BCGS Research Tip – March 2014

The BCGS Members’ Research Tip for 1 March 2014 is: Change Things Up!

Or as Grandma (born in 1884) used to say, “A change is as good as a rest.” 

Sometimes when a genealogy research path seems blocked, adding something ‘new to you’ to the research mix saves a lot of frustration. Do you use mostly the same ‘big’ databases, the same search engine, or even the same library? Plan for a few changes and see what happens.

A few suggestions might be to try

Cyndi’s List for newer smaller websites in your area of interest. Many volunteers are putting up their own collections of family or local data and images. is over 15 years old, and better than ever: You can check out the newest links directly by following this Cyndi’s List What’s New link.

– the MillionShort search engine gives you results minus the top one million most popular web sites: Can’t hurt to try and you may be pleasantly surprised with new results for your usual genealogy search terms.

– and even if the library you usually use, perhaps the BCGS Walter Draycott Library, is almost perfect, another may have a collection of research files or indexes that could benefit you. (And if you aren’t regularly looking at the BCGS Library, make a change here.) Nowadays you may not even have to visit to take advantage of special collections so look for one that’s in your geographical area of interest and find out what’s there. If you want to visit a library that’s not too far away, arrange with other local genealogists to make a field trip out of it. You’ll all benefit from the companionship and genealogy talk you’ll share.

BCGS Research Tip – February 2014

The BCGS Members’ Tip for 1st February 2014 is: Scan yourself!

Experienced researchers always tell beginners in genealogy and family history to ‘start with yourself’; work carefully backward so as to ensure you knit each of your families’ generations together’. But starting with yourself means more than collecting a few certificates. Be sure to collect and share your favourite photographs of yourself and your friends and family too. And do let the family know which one(s) are your very favourites.

At Flip Pal’s 52 Suggestions blog this week is a moving Mary V. Danielsen and her article, “The case for photo scanning in estate planning”, pointing out how vital it is to see that the favourite family photos, including those of ourselves, are preserved and easily accessible. As she warns, “A few things happen in the hunt for funeral photos.”

Mary V. Danielsen’s own website is: Documented Legacy

In 2014 Flip is hosting a series of “52 Suggestions” for safeguarding documents and photographs. You can catch them all here.

BCGS Research Tip – January 2014

The BCGS Members’ Tip for January 1st, 2014 is:  Automate many of your searches.

New Years clock

What better time than New Year’s to add more Internet search power to your genealogy tool kit. For years, many have entered their key surnames and place names into Google Alerts and kept an eye out for incoming e-mails with links to mentions of these on the web. Google Alerts still functions, but not as well as it did, so I’m now also trying out Talkwalker Alerts – another free service, although not perhaps quite as comprehensive.

If you haven’t used a service like this before for your genealogy searches, it’s easy. You will need to give an e-mail address. (I use a more private one for this type of service.)  Choose some of your more unique surnames and enter each as alert key words. I do not suggest entering very common surnames unless you can also enter a less common place name along with the surname. I’d get far too few useful results entering just ADAMS, for instance, but “ADAMS” and “Shipham Somerset” gets me results.

BCGS Research Tip – December 2013

The BCGS Members’ Tip for December 1st is: Do genealogy with the family during the holidays.

Christmas Tree CookiesMaureen Taylor in “Photographs and the Holidays” at has some great tips on hosting a fun family photo identification party with games and prizes too. Or you could host a scanning party and ask people to bring their family photos and albums along as one BCGS member did recently. Don’t forget the cookies and other treats; just don’t have them near the photographs please.

Be prepared to take genealogical advantage of impromptu get togethers too. Have some interesting or puzzling photographs ready to show on your phone or IPad and be ready to get down all the details on the new in-laws by having a few blank pedigree charts and family group sheets handy in your backpack. You might even have stamped self-addressed envelopes prepared in case they’ll need to get more details once back at home.


BCGS Research Tip – October 2013

The BCGS Members’ Tip for October 1st is: Sometimes there IS just too much genealogy news!

Sun carriers-1933-VancouverIt’s true – sometimes it isn’t easy to keep up with all the genealogy news.

Better to choose a few trusted on-line genealogy news sites to check regularly.

The BCGS website always has the latest from these five websites (on your lower right side of the main page). If you start with these, you will usually have most, if not all, the genealogy news that matters and you will see a variety of topics covered and a variety of opinions expressed.

  • Genealogy Insider, Diane Haddad, Family Tree Magazine
  • FamilySearch Genealogy and Family History Blog
  • Your Genetic Genealogist, CeCe Moore
  • GeneaBloggers, Thomas MacEntee
  • Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, Dick Eastman

Check out the news they offer today including details and comments on Ancestry’s acquisition of FindAGrave, another Geno 2.0 chat coming up, the Italian Ancestors project and the TV show, Genealogy Roadshow, ( And you’ll see it’s Backup Day! Don’t forget to backup! )

This photograph shows newspaper carriers at the Vancouver Sun Carrier Services No 41 hut at 12th Avenue and Nanaimo in New Westminster, 1933. Photographer, Stuart Thomson. City of Vancouver photo, City of Vancouver BC Archives 99-4378.