What is Genealogy?

This is the start of a 15-part series of “how-to” articles for beginner genealogists.

Being as genealogy is one of my life passions, I will be spending the next few days covering this topic. My intention is to offer a better understanding of genealogy to newbies everywhere!

Genealogy is the study of a family’s ancestry. It comes from the Greek word “generation” and it can be a great way to connect to your family, history, and genetic records all the way back to the beginnings of record keeping.

What Information Do Genealogists Use? Continue reading

Why is Genealogy Important?

Genealogy, the study of your family’s ancestors, plays an important role in how we view ourselves, our customs, our history, and the connections we have around the world. Both children and adults can benefit from knowing where they come from… and from studying their genealogy.

Why Genealogy is Important for Children?

Forging Connections: As a child, there’s something amazing about learning where you come from. As children uncover their family tree, they forge connections to people they didn’t know existed. And every single one of us has a family member or two who have accomplished something notable. Continue reading

What to do When You Have a Common Surname

For all of the Smiths and Jones out there, it IS possible to conduct genealogy research without pulling out your hair. Yes, you will have to be more diligent, and patient than say, those researching the Humdingers of the world. However, it IS possible to discover where your family immigrated from, who you are related to, and your family’s role in history.

Here is what to do when you are researching a common surname. Continue reading

Do I Need The Help of a Professional Genealogist?

Undertaking a family genealogy project can be quite an adventure. Sometimes the information comes easily, particularly if your family is skilled at keeping records or you come from a prominent family. However, most of the time uncovering your family history can be a time consuming and often complicated process.

Here are a few questions you need to answer and your answers will help you decide whether you need the assistance of a professional genealogist or not.

1. How much time do you have to devote to your project?

Genealogical projects can take you across the street to your local library… and it can around the world to uncover older documents. It can be time consuming to sit and wait for requested documents at the different archives, and you could spend even more time to understand the archives.

2. How much money do you have to devote to your project? Continue reading

How to Find Free Basic Genealogy Information

Genealogy, the study of one’s ancestors, can be immensely satisfying. It can also be incredibly time consuming and potentially expensive. That being said, sometimes the best results are the easiest to find and the least expensive.

Here are 5 ways to find FREE basic genealogy information.

1. Old newspaper clippings. One of the easiest ways to trace your family history is to head to the local library of your ancestors and pull up the microfiche. Continue reading

Understanding Birth Records in Genealogy Research

Birth Records One of the most useful and perhaps most common type of document used in genealogy research is our family’s birth records. They not only tell when a family member was born, they also identify the parents.

Unfortunately, birth records (registrations) are often one of the most difficult records to get your hands on because of our privacy laws. Let’s take a look at the valuable information birth records can provide, and where you can find them.

Types of Birth Records

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Understanding Death Records in Genealogy Research

Death records, like birth records, can be a valuable source of information when searching for your family history.

Death records can be obtained from military records, cemeteries, the vital statistics offices, and even via public records like newspapers, and city directories.

Additionally, while many people think a death record provides only information about the date someone died, the truth is they can provide much more valuable information, and even clues to help further your research.

An obituary

Continue reading

How Accurate is Census Information And Will it Help Me in Finding My Family Members?

If you’re looking for more information to further your family tree research project, you’ve probably looked for birth records, death records, perhaps even military records. Have you looked for census information?

A census is an official count of the population. In the United States, the federal government started conducting censuses in the eighteenth century. Unfortunately a lot of that information has been lost to fire. However, the 1930 census is still available and it’s the largest census released thus far for public access. It contains records for approximately 123 million Americans and since tracing your history back to that date is probably fairly easy, this census can provide some useful information.

In Canada, the country’s first census was in 1666, though 1871 marks the first national census when a total of 98 colonial and regional censuses were carried out.

What Information Does a Census Provide?

The US census, in particular the 1930 census, provides the following information:
  * Address
  * Occupant
  * Residence
  * Sex Continue reading

Finding and Understanding Immigration Records

As your family history research progresses, eventually you’re going to find relatives from other countries. At this point, immigration records can be immensely useful.

The trick? Finding these records and understanding them. Here’s how.

1. Passenger manifests

Because most of our ancestors came over on a boat, one of the first places to look are the passenger lists, aka immigration records and/or ship manifests.

You’ll be looking for ships coming to the United States, Canada or your respective country. It’s important to know that the lists collected at the National Archives are for ships that sailed to the United States from 1820 to the 1940s, and to Canada from 1865 to 1935. They’re on microfilm. You can also find some of this information at larger libraries, LDS & Family History Centers (Latter Day Saints) or via archives and genealogy membership websites.

Continue reading