Five Ways to Research Your Family History



This is not meant to be an extensive book, but just a helpful start-up guide for beginners.


1. The first and sometimes most awkward way of finding out your family history is to contact relatives that you know might have information, but you have not talked to in a long time, or ever. Unless your immediate family has already done a lot of research, you will only get so far with your immediate family. Personally, I had to contact my grandmother, then she gave me the number of a distant aunt who verifies my great grandmother divorced my great grandfather for another man (but not before having two children).  Your going to run into difficulties, but they can be easily straightened out by taking some time calling around. Those distant relatives will most likely be very glad you called. If I hadn't taken this step, I would have been stuck at generation number three.

2. The second tip is to use free web services. Surprisingly, Google is my number one choice for searches. Many books are being put online and putting an ancestors name in Google search, with quotation marks around the name, is the best way to search. The quotation marks will isolate that specific name and get rid of unwanted results. If you want to add a piece of information, like their birth place, put it outside the quotations. Their are other free services like USGENWEB.ORG, FAMILYSEARCH.ORG, ROOTSWEB.COM, but many times a good Google search will do the trick and bring you to these sites. You can also find historical societies using Google. Lastly, forums are often helpful and if you post on the forum, your likely to get a reply rather quickly. Many want to talk to you about the ancestor just as much as you do (rootschat.com is one).

If google doesn't do the trick, the second place I would send you (as far as the internet), is USGENWEB.ORG. You can search by state and then county. If the people assigned to the county are on top of things, they will have a wonderful amount of information to search.

3. Searching cemeteries is another way to find out reliable info on your family. If you live by where your ancestors lived, then this will be easy. Otherwise, traveling or web searching will have to do. This is probably obvious, but many ancestors are buried in families or couples. It can help you find the last name of your grandmother or cousin. Many retired folks will go on trips to find the graves of their ancestors. This is not for everyone, but sure helps in research.

Cemetery search engines like, FINDAGRAVE.COM, can help you also. You might find a lot of people are missing from the website, but more and more people are added every day. Cemetery lists can also appear after attempting a Google search.

4. Historical societies have a lot of information on families in their respective areas. Contacting a historical society can give you anything from photos to historical documents on your family. Many have actual artifacts relating to certain families. The Delaware County Historical Society in Pennsylvania had a picture of my fifth great grandparents who were born in 1799. Many of these societies act as a kind of library with many book written by folks that have information on the families that lived in  the authors day. 

5. Ancestry.com is very helpful, but can cost a bit of money. Nevertheless it comes in at number five because is it very resourceful. For a monthly fee, you can view everything from census records to other members information on the same relatives. You really can copy another persons work and then just back it up with the documents you find through ancestry.com


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Family Tree Maker 2011 Deluxe
Family Tree Maker for Mac

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