Illinois Ancestors: Family histories accessible on Internet

Illinois Ancestors: Family histories accessible on Internet

As reported by Dick Eastman in his Online Genealogy Newsletter (June 19), more than 80,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications are now online. His list includes links to Google Books (at, the Allen County Public Library, and other facilities.

But further comments on his Web page mention that the holdings of these libraries are also available at the Family History Library and accessible at

It is further suggested that a search for a book at any library should be more creative than just looking for a name. Often a search in a specific location can be most productive. Also search for books pertaining to a religious, fraternal, or veteran's organization, labor union, or any other topic that might be relevant to a specific ancestor.

PAF to be discontinued

FamilySearch will no longer offer the free genealogy software, Personal Ancestral File, to be downloaded or supported after July 15, 2013. Reasons for this decision include "advances in technology, strong alternative from third parties, and the need to focus on the latest initiatives," as explained at

Persons having PAF can continue to use this program, but other options are suggested: Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree, and RootsMagic. Links to these programs are provided along with advantages, pricing, and ordering information. FamilySearch endorses all three of these "recommended partners."

Free guides for Massachusetts

FamilySearch continues to make free guides available to researchers. A recent research guide pertains to Suffolk County, Massachusetts and can be found at

Suffolk County was "one of the four original counties when Massachusetts Bay Colony created counties in 1643." The guide includes a brief history of the county, a table of border changes, vital records, land records and atlases, probate records and other court records, maps, and references.

Boston has its own guide at, with the greatest part of its contents devoted to churches there. By 1846 there were 108 churches established in downtown Boston. The data pertaining to churches may include each location, name changes, known records and where to find them, online resources, historical and genealogical publications (with links), ministers, and other notes.

Other topics covered in the Boston guide include vital records, border changes, historical events, immigration, vital records, wards, cemeteries, newspapers, and more.

Other Suffolk County guides are available for Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. Substitute any of these names for the word, "Boston," in the link above in order to find that location's guide.

To access the guide for the state guide for Massachusetts, click on "Massachusetts" at the top of any of the county guides. Be sure to note the extensive list of Online Genealogy Records for that state.

Online research classes

FamilySearch has now made it possible to view research classes on the Internet. Visit and browse hundreds of online genealogy courses to "help you discover your family history."

For example, from this page, there are links to Most Popular Courses, including "If I'd Only Known! Beginner Genealogy Mistakes" with advice that is applicable to beginning as well as advanced researchers. The 52-minute presentation is accompanied by notes and examples and ends with the advice, "Take time to learn!"

Courses are available that pertain to places (countries), skill level, subject, format (audio, video, slides), and subject language. For example, there are 21 short (five-minute) Beginning Genealogy Courses.

FamilySearch, the nonprofit volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the largest genealogy organizations in the world. Patrons may access Family Search resources free at or through more than 4,000 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Internet, Technology

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Robin Foster wrote on July 03, 2013 at 6:07 pm
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Another great place to to discover resources to document your ancestors is through FamilySearch Wiki.  Search by topic or locality right from the home page to connect to helpful articles that link to resources.  For example, see Illinois: