I use Amazon almost every day it seems; my house and business just can’t run without it! I’ve been a loyal Amazon users since the first started, and I also have an Amazon Prime membership which offers benefits such as free 2-day shipping, streaming music and video and more.
The typical genealogist uses Amazon as a source for purchasing genealogy books, software and even gift items. But have you tried using Amazon to search for other items related to actual genealogical research?
Genealogy Research Items on Amazon
I stumbled upon several items relevant to genealogical research by accident. Usually, when I enter the word “genealogy” the first items to appear are books. Amazon ranks search results based on the most relevant items, and those items appear first.
To look at some of the more “uncommon” or lower ranking items, in the left sidebar, click “See all _____ departments.” Then select departments that might have items related to genealogy. One of the best is Collectibles & Fine Art. Why? This is where vendors sell old family photos – some identified and some unidentified. You may find photos of your ancestors or from the same town as your ancestors.
The Product Description is FILLED with valuable information: “1870’s Bertha Twiss Family CDV Photo, Manchester, Iowa, Delaware County, Vintage Victorian #150: On front: Bertha Twiss is clearly handwritten in period ink. Photo type: CDV Carte de visite Photo. Photographer: Walter’s Photographic Studio, Manchester, Iowa, Delaware County. Note: very ornate and fancy backmark. (This is known to be photographer Harry L. Walters or Walter) We found in public records: 1880 US Census about Bertha Belle Twiss Age: 7, Birth Year: abt 1879, Birthplace: Iowa, Home in 1880: Delhi, Delaware, Iowa. Father’s Name: Thomas A. Twiss, Father’s Birthplace: England, Mother’s name: Amelia Twiss, Mother’s Birthplace: Iowa, Household Members: Name Age: Thomas A. Twiss 40, Amelia Twiss 24, Bertha Belle Twiss 7, John Poor 68, Mary Poor 69. NOTE: Bertha Twiss Married Arthur Howell Denmark. Father: Thomas A Twiss born 1838. Mother: Amelia Permella Poor 1854-1922 .Sibling: Walter J Twiss born 1883. Unknown family member: Marbelle Twiss born 1907. Possible daughter: Bertha Belle Denmark who married Henry Grady Rushing in 1897. 1920 US Census Bertha Denmark [Bertha Luke] Age: 42 Birth Year: abt 1878 Birthplace: Iowa Home in 1920: Fitzgerald Ward 4, Ben Hill, Georgia. Spouse: Arthur H Denmark. Mother’s name: Amelia Luke. Household Members: Arthur H Denmark 47, Bertha Denmark 42, Marjorie Denmark 12. Frances Denmark 11, Alice Denmark 7, Amelia Luke 62, Clifford L Sanders 38, Minnie Sanders 33. A stunning image of an impish little girl with a beautiful and ornate photographer’s advertising backmark, artist palette, camera. One of our favorites! Do you know this Iowa and Georgia Twiss family? Size 2.5 x 4 inches”
Also, make sure you click on the Seller’s business name since it is likely they have photos and related items from the same location.
Don’t Forget Surname and Place Names!
In addition to using the terms “genealogy” and “family history,” I spent quite a while browsing items related to specific surnames and place names that I research.
When it comes down to it, any site that has a search engine has the potential to offer clues about your genealogy research. The best way to find out: enter one or more of your unusual surnames or place names and look at the search results.
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Check out Amazon today and see if it can’t help with some of your research!
[Editor’s note: Much of the text below is unchanged from the original Week 5 posting on January 30, 2015 except for my personal updates.]
Topics: 1) Building a Research Toolbox an 2) Citing Sources
Here we are in the fifth week already of the Genealogy Do-Over and this week’s focus is all about tools: finding and curating online tools to assist with your genealogy research AND understanding the basis of citing sources as a tool to document your research.
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Building a Research Toolbox
For several years I’ve been advocating the following concept: every genealogist should create a consolidated research toolbox filled with various tools such as historical value of money calculators, links to historical newspaper sites, etc.
The reason? Efficiency and increased productivity. Think of how much time you spend looking for a link to a site you saved a week or a month ago? Wouldn’t you rather spend that time looking for ancestors? Or when you need to calculate something – like how much $1 in 1910 would be worth in today’s money, you spend time out on the Web searching for a site to do the calculation. Don’t forget that each time you wander out to the Internet, you are at risk of being attracted by those BSOs (“bright and shiny objects”) and time is wasted!
A genealogy research toolbox can take many forms: a blog, a website, an Excel spreadsheet or even a cleaned-up and organized list of bookmarks:
What I Plan to Do: Since I’ve already had a research toolbox for the past three years, I will be reviewing the links to make sure they all work and making updates where needed. I’ll also spend some time online look for new tools to add to my toolbox. Here is the current version of my Genealogy Research Toolbox: http://genealogytoolbox.weebly.com/
Modified Participant Options: Consider creating a research toolbox, especially if your current toolbox consists of tons of bookmarks or favorites that are not very well-organized.
BONUS: Building a Research Toolbox video from RootsTech 2015
This past February, I was honored to present a live streamed session entitled Building a Research Toolbox (you can watch the video below or click here to view). In front of a full house of over 800 participants and with thousands watching live on the Internet, I explain the concept of a research toolbox and how it has helped my genealogy research.
And click here to download the Building a Research Toolbox syllabus for free!
BONUS: Tools to Get You Started
Here are some tools that I recently located while preparing for a Newspaper Research Strategies Boot Camp. They are so useful that I can’t see doing without them . . . so why not have them ready to access in a toolbox?
True confession: Like many beginning genealogists, I did not always cite my sources during research. I was a name collector. I’ve evolved as my research skills improved and as I took advantage of educational resources. For me, citing sources is not about impressing other researchers or meeting any standards established by others. I cite sources so I can go back and find the original information. Plain and simple. Source citations are the equivalent of a trail of breadcrumbs along my genealogy journey.
So, why do we use source citations?
There are many reasons why a genealogist might want to cite sources while researching ancestors.
Establish Proof. Cited material gives credibility to a fact or relationship while proving a connection.
Determine Reliability of Evidence. Some sources are more reliable and make a stronger proof. Compare points of evidence based on their source.
Track Records and Resources. Easily go back and locate records and their repository. This is effective when the original record or a copy is lost.
Expand Research. When encountering a difficult area of research, look for sources that were successful in making a proof and check them again for further information.
Discover Conflicts. Locate contradictions in existing research or when new evidence is found.
Understand the Research Process. When using another researcher’s work, sources can give a glimpse at how that research was developed.
Placeholders. Pick up a research project where you left off by looking at source citations.
How do I create a basic source citation?
A basic source citation has the following components:
Author, Title, Publisher, Locator
For the book Evidence Explained, here is a basic citation:
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub Co, 2007, p. 103.
Author: Format can be “First Name Last Name” or “Last Name, First Name.”
Title: Format can be Title (italics) or Title (underline). Also article titles may precede publication title.
Publisher: Format often includes publisher location, name and year published and sometimes appears in parentheses.
Locator: Usually a page number or range of page numbers depending upon the source type.
In addition, for online sources you may need:
Accessed: List date when source located as in “accessed on March 29, 2009” since online sites are known to disappear.
Examined: List search criteria as in “examined for any reference to ‘xyz’.”
Following the Basic Source Citation format above, you will want to add more “locator” information when using records such as census pages, death certificates, etc. and also specify the name of the person(s) listed in the record.
1850 U.S. Federal Census, Lewis County, New York, population schedule, Leyden, p. 84, dwelling 1254, family 1282, line 36, Clarinda PARSONS, digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 16 October 2011); from National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 523, image 168.
How can I access the citation format templates?
While I have added the source citation templates to the Genealogy Research Log (on the Citation Formats tab), click here to access a list of common citation formats in a Microsoft Word document.
What I Plan to Do: I’ll be using the Citation Formats tab in my Genealogy Research Log to build source citations for the research I’ve done in the past two weeks. In addition, as I encounter new record sets, I’ll take time to create new templates which will increase my productivity in the long run.
“All-In” Participant Options: If you own a copy of Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (either hard copy or digital), read Chapters 1 and 2. Doing so will help you understand how source citations are constructed and why they are so important to genealogy research.
Modified Participant Options: If you have cited sources for your previous research, review the cites and check them for formatting and accuracy. If you don’t have a cheat sheet or template to help speed up the process, consider creating a way to use pre-set source citation templates.
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And that’s all I have for this week’s topic of the Genealogy Do-Over. Get ready for next week when we discuss evaluating the evidence that we’ve gathered for our proofs and we’ll look at various online genealogy education options.
Here’s how you can break through brick walls using resources from MyHeritage AND at the same time give back to the genealogy community!
One Woman’s Success with MyHeritage
We recently received the following feedback from a genealogist about her recent experience with MyHeritage:
“I have been researching family history for almost 30 years. I did not think that MyHeritage could offer more clues on long-standing brick walls I had, but it actually did. Their search functions seems to operate differently than the others so I decided to give it a try. Since joining MyHeritage, I have located a branch of my Grandmother’s family in Europe that went missing after the second World War so that was a miracle! MyHeritage also solved another impossible brick wall for me with more records and newspaper sources. And Smart Matches continues to surprise me !” Magda Maria
Find out what MyHeritage has in store for you and your genealogy research today!
A Special Incentive – Announcing The Genealogy Fairy
I’ve been very blessed with my success not just at genealogy but also earning affiliate income from various offers such as the one from MyHeritage below. I’ve come up with a way to say thank you to everyone who uses my links for these offers and to give back to the genealogy community.
So I’ve created The Genealogy Fairy and the grant application process begins on August 1, 2015. Here’s a sneak peek at how the program will work:
Each month I’ll take 5% of my affiliate revenues and donate it to various genealogy-related programs. These will include general genealogy society fundraising, special projects and even personal grants to genealogists wanting to attend conferences or publish a family history. So please know that when you shop with links that I post, part of what you spend gets returned to fund worthwhile genealogy programs!
50% Off MyHeritage – Expires TOMORROW Friday July 31st!
If you are ready to move the next phase of research with your genealogy, click here to get your 50% off deal from MyHeritage. The normal price is $238 USD and you’ll pay just $119.40 for a full year’s access to MyHeritage Premium Plus AND the Data Membership. PLUS 5% of what I bring in goes back to fund projects in the genealogy community!
ACT NOW! THIS OFFER EXPIRES AT 11:59 PM FRIDAY JULY 31, 2015!