google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist: May 2010

ProGenealogists, Inc. Announces 50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2010

ProGenealogists, Inc. Announces 50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2010

ProGenealogist has posted the top 50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2010. These sites have been ranked by four major ranking companies and are determined by the popularity of the websites. It comes as no surprise who the top 4 are, you can read further details at the link provided above. I have included in the post the list in detail. It goes without saying that if these sites are the top draws in terms of traffic then they have something to offer the online genealogy community. I believe this list is a great resource list for any armchair genealogist looking to search their family tree online.

Dropping out of the top 50 (with their new ranking):

Five Steps to Funding a Family History Book

A few people have asked me how I went about funding my family history book. Many want to make a book, however they soon discover that it can be an expensive proposition. After having been through the process of writing and selling a family history book to family members, I have learned some important lessons on reducing the cost of your book and making it affordable to all family members.

Here is how it worked for me. We created a beautiful 190-page book through We chose this program because in our opinion it was the best on the market, however probably the most expensive. When all was said and done our book came in at $117.76 per book, (I can here you all gasping, and trust me I did as well).

Let me start by saying, it was never our intention for the book to be that expensive, but we decided the path and chose to reduce the cost through other measures. At the end of the day, we were able to sell the book for $55.00 (at no expense to us).

I have created a list of options to consider helping you reduce the costs of your book. You can use all of them or choose ones you feel most comfortable with for your situation.

1. Seek out Sponsors /Advertisers

Consider offering a memorial page in your book. For a fee, you can offer relatives an opportunity to pay tribute to a relative who has past while collecting funds to help reduce printing costs. Alternatively, perhaps some relatives with businesses would consider taking an ad on an advertiser’s page/ sponsors page. You can sell spots; family members can advertise their business or just provide sponsorship for a fee in exchange for a place of recognition in the book.

2. Donations

You can seek out donations, anonymous or otherwise, this can greatly reduce your costs. We received several anonymous donations. Don’t under estimate this option. Let it be known you are looking to reduce costs so that all family members can afford a book. Donors looking to provide a greater good for the family will welcome the opportunity to help.

3. Printer Discounts

Many printers set their prices based on the number of books you order; the more you order the greater the discount. We took a pre-order for the book, to determine how many books we would require. If we sold over 20 books, Ancestry would offer us a volume discount. We sold 75 books; this resulted in a substantial savings.

4. Fundraise

If you have a family reunion, consider having a fundraiser for the family history book. A silent auction is great fundraiser. Ask relatives, to bring or better yet make something for the auction table and sell them off to the highest bidder. A family yard sale is another great way to raise funds. We received book expenses raised through a fundraiser at the previous family reunion.

5. Size of the Book

Many print-on-demand companies offer a base rate. This base rate allows you to print a book up to a certain number of pages before charging you for every page after that. Once you go over the page limit then the book becomes exponentially more money. Although I seriously did not follow this tip, I can certainly recognize the effect it had on the price of the book. For example, gives you a base rate of $29.95 for the first 20 pages. Everything after that is an additional charge of 75 cents a page. Therefore, if you can keep your book to a reasonable size it will go a long way to keeping the cost down.

After all our discounts, donations and sponsors, the cost of the book came down from $117.76 to $55.00. We were able to order 75 books at this price, and this included a couple of free books for the authors, the archives and a couple of relatives who were instrumental in providing information for the book.

Once you are ready to order, ask for payment upfront so when the bill comes in you won’t be left chasing down money or are stuck with books you can’t sell.

I knew I had a sizeable audience to sell to, and they knew they were in the book, so this made it a far easier sell for me. The key is to know what your audience is willing to pay, whether that be a free or a $55.00 book, or somewhere in between. Then you take the necessary steps to create a book that falls in their price range.

I wasn’t able to create a free book, but I reduced the cost by over 50%. I suspect if I had chose a more inexpensive program, or reduced the size of the book, I have no doubt that I could have created a free family history book. However, I believe we created a beautiful book and at an affordable price.

The lessons I learned certainly paved the way for the next book, I hope they can for you.

Have you published a family history book? How did you fund it? Share your ideas!

Related Reading
The Ultimate Guide to Writng a Family History Book

My names Top 100 Genealogy Sites

I was honoured this week to learn that The Armchair Genealogist was included among the Top 100 Genealogy Sites on My The criteria that My Heritage used included a process of finding grassroots sites that have evolved from the online genealogy community. As a genealogist and writer, I can say how wonderful it was to see my blog on the list. It inspires, motivates and encourages me to continue sharing my love of genealogy. It's nice to know someone is reading and taking away something from my ramblings. Of course, there are many big blogs that were not included, to them I tip my hat for leading the way. Please take a moment to check out the list, I know I discovered a few new sites I was not familiar with, I am always open to seeing a new perspective and a grassroots blog is just the place to find it. Thank you My for shining a spotlight on some great blogs. Top 100 Genealogy Sites
Above the Trees
Ancestors Live Here
Anglo-Celtic Connections
Apple's Tree
Arlene Eakle's Genealogy Blog
Bayside Blog
Before my Time
Betty's Boneyard Genealogy Blog
Brenda Dougall Merriman
British Genealogy
Census Finder
Census Tools
Creative Gene
Crowe's Nest
Cruwys News
Destination: Austin Family
Documenting the Details
Donna's Genealogy Blog
Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories
Elyse's Genealogy Blog
Family, Friends and Neighbors
Family Oral History Using Digital Tools
Family Research
Find My Ancestors
Find Your Folks
Free Genealogy Tools
From Wilno to Worcester
Gena's Genealogy
Genealogy Blog
Genealogy Canada
Genealogy Gems
Genealogy Guide
Genealogy Lines
Genealogy in New South Wales
Genealogy is Ruthless Without Me
Genealogy Reviews Online
Genealogy Star
Genealogy Tip of the Day
Greta's Genealogy Blog
Gus's Genealogy Blog
Henthorn Genealogy News
Jessica's Genejournal
Kick-Ass Genealogy
Lessons from my Ancestors
Life from the Roots
Little Bytes of Life
Mad About Genealogy
Midwestern Microhistory
Moultrie Creek
New England Genealogy
Nutfield Genealogy
Olive Tree Genealogy Blog
Patten Project
Paula's Genealogical Eclectica
Practical Archivist
Renee's Genealogy Blog
Roots 'n' Leaves
Scottish Genealogy News and Events
SephardicGen Resources
Shauna Hicks History Enterprises
Shoestring Genealogy
Small-Leaved Shamrock
Smoky Mountain Family Historian
Special Collections and Family History
Staats Place
Steve's Genealogy Blog
St. Vincent Memories
Taneya's Genealogy Blog
The Accidental Genealogist
The Armchair Genealogist
The Association of Graveyard Rabbits
The Chart Chick
The Cobbold Family History Trust
The Family Curator
The Genetic Genealogist
The Slovak Yankee
The St. Leon Family
TJLGenes: Preserving Our Family History
Twigs of Yore
Upstate New York Genealogy Blog
Wandering Genealogist
Walking the Berkshires
West in New England
Zalewski Family Genealogy

Follow Friday - Doors are Open in Ontario

If you are tracing your ancestor’s migration to North America and your relatives settled in Canada then at some point you may have to look to Ontario to discover the pioneers of your family.

There are plenty of websites offering information for genealogists researching in Ontario. However, if you wish to experience first-hand the communities your ancestors help build, I would like to bring your attention to a project called Doors Open Ontario.

Every summer the Ontario Heritage Trust launches Doors Open Ontario. This project in it 11th season encourages Canadians and Non-Canadians alike to explore Ontario’s rich heritage. Various towns throughout Ontario open their doors to visitors who wish to tour important historical and cultural communities, buildings and trails across this beautiful province. If your early ancestors arrived in Ontario this is an opportunity to explore the community that they once lived. Learn about your ancestor’s community, heritage and culture through an up close and personal experience.

Each year, hundreds of historic buildings, places of worship, museums and heritage gardens – some of which are rarely accessible to the public – open free of charge as part of Doors Open Ontario. Many of the participating sites offer special activities, such as tours, exhibitions and demonstrations.

Seven of the events in 2010 are new. Ajax, Burlington, Clarington, Georgina, Haliburton, Pembroke and South Bruce Peninsula have all joined the program. Another highlight to watch for again this season is the bi-national event in Niagara, featuring sites in both Ontario and Western New York.

Whether you are looking for a day trip this summer or a long summer weekend, you can visit  and plan your trip based on your specific genealogical needs. Check out Doors Open Ontario to discover what is available in your ancestor’s community to explore. Many of these communities also offer summer and fall festivals so perhaps you may wish to line up your trip with one of Ontario’s many popular festivals. You can check out festival events at

Add a local library, historical societies and cemeteries and maybe the Ontario or National Archives and you will have created a very well rounded genealogy vacation in Ontario.

You can call 1-800-ONTARIO for your free copy of the Ontario Official Road Map and additional copies of the Doors Open Ontario 2010 Guide. Word of warning not all sites and events are listed in the guide, but the website offers a far more extensive listing.

Here is a very small sample of some important historical sites available for touring in The Doors Open Ontario 2010 project.

In Toronto, Ontario – Fort York National Historic Site- houses Canada’s largest collection of original War-of-1812 buildings.

In Dresden, Ontario - Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site-

Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site commemorates the life of Reverend Josiah Henson. Recognized for his contributions to the abolition movement and for his work in the Underground Railroad, he rose to international fame after Harriet Beecher Stowe acknowledged his memoirs as a source for her 1852 anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was Henson's life experiences that inspired Ms. Stowe's creation of the character Uncle Tom in her 1852 outcry against slavery
In Huron County, Ontario – Van Egmond House -built in 1846, by Constant Louis Van Egmond. Van Egmond played a key role in opening the Huron Tract from Guelph to Goderich for the Canada Company.

In Kitchener, Ontario - Woodside National Historic Site of Canada- the boyhood home of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s 10th Prime Minister. Costumed guides take you through the furnished Victorian home and beautiful gardens.

In Niagara-on-the-Lake – Niagara Historical Society Museum – Ontario’s oldest museum, houses one of Ontario’s most important local history collections.

In Walkerton, Ontario – Viewfield Inn/Shaw House – Built in 1880 by Alexander Shaw, this Victorian mansion features its original doorbell and two ornate fireplaces saved from an estate in England, one dates back to 1601.

In Milton, Ontario – Downtown Historic Walk – Explore downtown Milton’s charm by taking a self-guided tour covering more than 50 of Milton’s older homes and heritage sites.

The list goes on and on, so I encourage to visit, Doors Open Ontario,  and search for the town of your relatives. Then begin planning your summer outing, exploring the Ontario town of your ancestors.

Who Do You Think You Are? - Lessons Learned

Even a filmmaker like Spike Lee, a storyteller, recognized that he had missed the opportunity to record some of the stories of his ancestors.

This past Friday evening, with the final episode of the first season of Who Do You Think You Are? having aired, I felt it was a good time to recap what we have taken away from this first season. By the way, it is so wonderful to say that this show has been picked up for a second season.

I believe there are two primary lessons from the show; in fact, I believe the same two lessons we learned from the show, most of us learn very quickly when tracing our genealogy, without the aid of a camera crew and research team.

1. No one arrives to his or her place in history alone; we are the product of many who have come before us.

2. We need to interview the living and capture our relative’s stories while they are still with us.

Every celebrity realized the power of their genealogy in helping them to their place in history. As well, every celebrity understood once they had begun their research they had opportunities when their grandparents were alive to record important information and they missed out. Of course, this is not a new message for those of us who are genealogy geeks. However, it is a message we fully understand and can appreciate and want the rest of the world to know.

I believe many of us are so enthusiastic about Who Do You Think You Are? because it is, a declaration to the world that in deed we are not freaks of nature. There is something to this chasing down dead people, and we love seeing someone discover and understand what all the fuss is about.

As genealogists, perhaps we will learn a thing or two about research, however, for us this show is more about seeing the journey the celebrities take and recognizing that same journey we have taken ourselves. Re-living the same experiences, recognizing the feelings and emotions they face with each discovery.

For those who are not into genealogy, (and I have talked to a few who have watched the show). They find it very interesting and for some who may have had a passing interest but didn’t know where to start, this show will likely be their catapult into this addictive hobby.

Therefore, as we await the second season of Who Do You Think You Are? I can’t help but throw out a few suggestions. As mentioned in a previous post, I would like the powers that be to address a younger celebrity, a Miley Cyrus, a vampire celebrity etc. This would attract perhaps, a younger audience. An audience in my opinion, we need to reach with genealogy.

I personally would like to see a celebrity with some Canadian roots, perhaps  Michael J. Fox. I would also like to suggest a contest for viewers, at the end of the season choose a non-celebrity to win an episode of their family history journey. Just as we are interested to see who the celebrities are each week, a non – celebrity who has won this opportunity could also be a big draw.

Otherwise, overall, the producers have done a great job thus far, and I anticipate season two and look forward to watching more episodes that entertain, motivate and inspire my own personal genealogical journey.

Do you have any suggestions for season two of Who Do You Think You Are?