This book is dedicated to my favorite aunt, Mary Allen Morgan (1905-1969). She
provided me with the loving guidance, mentoring, and education that made me appreciate
words, books, and learning, and she helped me connect those things to a love of family
history. She was also my first and best adult friend. She gave me homemade lemonade,
peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler, “angel” sourdough rolls, candied citrus peel, and a
wealth of family stories and traditions along the way. She was better than all those around
her and deserved so much more in her life. I’m glad she was such a vital part of my life
and I part of hers. She is very much missed and still very much loved.
Ancestry.com has been and remains an almost overwhelming experience. Each
time I use it, I discover something new. The people in content acquisition and the
program development staff at The Generations Network, Inc., who generate, manage, and
support each functional area are truly amazing. They are enthusiastic and creative, and it
is their hard work that makes Ancestry.com in all of its geographies positively sing.
There are many people who helped make this second edition of this book become
a reality. What makes this edition so special is the addition of new chapters about DNA
and about AncestryPress, the great new online publishing tool at Ancestry.com. A
complete revision of The Learning Center has been launched in the interim between
editions of this book and it is an exciting, multi-media, online library! In addition, the
new search facility at Ancestry.com is the embodiment of the search engine we’ve
wanted for years. The names of all those in the program development departments are too
numerous to name. Likewise, the support desk personnel who keep things running from
day to day and help all of us are some of the greatest in the industry!
You really cannot imagine what it is like to try to write a book about a highly
dynamic site such as Ancestry.com while it is being re-designed. Functionality, screen
shots, and data content/organization were all changing over the months this book was
being written. Keeping the communication links open and sharing visions was a
challenge. However, as the developers turned out new content and tested it, I had input to
the process when I found changes that needed to be made and processes corrected.
Everyone worked as a team and the result was a better product and a better guidebook.
I’d especially like to thank the wonderful people at Ancestry Publishing for their
faith in my ability to create the second edition of this book. Jennifer Utley is a
consummate professional whose advice is always good. She is a visionary who knows
what will and will not work, and she is always helpful in surmounting any difficulties that
arise. Paul Rawlins worked diligently on editing the manuscript, learning from the
process and making my work look so much better. Matthew Raybeck, the editor of the
first edition, also participated in the editorial process and remembered how I write and
how to make my writing look and feel consistent. I cannot thank you both enough. We
three make for a great team!
and Matthew Wright epitomize the professionalism of editorial guidance and
provided every tool and contact I needed to write the text. Many thanks go to Tana Lord
for poring over the manuscript and creating a wonderful index.
Finally, I would like to thank the many thousands of users of Ancestry.com for
acknowledging its superior content through their continued use of the service. It is my
deepest hope that this book will help make you a better researcher and extend your
research to new levels. I’m learning and discovering every day, just as you are.
George G. Morgan
7 April 2008
About the Author
George G. Morgan
George G. Morgan has been working on his own family history since he was ten years
old in North Carolina. He has traced his family lines across from Maryland south through
Georgia and west to Alabama. He has followed ancestors to England, Wales, Scotland,
and Ireland. He has successfully documented one English line back to 1450.
George is a prolific writer whose online column venues include the Ancestry Weekly
Journal and the Ancestry 24/7 Family Circle Blog, a weekly column in Dick Eastman’s
prestigious Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter (EOGN), and a regular column in
the Digital Genealogy e-zine. He has been published in every mainstream genealogical
magazine in the U.S. and Canada, in newsletters and quarterlies across the U.S., Canada,
the U.K., and Australia. He even had an online column for over a year with the now
defunct Chineseroots.com Web site.
This publication is his sixth book. The first edition of The Official Guide to Ancestry.com
and his book, How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy (published by McGraw-
Hill/Osborne) are the two best-selling genealogy books of the last 20 years.
George is co-host, with partner Drew Smith, of “The Genealogy GuysSM Podcast” at
<www.genealogyguys.com>, the longest continuously running genealogy podcast on the
Internet and heard each week by genealogists and family history enthusiasts around the
He is a director of the Florida Genealogical Society of Tampa, the Public Relations and
Publicity Director for the Florida State Genealogical Society. He is a member of the
Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the National Genealogical Society
(NGS), and more than twenty other local, state, national, and international genealogical
societies. In addition, he is an outspoken advocate of libraries and library issues. He is
president of Aha! Seminars, Inc., a company focusing on continuing education seminars
for libraries and genealogy seminars. He is a highly sought-after speaker for genealogy
seminars and conferences across the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere. He also teaches
distance education seminars for the University of South Florida (Tampa), Pharos Tutors
<www.pharostutors.com> in London, and Genealogical Librarian Certification for the
National Institute of Genealogical Studies <www.genealogicalstudies.com> at the
University of Toronto. He lives in Odessa, Florida, a suburb of Tampa.