A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words – Step #3 Dig Dig Dig Through Old Family Photos!

I am sure you have heard the old saying a picture is worth 1000 words. According to Wikipedia, “A picture is worth a thousand words is an English languageidiom. It refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single picture, this picture conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does.”

The saying has been around for at least the last 100 years and is a part of our culture. The saying is around because its meaning holds true today. Many things can be best described by a picture because people are visual by nature and a picture shows so much more than words could ever convey.

One of my favorite movies is Ever After and in that movie is a line that goes “a lady had many secrets. I merely painted one of them.” It was spoken by Da Vinci, the great painter who painted the Mona Lisa. I like this line because it reflects on the saying about pictures being worth 1000 words. As Henry says in the movie, “she laughs at me sir. As if she knows something I do not.”

Missed The First 2 Steps?

If you missed the first couple of steps that’s OK. You can read all about them here by clicking the links below.

  1. Step #1 – My Family tree – How To Complete Your Family Tree
  2. Genealogy Oral History Questions – Step #2 To Beginning Your Family History Research

The Power Of Photos

Growing up I always wondered why people said “a picture is worth 1000 words.” I couldn’t see beyond the fact that a photo is just a picture and says nothing, or so I thought. Over time I have come to realize that a picture does actually tell a story. You can see the emotions people have in pictures and can imagine the story behind them.

Photography has become a hobby of mine and the part of photography I love is taking pictures of people by surprise. I love seeing the raw emotion from that surprise picture that shows the true emotion felt by the subject. I sometimes take twenty to thirty photos of the same person until I capture that essence I am looking for.

I once took a photo at a relative’s wedding that made me contemplate the power of photos. My husband and I had gotten thereafter most people had arrived so we were in the back of the room. I used my zoom on a really good quality digital camera and caught a picture of the bride and groom where the groom did not look happy, but the bride was blushing. You could really feel her happiness. I remember telling my husband that I didn’t think the groom was happy about the wedding.

At the reception afterwards of course there were toasts and a lot of stories of the two meeting in college and how they were “meant to be.” I let it go, but the picture always got to me because I didn’t see how someone could look so unhappy at their own wedding. A year, year-and-a-half later the two were separated and divorced. I now look back and think I was right all along, the groom really wasn’t happy and I caught that moment on camera and saw that raw emotion.

Pictures can truly speak louder than words…you just have to learn how to listen.

Photos, A Treasure Trove Of Information

You are probably wondering why I am talking about photos so much on a genealogy website and honestly I would probably wonder the same thing if I were you. Photos are actually a great resource for the genealogist…particularly old family photos. They are a treasure trove of information. You get a real glimpse of your ancestors from old family photos and family photo albums are a great place to find them.

I will often visit my mother and dig dig dig through her old photos! I always find new and interesting things each and every time I do. There are all sorts of things in there besides photos like death notices, old newspaper clippings, mementos from family events and more. (Click here to read about a great way to store photos, family mementos and your family history research!) But the photos I find most intriguing. Staring into the faces I see if I can figure out who they are and what their story is.

It is amazing how relatives look so much alike between generations. It is intriguing how each generation follows a similar pattern and from this you can glean a lot of information for your research. The best part though is what you can actually find from photos.

Pictures Are Worth 1000 Words

Pictures are worth 100 words because of what you can glean from a single look. A glimpse at the soul of the person in the picture, a sense of who he/she is and where he/she came from and a bit of what the person’s life is like.

I recently was given a photo of some people from my mom and all she could tell me was that they were related somehow. There were names on the photo so I had first and last names and no other information. Most of my family is in Michigan so I took a wild guess and did a broad search for the surname in Michigan and within a few minutes I had found the two older people in the databases.

Having the picture helped narrow down possibilities because there are so many people out there doing genealogy research for their families that the chances are pretty great someone is researching someone within your line. Having the picture helps you connect the dots. Genealogy is like a puzzle where you have to put one piece together at a time.

Take Your Own Scavenger Hunt And See What You Dig UP

For many years now I have wanted to dig into my grandmother’s old family photos. I recently discovered her pictures in a box of my stuff mixed with my mother’s stuff. I have my mother’s stuff because my parents lived with me for a while and we are still sorting through some items.

 

Anyways, I found my grandmother’s pictures and spent a good long while digging through them and seeing what secrets I could unlock from them. I actually found a lot more than just pictures like my grandparents marriage license, a loan for a car my grandpa co-signed with my uncle and the total loan was for $250, old army paperwork from when my grandfather was enlisted and more. It is always amazing what information you can find when you are looking!

Looking for a great way to store photos, family mementos and your family history research?…click here to see how!

Take your own scavenger hunt through family photo albums, drawers, boxes or wherever your old family photos are stored and dig dig dig through them all to see what you turn up! I have found posting the pictures on social media like Facebook to be particularly fascinating because relatives see them and make comments. Sometimes the comments are lucrative as far as providing a snippet of family history is concerned. If all else fails, it will be some quality time spent with family members taking a road down memory lane.

Thank you for reading my post. I hope you have enjoyed it and would love to hear your comments and/or questions. Please like and share the post if you found it useful.

Thanks you,

Chas Guevara

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How To Find A Grave By Cemetery – Another Free Genealogy Site

Recently I posted about a free source for genealogists, Find A Grave By Name – Online memorials Make It Easy. The article is about a free genealogy site called findagrave.com. There are many free resources out there for genealogists and I am your resource for those free genealogy sites.

In this post I’ll go over how to find a grave by cemetery and another free online grave site resource called Billion Graves at billiongraves.com. Billion Graves is a bit different from the find a grave website because it is not really an online memorial site. This site is geared more towards the genealogist as a resource for finding graves of those he/she is researching or just for anyone searching for the burial location of someone else.

Why Would You Need To Find A Grave?

In the last post I made regarding how to find a grave by name, I had some questions pop up about why someone would actually need to find a grave. It does sound odd, but if you think about it there could be a lot of reasons why you do not know how to find a grave of a loved one.

Reasons Why You Would Need To Find A Grave Of A Loved One:

  • Grave is unmarked – there have been quite a number of people in my family through-out the years who do not have, or did not in the past have, a headstone.
  • Moved from the area – you could have moved from the area or maybe your relative has moved from the area and you do not know exactly where the person is buried.
  • Researching family members you do not actually know – genealogists are researching family history and at some point in that research, you are bound to come up with a relative or some relatives whom you have never actually met. For instance, my mom’s grandfather who died when her dad was a child. I have never met him nor has she ever met him. He is buried in a place no one else in my family is buried and few people left alive today know of that location. She very recently took me to where he is buried so I can now pass that piece of our family history on.
  • Adoption – adoption could play a role for either the parents who have given up a child or the child who most likely never knew the biological family.
  • Unknown death – now this sounds absurd I’m sure, but trust me it happens. My mom’s sister passed away three months before anyone in the family was told and, to top it off, she was cremated. There is no final resting place for anyone to visit, but had she been buried an online find a grave site would come in very handy.
  • Divorce – I have an aunt who died about twelve years ago. She is an aunt through my dad’s brother. The two divorced many years ago so technically she is no longer my aunt, but I was raised with her as an aunt and will always consider her this way. I did not know where she was buried and this is an example of why a site like findagrave.com or billiongraves.com are important. Researching any link to the family is important for completing your family tree…even the broken links.
  • Family secrets – It is a sad thing indeed that families sometimes choose to cover up bits of their history and pretend they do not exist, but it does happen. As a child I remember my mom and her sisters talking about a young relative giving birth, many years ago when that was absolutely taboo, at the age of sixteen. She was unwed and her and the baby died during delivery. They were buried together on a hillside next to a tree. Now the only ones left who know about the girl and baby are my mom and her sisters, none of which remember what I am asking about. They are all in their seventies and their minds are failing. Without a name or something to go I cannot even check the databases to find her grave, but if I did have a name and location using one of the free genealogy sites like billiongraves.com would be an excellent way to find a grave by cemetery or name.

I’m sure there are other reasons why maybe you do not know where a grave of a loved one is, but I think you now understand there are cases where maybe you do not know. These online memorial and grave sites are meant for that purpose. To help the families connect with deceased loved ones and even living relatives who are searching for the same people they are.

Resource For Genealogy Research

How exactly does a site like Billion Graves help with family history research? Billion Graves and sites like it are a great resource for genealogists because they give you yet another avenue to find loved ones and ancestors. Sites like Billion Graves and Find A Grave give you the ability to search for deceased relatives by name, location, cemetery, birth year, death year, and they give you the possibility to do a broader search over like a 5-year span if you are uncertain of the exact year of death.

Account Basics

Billion Graves is a completely free genealogy site with the basic membership. There is an option to upgrade to premium, but that is completely optional. The free site works just fine.

I haven’t known about Billion Graves for long and I am still working with it to figure out all the aspects it has, but so far it seems like a good site. I do wish it had more records available and that will come when more and more people help to take and transcribe photos.

Volunteering Your Time In The Name Of Research

You can help to grow the databases within Billion graves! Do you ever visit cemeteries and loved ones at cemeteries? If you do you can help expand the databases simply by photographing graves for your loved ones!

Get the Billion Graves app for your android or IPhone. It is super simple to use! All you have to do is install the app and sign into your Billion Graves account. Then when you are in the app you’ll see the following picture:

To then add pictures onto the site, just click “Take Pictures” and start clicking away. The bottom left icon is where you set up your settings for auto upload, auto flash, preview after capture and more. I have mine set to not automatically upload so I can preview the picture prior to uploading. This comes in handy in case you need to retake the photo if it’s blurry or unfocused.

Once you take the photos you would transcribe them which is just entering the information from the stones into the database such as name, birth date, death date, etc. Presto…you now have added your loved ones into the database so someone else doing research will be able to find the record. It’s that simple. Create your account and save your favorite cemeteries and help someone else to be able to find a grave by cemetery or to find a grave by name!

I actually volunteer for cemeteries in my local area where I have no relatives buried. My family are all buried in other states so I volunteer to help with pictures within my local community to assist other researchers with their family research. We can all help each other get the information we are looking for. With the Billion Graves app it is super easy to get the photos and transcribe them. Volunteer today!

Areas Covered By Billion Graves

Billion Graves is available for many countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Mexico, the Netherlands, Mongolia, and many more! If the cemetery you need is not in the database already, simply add it! This site covers a lot of territory and connected to FamilySearch, which is the free genealogy site from The LDS Church which is the largest collection of genealogy records. The collection is massive and includes records from many countries.

Another Great Free Genealogy Website

Genealogy is about making connections with the past and present, and part of that is networking with other researchers. By helping others with their research you can in turn help yourself. Volunteer to donate pictures of a local cemetery and I assure you, someone will volunteer in a location where you need photos taken. You can also make photo requests and someone will answer the call!

Billion Graves is a growing site, but already encompasses a huge territory and will only grow as more and more people donate photos. With the Billion Graves app you can very easily add new photos and transcribe them later when you have a computer to view the pictures better. The account is completely free, unless you opt for the paid membership which comes with added benefits, but is completely unnecessary. The free account works just fine.

Billion Graves is a great free genealogy site which can definitely help you with your family history research! I look forward to hearing from you with comments and/or questions below. Please like and share this post with the links below if you found it beneficial.

Thank you for stopping by!

Chas Guevara

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Genealogy Oral History Questions – Step #2 To Beginning Your Family History Research

Starting your family history research is made a lot easier with a few simple steps. In this series regarding steps to begin your family history research, I’ll address what the steps are and how to carry them out so that your path to finding your ancestors is smoother than mine was.

Step #1 to begin your research into your family history, start with documenting each and every name you can think of as far as relatives are concerned. To read all about how to get started researching your family tree, step #1, click here.

In this segment of the series, step #2, we’ll discuss another key aspect of researching your family history. Step #2 is to begin documenting family history by means of completing oral history interviews with loved ones through the use of genealogy oral history questions.

Oral History Interviews

Oral history interviews are just what they sound like. They are oral interviews used to document facts, stories, memories, and whatever other information you can glean from someone else through an interview held orally. With genealogy the intent is to document family history from family members, or even close family friends, prior to their passing in order to preserve the information for future generations. The information is a building block for your genealogy family history file.

This information is key to unlocking family secrets and can be more valuable than anything else you could inherit from a family member. Our family history defines us. It is a part of who we are as individuals and can help us know where we are going.

Preparing For Oral Interviews

It is important to prepare for your oral interviews. Preserving your family history is one of the most important things you can do in your life and should be given the utmost respect. Each oral history you complete for your genealogy research is a part of a legacy you are creating for future generations and by preparing you ensure the best possible interviews which will provide the greatest amount of information.

Some things you may want to consider in preparation are having plenty of paper, a recording device (smartphones work great!), a couple of pens or pencils and a list of questions to ask. You’ll want to make sure the list is as complete as possible because you don’t want to forget anything. These stories and memories you record will answer questions about your heritage and will connect your family members for generations to come.

Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook

Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook is a great idea for any genealogist. It is a compilation of 1001 questions to answer or have answered in order to record family history. What better way to prepare for your oral interviews with relatives than by using a memory life story workbook?

With a Memorygrabber Downloadable Life Story Workbook you’ll have a road map to fully document your relative’s memories and family information in their perspective. You’ll be able to preserve the authenticity of the memories and your relatives’ voices by utilizing these workbooks. These memory workbooks contain 1001 questions which will surely be more than you would ever think of to ask.

How To Use The Memory Life Story Workbook

The best way to use the memory life story workbook is to ask the questions orally to your interviewee and record as you go. This will preserve your loved one’s voice, as well as your own, and it will be a great keepsake for generations to come!

Researching your family history can be very exciting and rewarding. Finding articles on your ancestors and records you find are like piecing together each ancestor’s life and giving you a glimpse into the life each one led. With the memorygrabber downloadable life story workbook and a recording device combined, you can preserve your relatives voices for future generations to literally hear!

But it isn’t just their actual voice you are preserving! By utilizing the memory life story workbook and a recording device, like a smartphone, you will also be recording their figurative voice as well. By this I mean you will be preserving the thoughts, expressions and feelings of your relatives which you interview. You’ll be able to capture the essence of each interviewee which is not something you could preserve through asking questions and writing down answers alone.

Connections To The Past, And Present

Why do people research their family history? What makes people seek out the past? I believe it is a need to connect with our roots that drives us humans to look into our ancestors. It is a need to understand who we are as individuals and how we came to be that leads us to seek out our ancestors and document our family trees.

With smartphones and the internet we are all way more connected than ever before and we have at our disposal the greatest ability to record our heritage for generations to come than any generation before. We have the ability to not only record the voices of our relatives, but we can record videos to share and keep for future generations to hear who our relatives are from their own voices!

Could you think of any more than 1001 questions to ask during your oral interviews? I doubt you could think of half that many. I am sure I would not be able to come up with that many. Having a workbook that gives you a comprehensive set of oral history interview questions is a great way to set yourself up for getting great oral interviews to help further along your family history research and also to give you mementos that will be priceless to future generations!

Click here to read all about a great way to keep your research collection together.

What are you waiting for? Pick up your copy of the Memorygrabber A Life Story Workbook today!

******Get Your Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook now!******

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Having your very own Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook is a great tool for documenting your family history. It gives you a comprehensive set of questions to utilize during your oral history interviews to set you up for success.

Using this workbook will allow you to focus on what is truly important, getting the best interview, documenting those precious family moments and memories, preserving the voice of aging/ill relatives, and continuing to create the legacy that will be handed down for generations to come. Give it a try today!

 

Get your Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook today!

Thank you for reading my post on Genealogy Oral History Questions – Step #2 To Beginning Your Family History Research. I appreciate you greatly for taking the time out of your day and hope you have found the information useful. Please leave any comments or questions below and I would be happy to get back to you. If you enjoyed the post, please like and share with the links below!

Chas Guevara

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The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center – A Free Resource For Your Family Research

Across the country there are some really great free resources for genealogy research. Libraries are a rich source of free records, materials and tools to aid researchers in their family tree research for many countries. I’ll be posting a series on the best libraries for researching your family history starting with the Allen County Public Library Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Fort Wayne, IN Located in Allen County

If you have never been to Fort Wayne, IN it is a really nice place to live and/or visit. My husband and I met in Indiana. He is originally from the New Haven/Fort Wayne area and I moved there years ago.

We lived in Fort Wayne for a while, before moving out west, and one of the main attractions, at least for me, was the Allen County Public Library located in downtown Fort Wayne.

I have always held a fondness for books. As a child I read a lot and I mean a lot! I read three novels a day during summer breaks and so the Allen County Public Library was a dream place for me!

The rows and rows of books, the reading tower, the large computer area, the genealogy section, the coffee stand, the art wing, and the rest of the enormous library was like a sanctuary for me.

I spent many days up in the reading tower. I really loved it at the library and every time my husband and I visit Indiana, that is the one place I have to go.

The Genealogy Center

The Allen County Public Library is truly a huge library and has a lot to offer. Really there is something there for everyone and for all of us genealogists there is a whole wing devoted to family history research. Visit the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center online here. You can visit in person with the below address. If you are planning a visit, make sure to check their website for the online catalog which allows you to check the databases to see if there is something there for you to research prior to making the trip.

Allen County Public Library

900 Library Plaza

PO Box 2270

Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270

(260) 421-1225

Genealogy@ACPL.Info

www.ACPL.Info

Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

It is great they are open on Sundays! A library with weekend hours is a great thing indeed!

Genealogy Center Databases & Research Archives

The genealogy center at the Allen County Public Library is one of the largest collections of genealogy data anywhere. It contains records from all over the world and is a great resource for genealogists all over. One of the greatest aspects of the genealogy center at ACPL is that their librarians are all genealogists! The staff is very knowledgeable and can answer questions and assist you with your research.

If you visit the online center for the genealogy department, you’ll notice they hold events like 30-minute personal consultations for genealogy research with staff members. I visit the site regularly and see they are always holding some sort of genealogy related events. That would be something you would want to check out if you plan a research trip to Fort Wayne, IN.

The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center collaborates with other libraries across the county to get the archives online and available for use. The following is a list of the collaborative efforts available thus far:

  • Allen County Public Library
  • American Fork Library
  • Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
  • Birmingham Public Library
  • Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library
  • Brigham Young University, Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library
  • Brigham Young University, Idaho David O. McKay Library
  • Church History Library
  • Family History Library
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania
  • Houston Public Library – Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
  • Mid-Continent Public Library – Midwest Genealogy Center
  • Maine State Library
  • Onondaga County Public Library
  • University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries

The links to these sites are all found within the online center at ACPL. This collaboration effort is called Family History Books and contains more than 350,000 records from around the world. Included in the collection are local and county histories, family histories, some genealogy magazines, some how-to books and medieval histories and family pedigrees.

The genealogy center at ACPL also has more than 95,000 books which have been digitized from their own collection. The collection includes books written in several languages, books from areas across the country and also includes microfilm, and another almost 3 million books which have been digitized from libraries all over the country. The database is search-able by keyword and best of all, completely free!

The genealogy center at ACPL has yet another collaboration which is actually an online family tree. It is a collaborative effort with all the members contributing information. The site is completely free and currently has 2.9 million people adding records. It runs off of tax-deductible contributions and volunteers. This free genealogy site is called werelate.org.

So Much To See, So Much To Do, So Little Time

There is really a lot of information available for genealogists at the Allen County Public Library and it is a really great collection. It would be worth your time to plan a trip and see what all they have to offer, and best of all it is completely free! If you feel the need to plan a trip, just make sure to schedule a tour of the department and use the trip planner online to see what is all available in the collection to research while you are there. Also, don’t forget to bring along your portable external hard drive! These handy devices help researchers stay organized.

The Allen County Public Library – A Must See Stop For Genealogists!

If you have the time and money for travel, then visiting the ACPL is a great place for genealogists to go for researching their family history. I would really prefer to have the time to research in a large library and this one in particular, but my time currently does not allow for that so I primarily utilize online free genealogy websites like WikiTree.

For those of you close to Fort Wayne, IN I would definitely recommend taking a trip to this library. There is a lot of information in this library and something for everyone! If you bring along your children/grand-children, there is a wing for kids too! They will absolutely love the children’s wing and it will keep them occupied while you do your research!

The genealogy center at ACPL has an extensive collection for genealogy, state-of-the-art equipment, librarians that are also genealogists, and so much more! If you are planning a trip somewhere in the Midwest, add a stop in Fort Wayne and check out the library for yourself.

Please comment below if you have used the genealogy center at the Allen County Public Library or have any questions or other comments. I would love to hear you thoughts and please like and share this post with the links below if you found it to be useful!

I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my post!

Chas Guevara

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Genealogy Research – How Long Does It Actually Take To Find Your Family Tree?

I recently had a comment on my post, What Is A Family Tree? – A Detailed Breakdown of What Genealogy Really Is, asking how long it actually takes to complete genealogy research and I answered probably with a vague answer. The truth is, I’m not sure genealogy research is ever done!

Now before you click away, please read on and I’ll explain my reasons for saying this. This post is all about genealogy research and why it has taken me fifteen years and I’m still not done!

How Your Family Dynamic Affects Your Genealogy Research

Researching your family history does take time and depending on your family dynamic, may take longer than others to research. There are a lot of factors which could cause difficulties in your research such as:

  1. Adoption within the family
  2. Loss of contact with relatives
  3. Name changes or variations in spellings
  4. Natural and man-made disasters affecting documentation
  5. International searching
  6. International record keeping
  7. Your personal situation
  8. Tightly held family secrets!
  9. Diversified families
  10. And so many other reasons

This is by far not a complete list of reasons that could cause your research to slow down, but it a list of some I have personally encountered and heard from other researchers as well.

How Adoption Affects Your Family Tree Research

Adoption can be a royal pain in the rear when researching because typically names have changed or you may or may not have any information to go on. In my family we have a few cases, that I know of, where someone has been adopted and information is lacking. One of the biggest problems with adoption is that typically family members do not want to rock the boat so to speak. The family closes ranks and doesn’t want to give details they may know about the situation and over time no one knows anything as memories fade and/or those that know have passed on.

I have two aunts which are biologically my cousins raised by my grandparents. One was legally adopted and the other wasn’t. However, in my family we do not differentiate them. They are, and have always been, both my aunts. I grew up calling them each aunt and still do all these years later. I’ve asked my mom several times about them and she doesn’t really know who their biological dad(s) are. They have the same mother.

I also have a niece and nephew, biologically brother and sister, that my sister adopted. They were foster children that she legally adopted last year. She took them in at less than a year old and two years old. They are now five and six years old. She also has three children biologically, two of which her husband legally adopted.

Very recently I found out an uncle of mine had a child out of wedlock with a young girl back in like 1968-1969 prior to him marrying my aunt. The child (I say child, but he isn’t a child anymore!) found my youngest cousin from that uncle on social media and the two have had some contact.

Adoption makes your research a lot more difficult, but certainly not impossible. It helps when you at least know one biological parent to research as I do in all of these cases. When you are an adopted child, and know nothing about your biological parents, it can pose some challenges. I will delve into this area in a further post. This is a topic that could go on for a good length of time.

Loss Of Contact With Relatives

This day in age, with social media and cell phones, it is probably a lot more difficult to “lose” family members, but in days of yesteryear it was actually quite easy to do. We are all so connected now, it is hard to imagine a time when people didn’t carry phones, let alone even own one!

In my family, we have a whole branch that segregated from the rest on my dad’s side. His father left home in the 1950s to head to Michigan. He is from Kentucky. He left behind family there; brothers, uncles and aunts, cousins, etc. Back in that time period telephones were pricey and long distance calling was expensive. Letters were the method of communication choice, but snail mail, let’s face it is just plain slow. Life gets to us and staying in touch is cumbersome.

For many years I didn’t even know that part of the family existed. My parents didn’t really talk about it much except that some of my aunts and uncles would visit Kentucky and I always wondered why. I know they went to the Kentucky Derby so I just thought that was why. In later years, my dad starting talking about his dad more and how he had family in Kentucky. He didn’t know a lot about them though.

Name Changes or Variations In Spellings

Over time sometimes people change the way their name is spelled or use a completely new name. My name is Chastity, but I’ve been called Chas my whole life so I shorten it. I have a sister-in-law named Kati that was born Katherine, shortened it to Katie and over the years dropped the “e” at the end.

The shortening of names, and/or using nicknames, is pretty common . It can really make researching family a pain because sometimes you don’t even know it is a nickname at all. I have an aunt that I always knew as “Dockie.” I actually thought that was her name because I never heard otherwise until about the time I started doing the family history research.

Another example is that my dad’s family in Kentucky spells their last name Cobern and my grandpa spelled his Coburn. It isn’t a huge difference, but when you are researching and you see inconsistencies, it is sometimes hard to determine if the people you have found are actually relatives because names are spelled differently and information doesn’t match completely.

How Natural or Man-Made Disasters Affect Research

A man-made disaster is like when someone alters information either by intent or accident. Something like setting fire to a county building where records are stored would be a man-made disaster. Natural disasters are things like hurricane Michael that just caused serious devastation or hurricane Katrina from years ago. Natural disasters can cause documentation to become unreadable or obliterate documents all together.

My father’s family lost all record of their existence when the courthouse (where vital records were stored) burned down in a fire when my father was a child. As a result he nor any of his siblings have a birth certificate. I have an aunt whose name was changed during that time because my grandparents decided to change it. There is no record of her birth given name so when she started school, they changed it!

How exactly does this affect your genealogy research? Well, tracing records is a huge way to determine family history. There are almost no records for me to find for that branch of the family. Of course newer generations have records to find, but the records of all aunts, uncles, cousins, great-uncles and aunts, etc. are non-existent. I have had to turn to alternative methods of search.

International Searching & Record Keeping

Depending on the country, completing research that spans overseas can also cause some problems. Irish, Scottish and English records are fairly well documented as there are many researchers researching family histories within those countries and many databases available to utilize for searching those areas.

My husband is Mexican though and researching his family history is like hitting a brick wall. First of all, the records are pretty non-existent. Mexico does not keep records like we do in the US and finding records is also more difficult because of the difference in names. My husband has a lot of people named Manual in his family. Of course, they all have the same last name as well. Men typically take on their mother’s maiden name as their middle name. The records are in Spanish. There are a lot of reasons researching foreign records can be cumbersome.

I switch it up and research my mom’s dad’s side sometimes and then her mom’s side and then switch to my dad’s mom’s or dad’s. In between I search my husband’s dad’s or mom’s side. I don’t stick to one side or the other for too long, especially with his family history because it is so much harder to research. I choose to skip around and when I find something new in whatever branch I’m working on, I follow it until I hit that figurative brick wall.

Family Secrets Can Cause A Lot Of Headache Regarding Your Research!

Family secrets can really affect your research. These days many families no longer keep some things secret like having children out of wedlock, but back some years ago that was definitely a hush-hush situation. I remember sitting in my mom’s sister’s house listening to the adults at the table and they were discussing a young girl who had a baby at sixteen and died during childbirth. She was unwed and her and the baby were buried together on a hill by a tree.

At the time I was probably 8-10 years old. I did not have any cousins my age to play with, so when we were at this aunt’s house I typically sat with the adults and heard some juicy family stories that one just didn’t discuss in civilized society. I never brought up that story until recently when my mom and I made a genealogy trip to Michigan to visit cemeteries. I asked her about it and she couldn’t recall who it was in regard to. She asked her sisters, who were also there, and neither of them could recall either. Dealing with aging relatives is also an issue that impedes family history research!

Diversified Families Can Impede Research

What do I mean diversified families? Well families come in all types. Many families have two moms and dads. Some people are raised by other relatives than their parents. Recently we lost a young member of our family to cancer. She wasn’t even 30 years old and has two kids. Her children are now being raised by her sister. That is a diversified family. Many families these days are diversified and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but it can make your family research take longer.

Some people have never known one or the other, sometimes either, of their parents. Of course, you can research based on what you actually do know, but if you do not have all the details about your biological parents, it can slow things down.

Your Situation Can Greatly Impact Your Family History Research

You may have noticed I skipped over this category when I started giving details about each one. This was intentional because this category is what truly caused my research to take so long.

What I mean by your situation is that your personal life can affect your research in terms of time limits for when you have available to work on your research projects. I work full-time, go to school full-time and have other things I like to do as well such as online gaming! I love games and like to relax with them.

To me genealogy is a hobby and in my opinion is never done. It is something I do when the mood hits. Some days I am sitting around thinking of my dad and start looking at pictures and researching names. I start researching when I am feeling nostalgic or when I feel like I don’t want to do my homework. Sometimes I get into kicks where all I do in my free time is research and other times I am just too tired after work and school to do any research at all.

I have been working on my family history research for fifteen years, but there have been times when I did nothing on it for a few years at a time so to say I spent fifteen whole years working on it isn’t the case. My dad died in Feb of 2016 and until May of this year (2018) I didn’t research anything. I didn’t have the heart to research. I was in Arizona and had absolutely no family around me. I worked as many hours as work would allow me to and did homework when I was at home.

Your situation could be completely different from mine and maybe you want to research with no interruptions. That is completely OK and of course it won’t take you as long as me depending on your family dynamic. I am choosing to take longer at it because I view it as a hobby I enjoy.

I also do other things while I am researching such as visit cemeteries and take photos for sites like findagrave.com, I get obsessed with looking through old photos at my mom’s house and get her reminiscing about stories of yesteryear, I take trips to Michigan to visit graves and get information for my research, etc. I spend a lot of time tracking down my hundreds and hundreds of cousins and getting their information on children, birthdays, Facebook profiles, addresses, etc. I do not spend all of my time researching the ancestors, because what is it all about anyways? It is about the living. Discovering your family tree is about documenting your family history for future generations and leaving the legacy behind.

And of course there’s the “it’s not finished until you say it’s finished” reference. That is one my favorite lines from Stephen King’s Rose Red, which of course is fictional, but the point is that I don’t feel my family tree will ever be “completed.” A family tree is a living, breathing entity as I discussed in a previous article. A family tree is always evolving. Some branches are dying out as the people within it are aging and other branches are newly forming as new additions come to the family.

History In The Making

I’ve always heard that history happens all around us and that statement is so true. Every day is history in the making because that day can never be repeated. Researching your family history is about enjoying the time you have with your loved ones and documenting your family heritage for the living as a legacy to be handed down through the future generations to come.

If you are researching your family tree, you will understand what I am saying surely because it is addictive when you find those new clues and just cannot stop following them to wherever they lead. Some of you I have heard from have complete family histories back for centuries. Some of you may be considering starting your journey to finding your ancestors and I am here to help in whatever capacity I can.

Please leave any comments or questions below and if you loved this post, please feel free to share it using the social media icons below! Thank you so much for reading my post! I wish you the best with your genealogy research!

Chas Guevara

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New Social Media Site – Web Talk – Another Free Resource For Your Genealogy Research

In the past few weeks, I have posted several times on free genealogy sites or sites you can utilize to search for your family history on which are completely free. Today I want to go over an exciting new platform which is not only a free resource for your research, but could also actually earn you money!

Now how cool is that? You could actually get paid just for researching your family tree! So what is the hype I am referring to?

WebTalk is a brand new social media platform which is still in the beta phase.


What Exactly Is WebTalk?

WebTalk is a new social media platform with a unique twist. But before I get into that, let’s just discuss exactly what WebTalk is.

WebTalk was founded by RJ Garbowicz and has a patent pending Social CRM. This allows you to control your social life! You can segregate a contact by friend, colleague, family or a combination of all three if you need to.

Some other key aspects of the platform are as follows:

  • Built-In Micro-CRM for Dealmakers
  • Readymade Built-In Groups, Newsfeed Channels & Privacy
  • Ability to add Searchable Keyword Tags (sub-groups)
  • You can add Searchable time-stamped Notes
  • Put in values so you can see the stuff from those that matter most
  • A contacts page which has a built-in rolodex
  • A feature I personally love! – with WebTalk you control your newsfeed. you can post to your professional newsfeed, personal newsfeed or private group channels!
  • Posting to the public is a blog feature
  • Allows you to obtain recommendations to help promote your status

In Depth Look At Some Features

Now that we have a basic understanding of what WebTalk is, let’s take a closer look at some features. One that really stands out to me is the blog like feature for public posts.

What exactly does that mean? Well when you post something on WebTalk as a public post, it is a post just like a blog post and is searchable within the search engines. If someone clicks the link to read your post, then they’ll be taken to a sign up page with a picture of you showing. If they sign up, then you’ll receive credit for the referral!

How cool is that!

Another feature that really stands out is the ability to have separate newsfeeds and to control what you see on them. I don’t know about any of you, but I personally get annoyed with some aspects of Facebook like lack of control over my newsfeed. It is so annoying that it shows me posts from people I never interact with and yet, it doesn’t show me posts from my closest friends and family until sometimes days after they are posted!

The ability to place values on your contacts so that what you care about most is a truly exciting feature!

Revenue Sharing & Bonus

I mentioned at the beginning WebTalk is a new social media site which has a unique twist to other social media platforms. Well, that twist is they are actually going to share the revenues they earn with the referrals to the network!

During the beta testing phase all referrals, meaning those who joined prior to launch, will earn up to 50% of revenues earned once the platform launches!

The compensation is for 5 tiers. It is set-up similar to an MLM, except that you don’t actually have to pay for anything! It is 100% free to join. There are opportunities to upgrade your account should you choose to, but it isn’t necessary. You will earn compensation for 5 tiers of your down-line just by joining and referring!!

Only those who join in beta phase will be eligible to get the compensation for 5 tiers!

A video from the founder

Join now to secure your spot!

Naturally people will refer others to something they use. We all do it all the time. Hey did you see that new movie? I recently saw Venom at the theater and recommended it to several people…and I didn’t even get paid for it! With WebTalk, you can refer people with your free account and earn money for something you would do anyways.

Join now to get paid for 5 tiers! Those joining after launch are only eligible for paid direct referrals (the first tier).

Free Genealogy Site

Now you are probably wondering how this relates to genealogy. Well the answer is that WebTalk is yet another free platform you can use to research your family history and find people online for free!

Social media is a huge asset for a researcher. I see posts all the time when someone finds a loved one after many years like children that were adopted finding their biological parents through social media.

The power of social media is intense! Use it to your advantage. Use the platform for your research and do what people naturally do and refer others to the site! You can use the public blog post feature to post about relatives you are looking for or genealogy questions and get referrals from people clicking your links.

What do you have to lose? It’s free to join with no credit card information needed. The only catch is that you have to set up your profile 100% in order to be eligible for the revenue sharing program. You have to make sure your profile is set up with accurate information for your work and education, your real name, location, language preference and a little bio about yourself.

For just a few minutes of your time setting up your profile, you could get 50% revenue sharing for life from your referrals and their referrals and so on for 5 whole generations!

What are you waiting for? Click here to go to WebTalk and look for yourself!

How Do You earn Commissions?

You are probably now wondering how exactly you are getting money from a free site. Facebook reported $10 billion in Q3 of 2017 from advertising revenues. WebTalk is setting out to become the next Facebook. When the platform takes off, they are going to share the revenue dollars with those that promote the site and help it grow!

So by referring people to a free account, you’ll earn some money in the process. Sign up and take a look around. See if it is for you or not and if it is, refer your friends and family! Research shows about 1 in 20 people, about 5%, will upgrade to a higher level (paid) account. This means earnings in your pocket!

The picture shows how earnings are made.

WebTalk – The Social Media Site That Pays You To Research!

Join WebTalk and do what you do naturally….socialize online and refer your friends and family. It’s really that simple. Sign up for a free account during beta and get paid for 5 tiers of your down-line. sign up after launch and you’ll still get paid 10% for your direct referrals. It’s a win-win!

You can utilize the website to complete your genealogy research, communicate with friends and relatives, post humorous photos, recipes, etc. and get some spare change to boot!

Sign up for WebTalk today and join me in the platform! We can network together and share our genealogy stories! If you enjoyed this post, please share it to social media with the links below and leave any comments or questions below. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Chas Guevara

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Custom Genealogy Supplies – Take Your Family Tree Research To The Next Level!

I don’t know how you feel, but I for one like a clean, organized look to my home. I like things arranged in a certain way and I like nice things to look at. I love the way old books look and I absolutely love books and bookcases! I know, I’m weird.

I recently wrote a post about a free printable family tree chart which had some pointers on storing your research, but here I’ll add some new twist to that idea. I stumbled upon some really cool products online one day and since they are also genealogy related, I was so excited! Customized binders for storing your genealogy research in! With custom genealogy supplies, your genealogy research stays super organized, protected and best of all, can be displayed proudly in your home!

Shop Personalized Binders on Zazzle.com

Organization Is The Key To Success!

As genealogists, we spend a lot of time tracking down birth certificates, death notices, marriage licenses, other historical documents and other pieces of our family history. We spend a lot of time researching and piecing together our family histories, and having functional storage for the research is a must!

But wouldn’t it be great to have a way to store your research and have it beautifully and proudly displayed in your home? I personally feel like the best art is art that includes my family and interests. I am currently creating several art pieces which are pictures of my parents and in-laws. You know the large canvas art pieces you can have done from pictures?

Methods Of Storage

There are a lot of different ways you can store your hard sought after family history, but the key is to find what works for you. For me, I choose a multi-tiered system. I am a product of the digital age and always back up everything I do onto a portable external hard drive which I already posted about. Check out my posting on external portable hard drives here.

Another storage method is to utilize a filing cabinet or a filing storage box such as one like I posted about in my post regarding a free printable family tree chart and useful tools for genealogy.

Other storage methods are storing everything online with a site like WikiTree. I personally do not recommend this method because anything could happen. The site, not saying this has happened or will happen, could get hacked or system failure could result in the loss of your data. The worse possible thing that could happen is to lose all of your research!

You could store your materials in a box or photo keepsake boxes. You could use file folders or binders. There are countless ways to store your data, but like I said before, I use a multi-tiered system because I want to make sure I always have my data!

Multi-Tiered System For Genealogy Storage

What exactly do I mean by a multi-tiered system? Well, I mean that I utilize several storage methods for varying reasons, but the primary reason is first and foremost to protect my family history research!

So many problems could arise by using one system or another. Using only a method where your research is kept with physical means like paperwork could result in a complete loss through natural disasters such as a fire or flood. Using only an online storage in a genealogy website could result in loss of data or data corruption by system failure or hacking. Having only a portable device for storing digitally could result in loss of your information by device failure or you could lose your device.

The only sure way to go is to develop a system where you are covered from multiple angles. I use several means for storing my hard sought after family data. I have boxes of information, a portable external hard drive which I take everywhere with me, I have information stored in online genealogy websites, and I have plastic storage boxes full of documents and family tree charts I have collected!

I am covered if any one of my systems fail. Having all the methods fail simultaneously is not absolutely out of the question, but is highly unlikely.

Exciting New Storage Method!

Recently though, I came across a great new way to store all of genealogy data. I found a great system for storing documents, interviews, family tree charts and whatever else I come up with during my research.

Custom genealogy supplies like the binders I am writing about are an awesome way to not only store your family research, but to display it all proudly and prominently in your home! These beautifully designed binders created by Amelia Carrie have the look of old books. They actually look like leather bound books and fit so nicely into home decor!

They hold a lot of data and the pages do not bend like typical binders do. You personalize them with your family name and you can add additional volumes for weddings, new births, baby and bridal showers, birthdays and more! I haven’t personally seen anything else like them.

They look so great on bookshelves and with these binders, your research becomes a prominent display in your home. Your friends and family will love to look at all the great information you have gathered about your family!

Custom Genealogy Binders

Custom genealogy binders are the best way to display all of your research prominently in your home. Your family will love to see all the information you have gathered and will enjoy looking over each volume! Spend hours of quality time with your relatives recounting the good old days with these binders.

Each binder is personalized with your family name and come in a variety of beautiful designs and colors. Get yours today!

Shop Black Friday on Zazzle

Order your custom genealogy binders and proudly display all of your genealogy research! Custom genealogy supplies like these binders are hard to find which is quite the oddity considering genealogy is a booming business. These are absolutely beautiful gifts for those special ones in your life that are into genealogy or perfect gifts for yourself!

*********Pick up your personalized genealogy binder today!*********

Thank you so much for reading my post.  I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to your comments and/or questions below.

Chas Guevara

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What Is A Family Tree? – A Detailed Breakdown of What Genealogy Really Is

I’ve been researching my family history for fifteen plus years now and the other day I was thinking about a family tree. What is a family tree? Why did a family tree start getting called a family tree? Why is it important to know your family tree?

What Is Genealogy?

Genealogy is the combination of utilizing interviews, records, genetic analysis, and other data in order to gather information about a family unit and show the lineage of its members. Now that sounds very technical, but in reality it isn’t really all that complicated. Genealogy is, quite simply, the study of one’s family lineage by utilizing historical documents and other means.

To me, genealogy is the study of a family. How the family started. How the family evolved and also where the family is headed. Genealogy is about knowing your roots.

Why Do People Get Into Genealogy?

Everyone has a reason for what they do. There are varying reasons for why someone gets into genealogy and researches their family history, but the main reason I feel most people get into it, is to preserve their family heritage to pass down to future generations. We all want to carve our piece of history out and preserve it for those that come after us. That’s why people make time capsules, right?

I started out in my genealogy search about fifteen years ago when my dad started questioning some things about his family. I started researching as a means to get him some answers for things he wanted to know. It didn’t really occur to me that I would get so into it.

The death of my father left me feeling misplaced in the world and, with genealogy, I have found that place again. By researching my family history, I feel connected to the members of my family tree and, more specifically, my dad. I think that many family history researchers probably feel the same way. But to add to it, putting together their family tree helps them to preserve that history for many generations to come.

What Is A Family Tree?

Now you have an idea of what genealogy is and why people get into it, so what is a family tree? Why do we call a family tree, a family tree?

Just the other day I was getting ready for work and I started contemplating that very question. Why is it called a family tree? My thought is that a family tree was called a family tree because each family unit within a family looks like the branch of a tree so I looked up the definition of family tree and found, according to Mirriam-Webster, a family tree is a genealogical diagram. But I would venture to say it is more in depth than that.

A tree is a living, breathing organism that grows in the sunlight with nourishment. A family does the same thing. Give a family nourishment and light, and family will prosper. Take away those things and the family unit dies out, just like a tree dies out without proper sunlight and nourishment.

Over time branches of a tree die out and fall off and all the while new growth is happening to the tree. The tree is getting more roots and more buds which become new branches and leaves. A family does the same thing. Family members die and family members are born. The new buds on a tree represent the new members each family brings.

A family tree is an easier way to view a family as a diagram, but it is so much more. It is the past, present and future. It is the story of a family and genealogists are putting the pieces of their family puzzles together, one piece at a time so that their family story can be told accurately. Professional genealogists also help others to track their lineage and to put their family stories together.

The Importance Of Knowing Your Family Tree

When someone goes to a doctor, the doctor or staff member at the clinic will ask about family history in regard to medical conditions. Why do they do that? Well, they do it because many conditions are hereditary and knowing family history helps medical personnel to choose a course of action.

Let’s say someone has a family history of cancer in the immediate family. This makes the patient at a much higher risk of developing cancer so at the slightest sign of something like a lump, the medical staff will order tests for cancer.

Well, the same holds true for family history research. Knowing your family history can help with medical problems. It can help heal families. Many families have lost members through the years due to divorce, adoption, or just loosing track of each other. Researching your family can lead you to finding those that have been lost and reconnecting. Family history research can provide you with a sense of belonging and a sense of peace. It can give you that piece of the world that you can leave as a legacy for future generations.

Paying Homage To Your Ancestors

Regardless of the reasons you research your family history, the truth is a family is a living, breathing entity. Families deserve respect and researching your family history is a great way to pay homage to your ancestors. It is a way to show respect to those who have traveled before you and leave that legacy for future generations to build upon.

The family tree is a picture description of the family. It is a visual representation of the love shared within a family and it is breathtaking to see the family tree filled out. It still amazes me what two people can accomplish. Just two people can start a huge family tree and a long-lasting legacy.

I hope you have enjoyed my post and would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. What is a family tree to you? Please leave your comments and/or questions below.

Chas Guevara

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Portable External Hard Drive Review – Get One For Your Genealogy Research Today!

In a previous post, read about it here, I talked about a great device for genealogy researchers. That device is a portable external hard drive. Why is a great tool for genealogy research you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you why. With a portable external hard drive, your research goes everywhere you go. All of it…all of your pictures you compiled of relatives, cemetery signs, grave sites, pictures you’ve collected through research for newspaper articles plus everything in your family tree!

A portable external hard drive, like the ones listed in this portable external hard drive review, is perfect for the traveling genealogist. Take them on vacation, to the library with you while you research, to the office to work on during breaks, etc. With a portable external hard drive, you are completely mobile, but also you’ll have a place where all of your research is backed up.  A safe place in case something happens to your paper files and/or your family tree database you store in one of the many online genealogy sites.


For this review, I’ll be going over the following aspects for each of the six portable external hard drives I have included in this review.

Overall Rank

Product Description

Pros & Cons

Guarantee (YES, NO)

Product Specifications

At the end of the review, you’ll have enough information to decide for yourself if one of these units is for you or not.


Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0, Black

Overall Rank #1

Rated #1 for the price and value it delivers

Product Description

This product is a streamlined unit with a surface that is smudge-resistant. The unit is very small and will easily fit into a purse or bag. The unit is plug and play, meaning you just plug it into your computer or laptop and it installs the necessary data and it’s ready to go in seconds!

Pros & Cons

The pros for this unit are that is light-weight (5.3 oz.) and durable and is smudge-resistant. The unit is 1TB of memory, is small ( 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.55 in), and will ship for free from Amazon. It is also reasonably priced, has really great reviews from Amazon and is easy to use. It has 4.4 out of 5 possible stars on Amazon from 4,376 reviews total!

The major con is that it is not Mac ready, but is easy to set up for Mac users by going into applications, utilities, disk utility, erase tab, format and then select Mac OS and then click erase. I read a lot of reviews for the unit and many of the users noted it is very easy to set up for Mac users and works great with a Mac.

Guarantee (YES) – Comes with a one-year standard warranty.

Product Specifications

Compatible with 3.0 and 2.0 USB. Weighs 5.3 oz. and is 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.55 in. The unit comes in only black, is smudge-resistant and has a matte finish. You can purchase it in classic or contemporary style. Memory available in either 1TB, 2 TB or 3TB with additional cost for each memory size. Plug and play capable with no power cord needed. USB cord included to attach to USB drive in your computer.


WD 1TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive – USB 3.0 – WDBUZG0010BBK-WESN

Overall Rank #2

Product Description

Compact device with fast transfer rates. It is lightweight and can easily be stowed in a purse, laptop bag or other carrying apparatus. Works with either 2.0 or 3.0 USB and has plug and play capability.

Pros & Cons

The pros for this unit would be the fast transfer rates, it is plug and play except for Mac users, it is lightweight and portable, it comes in 1TB-4TB of memory, and weights just 1 pound! It has 4.3 out of 5 possible stars on Amazon from 1,433 reviews total!

The cons are that the unit is not plug and play for Mac users and must be formatted to work with Mac, although this process does not seem difficult at all. Also, some users left reviews about issues with power failure and the cord not functioning properly.

Guarantee – Does not say anything about a guarantee

Product Specifications

Includes 1 Tb, but can be purchased in 2TB, 3TB, or 4TB. Unit is black, weighs just 1 lb. and is 5.08 x 1.81 x 5.59 inches. The memory type is DDR3 SDRAM, works with either Mac or PC, and has one processor.


Silicon Power 1TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive Armor A30, Shockproof USB 3.0 for PC, Mac, Xbox and PS4, Black

Overall Rank #3

Product Description

The unit is military-grade Shockproof, is scratch-resistant, and has 1TB of memory. The unit is very lightweight and features a 3 year warranty. Color choices are black/green, black/orange and silver.

Pros & Cons

The pros include being shockproof, it weighs 7.2 oz., and a choice of three colors. It comes with a 3-year manufacturer warranty and ships to the US and some other countries. It is also scratch-resistant and appears to be durable. It has 4.3 out of 5 possible stars on Amazon from 1,622 reviews total!

The major con, which I gathered from reading the reviews, is that it seems like quite a few people had trouble with them dying out after a short time…days to a few months after purchase. Some other reviews spoke negatively about the durability.

Guarantee – 3 Year manufacturer warranty

Product Specifications

The unit is 5.3 x 3.4 x 0.7 and comes in either 1TB or 500GB of memory. It is a 3.0 USB drive with 2.0 backward compatible.


Silicon Power 1TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive Armor A80, Waterproof USB 3.0 for PC, Mac, Xbox and PS4, Blue

Overall Rank #4

Product Description

Unit has an aluminum casing which protects it from force applied up to 500 KG. It is shockproof and waterproof and it also has a built in area for cable carrying.

Pros & Cons

The pros of the unit are that it has a sleek design and is lightweight at 9.6 Oz. It is available in black, blue, green and red. It is shockproof, waterproof and resistant to force of up to 500 KG and is backed by a 3 year warranty. The ergonomic design has a built in area for carrying the cable and comes with 2 SuperSpeed 3.0 USB cables. It has 4.1 out of 5 possible stars on Amazon from 1,098 reviews total!

The major con is that the reviews on this unit show 10% gave a 1 star. That’s quite a bit higher than the average for other similar units. Many of the negative reviews are related to the durability not living up to par.

Guarantee – 3 Year manufacturer warranty

Product Specifications

Military-grade for shockproof and also waterproof. Built to withstand 500KG of force and contains an area to place the cable to keep it handy. The unit has 1TB of memory or can be purchased with 2TB.


WD 1TB My Passport Ultra Silver Portable External Hard Drive, USB-C – WDBC3C0010BSL-WESN

Overall Rank #5

Product Description

Sleek designed, very lightweight model that comes in 1-4 TB of memory.  Weighs in at just 4.6 oz!  Comes with a 3 year manufacturer warranty.

Pros & Cons

The pros are that it is available in either silver or blue and also it can be purchased with either 1TB, 2TB or 4TB of memory. The RAM is 4TB and it can be used with Windows or Mac. The unit is very lightweight at just 4.6 oz and is 4.33 x 3.21 x 0.5 inches. It comes with a 3-year manufacturer warranty and has a very sleek, metallic design.

The cons are that it just became available in September 2018 (a couple of weeks ago from the date of this post) so the unit is newly available and has no reviews. New technology is always nice, but you are blind as to what to expect from the product.

Guarantee – 3 year warranty

Product Specifications

The unit is 4.33 x 3.21 x 0.5 inches and weighs in at just 4.6 oz! It is lightweight and portable. The USB cable is 3.0, the RAM is 4TB and the unit can come in up to 4TB of memory.


ADATA HD710 1TB USB 3.0 Waterproof/Dustproof/ Shock-Resistant External Hard Drive, Yellow (AHD710-1TU3-CYL)

Overall Rank #6

Rated for the lower reviews

Product Description

This portable external hard drive is shock-resistant, waterproof and dust proof. It is available in multiple colors and levels of memory.

Pros & Cons

The pros for this unit are that it is available in black, blue, camo and yellow. It is shockproof, waterproof and dust proof. The external drive has a built in carry feature for the cord and is a 3.0 USB. The drive is very lightweight at just 7.84 oz, is backed by a limited 3-year warranty, and comes in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB or 4TB of memory. This unit has a rating of 4.1 stars out of 5 from 252 reviews on amazon.

The major con is that the hard drive has 12% reviews with a 1 star and only 64% with a 5 star. Another con is that it was first available in 2012, but only has 252 reviews available.

Guarantee – 3 years limited warranty

Product Specifications

This portable external hard drive is 1TB, but comes in up to 4TB. It is shock-resistant, waterproof and dust proof.


The Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0, Black Is #1

In summary, I have provided details for six different portable external hard drive units available on Amazon. A portable external hard drive is a must have for a tech savvy genealogist today because your research can go where you go. Back up your family tree file on one. Save all the newspaper clippings and pictures you come across onto it. Take pictures and/or scan all of your genealogy notes. With an external hard drive you can literally carry your family research in the palm of your hand!

All six of these units have fairly decent reviews, 4.1-4.4 stars, available on Amazon, but my top pick is the Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0, Black. This unit has the best overall ratings, is one of the cheapest models at $49.99 and provides the most bang for your buck! Pick it up today at amazon!

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0, Black

I hope you have enjoyed this portable external hard drive review. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Chas Guevara

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Old Newspaper Archives – Best Pick For Genealogy Tools!

As genealogists, we all know that microfilm machines, books, and records for birth, death, land, etc. are all important aspects of the search. I recently wrote a post on some genealogy supplies, you can read about HERE. In this post I spoke about how to get a free printable family tree chart which is a must have for any family tree researcher! It just makes the whole process so much simpler because it gives you a visual of your family tree (helps from getting lost).

Now I want to dig deeper into the well and talk about another important genealogy research tool. Old newspaper archives are a must for any researcher! Why is that you say? Well read on and I’ll tell you!!

Why Old Newspaper Archives?

Old Newspaper ArchivesOld newspaper archives give us a glimpse of what was. It is a journey into the lives of those that lived before us. Newspaper articles can give you a wealth of information about those you are researching such as birth notices, death notices (obituaries), social events, land deals, lawsuits, and so much more!

When you are searching for a relative’s name in a database such as WikiTree, you are primarily searching census records, birth records, death records, etc. Everything is very formal and doesn’t really give you a glimpse of the life of your ancestor. However, when you search newspaper archives online or in print/microfilm, you are getting another side of the view. You are seeing into the lives of the people you are researching.

To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you a true story. I was searching for my great-grandmother on my mom’s side. I found some information out when I searched the databases. I found out her birthday, death date, how she died and area she lived in. I confirmed what my mom told me about her grandfather dying at a very young age (32) when her dad was young. What I didn’t find was who my great-grandmother was. I didn’t get a feel for the person she was when she lived.

By searching the newspaper archives I discovered my great-grandmother was quite the social butterfly! She attended banquets, church events, strawberry socials, charity events, etc! She was in the newspaper articles all over the area where her and her second husband lived in. I got a real feel for who she was while she lived.

I found this so interesting because noone in my family is social! We are all pretty much stay at home, non-social people so seeing how my great-grandmother was intrigued me.

Kinds Of Newspaper Archives

Newspaper archives are typically all on microfilm. Microfilm is found on huge reels at libraries. Typically you’ll only find articles in the local area where the news would have been published. This makes it difficult for researchers because, in the past, you would have to take a genealogy trip to complete your research! Larger libraries such as the LDS Genealogy and Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, contain records from many newspapers across the country, and as a result are primary tourists spots for genealogists from all over.

But let’s face it….not everyone has the time, energy, or moolah to travel! Some of us, like me, have busy lives, but still want to be able to complete research for genealogy. Well the answer for those us that cannot travel, is to utilize newspaper archives online. Yes there are actually old newspaper archives available from the comfort of your own home!

Best Practices When Researching The Archives

#1 – Know what you are researching!

There is nothing more frustrating than searching for long hours and finding absolutely nothing! By having your duck sin a row, so to speak, you’ll have much better chances of finding information on your relatives you are searching for.

#2 – Have a research plan.

By this I mean create a list of things you hope to accomplish while searching the newspaper archives. For me, I search the archives after I filled out a branch of my family tree completely. I then will take each name from that family unit and will search the newspaper archives where the family lived. I have found that by doing my searches this way, it narrows down what I am researching to a specific geographic location. Once I find one family member in the archives in that area, it makes finding the rest so much easier!

#3 – Stick to the plan and don’t skip around!

By sticking to you research plan, you’ll be able to find out everything possible for a family unit at a time and this does a few things. First of all, it helps you stay focused on the names and dates you are researching. This will save you time so you don’t have to refresh your mind each time you switch gears and search another branch of your family tree. It will also save you some confusion…particularly where you have multiple people in your family tree with the same or similar names.

Secondly, as you are searching each family member within a family unit, you are discovering new leads. By continuing with searching all the leads until you hit that “brick wall,” you will know that branch is completely done for a time. New records are being added to databases all the time, so by “for a time” I mean that every once in a while you should check back and see what new information is available.

Lastly, it simply save you time and effort. Skipping around will cause you to lose stamina in your search since you’ll have to recheck all the dates and names you are searching for. If you are on a time crunch, this could cause some headache. For me, I have limited amount of time each day I can devote to research and every minute counts!

#4 – Save all of you information you find!

Everything you find related to your genealogy search is important and should be treated as such! Whatever method of storage you choose, stick to it and save everything. If you like handwritten notes, then keep journals or notebooks for notes organized. If you like printed out sheets from a computer, either type your notes out or if you are searching online, then print out copies of everything you find. Read about my tips for organization here.

My #1 way to store the information I find, is via a portable external hard drive which I back up everything onto. I have an external external_harddrive_for_storing_genealogy_informationhard drive that is 1TB and I save all the data I find on it as well as pictures, family mementos, death notices and so much more! Read my portable external hard drive review today! I have had this for years…and I do mean years! Probably 10+ years and I have everything on it so when I am on the go, vacationing or whatever, it goes with me so I always have all of my research readily available!

My Top Pick For Newspaper Archives Online

Now you are probably asking yourself, where do you search old newspaper archives online? well I have an answer for you! Newspapers.com is a great source for newspaper archives online.

Benefits of Newspapers.com

  1. It is one of the largest newspaper archives online
  2. Contains records from 8,900+ papers
  3. New pages are being added all the time!
  4. Easy to use/very user friendly
  5. Relatively inexpensive
  6. Easy to store clippings
  7. Easy to add clippings to some genealogy databases
  8. Completely free basic subscription with Ancestry.com all access account

Downfalls of Newspapers.com

  1. Some newspapers have not been archived
  2. 2 levels of subscription and papers you need may be only available in the extra publishing subscription

Cost of Newspapers.com

Well, the true question is, how much does it cost to have a subscription to Newspapers.com? Below is all the pricing information for Newspapers.com.

Old Newspaper Archives

Why Do I Need A Newspaper Archives Online Account?

Do you complete research for genealogy? Do you have relatives/ancestors you want to research? Do you have time to travel to large libraries and comb through endless hours of microfilm?

If you answered yes to either or both of the first questions and no to the last question, then Newspapers.com is for YOU! Sign up for your free trial at Newspapers.com today and see what is like for yourself! I know you’ll love it when you use the account. It is so easy to maneuver and store your clippings. It is easy to organize them and get everything you find into your ancestry family tree file.

Newspapers.com Is The Answer To Your Prayers!

Any genealogist will be happy with an account at newspapers.com because of all the time and effort it will save you! You’ll absolutely love the ease of use the account affords and the ease of storing all of your clippings. It is slightly annoying that not all newspapers have been archived, but be patient because new papers are being archived every day!

Newspapers.com will definitely help make your research easier! Try it out today and see for yourself! You will be happy you did!!

I hope this article was helpful for you. Please leave any comments and/or questions below and like/share this post so others like you can have the information too!

Thank you for stopping by,

Chas Guevara

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