Monday, March 7, 2016

4 Tips to Trace Female Ancestors in Your Family Tree

Find Elusive Women in Your Family

4 Tips to Trace Female Ancestors of Your Family Tree
Photo Credit: Thoth, God of Knowledge via Compfight cc
If you’ve been digging through tangled up roots to discover female ancestors to add to your family tree, you’re not alone. While every family historian runs into brick walls during their research from time to time, stories about women from our familial past can be some of the most difficult to find. But while it’s a challenge for us all for a number of reasons, there are certainly tried-and-true tactics that can help you discover clues that lead to these elusive women.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled a list of a few tips that can help you trace female ancestors to reveal stories and names of the women in your family.

4 Research Tips

1. Search Male Ancestors First

It may seem strange to say that in order to find a female ancestor, you should look for men in your family first, but it’s a great research strategy for many reasons. For one, by fully documenting your male ancestors, you may be able to discover hidden clues about women in their lives. Probate records are the perfect place to begin looking for male ancestors. Don’t even try searching these records for female ancestors in probate records as you likely won’t find them this way. This is because back in the day if a woman’s husband died and he owned property or a business, she wouldn’t receive automatic guardianship of inherited estates or money. But once you discover estate records of men in your family, they can often reveal locations and even names of some of your female ancestors.
Tip: Head to FamilySearch to search probate records.

2. Research Maiden Names

Researching maiden names of your female ancestors is another great strategy to help you discover women family members to add to your family tree. This can also lead to the discovery of new surnames. But don’t go into the research blindly! There are some key, time-saving tactics to help you uncover your ancestors’ maiden names such as searching marriage records, historic newspapers, and more. These tips for finding maiden names will help you with your search.
Tip: Try using these 8 best resources.

3. Consider Culture While You Search

Sometimes researching first names, maiden names, and surnames of your ancestors can get a little tricky because of varying name spellings. Sometimes a female from your familial past might have actually gone by her Old World name, but was recorded in some ancestry records or newspapers by more common spellings. Your immigrant ancestors also often changed their names when they came to America for a variety of reasons. This is why it is always a good idea to consider the culture of your family members while searching.
Perhaps one of your female ancestors was named Amy. If she were of French decent, she may have gone by Aimée, or Amée (Old French version). If she were of Spanish decent, she may have gone by Amada. And so on.
Tip: English-speaking publications sometimes recorded names differently than foreign-language editions.

4. Dig Into Family Gravestones

A cemetery can offer a slew of hidden clues of who your female ancestors were. In fact, gravestones of family members can give you information on the last place female ancestors lived, what year they were born and died, unravel family relationships, as well as help you discover both middle and maiden names. Emblems found on gravestones can also give you clues about religious creeds and what your ancestors did for employment. Epitaphs can also show you even more details about how your ancestors lived. Sites like and can help you find headstones and the whereabouts of your elusive female ancestors.
Tip: Look at the headstones near your ancestors. Relatives were often buried close to each other.

Do you have other research strategies for finding the women in your family? Let us know in the comments! Then add your female ancestors and their stories to your Crestleaf Family Tree!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

5 New Genealogy Websites to Try in 2016

Top Genealogy Websites from 
RootsTech Innovator Showdown 

New Genealogy Websites for 2016Online genealogy research has come a long way in recent years. In this digital age where you can find genealogy records with just a few clicks of a mouse, and even collaborate with family members on virtual family trees, beginner and seasoned genealogists alike seem to have higher expectations when it comes to new advancements in genealogy research tools.
Recently, top genealogy and family history developers from all over the world came together at RootsTech 2016 where 46 teams introduced their new and innovative genealogy websites, apps, and tools to the masses. And while there could only be one winner at this year’s RootsTech Innovator Showdown, all of the finalists are winners in our big family history book.
The following are 5 of our favorite, new and emerging genealogy websites from the RootsTech Innovator Showdown.  Each is as innovative as they are helpful!

1. AncestorCloud

AncestorCloud - Genealogy & Family History Marketplace
AncestorCloud is a community and social marketplace for family discovery. This genealogy website not only connects you with professional genealogists to help with your research, but also a community of other family historians in over 52 countries  who are available to lend a helping hand. Community researchers can pick up records, take local photographs, translate documents, help with research questions and more.
Cost: Free to join and post a request. 

2. The Family History Guide

The Family History Guide
The Family History Guide focuses on helping you achieve your family history goals, step by step. It’s a great resource for beginners as well as seasoned genealogists. Some site features include: links to over 1,000 videos and articles from leading genealogy and family history sites like FamilySearch and Ancestry; quick links to search records from multiple sources; project tracker sheets and classroom materials for self-study or group instruction; and over 400 goals for learning.
Cost: Free. Donations encouraged. 

3. The History Project

The History Project - Family History Logo

The History Project is your living time capsule that helps to collect artifacts and share family stories. This innovative new family history website offers a private, secure place to collaborate with your family members on collecting family photos, videos, social media and important documents. You can also add your own audio recordings, music, newspaper articles and more in order to authentically convey family members’ stories.
Cost: Free to use. Offers additional paid services. 

4. Family History Website Logo is an online collaborative journal that can help you record, preserve, reflect and publish your family history. You can add stories via web, mobile and even email entries to your journal, making sharing your family stories an even easier part of your everyday activity. Journal entries are backed up securitly and can be accessed on all your devices. JRNL makes it simple to preserve your family stories in a hardbound book with their Publishing platform.
Cost:  Free for online journaling. 

5. TapGenes

TapGenes Family History Health Website Logo
TapGenes is a family history service that offers tools to identify the genetic thread that ties families together. The site allows allows you to crowdsource your family’s health history. TapGenes offers a safe, secure place to store your family health data, plus digitally preserve your family’s history on your Family Health Tree.
Cost: Membership is invite-only.  Sign up to reserve your spot! 

Do you know of other new genealogy or family history websites we should add to our list? Let us know in the comments!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

5 Steps for Finding Pilgrim Ancestors

Are You a Mayflower Descendant? 

5 Research Tips to Help You Find Out

Thanksgiving Genealogy - How to Find Pilgrim AncestorsIf you know your history, then you know the reason we stuff ourselves with turkey and pie each November is because of the Pilgrims; a group of brave souls who sailed to America on the Mayflower and celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you also know that there are millions of Mayflower descendants living today? It’s true! It’s been estimated that 25 million people from all over the globe can prove they have Pilgrims in their family tree — and you could very well be a descendant, too.
These genealogy research tips will help you discover if you have Pilgrim ancestors of your own. Perhaps your family members can join in on your genealogy research endeavors this Thanksgiving!

Quick Guide for Finding Your Pilgrim Ancestors

1. Write Down What You Know

You’re probably reading this blog post because Grandpa Joe or Aunt Jan has told you that your family members are descendants of the Mayflower. If so, then the most important thing to do is record what you’ve been told about these Pilgrims from your ancestral past. What were their names? Who told you this information? Where did they live? Write down everything you know and ask other family members if they have information, as well. Once you have everything recorded, you’ll be able to take your genealogy research further by searching for Pilgrim ancestors’ names on passenger lists.

2. Search Pilgrim Surnames

The next step to finding your Pilgrim ancestors is to familiarize yourself with the surnames on Pilgrim ship passenger lists. From here, you can then learn names of descendants, as well. Maybe your family tree already includes the surname Bradford or Tilley. If so, you could be a descendant of the Mayflower! Begin your search by looking through the list of passengers on the General Society of Mayflower Descendants website. The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also has the complete passenger list, including surnames found in the first three generations after the Mayflower landed. Perhaps you’ll find you’re also a descendant if your family tree includes the name Fitch or Wilcox.

3. Read, Review, Repeat

Even if you’re new to genealogy research, you know that reading is a big part of the process. This is especially true when researching your Pilgrim ancestors. But which books should you choose to read? Thankfully, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants has made the process easier on you by publishing numerous books on Mayflower passengers and the first five generations of each Pilgrim passenger with their “Mayflower Families in Progress” project. So head to the library or buy yourself these books written by colonial genealogy experts.

4. Prove Your Findings with Primary Sources

Utilizing primary source documents for all genealogical research is the best way to find true information. So, while conducting your research, use Pilgrim primary source documents (birth, marriage and death records) to confirming your familial link to the Mayflower. Have you stumbled upon census records, deeds, probate (wills), gravestones or family bibles that contain information about your Pilgrim ancestors? If so, you can prove your lineage as long as you have original documents, or the scanned images come from original records.

5. Cite Your Sources & Check Your Research

If you’ve gotten this far in your research and feel you can prove you have Pilgrim ancestors, then a big “Congratulations” to you! You’re related to some of the most  famous people in history. But don’t forget to cite your sources correctly so you and future generations can check your research for errors. Don’t miss this crucial step so you can confirm your Pilgrim lineage — especially if you want to apply to a Mayflower family association. Checking your research could help you find that your Mayflower ancestors are anything but authentic. And who wants to submit false information? Once you can confirm that your findings are correct, click here for membership information to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
Additional Pilgrim & Mayflower Genealogy Research Resources
  • – The world's favorite and largest family history research firm with over 1,200 professional genealogists.  They access the records wherever they are located.
  • American Ancestors: The Mayflower Descendant – A journal of Pilgrim genealogy and history published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS).
  • Cyndi’s List: Mayflower Lineage Societies – A list of Mayflower lineage societies by location.
  • – The Internet’s most complete resource on the Mayflower and the Pilgrims, with genealogy, history, primary source documents, a complete passenger list, and more.

Are you a descendant of the Mayflower? Let us know in the comments!

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