Dayna’s Genealogy Toolkit

Dayna’s Genealogy Toolkit

Dayna Jacobs, AG®

toolkit piktochart

This toolkit is full of my go-to links that are (mostly) not record repositories, but rather are tools to help me find, interpret, and organize my research and records. I think you’ll want to keep them handy, too.

Abbreviations & Acronyms for Genealogy – What do they mean?

Animated Atlas – U.S. History Timeline

Archive Grid – Enter a zip code to identify nearby archives

BLM-GLO Records – Find U.S. federal land patents and locate parcels on a map

Cheat Sheet – Boolean Genealogy Searches – Online searches made easy from OGT

Cheat Sheets – Family Tree Magazine – A variety of helps

Cheat Sheet – Table of Wars and Ages of Servicemen –  Determine which war your ancestor might have been involved with

Citation Creator – EasyBib – Help for source citations

Cloud Convert – Convert files from one format to another

David Rumsey Digital Map Collection – Excellent map resource

Earth Point township and range tools – Locate land in the public domain

Easy Google Genealogy Searcher – Google search templates for genealogists

Encyclopedia of Genealogy – by Dick Eastman

Evernote – Organize your research

Free Forms and Charts – Family Tree Magazine

Free Forms and Charts – Rootsweb

Genealogy Gophers – Searches in genealogy books digitized by FamilySearch

Geographic Names Info System (GNIS) – Supercharged online gazetteer

Historical Map Archive – A look back in time

Internet Archive – For digitized county and family histories

Learning Center – Free online courses at FamilySearch

Linkpendium – Links to genealogy resources organized by locality

Map of US – Interactive map of the U.S. and county boundaries by year

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) – Order land entry files and pension files

Newspapers – Library of Congress: Chronicling America

Research Report Template – Download this editable template from OGT

Research Wiki – FamilySearch – Huge knowledge base for researchers

Surname Distribution Maps – See where surnames are clustered geographically

The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy – Online version of a classic

Timeline Template – Download this editable template from OGT

Town and County Database (Rootsweb) – Enter the name of a town to find the county

Vital Records – Where to write

Worldcat – Find libraries and items for interlibrary loan

The ICAPGen ℠ service mark and the Accredited Genealogist® and AG® registered marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.  All Rights Reserved.

Free Digital Newspaper Projects Out West


I’m always looking for free resources online, and I especially like finding historical newspapers.  More and more states have newspaper projects, and the West has some pretty good coverage.

Newspapers are an excellent record group for Western States researchers since they existed in many places before official vital records, statehood, or censuses.  There are many individual digitization projects in this region, so you are bound to have some luck Googling “digital newspapers in (city, county, state)”, but I wanted to compile a list of major statewide resources.  The Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website hosts many of these statewide newspaper projects through their National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), so some of these links will take you to a state’s own project through their state library or archive, and some will take you to the NDNP link.  It’s best to check both links, as there may or may not be overlap in the online collections:

Arizona Digital Newspaper Project and Arizona NDNP

Alaska Newspaper Project – Appears to only have microfilmed newspapers, and not to have digitized them yet, but you might obtain them from ILL

California Digital Newspaper Collection and California NDNP

Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection and Colorado NDNP

Hawaii Digital Newspaper Program and Hawaii NDNP

Idaho NDNP

Montana Newspapers  and  Montana NDNP

Nevada NDNP

New Mexico Digital Newspapers and New Mexico NDNP

Oregon Historic Newspapers and Oregon NDNP

Utah Digital Newspapers and Utah NDNP

Washington Digital Newspapers and Washington NDNP

Wyoming Newspapers

“Define Your Dash” with FamilySearch’s New #52Stories Project

"Define Your Dash" image from the FamilySearch blog

“Define Your Dash” image from the FamilySearch blog

I’m really excited about this! FamilySearch has just announced the #52StoriesProject, which is a fun and easy way to begin to write your personal history.

FamilySearch has 52 weeks’ worth of questions, each template with a different theme such as Goals and Achievement, Love and Friendship, and Events and Milestones.  Here’s a glimpse of one set of questions in the Home and Hearth category:



You can download the complete set of questions here and work through them throughout the year, answering them all or focusing on a few.  Or if you prefer, you can answer a weekly question posted on Instagram.  At the end of the year you will have a meaningful record of You.  I love this!

And if you are wondering what your “dash” is, that refers to the dash between the years of birth and death that you see on a headstone.  The dash represents all that happened in-between…a person’s life. So make this year the year you define your dash!

Improve Your Research Skills in 2017 with Free Online Classes

Ah, a new year is on its way!  What are your goals?  Is this the year you take your research skills up another notch? I feel I’ve been at a plateau the last few years and it’s time to make an effort to improve. One of my strategies is to watch genealogy classes online while I am on the treadmill at the gym, thus killing two birds with one stone.

A number of years ago I had a brilliant idea along those lines—hook up treadmills to the microfilm readers at the Family History Library. Running forward would crank the film ahead, and running backward would crank it back. What do you think? In the meantime, I’ll get my exercise with the help of webinars, YouTube videos, podcasts and a pair of earbuds.

Here are links to some of the sites with instructive genealogy presentations:

  • BYU Family History Library – The BYU Family History Library has emerged in recent years as an excellent source for free online presentations.  They have a YouTube channel that hosts many of these presentations, but also have links to past webinars available. There are hundreds of excellent classes available.
  • YouTube – Search for “Genealogy Research”– Entering “Genealogy Research” in the search bar for YouTube will bring up 69,000 results, so you will want to become familiar with the filtering options.  I like filtering by channel and then subscribing to channels that I find useful.  I like Ancestry, FamilySearch, BYU Family History Library, Genealogy Gems, US National Archives, and Dear Myrtle, to name a few. When you subscribe you can be alerted to new videos when they are posted.
  • ICAPGen mentoring online classes – ICAPGen (SM) is a credentialing organization for professional genealogists, and they offer a series of excellent tutorials on research methodology. This include Working with Documents, Citing Sources, Evidence Analysis, Writing a Quality Research Report, Pedigree Analysis, and a class on History, Geography, and Timelines.
  • FamilySearch Learning Center– There are hundreds of options for genealogy presentations at the FamilySearch Learning Center.  They are categorized by locality, skill level, or subject.  Many are taught by research consultants at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, but they also include classes from other expert instructors.
  • Mesa FamilySearch Library– The Mesa FamilySearch Library has archived many of the webcasts they presented live at their training center, and they are available for you to watch at your convenience.  Don’t forget to download the handouts for each class, too!
  • Association of Professional Genealogists – Professional Management Conference (PMC) presentations by the APG feature five classes focusing on the business aspects of professional genealogy.  If you are thinking of starting your own research business or would like to know how to get published in a genealogy journal, these will be helpful resources.

Here are two more options for sharpening your skills this year–courses from BYU Independent Study and classes from Genealogy Research Associates. These can’t be done on a treadmill, but they will give your brain a good workout:

  • BYU Independent Study – Free family history courses – BYU offers ten quality family history courses, complete with homework assignments and feedback from a professor.  Just register by entering an email address and you’ll be on your way.
  • classes from Genealogy Research Associates– Karen Clifford’s GRA provides a series of classes in research fundamentals which are self-paced.  They are not videos, but are written lessons which require no registration. Although the classes were developed some time ago and there are some outdated technologies mentioned, there are some worthwhile principles taught.



Facebook as a Resource for Western States Research

I just learned about a Facebook page for people researching in the Western States and thought I’d share.

The FamilySearch Blog published a post in August 2016 called “Finding Your Ancestors on Facebook”  which was featured in their newsletter today.  Here is where I learned about a FamilySearch Wiki page called, “Genealogy Help on Facebook.” This helpful page features a table which has links to various regional research groups on Facebook, which is where I discovered the U.S. West Genealogy Research Community.  It is a helpful forum where researchers can connect, ask questions, and offer suggestions to other researchers, and it covers what are often called the Mountain West States and the Pacific West States.

Here is what it looks like on Facebook:


This particular group is a closed group, meaning you need to request to be added.  That is easy enough to do by clicking on “Join Group.”

Another way to connect with researchers on Facebook is to search for a surname, locality, or ethnic group, followed by “Genealogy.” For example, here is what a search for Native American Genealogy produced:


It’s always great to find new resources for research Out West.  I’ve ventured into social media for sharing the things I learn, but have not used it much for a research resource until now.  I’m looking forward to exploring this “new” tool!  It’s been interesting to read through some of the questions posed in the posts, and to try to think about possible answers.  It’s an exercise that gets me thinking, and will help me to learn, I’m sure.





36th Annual Ancestor Roundup – January 21, 2017

I’ll be presenting four classes at the 36th Annual Ancestor Roundup in Seaside, California on Saturday, January 21st, 2017.  1.  “Wild, Wild Research in the Mountain West States”,  2. “Beyond Pedigree Charts:  Using Your Genealogy Software’s Research Tools”, 3.  “Dayna’t Genealogy Toolbox”,  4. Archives and Libraries:  Successful Research Online and Onsite”.

There are 21 other great classes to choose from, so if you are in the Monterey area you might consider joining us.


Upcoming Presentation: “Free Genealogy Classes, Webinars, and Online Learning”

learn_onlineThursday, October 6th, I will be presenting “Free Genealogy Classes, Webinars, and Online Learning” at the Monterey County Genealogy Society meeting.  It will be at 7pm, at the corner of Noche Buena and Plumas in Seaside, California.

There are hundreds of opportunities for online learning in the world of genealogy, and some of the very best resources are FREE! This class provides an overview of all the best free resources for genealogy education today.