Online family history services

The internet is opening a treasure trove for family history researchers.
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03.Cemeteries and DNA search online

Cemetery records

Location technology is starting to be used to help family historians locate relevant gravestones and burial sites on a map on a cemetery’s website. 

In Australia, the Centennial Park Cemetery in Adelaide, which has 134,000 burial and memorial sites, has made records available online along with location details so that family historians can find information about relatives, including age, date of death and area of residence, and directions to a site. 

It also plans to release a smartphone app to provide onsite mapping and location information to historians that can be used when they are within the cemetery to help locate sites. 

Go to Centennial Park website and follow the links from the Deceased Search tab.


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DNA Ancestry Search Websites

The new frontier in family history research appears to be in DNA testing. Services have sprung up around the world offering DNA ancestry testing for a fee that can be upwards of $300. Most services have websites with information on how and what they test and offer downloadable information kits, with some even claiming to be able to link people to well-known figures from history.

However, the growth in this new field of research has also attracted criticism. Some scientists and geneticists say the tests are essentially meaningless in terms of showing reliable links to ancestral origins. The results are probabilities and aren’t conclusive; for example, in terms of ancestral origin to a geographic area, a guaranteed link can’t be established.

Other experts are uneasy about these services because the databases of samples are limited and rely on assumptions that may not be accurate. Each individual has a set of genes derived from thousands of ancestors, and these tests can skew the picture by looking so far back into the past. 

There are no genetic ancestry testing standards or framework to make the results better understood to people who want an insight into their ancient ancestry.

A good discussion of this new area of research with useful links to DNA project websites, such as surname or regional, is available on the genealogy reference site genuki. Other sites can be found by searching for DNA ancestry projects online.

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