New to Genealogy? Some Guidelines for Starting Your Search
Besides basic books about beginning your
family history, which are available from the local library, there is a lot
of information on the Internet. A good place to look is on Cyndi's List
under the Beginner
The main points in starting your family history, include:
Begin with Yourself: Most of us have information at home that is useful for genealogy, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, obituaries, funeral cards, letters, and much more.
Talk to Family Members: This includes parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, anybody and everybody. Interview elderly relatives now! (Don't put it off or it might be too late).
Organize Your Materials: Organize
your materials as you find them. This includes recording information on
pedigree charts and family group sheets and/or using a genealogical
database computer program. Pedigree charts list you, your parents, your
grandparents, and so on, back generation by generation. Free pedigree
charts are available here.
Search the Internet: Look for free information on the Internet. There is a lot of good information on the Interent and there is a lot of bad information on the Internet. Learn how to judge the source of the information. Understand the difference between actual records (for example Heritage Quest's or Ancestry.com's scanned census images) and transcribed records (Family Search's 1880 census transcription) and individuals documented or undocumented family trees (Rootsweb's World Connect project). All of these are useful but you must be able to evaluate them.
Some good free sites to start with
include: Heritage Quest
Family Search is the site of the LDS Church's Family History Library, based in Salt Lake City. Information available on their site includes the library's card catalog; a lot of research guides; and searchable databases including the Ancestral File, Census, International Genealogical Index (IGI), Pedigree Resource File, Social Security Death Index, and Vital Records Index. The Census includes an all-name index to the 1880 census; the 1881 U.K. and 1881 Canadian censuses. The Vital Records Index includes records from Scandinavia and Mexico.
Bureau of Land Management (Federal Land Records): This site provides an excellent database of federal land records. These records consist of homesteads, cash sales, and more, where the land is being sold by the federal government to an individual. This site does not include land sales between individuals.
Finally, if you need information on just
about any topic in the field of genealogy, check out Cyndi's List,
Search the Records: While a lot of information is available on-line, most information is still not on the Internet. You will need to dig it out. This information will come from many sources: obtaining death certificates from state health departments; obtaining probate and land records from county courthouses; finding printed family histories through your local library; visiting cemeteries to record gravestones; looking through old newspapers; and on and on. What information is available for your family varies depending on time period and location. Understand that more recent information may not be available due to privacy restrictions.
Much of the information you will need is
available through the Family History
Library, based in Salt Lake City. Want to find out what is available
on microfilm and can thus be ordered through your local Family History
Center. Check out their card catalog.
The National Center for
For more information check with your local genealogical society, staff at your local Family History Center, and staff at the public library. There is a lot of information and assistance out there to help you in your search! Good luck!
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