How to Locate Your Ancestor in the United States

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== Introduction  ==
 
== Introduction  ==
  
Knowing where your ancestor lived is key to successful research, since records may be kept by state, county, or town agencies. Local records such as censuses, death certificates, county histories, military records, and obituaries tell so much about the people who lived there.  
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Knowing where your ancestor lived is key to successful research, since records may be kept by state, county, or town agencies. Local records such as [[United States Census|censuses]], [[United States Vital Records|death certificates]], [[United States, Histories of Towns, Counties, and States|county histories]], [[United States Military Records|military records], and [[United States Obituaries|obituaries]] tell so much about the people who lived there.  
  
 
You may find in your research that your ancestor was born or lived in a particular state, with no county or town given. Thus it becomes a challenge to find out exactly where he or she lived in that state.  
 
You may find in your research that your ancestor was born or lived in a particular state, with no county or town given. Thus it becomes a challenge to find out exactly where he or she lived in that state.  
  
Fortunately there are many [[Choose a Record Type|types of records]] to search to help you locate your ancestor. This guide lists these types of records and give suggestions on how to find where your ancestor lived in the United States.
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Fortunately there are many [[Choose a Record Type|types of records]] to search to help you locate your ancestor. This guide lists these types of records and give suggestions on how to find where your ancestor lived in the United States.  
  
'''What You Are Looking For''': The place where your ancestor lived so that you can use the records of that place to find more information about your ancestor, such as [[United States Vital Records|birth, marriage, and death]] information.
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'''How to Begin a Search for Your Ancestor|What You Are Looking For]''': The place where your ancestor lived so that you can use the records of that place to find more information about your ancestor, such as [[United States Vital Records|birth, marriage, and death]] information.
  
 
== Steps  ==
 
== Steps  ==

Revision as of 20:32, 11 June 2013

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[[United States | United States  > How to Locate Your Ancestor in the United States

Contents

Introduction

Knowing where your ancestor lived is key to successful research, since records may be kept by state, county, or town agencies. Local records such as censuses, death certificates, county histories, [[United States Military Records|military records], and obituaries tell so much about the people who lived there.

You may find in your research that your ancestor was born or lived in a particular state, with no county or town given. Thus it becomes a challenge to find out exactly where he or she lived in that state.

Fortunately there are many types of records to search to help you locate your ancestor. This guide lists these types of records and give suggestions on how to find where your ancestor lived in the United States.

How to Begin a Search for Your Ancestor|What You Are Looking For]: The place where your ancestor lived so that you can use the records of that place to find more information about your ancestor, such as birth, marriage, and death information.

Steps

The following steps list sources which may give the state, county, or town where your ancestor lived.


Step 1. Check previous research.

Research done by other people may have the information you are seeking. For suggestions on previous research, including Internet sites, see How to Use Previous Research. 

Step 2. Check these sources to learn where your ancestor lived.

Step 3. Check these sources if you know the state but not the county or town.

Census indexes usually give the town and county where the head of the household lived. The censuses were taken every 10 years starting in 1790. United States Census Indexes are available from 1790 to 1940 for most states. For more information about censuses, check Census on the FamilySearch or in this Research Wiki

Periodical Source Index (PERSI)
PERiodical Source Index
Archives
Free family history

County and town histories To go to the county and town histories. Find the state you want to search click on it. Each state has links to all its counties and almost each county has a county history and many have town histories. Also check:

Genealogical Index of the Newberry

Archive Free Family Historiesenter your state and search.
Also:

Free family history
The Official Federal Land Records Site
 :Ancestry Land Records
[http://genealogy.about.com/od/land_records/tp/land_online.htm U.S. Land Records Online (About.com)
U S Courts/Court Records
United States Probate Records
Search System.net
GENEALOGICAL COURT RECORDS

Step 4. If you want to know where your ancestor lived previously, check:

Note: The words in parentheses ( ) indicate whether to search for town, county, state, or national records.

Family histories (national) Local histories (town, county, or state)) Biographical works (town, county, or state) Land records (county). Church records (town). Obituaries (town or county). Public or town records (town). Court records (town, county, or state). Censuses for 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 (state or United States). Regional militia lists (county or state). Migration patterns and maps (state or United States).

Step 5. Find information about the relatives of your ancestor.

Use the sources in steps 1 to 4 to find where the following people lived:

  • Children of your ancestor. Parents often lived near their children.
  • Brothers and sisters. Siblings often lived together or nearby.
  • In-laws. In-laws often lived nearby.

Since people usually moved with others who were relatives, friends, or neighbors, learning about these people may lead you to information about your ancestors.

Step 6. Check places where other events happened.

If you know where your ancestor was married, check marriage records, deeds, county and town histories, and other records of that place for birth information.

If you know where your ancestor was born, check for marriage records of that place as many ancestors were married in the town or county where they were born.

See the list of suggested records for the other events.