Jul 152014

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases, software and other items.


I have several physicians in my RootsMagic database: 4 from Alabama, 1 from South Carolina and 2 from Texas.

The Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas maintains an institutional repository, the DigitalCommons @ TMC. Here can be found a massive database of Texas doctors, the Gazetteer of Deceased Texas Physicians (19th and 20th Century).

The Gazetteer lists physicians and information such as birth and death dates, date of graduation, specialty and primary location. Information is drawn from the Dallas Medical Journal (1920 – 1990), The Texas State Journal of Medicine (1905 – 1956), and the licensure records in the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners Collection. Obituaries from state, regional and local sources were used as sources from 1990- 2009. This list is as comprehensive as time and resources allowed and does not purport to be complete.

At this time, the database is not searchable online; it is presented as downloadable pdfs, divided alphabetically into sections by the first letter of the physician’s last name.

Below is the data for my second great-granduncle, Thomas Joshua Bennett:

TJBennett creds

As you can see, his date of birth & death, the medical school he attended and the date of graduation, profession membership and medical specialty, even his obituary, are given.

While technically an index, it is still a wonderful resource for Texas research.


Jul 142014

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases, software and other items.


Do you have ancestors who entered marital bliss in Denton County, Texas? The Denton County Clerk website offers free search and download of marriages licenses:

The Denton County marriage records go back to 1875. In 1875, the courthouse burned and the records were destroyed. Marriage records are recorded in the county where the marriage license was purchased, not the county where the marriage took place.
You are welcome to search the marriage license records on our website for free at: Real Property Records Search website. You will need to select “Marriages Name Search” from the Search Criteria menu located in the top left corner of your screen. On this site you are able to research, view, and print copies of marriage licenses for free.

Note that the actual marriage search page is located at the Real Property Records Search site, so don’t be confused when you arrive.

Here is an example of a marriage license that I downloaded from this site:

Hall-Schad marriage license


This is the marriage license of my grandfather Victor Earl Hall and his second wife, Agnes Schad, dated 29 Feb 1936.

The site isn’t clear about the dates of the available licenses, and I have only the one couple that I know to be married in Denton County. However, a random search for the surname Turner returned records (images!) from 2013 and before, including a license for Alonzo Turner and Nannie A Wilson, dated 17 Apr 1876!

I wish I had more ancestors from Denton County, Texas!

Jul 142014

In Genealogy on a Budget (Part 1), I referred to an online article showing that a person could easily spend $18,000 per year on genealogy, making it a rather expensive pursuit.

I decided to make a list of the more popular research sites, as well as other necessities, such as genealogy database software, a scanner and a printer, just to see if I could come up with an $18,000 tab.

The costs of the items on my must-have list totaled about $1500, considerably less than the total presented in the article. But $1500 is still a lot of money, money that some folks just can’t afford.

Let’s look at how I manage to do some valid research, without having to mortgage my socks!

As for me, I’m always on the lookout for bargains and discounts. It is something of a challenge to spend money on what’s important to me, yet still come away with something in my pocket. And I do love a challenge!

First off, my computer is a HP desktop model, running Windows 7,  3 years old. The printer is about 2 years old, and I use the camera on my iPhone 4s, also about 3 years old. My genealogy software is RootsMagic 6.

For backup, I use free accounts with Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive, along with an 8GB USB drive and an WD 150GB external hard drive (purchase several years ago.)

This blog is hosted by WordPress.com for free, although I do have a custom domain name and have recently purchased a premium theme. I also have a Freepages site at RootsWeb and maintain a database at RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project. Both free.

Internet access (broadband) runs $25/mo.

Now, to research. I do not have subscriptions to any pay genealogy sites.

So, how in the world can I conduct research???

At Diigo, I have a large collection of links to free genealogy data sites, amassed over many years of research. And I am constantly on the lookout for more. I “keep my eyes on the prize.” Sites like FamilySearch, The USGenWeb Project and its affiliated state and county sites, Find-A-Grave, the Bureau of Land Management, Chronicling America… all offer free original documents and photographs or indexed data, and many are run by volunteers. And they are constantly receiving and presenting new data. Also, sites such as Ancestry.com maintain many free databases, such as World War I Civilian Draft Registrations  and 1940 United States Census.

Many local libraries have wonderful genealogy and history departments, and all you need is a free library card. The downtown Fort Worth Library is excellent (and has free weekend parking) and the Hillsboro Library in Hill County, Texas, the home of so many of my ancestors, has an amazing genealogical collection.

And I follow other genealogists on Facebook and by RSS with Feedly. These folks are always willing to lend a helping hand with advice and frequently post about new databases and genealogical finds. Just a few days ago, a link to a free Tennessee database containing scanned Bible pages was posted and in it I found a Bible for my Vance/Brevard line, with entries dating back into the late 1700’s.

If you need a genealogy database program, RootsMagic Essentials, Legacy Family Tree Standard Edition and MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder are all free.

Finally, there are many folks out there who volunteer to do document look-ups or take photographs at far-away places, for free or simply for the cost of mileage or postage. I was a volunteer for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, and hope to be again when the new RAOGK gets under way. I volunteered to take cemetery photos and I never charged for my efforts. I see it as a way to “pay it forward”, to help someone else as a way to thank those who have helped me.

Oh, did I forget to mention that even those pay sites occasionally offer free access to databases normally behind a pay wall, such as WWI records from MyHeritage, available through the end of July. And Fold3 is providing free access to its Revolutionary War Collection, also thru the end of July.

So you see, genealogy can be an expensive hobby, but it truly doesn’t have to be!


Genealogy on a budget (Part 1)

Jul 142014

According to a recent article:

Ready to spend $18,000? The high cost of searching for your ancestors

The growing urge on the part of millions of Americans to investigate their roots has spawned a billion-dollar genealogy industry that is still growing by leaps and bounds. For the past eight years or so, I’ve heard people toss around the claim that genealogy sites are the most frequently visited (second only to pornography) and that ancestor-hunting is the country’s most popular pastime (after gardening)…

Yep, it’s pretty easy to spend some big bucks when you’re searching for your ancestors. We’ve all “been there, done that.”

But $18,000?

Ok, let’s look at some prices for subscription research sites:

(Assuming you have a computer and internet access)

(These figures may not be completely accurate. Have you tried to find the subscription rates for some of these databases lately? They are frequently well-hidden!)

And you’re gonna need a genealogy database program (Windows):

Definitely gotta have a scanner for that growing stack of photographs and documents:

  • starting at about $29 for a basic model

And don’t forget about backups (certainly don’t wanna lose all that expensive data!):

And then you will probably need pens, pencils, notebook paper, folders, computer paper, a filing cabinet of some sort- depending on your style (look for those Back-To-School sales)

But, wait! These figures are for online genealogical research. What about the old-school write-a-letter-visit-a-courthouse-research-at-the-library-wander-through-a-cemetery genealogical research?

Depending on how aggressively you search and the distance to the target, add maybe $50-100/month to that total (stamps, gas, snacks, mosquito spray, copying machine costs).

And, hey, you’ll need a digital camera, too. Less than $100 on Amazon.com right now. Or just use your smart phone’s camera (umm, they don’t grow on trees…).

So, let’s see here… our total is… where’s that darn calculator… 3 research site subscriptions, 1 genealogical database program, a case of Deep Woods Off, all that hardware and all those travel costs…

A total of about $1500 so far. Probably less, because I’m not planning to buy a new printer, digital camera or filing cabinet every year.

$1500 is certainly not $18,000, but it’s still a lot of money.

Well then, how can you have fun with genealogy, and still keep those expenses down?

(to be continued…)


Genealogy on a budget (Part 2)


Jul 072014

JanMStanley (1)Tonight, I was just finishing up on the file update for my Aunt Jan, reviewing everything, making sure I had the dates, locations and source citations correct. Trying to be thorough and wondering where else I could find information about her life. Let’s see: birth, education, marriage, residence, census, death, funeral. I think I got all of that.

Hummmm…. education. I know the name of the high school and the year of graduation. I even found her high school yearbook on Ancestry.com. Wow, check out those hair styles…

(Focus please!)

I did a quick online search for the high school + the year of graduation and I discovered that the R L Paschal High School Class of ’56 has a website. This site contains all sorts of tidbits about the Class of ’56, including yearbook photos (which I already had from Ancestry) and…digital images of the 6-page graduation program!

And there on the last page, with all the other S’s, is my Aunt Jan Marie Stanley.

Adds a personal touch to the file, don’t you think?

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