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Principles of Family History Research Gotoarrow.png Step 1. Identify What You Know Gotoarrow.png Gather Low-Hanging-Fruit Sources

As you begin research on a new family, four kinds of sources are relatively easy to search—

Contents

Online databases.

Some of the best free databases on the Internet (or partly free at Family History Centers, or Family History Library)—good sites to begin research on a family—are listed on the wiki at Databases Online. Several of these sites are more for United States research, but most countries have their own unique sites that also would be good places to start.

Family histories.

Compiled genealogies and family histories may be available for a family you are researching. In order to find these search library catalogs or indexes such as:

  • Family History Library Catalog Surname Search. Search using just the family’s surname. This searches the world’s largest genealogical library for works with this family name as a main subject.
  • WorldCatalog Advanced Search. In the Subject field enter the surname and “family” like this, Greenwell family. This searches the catalogs and displays the results from thousands of North American libraries at once.
  • Periodical Source Index (PERSI) People Search for a family name in over a million article titles in genealogical periodicals. Put the family name in the Surname field and click the Search button. If the Article Results List is too long, redo the search but in the Keyword field add the two-letter postal abbreviation for the state where they lived.

County, town, and village histories.

Local histories often include biographies and genealogies of the inhabitants. Find local histories in—

  • Family History Library Catalog Place Search. Search with the county, town, or village in the first field. Put the nation or state in the second field. In the "Place search results" click the appropriate place. If any of the entries for that place are for the topic History, click it to see the details.
  • WorldCatalog Advanced Search. In the Subject field enter the county or town name and “history” like this, Cook Illinois history, or Sudbury Ontario history.

Censuses.

Censuses show family members, their residence, and are often indexed. Use census records in the United States, Canada, and Britain early and often, especially if they are indexed. It is important to add EVERY census you can find to the family group record for EACH member of the family to show where they lived throughout their lives. For a list of links to online census indexes see Genealogy Links.


 

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