Book Review: The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Websites You Can’t Do Without by Jonathan Scott

The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Sites You Can't Do Without by Jonathan Scott
The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Sites You Can’t Do Without by Jonathan Scott

The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Websites You Can’t Do Without.  By Jonathan Scott. Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK ₤14.99. US Distributor: CasemateIPM 908 Darby Road, Havertown PA 19083. 2015. viii, 245 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover $24.95

Mr. Scott comes to the task as a freelance writer, former deputy editor of Family History Monthly, and writer, since 2007 of the ‘Best websites’ column for the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. He is therefore used to finding and evaluating genealogy websites with the depth and breadth of experience clearly showing.

The introduction to the book explains the filing system at work in the book. “Each chapter lists websites broadly in order of importance, interest and usefulness. The idea being that for those just starting their research into a particular branch or topic, this will lead them quickly to the best of most interesting resources. Then in the index at the back all the websites appear again, often more than once, but listed this time alphabetically by title, content or subject.” (p.vii)

The book is divided into five sections. The first section identifies websites for getting started in genealogy addressing the fundamentals such as civil registration, census and parish registers. The second and longest section, entitled digging deeper, takes you into all sorts of record groups: burial records and monumental inscriptions; probate and wills; taxation; election records; crime and punishment; court records; coroner’s inquest; poor law and workhouses; schools; directories; newspapers; migration; overseas research; Wales; Ireland; Scotland; hospitals and medicine; catholic records; Jewish records; nonconformist records; photographs and films; Londoners; maps; estate records; seventeenth and eighteenth century sources; slavery; sports and pastimes. The third section examines websites for military and conflict, addressing each of the services, as well as examining specific conflicts and time periods. The fourth section addresses occupations with nineteen different categories with the last being a catch all for other occupations and apprentices. You will likely find multiple sites here for your occupation of interest. The final section covers miscellaneous sites identifying: resources by region; blogs and forums; house history; medieval ancestors; heraldry; nobility and gentry; sharing research; social networking; plus software and apps.

For each entry it provides a title; address and a brief description if warranted, and often one is needed, which just adds to the value of the listing.

While I was reading this book I found myself marking those sites that I had never heard of and wanted to go and check out, or ones that I had not visited in a while and I wanted to remind myself to have a fresh look. All the time I was thinking will this provide something new for my own research? The result was a book with a surprisingly large number of marks of sites I need to check out. I am working through the marks as time allows and finding all sorts of additional information.

Most people are unlikely to read this book from cover to cover. Rather it is a tool to aid you in your research. It is one to be dipped into to solve a problem or to specifically look for new websites. In that sense it is a goldmine of leads for British research. I can highly recommend it. Yes, some of the websites will become obsolete, so you can use the wayback machine at You will also still need your favorite search engine as new websites will be created. In the meantime, get this book.

Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success – 4 Webinars

Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success - 4 webinars recorded at Fountaindale Public Library on 16 March 2016 with speakers from the Ulster Historical Foundation
Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success – 4 webinars recorded at Fountaindale Public Library on 16 March 2016 with speakers from the Ulster Historical Foundation

Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success is the title of 4 excellent webinars recorded on Wednesday March 16 at Fountaindale Public Library in Illinois. The speakers were Finlan Mullan and Gillian Hunt from the Ulster Historical Foundation who spoke with clear understandable Irish brogues. They were both a fountain of knowledge gained from practical experience and this came through clearly in the tightly packed presentations. The webinars did keep the speakers on schedule as there was a definite sense that they had more that they could have shared. I attended in person but I have looked at segments of the webinars again since getting home.

Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success (4 Webinars)
• Introduction to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research parts 1 and 2
• Using Land Records: Griffith’s Valuation, Tithe and Estate Records
• Census Substitutes and other important sources for Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, plus records related to different churches in Ireland
• Sources for Finding Seventeenth Century Families in Ireland

The webinars can be accessed for 30 days from the date of recording. You can find the webinars in Fountaindale Genealogy Blog posting for February 24, 2016. The YouTube videos have been inserted into the blog posting. On the same page you will find a number of practical downloadable print resources provided by PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland), NAI (National Archives of Ireland), NLI (National Library of Ireland) and the UHF (Ulster Historical Foundation). I especially liked the two timelines that are provided, but there are hundreds of pages of material here saving you the time and effort of searching for them.

There is material here for the beginner, but there also a lot here for the experienced researcher. I have been lecturing on Irish research for many years but there were still documents shown I had not seen before and the session on 17th century sources helped to clarify this complicated period in Irish history. It also showed the wealth of material that is actually available for the period. Now if only we could get all our Irish lines back that far.

Have a look at these excellent webinars with lots of valuable practical information, but remember they are only online for 30 days.

Book Review: Discover Irish Land Records by Chris Paton

Discover Irish Land Records by Chris Paton, published by UnlockThePast
Discover Irish Land Records by Chris Paton, published by UnlockThePast

Discover Irish Land Records. By Chris Paton. Published by UnlockThePast Publications, PO Box 119, St Agnes SA 5097, Australia. AUS $17.00. Available as an e-book from, AUS $9.05. Available in North America from CAN$19. Available in the UK from ₤7.50. 2015. 60 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

Mr. Paton succeeds very nicely in his stated purpose which is to introduce the reader to some of the basic land records available online and offline, and to outline how they may be used for genealogical research.

The book is divided into five chapters. The first gives a brief overview of the troubled history of Ireland from the Gaels, Vikings and Old English, up through the partition of Ireland in May of 1921, highlighting the impact events had on land ownership. The second chapter addresses boundaries and administrations which are a necessity to understand for different jurisdictions govern how different records are organized. You get the usual explanation of provinces, counties, baronies and civil parish, but you also get descriptions of lessor know jurisdictions such as manors, demesnes, boroughs, district electoral divisions and registrations districts. The differences between English and Irish acres (or Plantation acres) are explained here.

Starting with chapter three the book gets into the records themselves focusing on where the people were examining vital records, decennial censuses, census substitutes, directories, electoral records and newspapers. Chapter four moves into records of tenancy, ownership and valuation and this is where along with the familiar, lessor known records will be found. The chapter covers estate records, leases, rentals, quit rents and ground rents, estate maps, probate records, land registration, the Down Survey, tithe and valuation records. The final chapter encourages the researcher to discover what a place looks like and how it has changed over time by examining the Irish historic town atlas, the ordnance survey maps and memoirs, along with gazetteers, journals and parish histories.

Chris, as usual has provided the researcher with an up to date practical guide for doing Irish land research. He explains how to find the records, both for the North and South, online and offline. What stands out are the record examples, usually from his own research in the North, for they illustrate well why you should go looking for your ancestors in these records. The examples include transcripts from: eighteenth century newspaper advertisements for sale of a family property; a nineteenth century lease agreement for a small plot of land describing fees and obligations; a lease for multiple lives showing how they changed over time; rental agreements showing changes in fortune and ownership; and tithe payments that change through Griffiths and the valuation books. The suggestions and ideas in this book will keep your Irish research going for a while and will likely take you into records you have not explored before. It is highly recommended.

Upcoming speaking events around the country

Paul Milner - Virtual Institute for Genealogy - the Big Four Records for English Research - English Census research - English Parish Register research - English probate research - English Church Records Research
Paul Milner – Presenter Par Excellence 🙂

For the genealogists around the country who like to know where I am speaking here is my Upcoming schedule (outside the Chicago area – that list was posted a couple of weeks ago). Come and join me, a lot is changing in the world of British Isles genealogy.

5 Mar 2016 – Midwest Genealogy Center’s Spring 2016 Seminar at Stoney Creek Conference and Hotel Center, 18011 Bass Pro Drive, Independence MO. For more Info –

  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine
  • Irish Maps and Tools for Finding the Right Place
  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland
  • Irish Land Records

12 Mar 2016 – Dallas Genealogy Society Spring Seminar – “From Whence They Came” – 1st Floor Auditorium, J. Eric Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St., Dallas TX. For more Info Dallas 2016 Spring Seminar

  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website
  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine
  • Scottish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Rebellions
  • Overlooked Sources for 17th and 18th Century English Research

2 Apr 2016 – St. Louis Genealogical Society 45th Annual Family History Conference – A Whole New World for Genealogists – Maryland Heights Centre, 2344 McKelvey Road, St. Louis, MO. For more Info St Louis Genealogical Society Conference

  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website
  • Internet Tools and Sites for British Isles Research
  • Are You Lost: Using Maps, Gazetteers and Directories for British Isles Research
  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine

4-7 May 2016 – National Genealogical Society 2016  thirty-eight Family History Conference, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd,  Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For more Info NGS Conference

  • Are You Lost: Maps and Gazetteers for English and Welsh Research
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest

12-17 June 2016 – Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, Samford University, Birmingham, AL. Course 6: English Genealogical Research. Online Registration now open and filling IGHR Registration

  • English Context – History, Sources, Repositories & Processes
  • Find the Correct Place: Maps & Gazetteers
  • Civil Registration
  • English Internet – National Archives (lab)
  • English Internet – Free Sites (lab)
  • English Internet – Commercial Sites (lab)
  • Making Sense of the English Census
  • Church & Diocesan Records for Birth/Marriage/Death
  • Tips & Tools for Navigating the English Probate System
  • Parish Chest/Poor Law/Quarter Session Records I +II
  • Nonconformists & Recusants
  • Occupation, Guild, & Freeman Records
  • British Military I + II
  • England Land & Landscape Records
  • Sources for Landed & Titled People
  • Overlooked Sources: 17th & 18th Centuries
  • Overlooked Sources: 19th & 20th Centuries
  • Planning Your English Trip

31 Aug – 3 Sept 2016 – Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 Conference, Springfield IL

  • English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest
  • Tracing Your Pre-WWI British Soldier
  • 1914: Finding Your British WWI – – Dead or Alive