Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Comments On Best Fee-Based and Free Genealogy Websites

 I wrote about my "Top 5 Fee-based Genealogy Websites" and "Top 10 Free Genealogy Websites" in recent weeks, and several other genea-bloggers have written about them also - there are many links in the comments to those posts.

Of course, my "Top 5" or "Top 10" are probably different than everybody else because of differences in opinion, experience, education and ancestors locations.  Every person searches the Internet for genealogy and family history resources in a different way.

A reader, Chuck Nesbit, emailed me with his own thoughts and they were cogent and highlighted his own experience and opinions, and added suggestions for regional and county resources in southern states.  Here are Chuck's comments from several emails:

"I agree with your listings of the best free and paid genealogy websites for genealogists to use overall. 

"To the free sites I would add  I use it as a gateway to a listing of local records, particularly at the county level.  Say I’m researching Wilson Nesbitt (1781-1816).  He lived in several counties of SC as well as two counties in Alabama.  I can go to Linkpendiun, in the 'jump to county' block enter 'Spartanburg', enter state 'SC' and a list of various online databases for records appears including listings of Family Search and Ancestry records.  In the Spartanburg list of links if I click on 'land records' I receive links to databases on Ancestry, Family Search, and other sites with land records.  This makes my search much more efficient than logging into each site individually to see what Spartanburg SC land records the site has.  Plus it gives me links to some local and other sites I may not be aware of or have considered searching.

"The lists of sites you provided supply information of great benefit to any genealogist in the USA.  As I have gained experience with my research I have uncovered a variety of state resources which have also proven invaluable.  I suspect every state has resources of some kind.  In Georgia there are four 'free' websites I use frequently:  
  • Georgia Historic Newspapers - free site offering a large variety of historical Georgia papers.  The goal of the project is to have at least one paper from each county.  I use this much more frequently than Chronicling America or  Georgia Historic Newspapers is part of the larger “Digital Library of Georgia”.  which includes maps, documents, and photographs.
"Likewise, North Carolina has some excellent websites containing records of interest to genealogists.
  • Digital NC is a portal allowing one to explore materials from 277 libraries and museums across the state:
  • NC Land Grants - The personal project of David McCorkle (site owner) provides searchable data for 216,000 land grants from 1663 through 1960.  It includes 10,000 land grants issued by NC in what is now Tennessee. For researchers with colonial and early United States ancestors this is an invaluable resource with good search tools.
  • The digital records of the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina library provide numerous digitized collections of family papers and other records providing a wealth of information to genealogists.  These records cover the entire southeastern US, not just North Carolina.
  • North Carolina Digital Collections, a joint project of the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina provides numerous documents from various periods of North Carolina history which family history researchers can use to learn more about their ancestors and the communities in which they lived.
  • The University of North Carolina at Greensboro houses online the Digital Library on American Slavery.  Its digital collections are invaluable for African American researches as well as white families who owned slaves.
"Most of my research is in the southern states. I’ve found the quality of digital resources varies from state to state with NC and Georgia particularly rich in online records of interest to genealogists.  A number of NC counties are now digitizing their deeds going back to the founding of the county.  Now it is possible to view deeds online going back to the colonial period for many counties.  This includes slave deeds.

"I realize showing records of 50 individual states and thousands of localities is beyond the scope of your blog.  However, I’ve found many family historians tend to limit themselves to the well known online free and paid databases.  There is an incredible amount of rich online content at state archives, state libraries, local libraries, museums, county courthouses, which don’t appear in the 'big' databases.  Aggregation portals such as 'Linkpendium' help family historians to find these more obscure databases as do portals run by state archives or libraries such as 'Digital NC' and 'Digital Library of Georgia'  Please continue to encourage your readers to search for these windows into the lives of their ancestors and the communities they lived in.  

"I understand you have a global audience and focus mainly on the national and international sights.  I’m happy they continue to add databases but they still only scratch the surface.  I’m delighted so many local and regional organizations have efforts underway to digitize and make records available to the public.  The issue now is finding them.  The more obscure sites are not showing up on Google searches yet many have a treasure trove of information.  I’m amazed at the contributions of individual genealogists, like David McCorkle, to the digitization efforts.  His land grant site represents a lifetime of work and is invaluable to NC researchers.  The fact he does not charge is a great gift to researches."  

Thank you to Chuck for taking the time to offer his thoughts to my readers.  I appreciate it because I don't have Chuck's research experience in the southeast.  Many of my readers, and society members, do have a research interest in southern state research and will appreciate Chuck's recommendations above, especially because they are FREE.


Copyright (c) 2020, Randall J. Seaver

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Tess said...

It's interesting how we become experts in our areas of interest and have our own specific set of resources. It's why networking is so important - we can all help each other.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information. I have only been truly dedicated to my research for 2 years. This is very insightful to assist me in my journey.

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

This is a very thoughtful post by Chuck. I had heard of Linkpendium but never really used it. I'm planning to bookmark it in Chrome where I can see it next to Ancestry & FamilySearch. I, too, have lots of southern research and appreciate Chuck's comments.

Jacqi Stevens said...

Yes, definitely, Randy! Chuck's southern perspective has been helpful to me, as well. Thank you, Randy, for sharing his comments--and thanks to Chuck for providing the information.