I originally gave this presentation at GenFair, sponsored by the Alberta Genealogical Society at Norquest College in Wetaskiwin .

Mostly Free Online Resources for Family History

To many of us, the big attraction of using the Internet is convenience. It is always "open" and is accessible from home. And most of its resources are free! Since there is no way to cover all of the basic resources available on the Internet in the time I have available, I will focus on some that I have found most useful. 

Online research is considered the quicker and easier way to do genealogy. It still takes time, and is subject to the same challenges as printed genealogies, including occasional errors. The main advantages are speed and convenience. With a computer, you can search through thousands or even millions of records in the same time that it would take to read a page on a microfilm or book. Caveat: Just because a piece of information appears on a personal webpage, message board, online family tree, or is printed in a book doesn't guarantee its accuracy. You need to verify any serious research from official sources whenever possible. Fortunately, more and more of these official sources are also available online. I would like to focus on these. But firstly a few minutes should be spent on compiled genealogies and local histories.

Instant Gratification: Compiled Genealogies

WorldConnect, a FREE service of RootsWeb http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/
Example: Eliza Auger, daughter of Augustin and Rosalie. Click on the underlined name of the database to search the database. Click on the pedigree chart icon to view the pedigree. Often, on the Pedigree screen you can click on "Download Gedcom" to download a copy of this database.

Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource Files at https://familysearch.org/ click on Trees.
Example: Andrew Buchanan, born in Ireland, son of Andrew and Jane. Select the one in Ancestral File, and then look at the Pedigree and Family views. Now go back and click the example under Pedigree Resource Files. This is a newer record.

Genealogy In Time is a great place to find free genealogy. They have two search engines:
Search 3.8 billion records from genealogy forums and online family trees. Free Family Tree Search Engine
Search 1.9 billion free ancestral records from around the world. Genealogy Search Engine

Personal Web Pages can often be found using http://www.google.com or any other really good Web Search Engine.
Example: "Watson family" Edwardsburgh Canada
Select the "Leeds & Grenville GenWeb - Family Web" link and scroll down to Watson and select it.
(Google can be used to find genealogical resources of all kinds, if you can clearly define what to look for, and don't mind searching through a "haystack" looking for a few good "needles".) An Advanced Google Search allows you to specify additional search criteria, which can be helpful.

Local Histories are often the best source of the histories of families. One particularly good site for local histories is the Our Roots project by the universities of Calgary and Laval. http://www.ourroots.ca/ The local histories of Wetaskiwin have very little information about families, but the history of the rural area west of there is excellent.
Example: Search for Freeway and West (or use this link http://www.ourroots.ca/e/toc.aspx?id=7594)
Search for the name Fiveland. Wow! Look at all of them. Check page 767.

Example: Grenville then select "History of Leeds and Grenville", by Leavitt, Thaddeus William Henry, 1879. Select "Memoir". During the American Revolution, Adiel Sherwood's father Thomas fled to Canada and became an officer in the Loyalist Rangers, and his uncles Adiel and Seth became officers in the Revolutionary Army. With cousins also fighting on both sides, it makes for very interesting family history! (See the lower part of the right-hand column.)

A sister site to Our Roots is Our Future, Our Past: The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project (AHDP) http://www.ourfutureourpast.ca/, where you can view some old Alberta newspapers and local histories and other historical documents. While the coverage of the province is incomplete, you may find stories that have a value far beyond money.

Hard Facts: Going to Official Sources

Compiled genealogies are prone to errors. (I spotted at least one in the examples above.) I found a compiled genealogy that traced my great-great-grandfather back to the chiefs of Clan Buchanan in Scotland and eventually back to the kings of Ireland. However, I knew enough about g-g-grandfather to determine that more research was needed. We need to be cautious of  accepting "wishful thinking", as real research. Still, compiled genealogies are usually based on serious research. How can you tell serious research from daydreams? Serious research needs to be supported by the best official sources available. Fortunately, more and more of these are available online for free.


Because censuses are so important, I have dedicated one presentation entirely to censuses. Here is a link to the census presentation.

Censuses starting about 1850 have some major advantages where genealogy is concerned:
1. Unlike some official records, you didn't have to own property or be in jail or in the workhouse, to be counted.
2. Families are grouped together, and sometimes include members of the extended family living in the same household or nearby.
3. Ages are included. (1901 census of Canada gives an exact date of birth.)
4. Place of birth is often included.
5. They have been preserved intact in most cases, whereas certificates and family Bibles seldom survived.
6. They allow you to follow a family over a long period of time, as children are born, and either die young, or grow to leave the family home. Errors in one census can usually be noticed when comparing with earlier and later censuses.

Canadian Censuses Online
1916 census of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba at any Family History Centre.
1911 Census of Canada free at this free site http://automatedgenealogy.com
1906 Special Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is at Automated Genealogy too.
1901 Census of Canada on the Automated Genealogy
1891 Census of Canada is now available at Collections Canada for free. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/census-1891/index-e.html
1880/1881 Censuses of USA/Canada/Great Britain is free https://familysearch.org/
Index to the 1871 Canada Census for Ontario http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/1871-ontario/001016-100.01-e.php
1871 Census of Canada is available online at the Family History Centre
1861 Census of Canada index is available online at the Family History Centre
1851/1852 Census of Canada is available online at the Family History Centre. It is partially available at home from Automated Genealogy http://automatedgenealogy.com

United States and UK censuses, your local Family History Center has free access to commercial sites: HeritageQuest, Ancestry.com and FindMyPast.co.uk  (including censuses for England and Wales for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and  1911).
Some of the US censuses and vital records from around the world can be accessed free from home at https://familysearch.org/

Parish and Civil Records

Few government "civil" records exist for ordinary individuals before the mid-to-late 1800s, but prior to this time churches of most denominations kept records of christenings, marriages and burials.Many of these can be found by clicking Records https://familysearch.org/ or searchng from the main screen.

Canadian Vital Records

So far five provinces have vital records indexes online. In most cases you can get the basic information you need for free, directly from the government. These are excellent official resources. I have spent many hours with the Manitoba site and some time on the BC site.

New Brunswick Vital Statistics Search Engine http://archives.gnb.ca/APPS/GovRecs/VISSE/?L=EN

Nova Scotia Vital Records search https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com/

Manitoba Vital Statistics http://vitalstats.gov.mb.ca/Query.php
Example: Andrew Rasmussen's marriage should be recorded there. Wow! We find his first marriage to Sophia Sorenson and after her death, we find his marriage to his second wife Anna, and after his death, Anna's re-marriage! And the Manitoba marriage certificates would give the names of both parents of the brides and grooms at a minimal cost of $12.

Saskatchwan vital records http://vsgs.health.gov.sk.ca/vsgs_srch.aspx
Free BMD information. Faster to use than Manitoba's, but so far they just have the births and deaths posted.

British Columbia Archives http://search.bcarchives.gov.bc.ca/sn-2DD7F18/gbsearch/Deaths

Please suggest to the Alberta Government that we want the Alberta Vital Records Index made available online, too!!!

Ontario Records
Paid access to Ontario Births, Marriages and Deaths http://Ancestry.ca The Ontario births and marriages have excellent information, the deaths have no biographical information.

Free access at https://familysearch.org/ but this indexing is not yet complete. 

Ontario Birth Registrations http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~births/index.htm
Covers perhaps 5% of births, but useful if you connect.
Example: We will search for any Buchanans born in Elma Township, Perth County

Ontario Marriage Registrations 1800-1924  http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~maryc/thisisit.htm 
Covers maybe 20% of the marriages, but has wonderful information - including the names of the bride's and groom's parents.
Example: Buchanan Perth Elma to find all Buchanans married in Elma Township, Perth County, Ontario

Wesleyan Methodist Baptisms in Ontario http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wjmartin/wm-index.htm
Sometimes the Methodist circuit riders were the only clergy available and christened children of other denominations. So just because your ancestors were not Methodists doesn't mean they won't be found there. It includes the married names of the parents, birthdate and birthplace of the child.
Example: Lavina Atkin, born in Mornington Township, Perth County

Drouin Collection at http://www.ancestry.ca/ has 37 million historical French-Canadian names, fully searchable indexes of Quebec records spanning 346 years from 1621 to 1967. This is a subscription service of Ancestry.ca. For a fuller list see this page. Note that much of the material is available free elsewhere.  Warning! Ancestry (for all areas) automatically renews your subscription and bills it to your credit card unless you cancel before renewal time. 

Canadian Federal Government Records
The Canadian Genealogy Centre now provides a "single point of entry" to many of the government databases that were only available if you knew their specific addresses. www.genealogy.gc.ca (or http://www.collectionscanada.ca/genealogy/index-e.html) Databases:
AVITUS; Births, marriages and deaths; Divorce in Canada (1841-1968) ; Upper and Lower Canada Marriage Bonds; Census Microfilm Reel numbers from 1666 to 1901; Census Index of Ontario, 1871; Census of Canada Images, 1901; Census of the Northwest Provinces Images, 1906; Census of Canada Images, 1911; Immigrants at Grosse-Île Quarantine Station between 1832 and 1937; Immigration Records (1925-1935); Home Children (1869-1930); Western Land Grants (1870-1930); Metis Scrip Records; Soldiers of the South African War (1899 - 1902); Soldiers of the First World War (1914-1918); Courts-Martial of the First World War; War Diaries of the First World War; 1915-1932 Canadian Naturalization; Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online; Post Offices and Postmasters; Canadian Directories: Who was Where; Project Naming (identifying Inuit in old photos); AMICUS WEB (contains references to local histories, church and cemetery indexes, family histories, city directories, genealogy society journals and more); ArchiviaNet online research tool; The Canadian Archival Information Network (CAIN) provides access to holdings of more than 800 archival institutions across Canada.

Canadian Soldiers of the First World War (1914-1918) http://www.collectionscanada.ca/02/020106_e.html
See the original attestation (sign-up) papers and print your own copy of them!
Example: Search for Teale, Arthur and click the icon for the front of the page. Arthur paid the supreme sacrifice at Vimy Ridge, France leaving his wife with four tiny children and a farm in Saskatchewan to run.

Commonwealth War Graves http://www.cwgc.org
Example: Again we will Search for Arthur Teale. (He is the second Arthur Teale listed.)

Métis Scrip Records http://www.collectionscanada.ca/archivianet/02010507_e.html
Great for information on Canadian Métis families in the 1800s.
Example: Eliza Auger.

Great Britain

Free 1881 census of England and Wales online, and other services online at https://familysearch.org

All censuses of England and Wales (1841-1911) free at your local Family History Center from http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ through their free online portal. Ancestry.com also has these, along with the Censuses of Scotland for free at FHCs.

FREE-BMD Free searches for Birth, Marriage and Death Registrations in England since 1 July 1837
http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/cgi/search.pl or http://www.freebmd.org.uk/
I find this especially handy when you know the wife's given name but not her married name.

Note that some British counties have their own BMD sites for records that they hold. Sometimes they have things that the national site doesn't have and vice-versa.
Example: All Types, Ing, All Districts, County: London
(After visiting FreeBMD you may want to purchase official certificates at http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/ 

FreeREG a site associated with FreeBMD, currently covers few areas but you might get lucky http://www.freereg.org.uk/

County BMD sites sometimes have additional information for free, for example http://www.lancashirebmd.org.uk/

Out-bound passengers from the UK  http://www.findmypast.com/home.jsp  It seems to exclude troop transports and crews. The index is free and has useful information. (The transcriptions and images are free at a Family History Center.)
Example:  HIPPARD Charles  25 M 1928 Liverpool Canada Quebec  

British "Home" Children brought to Canada http://www.dcs.uwaterloo.ca/~marj/genealogy/homeadd.html
My maternal grandfather and my father-in-law were among tens of thousands of orphaned or impoverished children brought from Great Britain as farm or domestic help. For some it represented new opportunities, for other slavery.
Example: Click the Archives page and search for Richard Ing then click on the page icon.

Genealogy of the United Kingdom and Ireland genealogy portal http://www.genuki.org.uk/

English County Look-ups, etc. http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php/board,1.0.html

A Vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001. Including gazeteers with maps and historical descriptions.http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk

1851 maps of British jurisdictions at http://maps.familysearch.org/

Scotland’s People commercial website at http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

Ancestry.co.uk is a fee-based company that has the Scottish, English and Welsh censuses from 1841 to 1911. http://www.ancestry.co.uk

UK country and county codes: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/Regions/Codes.html

Ireland (Republic and Northern Ireland)Free index, transcriptions, and images of the 1901 and 1911 censuses http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/

Ireland births, marriages and deaths 
See https://familysearch.org

Irish Church Records -
records include pre-1900 birth, marriage and death (burial) records of the various denominations in counties Kerry, Cork, and Dublin. Carlow and Ross will be added in 2010.  http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/


ANCESTRY.COM is the omnipresent commercial genealogy company. http://www.ancestry.com Their biggest strength is the censuses (1790-1880, 1900-1930), but they have many other resources as well for the USA. Signing up costs about $300 US per year. Fortunately, most of these services can be used for free at any Family History Center.

Heritage Quest is a commercial service available for free at Family History Centers.

Social Security Death Index (SSDI) of the USA is accessible from various sources including https://familysearch.org

FamilySearch also has the 1880 census of the USA.

Ellis Island immigration records from 1890 http://ellisisland.org Requires free registration.

Castle Garden immigration database of 10 million immigrants to the USA from 1830 through 1892 http://www.castlegarden.org/

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers - search and view newspaper pages from 1860-1922 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

When you know the U.S. town, but not the county http://resources.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/townco.cgi

To get a list of the states with a county by that name: http://resources.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/county.cgi

Decipher US regional abbreviations: http://helpdesk.rootsweb.com/codes/codes1.html

Most of the genealogies on the Internet seem to have an American connection.

Northern Europe

Norwegian Censuses online http://digitalarkivet.uib.no (A knowledge of Norwegian would be helpful.)

The Danish State Archives: http://www.sa.dk/content/us/
The Danish State Archives:
The Danish Demographic Database:
The Danish Demographic Database:
The Danish State Archives parish registers and population censuses:
Danish Censuses online 
The Danish Emigration Archives: http://www.emiarch.dk/home.php3 or  http://www.emiarch.dk/home.php3?l=en

Swedish Parish Registers at Arkivdigital, a commercial service you can use for free at Family History Centers 




Online Maps can be vital to narrowing-down searches by knowing the names of surrounding places.
For example, Richard Martin born at Towednack or Ludgvan, Cornwall.
Bing Maps http://www.bing.com/maps/
MapQuest http://www.mapquest.com/
Google Maps

Genealogy Message Boards
You may also find it useful to post messages on message boards, and to search through messages posted by other people. If you do so, please get yourself a free PERMANENT email address from somewhere such as http://mail.google.com http://www.hotmail.com, or http://www.yahoo.com and keep it active by checking the messages once a month. That way if someone replies to your messages 5 years from now, you will still be able to receive their reply. I occasionally find old postings that I made using an email address that has been dead for 8 years, and are now useless. Don't make the same mistake. Also see Suggestions for Effective Use of Online Message Boards at http://www.progenealogists.com/messageboards.htm

Ancestry/RootsWeb Message Boards http://boards.rootsweb.com/ and http://boards.ancestry.com/ (This is one of the FREE services of Ancestry.com) 

GenForum Message Boards is the corresponding service from Genealogy.com http://genforum.genealogy.com
I posted a message about the Richard Martin family that I was unable to find in the 1851 census of Cornwall. http://genforum.genealogy.com/englandcountry/cornwall/messages/2272.html
I received the 1851 census information within a few days http://genforum.genealogy.com/englandcountry/cornwall/messages/2273.html
And then this one a week later that gave me the 1841 census data. Many messages go unanswered, especially if they are vague. Give specific information if you want to get specific information.   http://genforum.genealogy.com/englandcountry/cornwall/messages/2277.html

Internet Telephone Directories - The first BIG challenge is to trace your family back 100 years, because most online resources protect the privacy of living people. But this information is the most available from your own extended family. How do you find these people, assuming they are alive? Use an Internet telephone directory. Many are available, including http://www.WhitePages.ca http://www.Canada411.com http://www.411.ca http://www.InfoSpace.ca http://www.SuperPages.ca
I used them to find my "lost" Hamilton and McGillivray relatives and get a mountain of genealogy from them including old family photos and old family stories.

Mailing Lists - Postings by subscribers are sent to all subscribers http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ These can be a useful way of sharing information with others who are researching a family you are researching or are researching families in the same geographic area. For example, I subscribe to a list for descendants of Andrew and Jane Buchanan who came from Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland in 1847. Instead of having to send the information to 30 individuals, I send a message to the list and all subscribers receive it. When anyone else sends a message to the list, I receive a copy. There are many places that include mailing lists (listservs). Some are based on a surname, others are based on a locality. Most maintain an archive of old postings, but they don't all have a search engine, which means a lot more manual or semi-manual searching using Ctrl+F.

Cemetery Finding Aids may help you find a tombstone inscription that gives the year of birth or the names of other family members.
Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid
BC Cemetery Finding Aid http://www.islandnet.com/bccfa/homepage.html
Find a Grave http://www.findagrave.com/ is international in scope, and is one of the most frequented web sites by genealogists.

Obituaries - Usually only list deaths since 2000. Some only have obits for the current month. But if you find an obit, it may have three generations of information! You will usually find them using a search engine. A few sites I have used are:
Edmonton Journal Obituaries (since January 2002 ) http://classifieds.canada.com/edmonton/index.aspx 
Saskatchwan Obituaries
Winnipeg Free Press Obituaries
Portage Daily Graphic Obituaries http://www.portagedailygraphic.com/obituaries.php
British Columbia Newspaper Obituaries  http://www.bcgs.ca/BC-Newspapers-Obituaries.htm

Internet Search Engines - These can be used to look for material that is not on the usual genealogy sites. http://www.google.ca http://www.yahoo.com and http://www.bing.com They can find personal genealogy websites, but also postings to message boards, government records, local histories, and so forth. But at least 95% of the webpages "found" will be totally unrelated to genealogy. Remember to use quotation marks to narrow the search. (Terms within quotation marks are treated as a single word.) Suppose you are looking for any information on a Watson family that had lived at Riding Mountain, Manitoba. Searching for "Riding Mountain" Watson - will find all webpages that contain the name "Watson" PLUS the term "Riding Mountain". The quotation marks should eliminate tens of thousands of false "hits" from pages that contain the words "Watson" and "Riding" and "Mountain" such as "Mr. Watson was riding his mule up the mountain when he spotted a huge grizzly bear." To further narrow down your search, you might try successively including the words Manitoba, Family, Born, Lived, Died, Married (one at a time, not all at once). Ideally, you should not have to search through more than 200 hits. If you find 25,000 references to your search terms, you have really found nothing.

Google Site Search - From the Google website or Google search bar, you can search any site by using these search criteria: search-terms site:URL
So if I didn't have a search engine on my website, you could still search it for George Watson by putting:
"George Watson" site:http://billbuchanan.byethost17.com
into the Google search box and clicking Search.

Out-of-Print Histories (and other books) 

To Borrow - (it may be a long way from where you live, but available through inter-library loans) http://www.worldcat.org

To Buy - http://www.bookfinder.com/ http://www.addall.com/ http://www.abebooks.com/

To Read Online http://books.google.com The Advanced Search option allows you to specify only books where the full view is available.

Your Own Website - You may want to create your own free website to share your genealogy and invite other people to contact you to share their information with you. This is a topic for a whole other presentation, but my website has allowed cousins who have been "lost" for 60 years to find me and contact me. 

Easy Personal Websites - Some sites will create a personal website for free, if you just register and upload a gedcom file. http://tribalpages.com/ and http://www.kindredkonnections.com are examples of such places. 
Example: http://robwatsons.tribalpages.com/tribe/browse?view=6&userid=robwatsons&pid=3775&rand=12234

Your Own Blog  - You can easily create a free blog at any of several sites. Google's Blogger.com https://www.blogger.com  is perhaps the best known. Another popular free blog host is http://wordpress.com/ They are very simple, you just write what you want and  upload photos. If you can send email messages you can create a blog! No special software or technical knowledge is required.
Example: http://billbuchanan.blogspot.com/ 

Custom-building your website provides more flexibility but much more effort. The content on my main website is generated by the free Personal Ancestral File software from FamilySearch, and I have edited the index pages to add photos and additional links, and have created additional pages. Webpages or "HTML documents" can be created by most word processors using the File menu's "Save as ... HTML" option. Special webpage editors for Windows can be found on the Internet for free, such as NVU and Komposer http://www.nvu.com/. To place items in multiple columns, you may need to use the Table tool to create a table.) Keep your documents simple. Example: http://billbuchanan.byethost17.com

Free website hosting is available from many sources including http://bravenet.com, http://www.tripod.lycos.comand http://byethost.com
(Sometimes the advertizing banners may be in bad taste.) People searching for a website that contains useful information, usually find it by using Google or some other search engine. Help them to find your site by listing it with as many search engines as practical. At the bottom of my home page you will find the free sites that I use to advertise my site to the search engines. I was pleasantly surprised to find that an earlier version of the document you are reading was catalogued by Google within a few days of my posting it on my website.

Note that free webspace may disappear if you never update the information and no one visits your site.

Male DNA (Y-Chromosome) Testing
This isn't really online research, but you can find out about it online. Men inherit their only Y-chromosome from their fathers. Since there is no other Y-chromosome for it to combine with, each man's Y-chromosome should be identical to his father's Y-chromosome. When a minor change does occur, it is inherited by all male offspring. DNA testing promises to solve the insolvable question of which families of the same surname are most closely related, when there is no documentation linking the families. The tests start at about $150 depending upon the number of markers that are tested, but the eventual promise of this research is that we will be able to say with certainty "Great-great grandfather Smith is descended from this line of Smiths, although we don't know his exact lineage." This site helps to explain it http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~patrak01/dna_background.htm
Here is an example from my family: My cousin Cliff's ID number 46368 at: http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Buchanan/ 

Y-DNA traces your father's father's father's line ... your surname line. It is limited to males, but is often useful for within the last few hundred years. 

mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA) is female-lineage DNA. Testing can be done on both males and females, but follows "deep ancestry" on the female line. It is less specific and usually more expensive, so it gets used less often.  It typically tells you about a female ancestor who lived 20,000 - 40,000 years ago. It can be intersting to know who else descends from that ancestor, but I haven't found any practical application. After all, geologists tell us that 10,000 years ago northern Europe was covered  by a sheet of ice that was kilometres thick. For about $20 you may be able to buy The Seven Daughters of Eve by Professor of Human Genetics at Oxford University Bryan Sykes.  It alludes to most people in the British Isles being descended from one of seven women. It may be interesting reading, but I doubt it will help you with your genealogy research.

Autosomal DNA tests attempt to identify cousins (up to 5th cousins) based on similarity of genes. This type of testing shows some promise but it is still being refined. Identical will twins have the same genes, their children will have approximately 50% of the same genes, their grandchildren will have 25% the same genes ... so 5th cousins will have about 3% of the same genes unless there has been  an intermarriage of cousins.

So I would spend my money on the Y-DNA test rather than mtDNA or Autosomal DNA except under special circumstances.

Other Resources

Cyndi's List - Probably the biggest list of genealogy websites http://cyndislist.com/

Family Tree Magazine - 101 Best Web Sites http://www.familytreemagazine.com/Info/101Best2009

Mary's Treasures - A good list of online resources (Mary Tollstrup's Lethbridge FHC site) http://www.telusplanet.net/public/mtoll/

Resources Not Online but very useful if you are in the Edmonton area:
Alberta Genealogical Society Master Name Index http://www.abgensoc.ca
Provincial Archives of Alberta http://www.archivesalberta.org/

Family History Centers have access to the following online resources: FamilyLink, Footnote.com, Heritage Quest, World Vital Records, Swedish Church Records, Godfrey Memorial Library, partial access to Ancestry.com  
FHCs are part of the FamilySearch and Family History Library network. They are usually located in churches and staffed by volunteers. There are 4500 of them in 70 countries.

From: JHerman148@aol.com
Subject: twas the night before Christmas (Genealogist verson
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 18:41:48 EST

Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even my spouse.

The dining room table with clutter was spread
With pedigree charts and letters which said.
"Too bad that the data for which you last wrote
Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat."

Stacks of old copies of bills, wills, and such
Were proof that my work had become way too much.
Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And I at my table was ready to drop
From work on my album with photos to crop.
Christmas was here, and such was my lot
That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot.

Had I not been so busy with grandparents' wills,
I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills;
While others bought gifts to bring good Christmas cheers,
I'd spent time researching those birthdates and years.

While I was thus musing about my sad plight,
A noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright!
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the drapes and yanked up the sash.

When what with my wondering eyes should appear,
But an overstuffed sleigh and with eight small reindeer.
Up to the house top the reindeer they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys and ol' Santa Claus, too.

And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each tiny hoof.
As I drew in my head, and bumped into the sash,
Down the cold chimney fell Santa - KER-RASH!

"Dear" Santa had come from the roof in a wreck,
Tracking soot on the carpet, (could've wrung his short neck)!
Spotting my face, ol' Santa could see
Christmas spirit was lacking in little ol' me.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings, (I felt like a jerk).
Here then was Santa, who'd brought us such joy,
When I'd been too busy for even one toy.

He spied my research on the table all spread;
"A genealogist!" He cried! (My face was all red)!
"Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned,
As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

I gazed with amazement; the cover, it read
Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Pled.
"I know what it's like to have Rooter's Bug,"
He said as he gave me a great Santa hug.

"While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,
I do some research in the North Pole Library!
So these special treats I am able to bring
To genealogy folk who can't find a thing."

"Now off you go to your bed for a rest,
I'll clean the house from this genealogy mess."
As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,
I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me.

While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle
To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
"Family history is Fun! Merry Christmas! Goodnight!"

I wish you joy and success in your research.
If you have questions or comments send me an email message

Bill Buchanan