Review: BillionGraves Plus

Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee takes BillionGraves Plus for a test drive and shares why the upgrade is well worth the price!

Recently, as part of my own Genealogy Do-Over, I have spent more time researching death record information, specifically gravestone images and related data. Normally, I would use the Find-A-Grave site since I have been using it, well since forever. I also decided to start using BillionGraves and after setting up a free login and using its basic functions, I wanted to know more about the premium version, BillionGraves Plus.

The folks at BillionGraves have given me a behind-the-scenes look at BillionGraves Plus and after putting it through several tests with my own search criteria, I can say that going premium is definitely worth the price! (Note: see my special offer at the end of this review to get a HUGE discount on BillionGraves Plus!)

BillionGraves Plus Features

So what do you get when you sign up for BillionGraves Plus? Here is an overview:

  • Family Plots: 70% of all people are buried in Family Plots. This feature shows you where they are!
  • Nearby Graves: Family members that do not share the same family name are most likely found near other family graves. This feature allows you to see those headstones, sorted by distance from the one you selected. An example might be a headstone that is labeled only as “Infant”, “Mother” or “Father”.
  • Global Family: See everyone that shares the same family name on a map sorted by city, county, state, country or even the whole world. You can then zoom in and see the specifics.
  • Family Notifications: You will be notified immediately ANYTIME a NEW RECORD comes in that matches the name and location you have selected. You don’t have to search. We search for you.
  • Ad Free: No Ads. No distractions. Faster search results, bigger photos, and larger maps.
  • Priority Support: Click on the support link in the footer of any page and submit your question. Your question will be moved to the top of the support queue.

Overall Impression of BillionGraves – It’s the Community!

Being an accomplished user of Find-A-Grave, I figured I had all the features I needed for locating gravestone images with their site. Boy was I wrong. Not only does BillionGraves provide you with accurate GPS location information, but also the sense of community is much different from other sites.

I have had many issues with several contributors at Find-A-Grave in terms of “ownership” of memorials and images. The frustration level has been so much that many times I don’t think it is worth it to use the site. Genealogy should be enjoyable and not stress you out, right?

Well at BillionGraves, there is a better sense of community and “stewardship” for the content contributed. Every member is working towards the same goal: to document every gravesite in the world with accurate information that is easy to access and share.

Family Plots

I have several family members buried at the Grahamsville Rural Cemetery in Grahamsville, New York. So using BillionGraves Plus I was able to see plots grouped by families:

I have several family members buried at the Grahamsville Rural Cemetery in Grahamsville, New York. So using BillionGraves Plus I was able to see plots grouped by families

Nearby Graves

The Nearby Graves feature is different from Family Plots in that it includes those family members who have married or do not share the same family name. This is excellent for locating those headstones that say “Mother” or “Father” or “infant.”

The Nearby Graves feature is different from Family Plots in that it includes those family members who have married or do not share the same family name. This is excellent for locating those headstones that say “Mother” or “Father” or “infant.”

Family Notifications

As genealogists, we continue to have increasing access to large amounts of data, to the point where we can feel overwhelmed. So the Notifications feature in BillionGraves is a valuable way to manage genealogy data – just enter your search criteria and when other users add new data, you receive an email notification.

billion graves notifications

Here is how the Family Notifications feature works:

  • No more searching day after day looking for a particular ancestor! Let us do the work for you!
  • Set up an on-going search that notifies you the second your results are available! No need to keep searching again and again.
  • We’ll email you a photo and a link to the headstone details as soon as it is available.

Conclusion

After using BillionGraves Plus, I don’t think I could possibly use the BillionGraves site without these features. I can’t tell you the number of hours that features like Nearby Graves has saved me in terms of research. In addition, Family Notifications is worth the price alone since I can receive updates for my family names via email. The BillionGraves Plus feature enhances the experience of using the BillionGraves site and makes it easier to find the information I need for my family history research.

Special Offer from BillionGraves

Right now, BillionGraves is offering one of the lowest prices EVER for their BillionGraves Plus upgrade! This is an exclusive offer for readers of GeneaBloggers and instead of the normal $59.95 a year price, you pay just $39.97! You must use this link to take advantage of this offer, which expires on Monday, March 14th at 5pm MDT!

Power up your genealogy research using BillionGraves Plus and see how much progress you can make with headstone and death record research!

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Review: The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide by Lisa A. Alzo

Genealogy author and educator Thomas MacEntee reviews The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide by Lisa A. Alzo - “your guide to finding your Eastern European ancestors!”

What if you needed a guide to take you through a landscape where everything including the history, the geography, the language and the customs were difficult to understand . . . yet you still had a deep connection with that place? I bet you would want someone or something that understood not just what you were looking for, but what those discoveries would mean to you.

If you have family history rooted in Polish, Czech and/or Slovak heritage, then I highly recommend the new book, The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide by Lisa A. Alzo available in print and as an e-book ($26.99 USD).

An Eastern European Genealogy Guide That Makes Sense

There are many genealogy guides on the market, including ones for Eastern Europe, but the information is not always easy to understand or well-organized. That’s not the case with The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide: the book is easy to use due to the fact that the progression of topics are well-organized and explained clearly by the author.

I’ll admit that I don’t have deep roots in Eastern Europe, but I do have German ancestors who I know lived in those areas that were Poland at one time. So as I read this guide, I starting taking notes about my 3rd great-grandmother Franziska Herger and how I can find out more about her life and her family.

Features Abound!

Here are the features I found most useful in The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide:

  • There is strong focus on localities and the author explains why this focus is so important in your research.
  • The migrations of Poles, Czechs and Slovaks to the United States are traced in detail.
  • There are fillable forms if you purchase the PDF e-book version! Forms such as Cluster Research Worksheet, Name Variants Worksheet, Polish Partition Tracker Worksheet, Vital Records Checklist, and more!
  • Surnames and naming patterns
  • Vital records: the various types of records, where they are held and how to get copies.
  • The Research Trip chapter is outstanding! Alzo goes into great detail with helpful advice on how she planned a successful trip to Slovakia that really opened up her research.
  • And can I say that the Appendices are amazing? They include:
    • Understanding Czech, Understanding Polish, Understanding Slovak
    • US Genealogy Archives and Libraries
    • Civil Record Archives in Europe
    • Church Record Archives in Europe
    • Archives: Sample letters to request records – written in Czech, Polish and Slovak with English translation
    • Genealogical and Historical Societies
    • Websites, Books and Articles

Conclusion

The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide is 242 pages in length and is invaluable if you have ancestors in Eastern Europe. It is one of those books that you’ll be referring to constantly as you progress through your genealogy research and build your family tree. Thanks to author Lisa A. Alzo, what once seemed like a daunting challenge of trying to interpret various pieces of evidence in my research, can now be a solvable puzzle unlocking even more information about my family history.

Click here for more information or to order your book.

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statement.

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Review: How to Use Evernote for Genealogy

Genealogy author and educator Thomas MacEntee reviews How to Use Evernote for Genealogy by Kerry Scott - “A complete guide to mastering Evernote and making it work for your genealogy research!”

[Editor’s note: SAVE! Pre-order your copy of How to Use Evernote for Genealogy today via Shop Family Tree and remember to enter promo code SFTTHOMAS15 for an exclusive 15% additional discount – you’ll save over 30% total on this great book! Click here for more information!]

Are you intimidated by technology, but feel like you are “missing out” when friends and family rave about a brand new app or program? Have you heard about Evernote and always wondered how others are using it for genealogy research? In the new book How to Use Evernote for Genealogy, author Kerry Scott employs an approachable and comfortable writing style to “demystify” the Evernote product, cut through all the hype, and show you how to get up and running with the most popular note taking product currently on the market.

Scott is a skilled writer who can cover all the “getting started” basics as well as advanced features and make the reader feel confident enough to start using Evernote. I loved the various “personal observations” Scott has included in each chapter; you can tell from all of these real-life experiences that the author is a serious Evernote user who has figured out a way to leverage the program for genealogy research success.

How to Use Evernote for Genealogy is not another technical book that you will review once and then never use. Most likely, you will be consulting various chapters and sections for days and weeks as you build your Evernote skills and find new ways to use the program for genealogy.

Evernote Templates that ROCK!

Lately there has been a dearth of free Evernote e-books on the Web, but they really don’t solve problems encountered by genealogists and family historians. How to Use Evernote for Genealogy has three different appendices at the end of the book, filled with useful Evernote templates.

Not only can your review each template, there is a convenient link to a text version so you can start creating your own Evernote forms for genealogy. These include Census Extraction Templates for the US Federal Census, Genealogy Conference Planner (to plan your classes when attending a genealogy conference), and Research Worksheets and Templates, including a family group sheet.

Structured to Get Things Done!

I’m a bit of a “techie,” and perhaps this is a “guy thing,” but I usually don’t read the directions or knowledgebase when I start using a new product. Instead, I like to “kick the tires” and “poke around.” Well if this is how you learned Evernote, I recommend using the Keys to Success segment at the end of each chapter of How to Use Evernote for Genealogy. Review each item and make sure that you are familiar with each concept before you move on to the next chapter.

Also, don’t forget that there are checklists, templates and “value added” features at the end of each chapter as well.

Conclusion: A Must Have Guide for Evernote Users

You name it, author Kerry Scott has covered it when it comes to using Evernote for genealogical research. This includes the use of audio and video files from interviews, synchronizing data between multiple devices, using photos with Evernote, creating tables and more.

With How to Use Evernote for Genealogy, you can be up and running with Evernote as your personal genealogy virtual assistant. In addition, after a few hours, you will wonder how you ever got by without Evernote all these years!

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.