FamilySearch and You

Did you know a collection of over 5.7 billion digital images, books, microfilm, and other records is available for the low, low price of a free account?

FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization and website offering millions (and billions) of genealogical records to the public. To date, users have added over 1.3 billion persons to the collective family tree.

All these numbers are a bit overwhelming, so FamilySearch has put together a starting page to make diving in easier than ever (

From designing your own family tree, to saving your own digital photos and documents, FamilySearch is a great alternative or supplement to (available for free to patrons at your local library! Check out a great guide from December 2019 here).

Additionally, many libraries within Allegheny County have been granted FamilySearch Affiliate Library status, affording users greater access to documents while accessing FamilySearch from a library computer! Allegheny County libraries with affiliate status include but are not limited to: Andrew Carnegie Free Library, Bethel Park Public Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Cooper-Siegel Community Library, Northland Public Library Authority, Pleasant Hills Public Library, Sewickley Public Library, Shaler North Hills Library, Sharpsburg Community Library, Springdale Free Public Library, Upper St. Clair Township Library, and Whitehall Public Library.

However you want to scratch your genealogical itch, your community library in Allegheny County is a great place to start!

Cameron R.S. Smith, Cooper-Siegel Community Library

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Helpful hints from the “History and Genealogy” training sessions…

Here are some helpful hints from Wednesday’s “History and Genealogy” training sessions, offered up from members of the EREC committee who attended. Representatives from ProQuest’s, from Gale’s U.S. History in Context and World History in Context, and from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Room led the training.

Helpful Hints for

  • Because variation and inconsistency in indexing old records often leads to spelling variations of names, the Ancestry  representative recommended using “?” or “*” in place of variable characters.
  • There are training resources for Ancestry here:  It also includes a description of the difference between Ancestry Library Edition and
  •  In Ancestry you can only send 5 emails to the same email account, so a better option is to save your item(s) as an image file and email them as an attachment.

 Helpful Hints for U.S. History in Context and World History in Context

  • The topic pages allow you to create a bookmark to link directly to the desired page–very useful for specialized library websites for students, assignments, etc.
  • You can have the text read to you by clicking on “Listen.” Not only will it be read to you, it will highlight the words being read so that you can follow along. It also gives you the option of limiting what’s read by highlighting a portion of the text, or even just a single word.
  • Gale will soon be offering customized promotional materials.

Helpful Hints from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Department

  • The 1940 Census will be made available for public inspection beginning Monday, April 2, 2012. It does not have a name index or Soundex. Searches can be done by enumeration district, which are the geographic areas in which the information was collected.
  • This website provides shortcuts to many genealogical websites: and will help in finding enumeration districts.

 Please add your own helpful hints by clicking on “Comments.” And look for information (coming soon!) about our next training session. It will be held on April 25th at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library in O’Hara Township and will be about job and career resources.

Mary Lee (Northland)

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