Family History Basics: Part Two (Internet Sources for Kicks and Giggles)

This is a continued series following a request for information on getting started with genealogical research, without using Ancestry. The author has nothing against using Ancestry, but wants to show that there are alternatives as the request stated.

Internet Resources: More Sites

Internet genealogical sources are myriad and scattered across the upper levels of the World Wide Web. There are plenty of deep-level web sites for individual family sources, and things that are kept behind paid or unpaid firewalls for accessibility restrictions due to membership (read: profit) concerns.

Ancestry is the biggest gorilla on the block, but there are also sites like WorldVitalRecords.com, HeritageQuest.com, and Fold3 that do similar functions. Their resources may overlap in a few places, but that depends upon the business model, profit-sharing strategies, and strategic planning.

This is by no means a thorough list, but a small compilation of a few of my go-to resources when at a library. I use Ancestry due to its profundity, but will need to start a Fold3 account soon after reviewing its source possibilities for military records. For someone living in the Windy City, the public libraries are under-staffed due to extreme and severe budget cuts. When you cut a library, you’re cutting your life. That said, there is at least HeritageQuest that is accessible for home use via one of those precious little green library cards. Since HeritageQuest has the censuses (the biggest draw for any US-based online genealogical database image-viewing site) I recommend using that green card and reaping happy benefits.

Client Practice Methodology for the Inclined: Time Needed for Starting Out

Future blog posts will highlight or give more depth to these and other sites in addition to other facets of research. There are myriad ways of starting out, and I typically recommend reserving an hour for beginning and two hours if you want to dig just a bit. The time goes by FAST! Just trust me here. I’ve given enough people a small taste to know that time becomes irrelevant outside of the cost structure. That said, four-hour increments are what I normally see people charge for when performing research for another person. It’s long enough to get some basics together, although not so long that it’s onerous on a client or their pocketbook, typically. For friends, I suggest two hours for simply helping them out in getting started, but will start with one hour and see whether they have more time than that. Once a person starts and gets into it, stopping is close to or nearly impossible.


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