Tracing family trees differs from place to place and over time. Different techniques and research methodologies are required to find ancestors say in New York in the 1600s than in Spain in the 1800s. In addition, for those of us still struggling to sort out our U.S. families, each state had different laws regulating the creation of the documents we use in our genealogical investigations.
To simplify this complex undertaking, many guide books have been written to assist us in finding our roots. You can find guide books for individual states in the United States or for specific foreign countries. What a lot of us overlook is that many of these guides are available for FREE on the internet.
Family History Library Research Outlines
These outlines can be found deep in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Family Search web site. For a direct link to the index, click here. These outlines have been written state-by-state for U.S. research and country-by-country for foreign investigations. Because family history is such a dynamic field, many of the facts about accessing the records these outlines discuss are dated, but that can't be helped due to the nature of the field. Professional genealogists who hold the title Accredited Genealogist® or AG® have these outlines basically memorized. When they take the test to qualify for this certification title, they must demonstrate that they know how to use all of the records listed in these outlines for the geographic regions of their personal specialties. The author has taken two of these tests and would like to emphasize how valuable and relevant the information contained in these outlines is. They will teach you how to master the Family History Library's collection, as well as explore records that the Family History Library has not yet obtained copies of.
During my research, I find the need to refer back to these and other guides again and again, and it's great to be able to find free guides easily accessible online.