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Monday, May 14, 2012

Researching Your Roots: 5 User-Friendly Features of

This is a guest post by Brent Rasmussen

 Brent Rasmussen is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about genealogy and other areas of family history.

With the release of the 1940 Census and the rise in popularity of the reality TV show “Who Do You Think You Are”, more and more people are flocking to the internet to research their roots. One of the more popular family history websites is, and for good reason. is a user-friendly site that makes looking up family history simple and convenient for both seasoned genealogists and beginners alike. Here’s a look at just a few of the many reasons you should consider for researching your family history.
  1. Ease of navigation: was designed with ease of navigation in mind. With its crisp, uncluttered, and clearly organized home and webpages, even first time users of the site will find it surprisingly easy to begin researching their family history.
  2. Multiple search options: offers a number of options for obtaining ancestral information. The search for a specific record begins by typing in the first and last name(s) of a relative, either living or dead. To narrow the search, a “Search by life events” option may be used to type in a birthdate, marriage date, date of death, or a place of residence. A “Search by Relationships” line is also provided for typing in the name of the spouse or parent’s names of the ancestor being searched. To narrow the search even further, a “Search by Batch Number” line is provided, should the person doing the search have a batch number from the IGI or International Genealogical Index. Another search option clearly provided on the homepage is “Trees”, allowing for the searching of family lines. Access to all of the records found in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City may be obtained by clicking on the “Catalog” option. In addition, by using the “Books” option, the user may gain access to over 40,000 digitized family history and genealogical publications found in the archives of many of the world’s premiere family history libraries.
  3. Free learning resources:

    For those who have a genuine interest in researching their family history, but aren’t sure how to get started, one click on the “Learn” option, found at the top of every page, gives users access to a variety of free learning resources, including: 1) The Research Wiki, a collection of useful articles and tips on family history research provided by experts and enthusiasts from all over the globe. 2) Free Research Courses, both live and online to help you find out more about your family tree, and 3) Free Research Discussion Forums utilizing over 2,000 registered volunteers worldwide to answer your family history research questions, such as “How can the 1940 Census release help me to find out more about my ancestors?” In addition, by clicking on “Help”, a vast array of informative options appear, including FAQ’s, text, and video tutorials, and contact information to assist you in getting the help that you need when you need it.
  4. Free forms and PAF software:

    When doing family history and genealogy it’s vital to be able to collect, organize and share the information you have gathered. For this reason, offers free forms such as pedigree or ancestral charts and family group sheets or records. In addition, the website also offers Personal Ancestry File (PAF), a valuable family history and genealogy desktop software program that may be downloaded free of charge.
  5. Live local assistance:

    Along with all of the great features already provides, one unique feature that sets it apart from other family history and genealogical websites is the ability for online users to utilize a vast network of brick and mortar Family Search Centers. Open and free to the public, Family Search Centers and the volunteers who staff them offer a wealth of knowledge and information, including computer access to billions of online records and millions of microfilms from all over the world.
Currently the 1940 Census records are being indexed by volunteers to be made fully searchable online. With its wealth of user-friendly features and vast resources, will continue to play a major role in helping individuals learn more about the lives and legacies of family members past and present.

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