Research Tools

While You’re at Home. . .

COVID-19 has interrupted the normal flow of our lives. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to all who are being affected, and to all who are suffering. And our deep thanks go to all who are helping the situation. Meanwhile, if you’re struggling to keep busy while practicing social distancing, try this!

Create your family tree online

Don’t have an online family tree? FamilySearch can help–for free.’s Family Tree offers significant global genealogy resources at a price anyone can afford: free!* Don’t have a tree there yet? Follow the link to get started! Family Search’s collaborative tree allows users who are related to labor together in sorting out their ancestors. Just enter info for yourself and your ancestors to get started. is a premium genealogy service that allows you to begin your tree with a free trial (stipulations apply). While they want to get you on the hook for a subscription, they do offer powerful genealogy tools, records, and resources. Click here to sign up and get a two-week free trial (credit card info required). Sites such as and (currently geared more toward pedigrees in continental Europe), and (currently geared more toward the U.K.) also offer free trial options. 

FamilySearch “Recommended Tasks”

If you have a family tree on, consider having a look at “Recommended Tasks” (FamilySearch web version), “Ancestors With Tasks” (FamilySearch Android app), or “Tasks” (on Apple). (Click here for links to FamilySearch apps.) The tasks utilities with FamilySearch identify individuals in your tree with possible record matches, data issues/errors, possible missing children, and more. However, take caution! Not every suggested record is a match!

(Where to find “Recommended Tasks,”, accessed on 20 March 2020.)

FamilySearch Indexing

As a non-profit organization, largely relies on average Joes like you and me to make records accessible! Are you a beginner? No problem! After filling in your own family tree (and being cooped up at home is a great time to reach out to relatives in your effort), indexing is a wonderful way to pay forward the family history karma. By deciphering old often hand-written records (graded by language and record difficulty), you may help others discover their heritage! And, meanwhile, your own skills in deciphering old records increase! It’s a win-win. 

(How to find an indexing project, image courtesy of, 20 March 2020)

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Let inspiration guide you! Your ancestors are out there, and they’re closer than you think.

Bryce H. Rogers is a professional genealogist and co-owner of Lost Generations Genealogy. He lives in Malad City, Idaho, with the love of his life, Liz, and their seven children.

*Lost Generations Genealogy is not affiliated with or Opinions offered are those of the author and are given for the intent of assisting individuals in their search for their ancestors. Click here to learn more about Family Search’s mission.

Transcribing Old Documents: A Stroke of Inspiration

I was wrestling with a hard-to-read German baptismal entry the other and was hit with a stroke of inspiration.

“Compare the difficult entry to the easier [non-difficult hand] entry you just transcribed.” I acted on the inspiration and, voila! The “official” language in the difficult entry and the “official” language in the (for me) easy-to-read entry were almost identical!!! Of course the details about the people involved were different, but the standard, boilerplate language was almost exactly the same!

When transcribing a difficult entry from a church book or civil registry record, knowing what the entry usually says, or what it is “supposed” to say is half the battle!!! Two parishes 10-15 miles apart used the same specific wording and format in their christening entries. Almost like filling out a form, though handwriting styles were very different, both scribes used the same verbiage to describe similar events.

Believe it or not, these two entries say almost the exact same thing!

(fig. 1, German baptismal entry, more difficult hand)
(fig. 2, German Baptismal entry, very neat hand)

So, when in doubt, compare to an easier to read entry!

Bryce H. Rogers

Bryce H. Rogers is an Owner and Professional Genealogist at Lost Generations Genealogy. He enjoys life with his wife and business partner Liz and their housefull of children.

Interlibrary Loan

Genealogy is largely the process of answering two questions:
1. What do I want to know?
2. Where can I find the answer?

A few months ago, I was helping a client find a deceased person’s next of kin. Having exhausted other options, we worked on finding obituaries. The newspapers and obituaries we wanted were not online! So, I contacted the local library where the person died (Hemet, California). The librarian there pointed me to the California State Library at Sacramento. A few good old fashioned phone calls and very helpful library staff told me which local newspapers existed and were available on microfilm.

To sum it up:

  1. I was looking for next of kin.
  2. The obituary I wanted was not available online on sites like,, or
  3. I made some phone calls.
  4. I talked to the California State Library at Sacramento.
  5. They told me which newspapers they had for Riverside and Hemet, California.
  6. I contacted my local library.
  7. My local library requested the newspapers and dates I wanted.
  8. After a few weeks, the newspapers I wanted arrived in the form of microfilm.
  9. I searched the newspapers page by page using a microfilm reader.
  10. I found obituaries and death notices that helped answer our question!

#microfilm #obituaries #interlibraryloan #nextofkin