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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice  by Louise St Denis, Brenda Dougall Merriman and Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Locating Research Already Done or In Progress

You probably know of all your first cousins, that is, those sharing common grandparents. Do you know all your 2nd cousins? What about the 3rds, 4ths and 5ths? The researcher who has progressed back as far as great grandparents is well-advised to search for those other cousins who will have details of their own lines and perhaps several more generations, and may also have the family bible, photographs and other important memorabilia.

Research quality varies, so always corroborate material found in the published or unpublished research of others. There are two kinds of searches necessary:

Published Family Histories = Research Already Done

The following British works are available at most principal libraries and in microform from your local FamilySearch Center (FSC). For more information, visit the Introduction to LDS Family History Centers page on this Wiki.

  • For British and English families Marshall’s Genealogist’s Guide lists pedigrees in print to 1902. This is updated to 1953 by Whitmore’s Genealogical Guide, Thomsen’s A Catalogue of British Family Histories (1976) and Barrow’s 1977 Genealogist’s Guide.
  • Ireland is well-served by MacLysaght’s Irish Families—Their Names, Arms and Origins (1985) and further titles in this series (More Irish Families, etc.) and his The Surnames of Ireland.
  • Scots should start with Stuart and Paul’s Scottish Family History (1930), and Ferguson et al. (1986) Scottish Family Histories Held in Scottish Libraries.
  • Genealogies in the Library of Congress: A Bibliography by M.J. Kaminkow. 1987. Two volumes and two supplements list 52,000 printed genealogies.
  • The Family History Library Catalog, Last Name search is a gold mine for locating published histories. 250,000 surname entries have so far been indexed from their collection of over 75,000 printed family histories. View them at your local FSC.
  • Smith’s Inventory of Genealogical Sources is at the Family History Library, Salt Lake City and on fiches at your local FSC:

- England - FHL fiche 6110526 (96 fiches)

- Ireland - FHL fiche 6110527 (18 fiches)

- Scotland - FHL fiche 6110528 (18 fiches)

- Wales - FHL fiche 6110529 (14 fiches)

Contains references to thousands of pedigrees in the Family History Library that are not searchable by surname in the FHL Catalog.

Locating Other Researchers = Work In Progress

  • The BIG-R (British Isles Genealogical Register). A project of The Federation of Family History Societies. Available as British and as county lists of interests on fiche at any member society. Inexpensive to enter your own interests.
  • LDS Family Registry Index. Worldwide ancestors and families being researched, on microfiche at all FSCs. Includes many one-name studies having huge data bases. Input discontinued 1991, but 1993 edition still available.
  • Genealogical and Family History Society Lists called Members Interests Directories and queries in journals. Many societies have their members’ interests online.
  • The Society of Genealogists in London has a large collection of birth briefs (pedigree charts) and lists of members interests in their journal, Genealogists’ Magazine.
  • Federation of FHS's biannual magazine, Family History News and Digest contains synopses of articles in all worldwide member societies’ journals, and a list of current FHS secretaries’ addresses on the back cover. The Society of Genealogists in London, England has an ongoing card index of all of these digest extracts.
  • PERSI – The Periodical Source Index available online through Ancestry.com or Heritage Quest. Index of articles in over 11,000 English- and French-language genealogical periodicals from 1847 to the present.
  • GOONS = Guild Of One-Name Studies Register for those collecting all references to a certain surname, mainly British-based families. These people are keen to share information, and usually have vast data banks!
  • The British monthly Family Tree Magazine lists readers’ interests and enquiries.
  • The Genealogical Periodical Annual Index (GPAI) published in Maryland, USA, includes 300 periodicals.
  • Those having access to the Internet will find hundreds of lists of surnames to look at and to which to submit their own names; one example is RootsWeb.

Experience shows that submitting your pedigree to large, widely-available databases to pertinent FHS lists pays dividends in finding cousins. Far more people look than actually get around to submitting! Recognize this and make sure they are looking at your ancestors and queries! The volume of mail generated by an article written for a FHS journal can be astounding. Even small articles are welcome, but do make sure that you put the surname in the title so that it will be picked up by indexing and search machines.

For other ideas please consult British Sources for Previous Research available on the FamilySearch Research Wiki. This covers general world sources as well as those specific to the British Isles.

The definitive work on how to use all kinds of published genealogical sources found in any kind of library is Kory L. Meyerink’s huge compendium Printed Sources. It is aimed mainly at the American market, but the advice is equally applicable anywhere. I strongly recommend that you have access to it; if your local public library doesn’t have a copy suggest that they get one.


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

  • This page was last modified on 10 March 2014, at 21:38.
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