I recently saw an excellent posting on The Ancestor Hunt about Divorce Record Collections for Maine. They mention that some of the images may only be available at a Family History Center or an Affiliated Library. Remember, the Scarborough Public Library is an Affiliated Library. Due to Covid restrictions, access to the library and its resources is somewhat limited. (Check with them for access, reservations, etc.) However, I understand that the Scarborough Public Library’s WIFI is accessible from the parking lot. When you are researching and encounter a record that the image is “only available at an affiliated library,” save it to your Source Box. (I’d make a folder for “Get image a Library.) That way, you can easily find it and download the image when you are at Family History Center or an Affiliated Library. See the Ancestor Hunt Divorce Records page for other states. See the Introduction to Family History Centers and the FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries page. There are six Affiliate Libraries in Maine located in:
I know I’ve mentioned the Internet Archive many times. I think they are amazing, and I thank them so much for their efforts and work. Besides the 125+ Scarborough Historical Society books that I’ve uploaded, the Internet Archive and their Wayback Machine provide a historical archive of the Internet, they have many additional resources.
One feature I knew about, but I had never used, is their Genealogy Collection. It provides a shortcut to many collections such as those from the Allen County Public Library and “Reclaim the Records.” A search of the Genealogy Collection for “Scarborough, Maine” yielded three items. I knew about the two Scarborough Town Reports posted by the Allen County Public Library. However, the third was The ancestry of Charity Haley, 1775-1800 : wife of Major Nicholas Davis of Limington, Maine. In it, there was a chapter, “Edgecomb, of Scarborough and Biddeford.” The chapter begins with Nicholas Edgecomb arriving at Richmond’s Island about 1638. If you have Edgecomb ancestors, you definitely will want to read the 16 pages of information.
Besides my SHS uploads, I donate financially occasionally to help fund this extraordinary resource. I hope you will consider donating here.
By the way, my thanks to Roberta Estes for her blog, DNAeXplained. Her post reminded me about the Genealogy Collection. I highly recommend following her blog-It’s a good one.
I was reading Randy Seaver’s blog, Genea-Musings, where he used FamilySearch’s Famous Relatives and found he was related to Lucille Ball. I thought that is kind of cool. I wonder if I am related also. Sure enough, according to Famous Relatives, I am. Lucy is my 9th cousin once removed. Interestingly, I’m related through Lucy’s mother’s line while Randy is related through Lucy’s father’s line. On my side, Lucy is related through my father’s line – Roberts-Barnes-Taft line. It is fun and interesting, but is it accurate? Maybe.
My research has tentatively found John Whitney s my 5th great-grandfather. I need to research more to discover his mother and three more generations to get to Lucy and my common ancestors Anthony Day (1624-1707) and Susannah Matchett (1623-1717). I might get there someday.
I hadn’t tried Famous Relatives before, so I looked at its capabilities a little more. They have a category of relatives called “Trailblazers.” It showed that I am descended from 15 of the Mayflower passengers. Joan Hurst, a Mayflower passenger, is my 12th great-grandmother on my mother’s father’s (Richard Earl Brown) line. Richard Warren, another Mayflower passenger) is my 10th great-grandfather on my Roberts-Barnes side.
My research had never found a Mayflower passenger in my direct lineage, but now, thanks to Famous Relatives, I have 15 lines to follow to potential Mayflower passengers. I’ll bet at least one of them is right. I can see I have lots more research to do on my Roberts and Brown lines. I just wish I could figure out how to do it so my wife’s famous relatives would be identified.
“Famous Relatives” is one of 18 new “Family History Activities” presented by Family Search. Another of the activities is “Where am I from.” A quick look at it shows I have two ancestors from Maine (and 19 in England). One of my ancestors is again John Whitney’s mother, Phebe Day. She apparently was born in Wells, Maine in 1721. She is a second reason to research my Whitney-Day ancestors in depth. Another of my “Maine Ancestors” is wrong. It shows a relationship through Henry Mack Brown’s (1845-1906) wife, Chloey Lavinia Andrews (1846-1885). However, I am confident Henry and Chloey are not the parents of Arthur D. Brown. I’ve written about that error before.[i] I just don’t know how to change it in Family Search, or if I should.
In any event, having a Maine ancestor gives me hope for a reason for in-person Maine research. Wells is only a quick half-hour drive away.
Regardless of rights and wrongs, the various “Family History Activities” at FamilySearch can give hints for further research and might even motivate you to research a particular line in greater depth.
Bump research for
41. Lucy Wilson Taft (___-___),
82. Asa Taft (1774-1839), and
83. Sarah Whitney (1773-1811) up and continue researching various potential Mayflower lineages.
I consider free genealogy websites in three different categories. First are sites that have data that are sources for facts. The second are sites that provide links to sites that have the data. Third are education, general information websites, and Blogs. All three are essential but used differently.
I have a regular task in my genealogy activities that tells me to do an hour of training or education every week. I keep up with it, and if I miss a week, I’ll do two hours the following week. Certainly, I have done some paid training. I’ve taken the Genealogy course from Great Courses and few courses from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. But, the vast majority of my regular genealogical training/education is via online website videos.
Roots Tech – Due to Covid-19, the 2021 RootsTech conference will be free and electronic. If you haven’t registered yet, do so. It is a fantastic set of presentations and training. They also have a video archive of past sessions. These presentations are from the top genealogists in the country and provide top-quality information. Watch the past videos in anticipation of the 2021 conference in February.
Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Legacy Family Tree Webinars is a paid site. However, the Webinar Library contains the last couple webinars and are typically free. Additionally, the “Upcoming Live Webinars” are excellent, and you may register to see them for free. If you miss the live presentation, it will be available in the previous webinars list for a short time. If you find the free webinars aren’t enough, you can subscribe to all the Legacy webinars.
Ancestry Academy – These are typically 3 to 6-minute presentations focusing on a particular topic. For example, the “Newspapers.Com” set includes 11 videos about using Newspapers.Com (owned by Ancestry). There are also video sets about the U.S. Censuses, Population Schedules, and a host of other topics.
YouTube – Of course, YouTube has some excellent material and you can learn about just about anything on YouTube. In your search, include “Genealogy” and then any topic you are interested in learning more about. My search for “Genealogy X-Chromosome DNA” yielded dozens of fascinating and potentially useful videos about the topic using Family Finder, GEDMatch, and 23 & Me.
Library of Congress – There is an amazing number of films and videos available through the Library of Congress. A search for “Genealogy” yielded 114 items available online. Some were things like “Shakespeare’s Genealogies,” but the majority were items about our kind of genealogy, including an excellent presentation on “Family History in the U.S. Church Records.”
Wikipedia – Not specifically genealogical, but filled with encyclopedic information. A search for “1820 Census” quickly reminds me the census was conducted on 7 August. An article for a place like Scarborough, Maine, tells me much of its history, including what counties it was in. Often, I’m looking for a neighborhood in an area, and Wikipedia provides the answer.
Family Search – I find the FamilySearch Research Wiki to be the most valuable wiki for my use. When I have completed my phase 1 and phase 2 research, I will typically go to the Family Search Wiki. I’ll enter a place my ancestor lived, for example, Scarborough, Cumberland County, Maine. I will then go through the websites and information there, then I’ll go through the county page, and finally the state page. Besides being a site of links, it tells a lot of information about the town, county, and state, when and where various records might exist.
RootsWeb – The Rootsweb Wiki is now the Ancestry.Com Family History Wiki. There is a lot of background information about military records, state records.
DNA Painter – Not actually a wiki, but DNA Painter provides tools and information I often find useful in my understanding of DNA. Blane Bettinger’s Shared cM Project tool is my most used DNA tool. It provides the means to quickly see the possible relationships given a specific amount of DNA. Invaluable.
There are hundreds of blogs and podcasts that relate to Genealogy. First, it makes sense to subscribe to the blog or podcast for any site you pay for a subscription. It is always good to see what they are posting as new or interesting. So, I receive regular blog postings from American Ancestors, Ancestry, Newspapers.Com, etc. That said, I like, and pay attention to, several free blog sites.
The Legal Genealogist – My favorite free blog is Judy Russell’s “The Legal Genealogist.” She focuses on Genealogical issues, ethics, and events. Her blog does an excellent job of alerting its subscribers to problems occurring in the genealogy world. I love it and her perspective on things. She is always thoughtful in her analysis and causes you to think.
Genealogy à la carte – Although the focus of Genealogy à la carte is Canadian, I find that Gail Dever does a great job of keeping the topics interesting to me, who has no known Canadian ancestors.
Genea-Musings – Randy Seaver provides excellent material about what is new and available in news, articles, and record collections. He gives ideas for your research and links to podcasts and videos. His write-ups regarding his ancestors are excellent examples for you to use in your ancestor biographies.
The Ancestor Hunt – As probably my favorite site that provides links to other sites, I’m always interested in what Kenneth R. Marks has added or updated to The Ancestor Hunt. I always check out his articles for places I’m researching.
DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy – It is hard to keep up to date with the latest in the ever-changing world of Genetic Genealogy. Roberta Estes does a great job of keeping folks informed using understandable writing. Her writing can challenge my understanding, but I like that. Her blog helps to keep me up to date in my genetic genealogy comprehension.
I didn’t write about podcasts in this list. Sadly, I don’t listen to them very often. Some people find them useful, but I am more visual in my preferences. So, I’m much more likely to do videos than podcasts. Even if the video is a “talking head,” I prefer that to a podcast. In any event, Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musing can point you to lots of great podcasts, if that is your preference.
I consider free genealogy websites in three different categories. First are sites that have data that are sources for facts. The second are sites that provide links to sites that have the data. In other words, referrers to sites. Third are training and general information websites, which include Blogs. All three are important but are used differently.
Several sites have free components, but they are primarily fee-based sites. Ancestry and MyHeritage come to mind; I am not including those websites in this group. Their “free” component seems like a system designed to get you to purchase their paid service. Today, I’m looking at the sites that contain actual documents, indexes, and other citable information and don’t nag you to upgrade to a paid component.
FamilySearch– I use FamilySearch more than any other website. There is so much available there. Often other sites point back to FamilySearch to access images of items the other sites have indexed. You need a no-charge account to login and see the records, but it is well worth it. My first step in researching an ancestor uses Family Search. I find the ancestor on Family Search then I look at the sources associated with that ancestor. I then examine each of those sources and see if they fit my understanding of the ancestor. If I adjudge it is my ancestor, I cite the source then create the relevant facts for my ancestor’s life.
Google – Google has so many resources on like it is crazy to not use them for much of your work. Google Books, Google News Archive, Google Scholar, and Google Search are fantastic. One of Google’s problems is that it can be like drinking water from a fire hose because the items you are interested in sometimes have hundreds or thousands of responses. Way too much data. A great solution to that problem is the Randy Majors AncestorSearch on Google. You can enter your search criteria, and it will ignore people search sites and social media sites if you don’t want those results. (I seldom ever want living people in my results.)
Find-a-Grave – I think all genealogists love cemeteries and funerary information. Find-a-Grave does the best job of providing free access to markers and other material regarding gravesites. I respond to photo requests for markers at the two closest cemeteries near me and consider it one of my favorite free websites. Besides marker photos, I’ve begun adding pictures of individuals to Find-a-Grave memorials when I’ve complete analysis in my Photo Friday Identification Project.
Elephind– I find newspapers are the key to finding the texture of an ancestor’s life. Elephind searches many of my favorite free newspaper websites such as Chronicling America (Library of Congress). It also searches the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection, Hudson River Valley Heritage Historical Newspapers, Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections, Indiana Digital Historic Newspaper Collection. Digital Michigan Newspapers, The Portal to Texas History and the California Digital Newspaper Collection, the Library of Virginia, and Washington Digital Newspapers. Over 3 million newspapers and publications.
Advantage Archives – Advantage Archives is somewhat new. It too is a newspaper archive, but you can focus by state then city. I find it really useful.
Archive.org – Known as the Internet Archive, Archive.Org includes millions of books, movies, websites, and more. On behalf of the Scarborough Historical Society, I’ve uploaded over 100 books to Archive.Org, mostly Scarborough Town Reports and Scarborough High School Yearbooks (see: https://archive.org/details/@dontaylor50). I find a search for “History Location” works amazingly well to learn about books regarding the history of a place.
Allen County Public Library – The Allen County Public Library is the second-largest genealogical library (after the Family History Center in Salt Lake City). They have an astounding number of items available through their Genealogy interface. If you find a book available only at the ACPL, look at WorldCat for the book. You can then use the information at WorldCat to order the book through your local public library’s interlibrary loan. I’ve ordered dozens of books via Inter-Library Loan and find the process easy to use.
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) – The DPLA has more than 40 million images, texts, and other items. They are partners with the National Archives and Records Administration, Hathi Trust, David Rumsey, and many state archives. I’ll mention that although DPLA has many state library collections among their records, Not all of the data at a state library is thee. For example, the Maine State Library website, “Digital Maine” is a partner, but there is a lot of material at the state site that hasn’t been replicated to DPLA. So, I always check both places.
Old Fulton New York Post Cards – You might think that “Old Fulton New York Post Cards” is about Fulton New York, and you’d be partially right. There is also an amazing amount of other material there. For example, a search for “Libby & Scarborough” yield 22 items returned, some articles for issues of the “Portland, ME, Daily Press” from issues from 1868 to 1898. The website’s search process is a bit unusual; however, there is also another site, Fulton Search, which provides a more standard search experience.
Don’s List – No, it is not my list. Don’s List, operated by Don Krieger, touts itself to be “Pittsburgh/Allegheny County and Much More.” It is another site where you would think wouldn’t fit your research; however, it really does have “much more.” For example, Don’s list contains directories from all but 14 states. For Maine, there are two Gazetteers (1881 & 1893), an Appleton Register from 1903, and Portland City directories for 1850 and 1912. There is even an alumni directory from the University of Main from 1914. Invariably, Don’s List has something that fits into my research.
My thanks to Ken McKinlay for the reminder to share my favorite free sites. I found it very interesting that his Top 10 Free Genealogy Sites only contains three of the same websites as my top 10 sites (Although, his list is somewhat Canadian focused). Likewise, Randy Seaver and his “Top Ten Genealogical Websites” only has three of the same as mine; however, he has several sites which will be on my “Top 10 Links Websites” and some others that will be on my Top 10 Genealogical Education websites.
Next time, for Part 2, I’ll look at my favorite Genealogy Referrer (Links) Websites.