and numerous other archived documents. All requests, however, must be done by snail mail, in which case I try to avoid this site a lot. I’m definitely an instant gratification kind of person. Hopefully one day they’ll set up online access, even if it is paid. I’d certainly subscribe to this one.

UK Archives ($)

I have found some of the more interesting documents on this site, including numerous scans of original wills from the 16th to the 19th century. There is something about the old English script that I find very beautiful and it’s a suitable challenge for my puzzle oriented mind to transcribe them. There is a per unit price to download documents, but the price is very reasonable and I have no problem paying it, considering the high quality of the document scans.

World GenWeb

No one individual GenWeb site in this network is used all that much in my research, but if you consider all research found on any of the GenWeb sites, it definitely warrants a top ten position. I have listed the main World GenWeb site, which links through to the full network of other sites from other locations. By using the links, it is possible to drill down from the global and country levels to county and indeed township sites in some cases.


Please help me understand birth records of slave children in Virginia.

slave children born to white plantation owners

The Old Plantation (Slaves Dancing on a South Carolina Plantation), ca. 1785-1795. watercolor on paper, attributed to John Rose, Beaufort County, South Carolina. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA.

I have a mystery concerning the birth records of slave children in Virginia and I’m hoping this post might lead to some answers to my questions.

While researching our connection(s) to the Cocke and Chastain families of Virginia, I discovered a mystery with regard to the parentage and  birth records of slave children that are recorded as “born to” followed by the name of the known owner.

Was the owner the biological father, or was this a matter of expediency and self-interest, ensuring the births of new slaves would be recorded as proof of ownership?

In the case of Estienne “Stephen” Chastain, M.D. (married to Marthe Du Puy), the birth records of slave children are recorded as follows in “Documents, chiefly unpublished; Huguenot Immigration to Virginia and to the settlement at Manakin-town, with an appendix of genealogies, presenting data of the Fontaine, Maury, Dupuy, Trabue, Marye, Chastain, Cock, and other families.”

It is important to note that Estienne Chastain’s death is recorded as just on or about 21 Aug 1739, while that of his widow Marthe was on 23 Apr 1740.

All births of black slaves prior to  1739 are attributed to Estienne, while those in 1739 and after are attributed to Marthe, making it impossible for these children to have been fathered by Estienne.

The 24th day of the month of July was born to Estienne Chastain a black named Tobye, 1727.

The 8th June, 1728, was born a black girl to Estienne Chastain named Janne.

The 19th March (?) was born a black girl to Estienne Chastain.

The 17th February, 1731 [1732], was born to Estienne Chastain a black girl named Suson.

The l0th July, 1739, was born a black to Marthe Chastain, named Samuel.

The 27th February, 1739, was born a black girl to Marte Chastain, named Pegg.

The 6th Xber, 1740, was born a black girl to Marie Chastain; her name is Nani.

The 31st Xber, 1740, was born a black girl to Marte Chastain, her name is Moll ; she died the nth January, 1740 [1741].

From the research I have conducted, I learned that slave owners in some parts of Virginia took more care to record the births of their slaves in their private and business records to ensure they were legally recorded as their property. However, I’ve so far been unable to find information about birth records of slave children in the community birth registers like the ones listed above  – not just the family’s business and slave ownership records. These facts lead me to believe that the plantation owner may not have been the father. Would there have been some other indication if he were the biological father of any of the slave children?

I am, however, still looking into it as there is no proof of this conclusion.

According to the Wiki page:

During the antebellum period, keeping vital records had not yet been mandated by many state governments. For that simple reason, official vital records do not exist for slaves, or for anyone else, in many of the states prior to the Civil War. Yet, as always, there are exceptions. For example, Kentucky enacted legislation in 1852 (repealed in 1862) requiring birth and death registrations in all counties. The birth records were to include children born to slave mothers, indicating date and place of birth, sex, and name of owner. A year later similar legislation was passed in Virginia. It has been noted that slave owners may have been more intent on registering slave births than the births of their own children, a motivation likely arising from the need to protect their property by an act of official registration.

Similar motivations may have spurred the baptism of slaves by their owners. Such baptism records are often just as detailed as those for whites. The majority of such records, at least those which are extant, appear to be from Anglican/Episcopalian churches. Unfortunately, many of these registers have probably been lost, especially those of Virginia.63 The situation is much better in South Carolina, where the records of a number of Low Country churches survive, many extending well back into the colonial era. These contain extensive slave baptismal records, some including the names of both slave parents as well as owners. The South Carolina Historical Society has microfilmed many of these records and made them available on microfiche.

It has already been noted that the personal papers of slave owners can contain records of slave births and deaths. Consider the possibility of slave births and deaths being noted in the slave owner’s Bible, together with those of his own family. To be sure, this was not a typical practice; however, when it did occur it likely reflected a small slaveholding of perhaps one or two slave families who had been in the possession of their owners for several decades.

To add more confusion to the situation, there is also a slave birth recorded to Estienne and Marthe’s daughter Marie after the death of Marthe. Marie had inherited the slaves as per her mother’s will.

If anyone has any information concerning the practice of registering birth records of slave children, especially when the biological father was the white slave owner, I would appreciate hearing. Without definite proof, would you come to the same conclusion as I have?

Ancestry Magazine 2004 to 2009 Back Issues Available Free at Google e-Books

Ancestry MagazineI was thrilled to discover that back issues of Ancestry magazine from 2004 to 2009 are now available for free download at Google e-Books.

This is just one of several magazine titles for which Google e-Books is making back issues available online – on numerous subject matters.

Ancestry magazine is about genealogy and family tree research, and includes advice on using, stories and advice from experts, as well as the success stories from fellow researchers and genealogists around the world.

Among the regular features is a timeline, heritage recipes, information about new records and tools at, and advice for using Family Tree Maker genealogy software.

I certainly will be checking through all of these issues as I find time.


  1. Google e-Book


My Top 29: Best Christmas Gifts for the Avid Genealogist


Are you struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift for the beloved Genealogist in your family? Unsure where to start looking?

Here is a list of the best genealogy products from a wide range of categories and price ranges. At the very least, it should provide some inspiration.


Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

The one gift that would be perfect for every genealist is the amazing, compact, Flip-Pal mobile scanner.
How does the Flip-Pal differ from the standalone scanners we are used to using? It provides invaluable mobility and flexibility. It is mobile in the sense that it can be used outside the home for on-site research and document reproduction, such as in libraries, archives, government offices, etc. It’s amazingly flexible in that it’s battery operated and is capable of scanning oversize documents (that would never fit on a stand-alone scanner) in multiple parts and then stitching them together to create one complete high resolution document. Flip-Pal is currently offering holiday specials for savings of $20 to $55, depending on the bundle purchased.


Genealogy Site Subscriptions

Several valuable websites offer subscriptions of varying terms and prices, some universal and some specializing in special areas of research such as military, by location, etc.

A few of these are:

  • (Canada)
  • (US and Global)
  • Genes Reunited
  • Fold3
  • One Great Family



The first large purchase I made for my genealogy research was a laptop. The portability was invaluable to me as a hockey mom and will be important as an empty nester and retiree. During weekend hockey tournaments, while Stuart and Mark were watching TV or playing games in the hotel room, I could be happily conducting research. Here are some amazing laptop buys.

  • Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch)
    • I have both a Mac desktop and a Windows laptop. I much prefer using a Mac, but my preferred genealogy software (Rootsmagic) does not offer a Mac version, despite my constantly bugging them, asking for them to create a Mac version. If they ever offered a Mac version, I would never switch to anything else. At $249, this laptop is a recognized and respected brand at an unbeatable price.
  • Apple iBook Laptop 12.1″ M9164LL/A (800-MHz PowerPC G4, 256 MB RAM, 30 GB Hard Drive, DVD/CD-RW Drive)
    • Had I not been forced to purchase a Windows laptop to accommodate my software, I would have gladly paid the higher price for a Mac. It’s so worth it for the quality. The features for working with images are unparalleled.
  • Dell Inspiron i15R-1316BLU 15-Inch Laptop


External Hard Drive

I use a Seagate external hard drive and I love it. It’s very compact and easily fits in a laptop case with the mobile scanner, mouse (I don’t like trackpads), and cords required to work away from home. I can’t stress enough that in this case, size matters. Mine is a 1T hard drive and I would never consider purchasing anything smaller, especially since I prefer to work with high quality, high resolution images as much as possible.

  • Seagate Expansion 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive STBX500100
  • Seagate Backup Plus 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive STBU1000100 (Black)


Online Backup

If your loved one has a laptop and finds it easier to not carry around a hard drive, then Mozy Online Backup may be the solution. It’s easy to get up to 2GB free, and even more online storage is available for a fee.


Genealogy Software

  • Rootsmagic
    • This is the genealogy software I use – and have used for ten years. I have remained loyal to this software because of their frequent and consistent updates, and the flexibility to handle custom dates such as those in Quaker research (i.e. 3d 11th mo 1708) or date ranges (i.e. between about November 3, 1708 and 1710).
  • Heredis
    • This is the one software I seriously considered to replace Rootsmagic – and I actually did purchase it after trying the demo and being impressed. As soon as I started working in our Quaker lines again, it was immediately apparent that this software was unable to handle custom date formats, translating them in very weird indecipherable ways. I will say, however that I was impressed enough that I would try again if they ever change it to handle custom dates. They were very understanding about my reasons for requesting a refund and provided it readily.
  • Family Tree Maker
    • I did own Family Tree Maker and switched to Rootsmagic because it suited my particular research and goals better. It is a favorite of numerous others though, so I am including it here.


Genealogy Books

Here are a few books I would recommend.

  • For the novice genealogist.
    • The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy  – Use the Web to trace your roots, share your history, and create a family tree (Everything Series).
    • 101 of the Best Free Websites for Climbing Your Family Tree
    • Genealogy Online For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech))
  • For the advanced genealogist.
    • The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy  – Use the Web to trace your roots, share your history, and create a family tree (Everything Series).
    • Beyond the Basics: A Guide for Advanced Users of Family Tree Maker 2011
    • Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians
    • The Troubleshooter’s Guide to Do-It-Yourself Genealogy: Advanced Techniques for Overcoming Obstacles, Removing Roadblocks, and Unlocking Your Family History!


Fun and Helpful Genealogy Products

  • Sony ICD-SX25 Digital Voice Recorder
  • Genealogy Confusion blue Family Fitted T-Shirt by CafePress
  • Executive Family History Binder
  • Wall Chart-Genealogy Of Jesus Christ (Laminated)
  • Genealogy Binders
  • Genealogy Text Mousepad

Google Reaches Settlement with Publishers While Negotiations With Authors Are Still Pending

Books on shelf.One of my favorite resources for genealogy research has been Google e-books. The status of this invaluable online library of e-books has been up in the air due to an ongoing dispute between both authors and publishers against Google.

A settlement has been reached between Google and the publishers, ending the long-standing lawsuit that had been filed in October 2005. The suit was originally filed when Google failed to get copyright permission prior to negotiating a deal with research libraries to scan books and documents in their collections.

Google’s current library of e-books consists of over 20 million titles and this library was the focus of the lawsuit, stating that this violated the copyrights of authors and publishers. In the past, Google would include titles unless the author or publisher objected. This settlement allows publishers the right of approval for inclusion of titles in Google’s library.

The authors’ suit, however, is still pending, but they see this settlement as a positive indicator for their own negotiations with Google.

I, for one, am very glad this resource will remain accessible.