Tips for Research
I've gotten requests for guidance in
researching ancestors. The following list is where I'd begin my research:
Talk to everyone in your family about what they know about the ancestors,
keeping in mind that memories can fade and that some of their information is
inaccurate. (Great Grandma was a full-blooded Indian or we came over on the
Mayflower are two examples of information that is said over & over that is
usually not true.) Write down what you've found out. Buy or download a free
genealogy program to organize your information. Brother's Keeper is
shareware and can be downloaded for free. Using a computer program all of
your information is organized and can be emailed to someone easily.
Use ALL types of spellings when you look for records. Many times the
spelling changed (Hawley to Holley) or the person writing down the
information had trouble deciphering the script. Sometimes names are spelled
so "screwy" that your best bet is just to go through the pages. The "s"
looks like "f" in some old script, so Smith could look like Fith to a
Use the search engine on this web and others to locate surnames.
Post a query on the query board. There are a number of different query
boards including Surname Boards -Gen Forum & County Boards. (They're listed
in the Links section)
Join the email list and ask questions about your ancestors there.
Check census records in the county and in surrounding counties. The 1850
census records begin listing all of the family members and where each was
Check the Cemetery records.
Check the funeral home listings. Many times people did not have money to buy
a tombstone, but their remains were handled by an undertaker.
Check the local Genealogy Library to see if they have any biographical
information on the family you are searching for.
Check the birth, death and marriage records. Those may list parents names,
etc. Get copies of these records by ordering them from the appropriate
Check the old newspapers in the library. You may also write one of the
libraries to see if your family member's name is listed in any index they
may have of old newspapers. (Sometimes people have done abstracts of old
newspapers and have made an index of the names they've found.)
If the ancestor was in the Civil War, order the records! They have a great
deal of information in them!
Don't take every piece of information someone sends you as gospel! Ask for
sources! Verify information! Have an open mind! YOU could be mistaken!