PDF Beginners Guide to Genealogy Research

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This is a helpful website for finding where ancestors were registered regarding any certificates that they may possess. Some certificates if not all will require purchasing if you do not currently own them. But it is all worth it on the journey of expanding your family tree knowledge. You can also check the General Register Office for any online certificates as well.

Census information is available as early as Step 4 — Beware of jumping to conclusions. Wait until you find hard evidence that is proof for what you want to be true. There is nothing wrong with putting the information to side and waiting. You never know, it could come of use at a later time. Step 5 — In some cases, you may be contacted by another researcher saying that they have information on your family. You can politely inform them that the information is incorrect, so that they are able to change their own records accordingly.

This means that everyone is a winner. Step 6 — If in doubt, Google it. At times it is going to get difficult. But look at what you have achieved. You have learnt so much about where you have come from so why stop now. It could be a wise option to put the branch you are currently working on, on hold. You already know how to start a branch off and you can always come back to the original branch later. As you get more experienced, you may find that you missed something in your original search and it may lead to a whole new branch.

So whatever you do, keep on going! Step 8 — Most importantly, have fun! Galloway and Galey, for example, both share the same Soundex code, G, but there are many, many more Galloways than Galeys. Given all the problems of finding specific census records and considering that the information may not be correct, is it even worth using them at all? Every available page of every year has been digitized, indexed, and put online by sites such as Ancestry and FamilySearch.

Census records are one of the few good sources for locating and tracing parents, siblings, and families across generations. They provide excellent clues about not only places and dates of birth, but tell you exactly which counties you should be searching for wills, probate records, birth, marriage, and death records, church records, and so much more. More on the U. Whoever was listed on lines 14 and 29 were required to give additional information.

Like birth records, most have been kept at the state level since around and the county level before that, and many are available and searchable online.


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The Social Security Death Index tells you the date of death, date of birth, when and where the SSN was issued, and the city where benefits were last paid. It is fully searchable online and easy to use. In many cultures, the place of marriage could be a great clue to find the bride's birthplace as the marriage often took place in the same town.

Churches maintain marriage records too, and before the mids, that might be the only place that kept them. It may also list the date of birth. These records vary widely in the information they contain, but can be great sources for names of children or other relatives, and clues about where to look for property or other records. Sometimes indexes are published online or by local genealogical societies. Deeds and other land records track land ownership, and will list the name of the buyer and seller as well as the date.

They can sometimes help trace family lines, but are most useful in proving residence in a particular county. The Bureau of Land Management glorecords. If your ancestors emigrated to the United States, they had to get there somehow, and for most of history, that meant a ship. Passenger lists generally list every passenger, so they are good for linking spouses and children, and often list ages, too. Many passenger lists are now online. This index can also be found online at worldvitalrecords. Applications for naturalization can include great information including name, date of birth, place of birth, date, and place of immigration, and more.

Many of these records can be found online, or check out county, circuit, or district court records. Several drafts have taken place in U. They can give you name, date, and place of birth, place of residence, and even sometimes a physical description. Records from the draft are available online. For other drafts, check out the National Archives and Records Administration www. Families often recorded every birth, baptism, marriage, and death in their family bible, sometimes for several generations. Check with all your living relatives to see if there is a family bible lurking on a bookshelf or in a closet somewhere.

There are a variety of obituary indexes online, such as Legacy. Cemeteries keep records of every interment which may include a lot more information than you think, including not only date and place of death but the place of birth, parents, spouse, and even names of children. Some cemeteries have their records available online, but many you will need to contact them individually.

There are no formal indexes of cemetery records online, but one great source to start with is Findagrave. Photos of many tombstones are available at Findagrave. Sometimes several generations of a family were buried within a few feet of each other, so be sure to check out nearby tombstones as well.

Beginners Guide to Genealogy

The best place to start of course is with your own family. Reach out to every relative you can and see what they might have lurking in their photo albums. Most genealogy websites allow you to do photo searches, too, though their collection size can vary a lot. One site called DeadFred. Written records are not the only source of information; one of your best sources is other family members. Talk to your family, especially older relatives, and you will be amazed at some of the stories you learn.

DNA demystified - A Beginner's Guide to genetic genealogy (Debbie Kennett)

Personal stories add texture to your ancestors, fleshing out those names and dates into real people. There are literally hundreds of thousands of websites dedicated to genealogy and family history, but not all are created equal. It also lets you build your family tree directly online, or upload a family tree from your computer. Once your family tree is online at Ancestry, it will try to find common ancestors with other users who may have already done a lot of the research on your family themselves.

Ancestry is only available by a paid subscription, but most public libraries have a subscription, so you can go to the library and use theirs. Like Ancestry, FamilySearch lets you build your family tree online and connect with other existing trees. They have the largest collection of English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish records available anywhere, extensive newspaper collections covering 21 countries, and millions of records not available anywhere else. Click here to read our review of FindMyPast. Fold3 specializes in military records from the Revolutionary War to the present. Fold3 offers both free and paid memberships, but many of its records require a paid membership to access.

Find A Grave is a great site for doing just that, finding the graves of your ancestors. There are over million grave records currently available, with more being added all the time. In many cases, there are even photos of the headstones. If not, you can place a request for a local genealogy buff to photograph it for you - for free!

It is great for identifying specialized websites for specific countries, states, counties, interests, types of records, and more. There are several important repositories that house millions of genealogical records, and you should be familiar with them. Just as important as the records, these repositories have librarians and genealogy experts who can help you narrow your search, navigate tricky records, and find what you want, often for free! The main library is located in Salt Lake City, Utah, but there are more than 2, branch locations, called Family History Centers, located all over the world.

Every Family History Center has dedicated, experienced staff who are ready to help you plan out and conduct your search. Each center has its own collection of local materials and access to billions of digitized records online. For more information about the Family History Library and to search their online collections, visit FamilySearch. Examine the online indexes ahead of time to see what records you will want to access. This will save you lots of time and headaches during your visit.

There are also several Federal Records Centers associated with the National Archives around the country. Most state libraries have special genealogy sections and staff members to help with your research. Your local library may have more than you think, especially if your family has lived in the area for several decades. While you may not be able to travel there, if you find something they own that you need, you might be able to access it through interlibrary loan.

The county courthouse where your ancestors lived likely contains some valuable records that may not be found anywhere else, such as:.

Tips & Tricks for the Beginner - Genealogy

They are also the place to look for court cases, too, whether your ancestor was a plaintiff, defendant, or witness. In many cases, especially before the middle of the 19th century, churches were the only repository for certain records, including baptisms and marriages. They may also include when your ancestors became members or transferred to a different church, helping you trace what years they lived in the area.

Best of all, local societies have local experts, folks who may recognize your family name, and may even have done research on it. Chances are at some point you are going to trace your ancestors back to when they arrived in the United States. Some of them, such as county courthouses, local libraries, genealogical societies, and churches, are going to be nearly identical in what records they hold. There are too many national archives to list here, but a web search should quickly pop up the ones you need to keep digging further into the past.

Over the last ten to fifteen years, DNA tests have become a popular way to pursue ancestors and locate long-lost family branches. If you are trying to verify that you are related to a specific ancestor, then the YDNA for a male ancestor or mtDNA for a female ancestor are the way to go. Note that since only men have a Y-chromosome, women who want to use the YDNA test will need to have a close male relative, such as a father or brother, take it for them instead.

Y-DNA tests are particularly useful for people whose ancestors changed their surname at some point in time. The test used most often in genealogical research is the autosomal DNA test, because it is the most useful for linking you with close living relatives. Because of that, an autosomal DNA test is only useful for those related within about five generations third cousins or closer. For the purposes of this guide, we'll mention three companies that do genealogical DNA testing. In fact, there are several. Watching the methods and resources used in these shows can be a great introduction for beginner genealogists.

Finding Your Roots can give you a good overview of different methods genealogists use in tracking down information. Not only that, it has gone on to ten other countries as well, including the U. Like Finding Your Roots, Who Do You Think You Are features a different celebrity guest on each episode and uses a range of genealogical methods and resources to trace their family histories.

The people featured in the show are not celebrities, but everyday folks who have been searching in vain for years for their missing relatives. Another PBS offering, Genealogy Roadshow visits historically important locations, where the hosts help those with specific genealogy problems find their answers. Get one good basic guide, such as Genealogy for Dummies. If you know you are going to be doing a lot of research on a specific area, consider picking up a guide for that area. Here are a few books that I highly recommend.

There are many other good sources out there, but these are ones I know are great. Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills - documenting your sources is essential in genealogy, and this comprehensive guide shows you how. Organizing Your Family History Search by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack - helps you plan out your genealogy searches in advance, saving countless hours of wasted time.

Long Distance Genealogy by Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer - find and obtain documents and family records from libraries, archives, family history centers, microfilm, and the internet, all without leaving home. Courthouse Research for Family Historians by Christine Rose - helps you navigate the often confusing but vitally important records located in county courthouses. They are often available at your local library as well, especially if it has a genealogy section.

In most cases, the only time you should need to hire a professional genealogist to help you is if:. If you do decide to hire a professional, you should look for one who has been accredited by one or more bodies. So there you have it, everything you need to get started on what for many is a lifelong hobby, and for some even a profession. Genealogy is all about understanding the history of your family. People get started with genealogy for a variety of reasons: Genealogy is the study of our ancestors: Family History Some people will tell you genealogy and family history are the same thing.

Both genealogy and family history rely on the same records and the same research methods. Why You Absolutely Have to Start Today When I was 13 years old, all four of my grandparents and five of my great-grandparents were still alive. By the time I was 23, every one of them was gone, together with their stories and memories. The longer you wait, the more will be lost. Records get destroyed, on purpose or accidentally; people pass away.

Organize Your Findings Ready to jump right in? On Paper Regardless of what else you do, you should have a way to file physical documents.

A Beginners First Steps

On the Computer There are a variety of computer programs you can use to organize your genealogy, too. Always use the surname she had at birth. Start with the Census Many folks just starting out in genealogy start with census records, and for good reason. When it comes to genealogy, you cannot ignore the world that your ancestors lived in, either. Was there a war, civil unrest, famine, religious persecution? Why did your ancestors settle where they did? Why did they move when they did?

Always be learning One of the best things about genealogy is that you're constantly a student.

Census Records What Is the U. Information Available from the Census From to , census takers listed the name of the head of each household, together with the number of people living in each household divided into age ranges and by sex. S census click to enlarge. In general, the later the census, the more information it includes. How Information Was Gathered One of the most important considerations in using census records is understanding how the information was gathered. One of the most common reasons was that no one was home. Census Date One thing to keep in mind is the date that the census was taken.

S census residence section. To make matters worse, the official census date has not stayed the same. From to , the date was June 1 actually June 2 in , because June 1 was a Sunday. Be aware of the official census date and how it might affect your search.

Places Change From one census to the next, your ancestors could be living in a new township, a new city, a new county, or even a new state, all without moving an inch! A town may adopt a new name. A county might be split in two.

Getting Started with Genealogy – Everything You Need to Know

New states were being formed even into the s. You need to be searching in Union County instead. Is it Worth It? Absolutely, without question, yes. While the census may have its issues, it is very easy to search. Birth certificate for President Obama. Some states have them online, others you may have to request by mail. Before around , many birth records were kept by counties rather than the state.

They may also include lists of friends or relatives who were witnesses for the marriage. Counties and states maintain marriage records, and many are now digitized and online. These are mostly only found in church records. Baptism record of President Martin Van Buren. Wills and Probate Records These records vary widely in the information they contain, but can be great sources for names of children or other relatives, and clues about where to look for property or other records.