Tag Archives: reviews

Linkpendium: The Best Genealogy Link Site That You’re Not Using

Posted by

Even in these days of Google, Bing, and search engine optimization, there’s still a place for a really good curated link site. Not only can they pull together the best-of-the-best, but they can also highlight the gems that otherwise would have remained hidden. For genealogy, my “go to” link site is Linkpendium.

Linkpendium has more than 10 million links to locality and surname site. It is the brainchild of Karen Isaacson and Brian (Wolf) Leverich, the founders of RootsWeb. (So, they’ve been doing this online genealogy thing for quite awhile!)

Linkpendium home page

Linkpendium home page

Locality Section

The site is arranged very logically. I recently started a project that took my research to Washington County, Pennsylvania. I clicked “Pennsylvania genealogy,” and then scrolled down and clicked “Washington County.” (I’ll also want to explore the page with the 882 “Statewide resources” for  Pennsylvania.) Here is a very small portion of what I found:


A very small section of the Washington County, Pennsylvania page on Linkpendium.


It has the usual suspects, such as databases on Ancestry and FamilySearch. But it also has those wonderful hidden resources that we’re always hoping to find. Things like “Telephone Directory of Bellaire, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville, Ohio, 1934” and “Livingston’s Law Register, 1851.” Sure, I might have found those in a Google search…  had I known they existed or thought to look for such a thing.

Surname Section

Be sure to go through the surname pages on Linkpendium. Not only do they have links to websites and blogs about specific surnames, but also links to sources you should be checking out anyway, like the RootsWeb mailing lists and WorldCat. It makes for a very convenient way to cover all of those bases.

Here’s part of the DeBolt page:

Part of the DeBolt page on Linkpendium.

Part of the DeBolt page on Linkpendium.

linkpendium-searchThe Genealogy Search Engine

As if having more than 10 million links wasn’t enough, Linkpendium also has a genealogy search engine that covers 2.6 million web pages. (Those aren’t just any ol’ web pages. Those are web pages that have genealogical information.) On the Linkpendium home page, click the link on the left side of the page that says “Try our new state-by-state search engines.” On other Linkpendium pages, look on the right side of the page.

You can search the entire United States or narrow it to just one state. Search by full names or just the surname.

  • Smith will find pages with Smith
  • John Smith will find pages with John OR Smith
  • “John Smith” (with the quotes) will find pages with John NEAR Smith (handy for pages that have something in between, like a middle name)
  • John -Smith finds pages with John, but NOT Smith

I have noticed that if you’re looking for two surnames on the same page, it’s best to do two searches: once with the quotes and once without.

Results for Debolt in Illinois

Results for Debolt in Illinois

Links sometimes die. The link above for the Labette County, Kansas history is no longer working. But I can see a saved version of the page by clicking on “cached.” Though the links on that page no longer work, I can see that there are several Debolts in History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901. I can go look for that book on Google Books and WorldCat.


A curated list of more than 10 million genealogy links should get our attention! Linkpendium provides genealogists with a convenient way to find sources applicable to their research. Even if you don’t use the link section of Linkpendium, run some searches in the search engine. You never know what you might turn up!

How and Why to Use Genealogy Gophers

Posted by

There’s a problem with OCR (optical character recognition). Yes, it helps us find text that is buried deep in the pages of an unindexed book or newspaper. The problem is that OCR is literal. Search for “William” and it will look for “William,” but not “Wm.” (Did you just think of how many references to your “Wm.” you’ve missed over the years? Kinda scary, isn’t it?)

That’s where Genealogy Gophers (gengophers.com) comes in.


What Is Genealogy Gophers?

Genealogy Gophers is a new (FREE!) site developed by Dallan Quass, the mastermind behind WeRelate.org. Dallan is one of the sharpest, smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. So when I saw that he had a new site, I had to check it out.

The site searches 40,000 genealogy books that have been digitized by FamilySearch. Most are books that were published prior to 1923. They range from county histories to city directories to family histories. There’s a little bit of everything.

Using Genealogy Gophers

It is super easy to use — just type in a name.

Genealogy Gophers search box.

Genealogy Gophers search box.

There are two ways to search: Texts and Titles. If you want to look for references to your ancestors, start with the Texts search. You’ll need to enter either a first name or a last name. You can narrow your search by entering a place, time period, and the names of relatives (great for helping you narrow down your search for those ancestors with common names.)

Here’s the cool part: It’s smart about how it searches. I did a search for George Debolt. With other full-text searching, if I searched for George Debolt, it would give me just that — pages with “George” on the same page as “Debolt.” Genealogy Gophers does that, but also finds “Geo” and “G.”

genealogy-gophers-geoOther full-text searching would have missed this entry because it isn’t exactly “George.” I cannot stress how super cool this is!

Searching by Title

This is kind of a misnomer. Yes, when you search by title, it includes the title, but it also includes the description. You can find some real hidden gems this way!

I did a title search for Sherrick family. Here’s one of the results:


The title is History of the Stemen Family, but there are enough Sherricks in the book that they were added as a subject. If the Sherricks I’m researching had ties to the Stemens, this is a book I want to look at!

Looking at the Books

You found something you want to look at (chances are that you will!) Click the title of the book or the thumbnail image. You’ll be taken to a page like this:


Genealogy Gophers uses Google Surveys to generate revenue. (They have to pay the bills somehow!) For each survey completed, they get a nickel. You should get a survey once a day; if you get one every time you try to read a book, check out their FAQ page for steps to fix it. (Also, they are considering an optional annual fee for those who don’t want to answer surveys.)

After you fill out the survey, you’ll see the image. If you had done a text search, it would take you to the specific page you found. If you had done a title search (like with the Sherrick family), it would take you to the title page.

While you’re looking at a book, you can do a search just within that title, using the search box above the image. You can also download the entire book as a PDF.


The top of the image page allows you do do a search just within that book. You can also download a PDF of the entire book.

My Review

Genealogy Gophers is easy to use and gives great results. They already have 40,000 books and are planning on adding another 60,000 in the coming months. Its intelligent approach to full-text searching will help researchers find things that have previously been hidden by traditional OCR. For the price of filling out an occasional survey, Genealogy Gophers is well worth your time. Go dig in!

I used to be an admin on WeRelate and I know Dallan personally. However, he did not ask me to do this review, nor have I been compensated in any way for doing so.