Genealogy Blog

Three Tips for Searching with Mocavo Basic

20 May 2015

When content goes online at Mocavo, it becomes free forever. Let’s be clear — we don’t just mean free for now. We’re making a radical departure from the status quo of how content is controlled in the genealogy industry, which is why when Mocavo brings content online, it’s free for everyone to enjoy forever.

As a Mocavo Basic member, you can search any individual database at one time. This means that you can search the Texas Death Index (or tens of thousands of other databases) to your heart’s content for free. Here are three easy steps to help you get the most out of searching with Mocavo Basic.

1. Visit to browse all of our different record collections. You can browse by category, location, or date. Select an area to start your search.

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2. Once you have chosen a particular category, browse the list of individual databases until you find one that you believe is relevant to your search. Click on the title and you will be redirected to a search page for the individual database.

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3. Now you are free to search the collection to your heart’s content. When applicable, you can select search terms specific to an individual database from a dropdown or autofill menu. These menus standardize how each search parameter is written, helping you create accurate and relevant searches.

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If you run in to any trouble, do not hesitate to give us a call at 1-866-279-4013 or send us a note at Happy searching!

5 Things Every Genealogist Should Do This Year

08 Jan 2015


5 Things Every Genealogist Should Do in 2015

A new year has arrived. Time to set some goals for the year. Here are five things that every genealogist should do this year. And the best part is that they are all easily accomplished.

1. Take a Class

One thing that is certain about genealogy: as you progress with your research you will eventually arrive in a new location. This will require you to learn new resources and research techniques. There are many avenues open to you for learning now. One of the best places to learn are genealogical societies. Your local society can help with genealogy methodology. And societies that specialize in particular groups, or represent locations your ancestors lived in, can assist you with more specific learning.

2. Review Past Research

From time to time it is important to go back and review research you have already done. New records are becoming available with increasing frequency. Are there newly-available materials that support your research findings? Or, are there resources that now contradict your conclusions? Or, perhaps, you can add to the story you already have. Sometimes you can see things you missed before, especially with work you haven’t looked at in awhile. So pick up some of your old lines and review them.

3. Attack a Challenging Problem

Sometimes as we research we stumble across challenges. Perhaps it is a brick wall line, or one with conflicting answers. Sometimes the problem is that there may be sensitive information involved, an intricate conversation that we are not prepared to have. Make 2015 the year you decide to tackle one of these problems and bring it to a resolution.

4. Share Your Research

Whether you’ve been researching for years, or just a few months, you have probably gathered a bit of information. All too often, we sit on this information, waiting until we are “finished researching” before we share the stories with our family members. Unfortunately, there is no way to know when you will be “finished.” And frequently, we are finished before our research is. Don’t let your findings get lost. Take the time to share what you find with your family. And don’t just do it once. Come up with several times this year you will share your findings and put it in your schedule to get it done.

5. Find a Genealogy Partner

One of the best parts about doing genealogical research is all the wonderful people you meet along the way. And in this case, I’m talking about the living ones, not the dead ones. I am fortunate to have many friends and colleagues to bounce ideas off of, commiserate with, and most importantly, hold my feet to the fire about things. Find yourself a partner (or two or three and make it a group effort). Your jobs will be to check in with each other frequently, talk to each other about your research and goals for the year, and make sure you get some things done. You will be surprised how much this little effort can help.

More Maps for Free

04 Jun 2014

For many years, USGenWeb has been providing a valuable resource to the genealogical community. Volunteers have transcribed untold records across the  country and make them available to the public for free. The USGenWeb is promoting their new website for maps.

The United States Digital Map Library was started in 1999 to provide access to “useful, readable, high quality maps.” The library contains both archival maps, and newer maps created from new and historical information. Maps are subdivided into three groups.


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The first group, US Maps, contains maps of national interest. Included here are an 1845 map of North America, two maps that show U.S. principal meridians and baselines and a excerpts from a 1910 reference atlas of the world that includes maps of each state and of many large cities.

The second section, State and County Maps, breaks the country down in to the fifty states. By clicking on a state (either on a U.S. map or in the text links next to it), one is brought to a page that shows what is available for that particular state. In addition to state and county maps, some states have local maps as well. Not all states have maps.

The third section is a very interesting one. It contains Indian Land Cessions to the United States. These are treaty maps compiled by Charles C. Royce. They were published as the second part of the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1896­–97, published in 1899.

While this all is a very worthwhile project, there is a part of the website that I find troubling. Their Submissions section includes information in the copyright area that is incorrect and misleading. They say that “In placing maps in the Archives, the following general guidelines have been used. . .” The first guideline reads (emphasis theirs):

“ALL items with an ORIGINAL publishing or copyright date prior to 1923 are public domain. Anyone, including the United States Digital Map Library, may use them and distribute them freely.”

This seems to be a strict reading of the copyright law, which is fine and accurate. But it leaves out other, equally important, points of law. Copyright is not the only issue here. I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that one can distribute images only if one is in possession of the original map/atlas/etc. and makes original images of them. Those images are then copyrightable to the creator. Many of these maps are located in libraries, archives, and other repositories or on other websites.  Users typically must adhere to terms of use (whether using a website or visiting a repository in person). Without permission from the owner of the original, one opens one’s self up to legal problems. One cannot, for example, go into a library and take photographs of maps and atlases willy-nilly and publish them online. The Legal Genealogist, Judy G. Russell, writes extensively on the topics of copyright as well as terms of use. Check out her blog, and before you make images of out-of-copyright material available online, be certain to consult an attorney to be certain you aren’t putting yourself at risk.

Mocavo Gold Search in 5 Easy Steps

13 Mar 2014

Mocavo Gold makes it easy to search for your ancestors, share your discoveries, and preserve your family history for future generations to enjoy. This step-by-step guide will walk you through getting the most out of your Mocavo Gold search experience.

1. On the Mocavo menu bar, click search.

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2. Fill out the Mocavo Gold search form

Our simple search form allows you to enter your ancestor’s first name, last name, and any relevant keywords. If you are not exactly sure what you’re looking for, keep your search as broad as possible. Once you fill in the search fields, click the green search button to reveal your results.

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The most relevant results will display first. If you do not get any relevant results on your first attempt, try broadening your search by only entering an ancestor’s first and last name, then use our faceted search filters to narrow down your results.

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3. Narrow down your results with faceted search filters

Take advantage of our filtering options on the left side of the screen.

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You can filter by record category, date, and location.

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For example, let’s say you only want to look at birth records. First click on the section entitled “Birth, Marriage, Death.”

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Then, you can filter your results even further by clicking on the category entitled “Birth.” Accordingly, your search results list will only display records categorized as birth records. You can select multiple search filters at once.

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Still not sure about how to use faceted search?
Check out our 1 minute tutorial here.

4. View more results on your page

If you want to view more results on each page, simply click on 10, 25, or 50 results per page

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In your list of results, you will see a document preview, which gives you a sneak-peek at where your ancestor’s name is found in the document.

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Once you click on a search result, you will be redirected to either a website, a record index page, or a high-definition image of the record. Your search keywords will be highlighted in the document, so you can easily scan the record for relevant information.

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5. Print, share, or download documents

You can easily share documents you find with family members and friends through social media or email. Simply click on any of the mediums under “share discovery” and share away!

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Printing or downloading a document or image is easy! Simply click on the corresponding green button at the top of the page.

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If you have any other questions about the Mocavo Gold search experience, please do not hesitate to contact our support team at We would be happy to help!

Having trouble accessing Mocavo Gold features during our free access weekend? Check out this blog post for some handy troubleshooting tips.

How to Search (Infographic)

18 Sep 2012

We’d like you to get the most out of your ancestry search! This infographic should help and if you have any further questions, email us at

Some Quick Tips on Using Mocavo

17 Mar 2011

Searching on Mocavo is designed to be easy and fast. However, there are many things our search engine can do so here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Just like other major search engines, capitalization doesn’t matter.
  • Put names in quotes for best results. If you search for “John Smith”, Mocavo knows to also try “Smith John” so there’s no need to run two searches. This is critical as many sites put the last name first.
  • Mocavo knows how to jump over middle names and initials. If you search for “Mary Carter”, you will also get results for (more…)