Thursday, 29 June 2017

Canadian Genealogy without the 'Big Guys'

A while ago I read a blog article by Dear Myrtle in which she discusses the copyright issue of sharing free lookups using personal subscriptions to commercial genealogy sites. She referenced Judy G. Russell's article, Just Say No .... Judy Russell is the Legal Genealogist.

This posed a question :  "How do I research without paid subscription sites at my fingertips?"
Answer: Be Creative!!
I have been doing genealogy since the 'olden days' when computers and the internet were for corporate types. It took a lot of hard slogging using books, print periodical indexes, family history journals and many boxes of microfilm, as well as writing letters! Do you remember the PILIs before it was on Ancestry?
I went to family history centres, libraries, museums and archives from the very beginning. Once my children came along, it became even more difficult to do family history (no internet at home and very little time). I used to get to a point where I needed to escape to a library. My daughter now calls it my 'happy place'.

So getting down to brass tacks, how do I do genealogy without the advantage of a personal subscription to Ancestry or Find My Past? 

My tips researching genealogy for Free
Use Ancestry and Find My Past at the local library!
If we use the subscriptions in the library, the service will survive and help the library to stay open. Libraries and archives partner with Ancestry and other vendors to digitize their collections for youAs I do not have an individual subscription I use the pay as you go option as often as possible. Thankfully Ancestry has provided this recently. (Just to be sure, do read the fine print for Ts&Cs.) Sign up for an account which allows you to log in and search the indexes - then go to the library with your list. (TIP: there are other types of valuable online subscriptions via your library membership.)  Note: quite a few public libraries only subscribe to Ancestry -please check before heading there.  

Join a Family History Society - WHY?? - Because they are often run by volunteers and your money/membership helps to keep the doors open. TIP:  Rotate your membership amongst various societies to get great value for your $$ or ££ as well as to show your support. 
Indexes of articles in family history journals are often available for free on their websites.   Examples: BIFHSGO, OGS Index (Ontario), BCGS (British Columbia), Nova Scotia Genealogist. I leave it to you to make new discoveries!

Make notes of articles that indicate good online resources. Learning how to skim text quickly and efficiently will save you loads of time. Remember to cite, cite, cite, and especially the date and where you found the resource!

Read online research guides posted on family history society websites, public libraries and archive sites
  • these guides are written by knowledgeable staff and is often a way of 'passing down' their knowledge 
  • It's your opportunity to 'speak to a specialist'
Read Blogs - these writers are passionate genealogists and are very knowledgeable! Attend workshops and conferences - network with people in the area of your research. They hold the keys to break down your brick walls.


Free webinars provided by family history societies, archives and individuals (You Tube, Vimeo, Periscope-an example, paper.li ) - I learn something new every time!
A short list of my favourite Free online resources. 
  • Archive.org - a site of free e-books, provided by university libraries and more!
  • Automated Genealogy - a free site of Canadian census transcribed by genealogists! Excellent linking functionality.
  • CanGenealogy - Dave Obee's pages of genealogy links with an easy interactive map.
Above all, keep notes of your new discoveries, return to the same sites as websites change and new datasets appear all the time! Keep Calm and Keep On Researching!

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