Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Google for Family History Research

Google is a powerful tool for family history research. By using a combination of simple search criteria, you can locate information about your ancestor that you might never discover in any other way. 

Search for a specific name, along with a city and/or state and "~genealogy" or "~history". 

Putting the name in quotes limits the search to that name exactly (“Lorenzo Bird”).  Putting an asterisk between the first name and last name (“Lorenzo * Bird”) would find that name with any middle initial or middle name (Lorenzo Dow Bird, Lorenzo F. Bird, Lorenzo Bird). The tilde (~) looks for the word and any synonyms.

Add the names of other family members (for example, a wife's maiden name). Try adding a county name to focus on a particular surname in a specific location. 

For more information and examples using Google to search for family history information, check out Daniel Lynch’s web site:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Millions and millions of images - finding what's new

A million is a big number, but it's becoming an ordinary number in family history research.  On an almost daily basis, FamilySearch is adding millions of images and names to the Historical Record Collections already available at  Information you have been unable to find may become available today or next week or next month! 

To see what's new, go to, scroll down and click on All Record Collections The list of collections will be arranged in alphabetical order. 

Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work

Along with all the new features and databases at, the church has prepared a booklet to help families get started with family history research.  If you haven't already got your copy of the Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, stop by the Family History Center soon and pick one up. 

The Member's Guide is organized into seven chapters that parallel the seven lessons taught in the Family History Sunday School course. You don't have to take the class to benefit from the guide. In additional to providing information on the basics of family history research, the guide explains the doctrine of temple and family history work, and outlines the church's policies for submitting names for ordinance work on behalf of your deceased ancestors. You can also download a copy of the guide to your smart phone using the LDS Gospel Library app under the category Manuals àSunday School.

Christmas letters

Does your family send an annual Christmas letter? Have you been doing it for years?  Did your parents and grandparents send Christmas letters?  If you've got a pile of old family Christmas letters, bring them into the Family History Center.  We'll help you scan them so that you can preserve them and share them.  Annual letters give a great snapshot view of life.  If you don't already write an annual letter, consider adding that to your holiday traditions!  Your children and grandchildren will thank you!

Yearbooks and Alumni Publications

Image from
1915  Lansing High School Yearbook
Lansing, Michigan
Yearbooks and alumni publications can be a great resource for learning more about a family member. Many free websites include yearbook photos and/or biographical information, including, Google Books, and Internet Archive

Yearbooks for the College of William and Mary are available for the years 1899 to 1995 on WorldVitalRecords, a premium content website that is available for free in Family History Centers

Try searching first for the name of the school plus the word "yearbook." 

Men in the US born 1872-1900 - WWI Draft Cards

All men living in the US in 1917 and 1918 (aliens as well as citizens) who were born between September 1872 and September 1900 were required by law to register for the draft unless they were already serving in the military. If you ancestor was born in that timeframe, check for a draft registration card. The cards include details like current residence, date and place of birth, name and address of nearest relative, and more.

Alabama, Washington county; Roll: U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

Until recently, the only way to find a draft registration card was to look at every card filed (either on microfilm or at the National Archives at Atlanta) by the Draft Board in the county and state where your ancestor lived. Thanks to digitization and indexing efforts, you can now quickly search by a person's name.

Draft registration collections are available on several genealogy web sites including and More than 24 million men registered, so you are likely to find a relation among them.