Build Your Family Tree for FREE Using Today’s Internet Resources

First things first. What are you looking for in your genealogy research? Are you just trying to make the connections? Do you want a certifiable search that can be submitted to directory or other source? Are you looking for heraldry? These questions must be considered before you embark on your research efforts. The answers will lead you in different directions.

LOOKING FOR YOUR HERALDRY. Heraldry is the study of, what is commonly called, a coat-of-arms. Many companies exist that will promise to deliver your family coat of arms or heraldry history for a small fee. These heraldries are usually beautifully decorated and contain the basic elements of the historic coat-of-arms, but beware.

There are only are relatively few families that are entitled to display a true coat-of-arms. Heraldry is thought to originate from the need to be able to recognize troops in battle. Dressed in full armor and helmets It was difficult to know who was on your side so, in about the mid eleventh or twelfth century, fighters began to paint emblems on their shields. From this practice it is commonly believed that the establishment of recorded emblems was born.

A combination of several elements into one system resulted in the heraldry we know today. A family brought their own seal or unique design, added the design of the shields used in their areas, and banners and other elements to create a unique coat-of-arms. Although it is commonly believed that a coat-of-arms was not valid unless bestowed by the nobility, it is now recognized that this is not necessarily the case, however…

Many families do have the right to bear arms. This means that their particular coat-of-arms was indeed bestowed to a distant family member and not just created from a genealogical record of a heraldry business. For example, my mother’s family has a registered coat-of-arms and we know the story of how her family came to have it. It was bestowed on a distant grand-father for services to a nobleman.

The right to bear arms came into question in the late 14th century when knights went before the courts claiming others were infringing on their particular arms. Regulations were developed and are still enforced today in Scotland and England, as well as a few other countries.

If you only want something to display, find a heraldry service, but if you want to display your valid coat-of-arms, you will need to do some finite research to discover what it is and even more vital, do you have the right to have one.

JUST TRYING TO CONNECT. Like the situation with heraldry, there are companies that will sell you a book listing all people in the United States that share your name. But this is not really much more than a directory. While you may be able to use it to find someone you discover a connection to, it is not a good resource for research. Most will also include a history of the name, but again this is a generality. For example, Miller is a common name and the origins vary by country but most believe it is associated with someone who operated a mill. Hence, Miller or Milner. A Smith was usually someone who worked with metals, and so on. And Brooks is often simply some family that lived near a brook. If you are only looking for connections you may want to use this resource but it is nor suitable for serious genealogical research.

CERTIFIABLE RESEARCH FOR REGISTRIES. There are many organizations such as The Daughters of the American Revolution, that will verify and list your genealogy in their directories. There is some prestige that many find with this type of registry. There is also the LDS registry that lists the genealogies of all persons as long as it is verifiable. Such registries require that you list resources and documentation. Such documents might include certificates of birth, death, or marriage, burial, divorce, wills, census records, passenger manifests and more.

It used to be a long tedious chore to find these types of documents in the back rooms of clerk’s offices and libraries. I can’t count the number of hours I spent hunched over a dusty record book or the money I spent on stamps to send a request for a document. But a movement has been underway for the last ten years of so to convert all those dusty fragile records to a digital and searchable format. Today you can benefit from the thousands of hours of work that has resulted in a wide assortment of resources online. Many of these are services you must pay to use, like the highly popular Ancestry dot com. But there are others that you can use that are offered free of charge.

SEARCH THE LIST OF LISTS. When I first started to do research online it took hours to locate any useable free resources. One of the oldest and most trusted resource banks on the internet today is undoubtedly still Cyndi’s List. I have watched this database grow from a few resources on one or two pages to more pages than I can count and more is added every day.

I could spend quite a bit of time and list many resources here but I would suggest that a better use of your limited time is to head over to Cyndi’s List and begin your search for the documents that you need. This resource will probably save you the most time overall.

LDS. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints hosts Family Search. One of the most extensive genealogy search databases online and it is FREE to use. You can begin with your name or the name of a family member and if there is anyone online who has already done some research that includes that name, you will find it. Many of those resources will include documentation that you can view or reference. A vital aspect of a certifiable genealogy.

ELLIS ISLAND is another resource that will let you search ships passenger records for about 25 million immigrant arrivals. If you think an ancestor arrived through this port, you simply must do a search here.

There are also free databases that will help you build your tree and host it online. These can also be good sources of leads to records. I have used several of these over the years, but be careful not to immediately add a record to your genealogy. You will want to check and double check the connections first.

There are many other resources available and obviously I have only hit on a few. With a little work, however, you can find the records of your family, whether here, within our shores, or across the seas. When I began my research over 20 years ago I never would have believed I would be sitting here today, still searching. But I have amassed records that link family members all the way back to the mid 900’s and I am still surprised when I discover yet another new link. The thrill is still in the search and the discovery.

Family History Research Finds a Boost in Popularity and New Resources in Digital Databases

It has been over 30 years since Alex Haley published his groundbreaking research. Roots: The Saga of an American Family which was soon made into a film that riveted and shocked the viewers with a glimpse into the history of slavery. But Alex crossed the racial barrier for most viewers of the mini-series. Slave or Free, Black or White, we all discovered an emotional response to his discoveries.

I was once questioned by an elderly lady in the back room of my local library’s genealogy center. “Sweetie,” she said. “You are much too young to waste your days in these dusty tombs.” But it was too late, I was hooked. Today a new generation of younger researchers, much like I was back then have begun to discover the importance of knowing their own stories. Many of these scavenger hunters were children in 1976 and shocked to see the truth of slavery, are spending hours online and in research libraries in an effort to uncover their own roots. When I first began my own research, shortly after the death of a second husband in 1986, I was not able to access the records I needed from an internet connection in my home.

Research back then was still relegated to those dusty rooms. It was almost two decades before the internet emerged as a viable research tool and digital records began to be made available. Soon came database sites like The LDS library, Ellis Island databases, and Now I can do research from the comfort of my home. I am able to view digital copies of fragile records and trace my ancestry through the years as I may never have been able to do in the past.

Having spent countless hours searching through fragile, dusty files and books, it is easy to become addicted to the convenience of the computer. Rarely a day goes by in my busy life when I do not spend at least a few minutes with the generations that preceded me.

Now, marking over 30 years with my own research, I am able to recognize those documents and resources that allow me to continue through brick walls erected at our shores as more and more databases are released online almost daily.

The recent popularity of the NBC series, Who do you think you are, has once again sparked the interest and imagination of the American people. As we begin to look back into the history of our ancestors and the history of this country we once again discover the determination and fortitude that created the greatest country on earth.

Whether you are just looking to learn a little about your family history, or connect your family to the documented history of our country, the opportunities to get the results you seek abound online. In addition to the databases I mentioned above, LDS and Ellis Island, there are literally hundreds of databases available to the genealogy hobbyist. But finding the good ones can often be a time consuming challenge.

One of the best resources you can start with is a site called Cyndi’s List. This is one of the first resources I discovered over a decade ago. From this central resource you can discover the most valuable resources you can use to document your history. I have watched this list grow to rival even the most commercial resources so it is a good place to start your quest. You can find help on getting started as well as resources you can access to further your journey through time..

Another resource that is often overlooked is the Guttenberg database and Google books. As promoted in the NBC series, the stories that connect us through our histories can be more enlightening than just a collection of names and dates. Reading through the old books, especially personal accounts and diaries, can open our minds to a host of possibilities and provide a connection to our heritage. Understanding the events surrounding the lives of our ancestors, and learning some of the details of the conditions in which they lived can often reveal their personalities and allow us to get to know those who have long since passed into the shadows of time.

Once you begin to discover the resources and digital documents that lead you through the ages, you may begin to feel a desire to handle the actual antique documents and read the accounts first hand. This type of research activity can be quite compelling and lead you past that point of apathy or even frustration. We all reach this point sooner or later. The ability to handle documents containing the words written by our ancestors, or being able to trace your finger over a signature penned by a distant relation can often provide an electric spark that spurs you on to find even more.

If you are lucky your digital search may lead you to uncover such documents as diaries, journals, and family letters that can lead you down yet another road. I was lucky enough to inherit a box of letters my grandmother saved for years. Other family members intended on throwing them out, but naturally, as I had begun to have an interest in genealogy, I insisted that they be given to me for safe keeping. So, I took the box of old letters and stored them for a decade before I really began to delve into my family history. When I finally got around to reading those letters I found a wealth of information and some surprising stories that were the spark that ignited a 30 year quest. I am now posting many of these as digital content at my own sites for others to use in their research.

Combine these with the resources of with these others and you can leap through the generations in record time. A word of caution, however, is appropriate. New researchers are prone to accept new connections on the basis of name only. This can be a deterrent to uncovering the true connections between families. The availability of digital documents can easily verify the connections you find, if you will only take a little additional time to check them out.

Search For Student Housing Lists On The Internet

Are you interested in student housing? This is inevitable when you have just been admitted to a University. The search can be a daunting task. In every country there are different times of the year when housing lists are released by letting agents and landlords. In many countries you will find many student houses lists around the end of the year and the New Year period. It is probably because many students resume school in January while new ones are admitted. Universities and colleges operate differently though. Some receive fresh students in the beginning of the second term or third term as well. So, when are you reporting and are you finding a place to stay?

Depending on the school you are joining, there may not be adequate housing for everybody. Therefore you are forced to find a home outside the school while ensuring that it is safe and in close proximity. Even so student unions and university housing services are available. A few institutions of higher learning have a solution for scholars who cannot get accommodated within their compounds. They collaborate with landlords and letting agents. The problem is that this sort of housing service varies dramatically from one school to another. Some off campus managed houses may be too expensive in comparison with private rental houses within the campus vicinity.

If you are not interested in university managed housing or student unions house lists, then your only choice is private sector accommodation. There is no need to rush as there will be empty student apartments all through the year. You are allowed to rent alone or in groups. The imperative thing is to know where to search for the most affordable and comfortable rental properties. The internet search is quicker, more convenient and fruitful. Instead of walking around to locate letting agents, you can use the internet. It will not only reveal houses in one section of the area you are interested in. Internet resources will disclose properties across the whole region and show you clear photographs of each property.

Ensure that you find a site that lists hundreds of properties within the region where your university is located. Be aware that some online search websites are not used for free. It is important to avoid paying any money to any resource that you have not investigated properly. There are free resources that are more comprehensive in their manner of property representation than the paid ones. Ensure that you focus on a site that provides adequate descriptions, photographs and maps. As you will discover, many websites use short text ads that do not communicate fully about student accommodations. These should be avoided at any rate. If you are interested in flatshare listings, because you have no friends to move in with and you want company, use the internet as well. There are special sites that list flatshare properties.