google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist: September 2017

How to Research on for Free

We all know that is one of the leading and largest databases for researching your ancestors. It can save you a lot of time in obtaining information about your ancestors and the documents you require. But it comes at a cost. No matter how you shake it out, there is a cost to researching whether it's time or money. I realise not everyone can afford an ongoing yearly subscription to Ancestry.  If funds are tight, here are 4 ways you can access Ancestry without spending a dime. 

Visit Your Local Library

Many local libraries offer free access to Ancestry. While not convenient as sitting in your pyjamas at home it certainly can help you save some money. Give your library a call and make sure they have available for patrons. You might find they also have access to other genealogy databases in addition to Make sure you download any information you find to a jump-stick to take home with you.

Watch for Free Weekends often has free research weekends. You can research for free all weekend without having to pay a dime. Best to be organised and have a research list ready so you can make the most of your weekend. Most times these free weekends fall on holiday weekends, Thanksgiving, July 4th, etc. Keep your eyes open for them.

Take Advantage of the 14 Days Free Trial Period

When you sign up for an ancestry account, you get a free 14-day free trial period. You will have to offer up your credit card information to get the free 14 days. However, if you can’t afford the subscription fee you can cancel the account on say day 12 or 13 you won’t be charged and you will have researched for 12 days for free. Again, I recommend having a research list ready so that you can make the most of your time. Perhaps, after using Ancestry for that length of time, you’ll see its value and scrape a few dollars together. By the way, I’m not an affiliate of Ancestry, so I get nothing out of singing their praises.

Free Index Collection

One of Ancestry’s best kept secrets is their Free Index Collection. In the Free Index Collection, you can search for your ancestors for free, and you don’t need to hand over your credit card information.  I haven’t been able to come up with an accurate count of how many indexes are in the collection, I’ve seen anywhere from 1400 to 2000 individual indexes and collections. That is quite a bit to get you started.

 Their Free Index Collections page offers you the ability to search for free.  The page provides a section to put in your search criteria followed by a long list of indexes it will search. Note that some indexes have beside them “free index” while others say “free.” The difference being, the “free index” will only allow you to access to the index to see whether your guy or gal is listed. To view the image you will have to subscribe. You will not have access to the original image. However, those listed with ‘free’ beside them will provide access to scanned copies of the documents.

There you have it, 4 options for researching for free. Happy Researching.

3 Options for Organizing Your Genealogy with Shopping Lists

(This post contains affiliate links)

Ask anyone who has spent years researching their ancestors and they’ll tell you one of the best things you can do for yourself as a beginner is to start with a good organisational system for all the records you’re about to acquire.

It’s easy to get excited about the research and your finds and not take the time to file and organise your research properly. Trust me I know. I’m still digging out from not investing in a good system. So don't end up like me, organising 15 years in. 

And yes, investing is the right word. You need to spend a little money to have the right tools available to you to file and organise your paper as you acquire them. If the supplies aren’t easily available to you, and you don't have a  system in place you simply won’t do it.  You'll have one of those I’ll get to it moments. Twenty years later, you're drowning in an unorganised mess. Trust me, it happens in a blink of an eye.

So make an investment in some supplies up front.

How do you know what you need? That will depend on the method you choose to organize your research. 

There are basically three ways you can organise and store your genealogy, with binders, a hanging file folder system or archival boxes. I worked in an archive with a curator for a few years, and I fell in love with archival boxes so that is my go to, but the choice is yours. 

There are essentially two systems you can look at to organise your genealogy files, one is by surname, and one is by accession.

What is Accession Organization?

Let’s suppose you have a 1900 Census record that lists your great-grandfather, his wife and children. With an accession system, the document becomes the focus as opposed to the people in a surname based filing system.  You give the census record a number. For example, CR1900-123, then you create an index, and you link all your ancestors in that census record with that ID number.

This is a great system if you have a number-based brain. Not me. I’ll opt for the surname system. Let’s take a look at it.

Surname Organization
For most people organisation of their genealogy happens by surname, it seems the most logical. Start with the surname and then you can organise within the surname file by the individual. Another option is to organize by the couple. 

The Tools You Need
There are three options for organizing your files. The tools you need may vary slightly depending on the one your choose.

Option #1 - Hanging Files

What You Need for This System
Hanging file tote

Option #2 - Binders 

What You Need for this System
This is probably the cheapest method to get started


Option #3 - Archival Boxes

What You Need for this System
Archival boxes (they come in a variety of sizes start with a couple) 
Acid-Free Paper    Pick up a couple of sizes like 8 1/2 x 11 and 11 x 17. 

Tip: Regardless of which system you use an inventory sheet is a great tool to put on the front of your file folder, binder or archival box so that you can give a quick look and know exactly what is inside. Saves a lot of time searching.