If you’ve been reading much of my blog, you know that most of my research up to this point has focused pretty much in two areas, Northwest/Northcentral Ohio and Northeast Indiana. I consider myself pretty fortunate that my Indiana research is almost exclusively limited to DeKalb County. In my opinion it makes the process so much easier simply because of the incredible wealth of resources that are available to me and many of them are free! I have listed below just a few of the links that I use in my research.
Archive.org has been a great resource for finding historical texts that are online. (The link takes you to a search for DeKalb County Indiana resources.)
The GenWeb page for DeKalb County is well maintained and on several occasions has pointed me to the source records that I need.
The Indiana County History Preservation Society is a page that I have used only a few times, but it is a good resource for general county history.
The Willennar Genealogy Center has several resources available online and if you are local to DeKalb County, it is a resource that you don’t want to miss!
And of course, no list of resources would be complete without mentioning the FamilySearch.org Wiki!
This list is by no means a comprehensive list of the resources that I have used, but it should give you plenty of places to start and will definitely lead you to others.
In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes that many beginner and even intermediate genealogists make is to not educate themselves on how to do genealogy. It seems simple at first…go find records and record information on my ancestors, right? Right now, any experienced genealogist is probably laughing at that statement because doing family history research entails so very much more than just “finding facts” and even finding those facts can actually be a bit complicated. So how do you educate yourself without spending a fortune on online courses or books? Enter the free resources available online!
I am currently saving to pay for my wedding this fall, so this year, my genealogy budget has been cut to…well…to pretty much zero. That hasn’t stopped me from still doing my research utilizing a fantastic number of free resources available online, and it especially has not stopped me from continuing to educate myself using free online materials. One of the best resources for educating yourself on various aspects of genealogy is FamilySearch.org.
If you click on the “Learn” button on the FmailySearch header, it will take you to their Learning Center and its voluminous library of educational videos. The videos and lessons are searchable by subject, location, level, even language! In the beginner section alone, there are 91 free videos. The intermediate level has nearly three hundred videos available! Their Learning Center also has links to their Research Wiki and Discussion Forums. If you poke around long enough, you will find almost everything you need to start educating yourself and improving your research skills. Also don’t forget to check out the great printable research forms they have available.
If you are looking for other great free resources online, please come back in a few days and check out the “Resources” page here on the Digging Up Roots blog. I am working on developing a list of links to free (and some paid) resources available. You can also check out Cyndi’s List for the comprehensive list of online genealogy resources.
This is a tip for those who may be just getting started on their genealogy journey. We have all seen the wonderful ads put out by Ancestry showing just how easy it is to click a leaf and discover new branches of our family tree, but when you start looking at the monthly cost of a subscription, I have the feeling most new genealogists stall out after the initial free 7 day trial.
Don’t despair because there are a number of FANTASTIC free resources out there on the internet that you can use to continue your research!
Make no mistake – I love Ancestry and several other of the paid sites and I have been using them off and on for years. Most of the subscription sites offer amazingly easy search capabilities and an incredible treasure trove of records. I just know that for most people, paying for a subscription can be a stopping point until you are fully “hooked” (addicted?) to genealogy.
Perhaps my favorite free resource is FamilySearch.org. This site is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and is a direct link into their Family History Library (FHL). I first discovered the FHL when I was starting out in my genealogy journey, but back then, I had to find one of the local FHL locations, and go there to manually search through their microfilm collections, order the films and then get the copies of records that I needed. FamilySearch.org has nearly eliminated that altogether!
FamilySearch.org is a digitized version of most of the collections contained in the FHL including some very comprehensive state collections, census records and many others. The FHL is an incredible collection that has yielded more results and documents for me than I can even begin to recount, and to have this resource at home for free is just incredible.
I encourage any new genealogist to go check out FamilySearch.org and see what they have to offer. While you are there, be sure to avail yourself of the free learning resources that they offer – it makes the genealogy journey so much easier when you learn from those who have gone before.