Genealogy Toolbox

Free Handy Tools for Genealogists
 
  
  • Census and Genealogy Research Forms - All kinds of forms, charts, and research logs.
  • Genealogy Reference Bookshelf - Various reference sources useful in genealogy. 
    • The Free Dictionary - Dictionary, Thesaurus, acronyms, encyclopedia, idioms, abbreviations, and many other reference tools.
    • Genealogy Glossaries - There are several good genealogy glossaries on the web, but none of them will have every single genealogy word you might encounter. Presented here are a few of some of the more extensive glossaries to be found on the web. It's always a good idea to check two or three to get a more complete understanding of the more complex terms, especially legal terms. Randy's Dictionary and abbreviationsSam's Terms and abbreviations, Genealogy QuestFamily Search Wiki Foreign Genealogy Words lists.
    • Family Search Research Wiki - More than 60,000 genealogy reference articles strong and growing. US State pages are especially comprehensive. 
    • Ancestry.com Wiki - Another large free genealogy wiki that includes content from two of the best genealogical reference guides out there: The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy and The Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
  • Library Related - Resources and finding aids found in genealogical libraries. 
    • State Snapshots - Allen County Public Library bibliography of genealogy books by state. Bibliography was made specifically for APL, but many of these books will be in your own local library.
    • US County Dewey Decimal Numbers (PDF) - Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center created Dewey list for all counties in the US. 
  • Mapping Resources - Various mapping related resources for genealogy.
    • Mapping Tools:
      • Google Earth - In addition to using Google Maps to just look up places, there are some other creative and interesting projects you can make on Google Maps related to genealogy. Make a timeline, an immigration map, show family movement, etc.
      • Earth Point Township and Range Conversion for Google Earth - I use this tool by first going to the BLM GLO site and finding ancestor land purchases. The BLM site will give you Township and Range coordinates. Copy those coordinates into Earth Point and it will fly you to Google Earth and show you exactly where your ancestor's homestead was. 
      • USGS GNIS - Use this program to find the tiniest of towns, named mountains, lakes, neighborhoods, etc. Good when a regular Google or Wikipedia search has nothing on extinct villages.
      • Family Search Place Name Standard Finder - Will show you the standardized and variant names of a place and give you a link to that place on a map.
    • County Formation
      • Genealogy Inc Historical Maps - A good resource for determining county formation dates and rough county boundary changes over time. The maps aren't super detailed, but they are animated and do give some good information on county formation over time. Use these maps for a quick, high-level overview.
      • Newberry Atlas of Historical County Boundaries - Very detailed historical county boundary outline files that open in Google Earth. Choose your state, click on the 'kmz' icons. This will download a winzip file. Open the winzip file and click on the inside file and it will open in Google Earth. Use the Newberry maps for special projects, multi state birds-eye views, or to see a timeline of county formation.
      • Randy Majors.com - Randy has extracted the Newberry maps above and created a very cool mashup for you. Use Randy's site when you want a quick and convenient view of the Newberry maps.    
    • Map Collections:
  • Mobile Apps for Genealogy 

  • New Records Online - Do you like to learn about new genealogical record sets as soon as they are available online? 
    • Genealogy in Time - New online records by date; or US only; or Canada only.
    • LDS Family Search - Click on the 'Last Updated' column heading to sort the records by most recently added.
    • Cyndi's List What's New? - Many organizations that put new genealogy related records online will publicize their site by sending a link notice to Cyndi's List.
    • Ancestry.com new record sets - One of the very few links I have to a site that is not free, but a good resource to at least be aware of.
  • PDF Related - PDF creation and manipulation tools.
    • Make a PDF:
      • Cute PDF Writer - This small program attaches itself in your printer menu, and then you can select 'Cute PDF' as your printer instead of your paper printer to make a PDF out of a document. The easiest way to make a PDF from a document.
      • PDFescape - Web based app that will allow you to create a PDF and make some basic edits including adding pictures. It also lets you add, remove, and move around pages. Of the free PDF programs, it probably has the best editing functionality and features. PDFescape will also find text within your document so you can use it to OCR a PDF you take from the web.
      • Nitro PDF Reader - is a fairly simple PDF creation program. It will however allow you to extract blocks of text and images from pages and output them into different formats like a jpg.
    • Merge or Split PDF's:
      • Split PDF and Merge PDF - Two free websites that will remove individual pages from a large PDF, or merge multiple PDF's together into one. 
      • PDFbinder - Whereas 'Merge PDF' is web app that is suitable for smaller merges, PDFbinder is a small downloadable program that allows for the merger of larger files.
    • Other PDF Tools:
      • PDF to Word - Allows you to edit a PDF by turning it into a Word document first. Nitro also has the only free PDF to Excel app I've seen on the web.
      • PDFmyURL - Like it sounds, copies any web site into a PDF.
      • Qiqqa - Manage your entire collection of research PDF's.
      • Mendeley - Full PDF reference manager.
  • Research, Source Management, and Productivity Apps
    • Evernote - Create and save your ideas, organize and sync, collaborate.
    • Zotero - Collect it from the web, organize it, cite it, and share it.
    • Diigo - A little lighter weight tool than Zotero.
         
    • VideoNot.es - Web app that allows you to take notes in videos and sync's your notes to Google Drive.
    • TypeIt - Onscreen symbol keyboards with every type of symbol. Type on the screen and then copy-and-paste to where you need the symbols placed.
    • Goo.gl - Link shortener. Transform a giant horrendously long link into a short manageable one.

    • FreeOCR - This site will extract typed text from images. No charge.
    • Google Book Downloader - Allows you to download individual pages from Google Books. The downloader only works with the Firefox browser. Installation of the downloader is a multi-step process. First download the Greasemonkey Add-on for Firefox, then download the Google Book Downloader script itself. There will now appear a 'Print' button next to each page. Finally, save the pages as a PDF with a writer like 'Cute PDF Writer' using Firefox's browser 'Print' button, then compile them together with 'Merge PDF' or another PDF creation program.
    • Jacob Boerema's Transcript 2.3 - A simple splitscreen tool to make transcribing documents easier.

    • Genscriber - Another document transcriber. This one utilizes Excel so it's good for columned material, like censuses.
       
    • oTranscribe - Audio transcribing tool.
    • If This, Then That - Scripts to make various web apps perform automated actions based on a predesignated input.
       
  • Virus Protection - A must-have if you download lots of genealogy documents from the internet.
    • Jotti Scan - Have you finally found that key document online that utterly destroys your brick wall? Resist the urge to open it immediately and instead run it through Jotti's malware scan before you open it for the first time. If you can make it a habit to run every download file through this site your computer will thank you, and you lessen the chance of losing all your genealogy work and files from a virus. 
  • Volunteer Look-Ups
    • Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness - Unfortunately this site is now closed.
    • Gen Gathering - Very similar model to how RAOGK used to operate.
    • Books We Own - These folks will look up the information and send it to you if they have the right book.
    • Ask A Librarian - Have a question on where to find a resource? Ask a librarian in the Library of Congress Genealogy Reading Room.
    • Mocavo Karma - Volunteers provide a number of free research based activities to requesters.
    • Family Search Book Photocopying - Now this is pretty cool. Family search will photocopy pages from any book they have in their library and email the copies to you. Free.

 
 
This page last updated: Saturday, February 15, 2014
All links on this page last checked: Wednesday, February 5, 2014