Tech Tools

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Ancestry Insider
We guess “Ancestry and FamilySearch and Useful Tech Tips Insider” was too unwieldy a moniker, but that better describes this lively blog. With all the updates at FamilySearch, it’s more of a must-read than ever.

We’ve previously praised this free web-based tool for its collaborative sticky notes capabilities—perfect for sharing and comparing genealogy finds. But it’s since broadened to include bookmarks (online and off) and screenshots, with versions for iPad, Android and iPhone.

Another slick way to save your online family history finds, Evernote lets you add snapshots and even voice notes. It works and syncs online, on PC or Mac, and on iPhone and iPad—all for free.

Upload your genealogy data, download from FamilySearch or enter manually, then download a free 8×11 JPEG chart in a customizable layout. Once you’re hooked, you can pay to order fancy printed charts or PDFs.

Genealogy Gems
Lisa Louise Cooke’s online family history radio show offers more than 120 podcasts plus videos for free. Or pay $29.95 a year and add members-only podcasts and videos.

Google Book Search and News Archive Search The 7 million books—some with full text—you can scour using Google Book Search include many genealogy and history tomes. And don’t forget about the news archive search page, which leads you not only to a wealth of historical newspaper content but will also organize your hits into a timeline.

Internet Archive
Old web pages live on in the Wayback Machine, which has 150 billion pages rescued from the internet’s past, along with nearly 2.7 million documents including family and local histories.

Live Roots
This next-generation genealogy meta-search covers not just the usual suspects—presenting your finds from FamilySearch,, Footnote and Flickr on one page—it also delves into catalogs of lesser-known data providers, 233,432 in all. Free registration lets you keep track of searches and results and add resources to your library. There’s now a Facebook app, too.

All my future genealogy searches will start on Mocavo,” writes genealogy-technology enthusiast Dick Eastman. Launched earlier this year, Mocavo is a web search engine that speedily crawls hundreds of thousands of genealogy sites—especially great if you’re researching a surname that’s also a common word or corporate name.

One-Step Web Pages
No Flash animation or fancy design here, but creator Steve Morse excels in the underlying tech of the web—building better ways to search the Ellis Island and Castle Garden websites, other immigration databases and online census collections.

Roots Television
Until there’s a genealogy broadcast channel to match those devoted to food, travel and golf, there’s Roots Television online. Mostly free, with some pay-per-view content, shows range from “DNA Stories” to genealogy courses to lectures from family history conferences.

All the world’s knowledge isn’t online—yet—but WorldCat will tell you where books and other items still on dead trees lurk in 10,000 of the world’s libraries. You can now search its 1.5 billion items on your mobile phone, or log in with a free account to create lists, bibliographies and reviews of library materials.

Browse Family Tree Magazine‘s 2011 Best Websites for genealogy research:

 From the September 2011 Family Tree Magazine