GenToday-L Archive

How to Begin

Start by writing down on a family group sheet or pedigree sheet all the information that you get from all your living relatives. Then whatever information is missing, that is what you research. Just take one person's missing information and search for that. When you find the info, take another's missing information and search for that. Do one person at a time, otherwise you will be overloaded with searching and overwhelmed with information that you won't know what to do with. Start by getting vital records, then check census records, then church records, land records, county histories, etc.

Effective researchers begin by obtaining some background information. They then survey previous research, and finally search original documents.

Background Information. You may need some geographical and historical information. This information can save you time and effort by helping you focus your research in the correct place and time period.

Locate the town or place. Examine maps, gazetteers, and other place finding aids to learn as much as you can about each of the places where your ancestors lived. Identify the major migration routes, nearby cities, county boundaries, and other geographical features and government or ecclesiastical jurisdictions.

Review Local History. Study a history of the areas where your ancestors lived for clues about the people, places, and events that may have affected their lives and the records about them.

Previous Research. After gaining some background information, you will be ready to look for any research that has already been gathered by others, such as:

  • Printed family histories and genealogies
  • Family information published in periodicals
  • Biographies
  • Local histories
  • Manuscript collections of family information
  • Family newsletters
  • Computer databases of family information
  • Hereditary and lineage society records

    These can save you valuable time and often provide excellent information. For example, you may find a book or magazine article about your family.

    Original Documents. After surveying previous research, you will be ready to search original documents. These records can provide primary information about your family because they were generally recorded at or near the time of an event by a reliable witness. To do thorough research, you should search the existing records of:

  • Each place where your ancestor lived
  • The complete time period when he lived there.


    Seeking any info on the"Afghan Prince" which ran aground in a storm off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada in around July, !918. I believe it was salvaged and towed into Halifax.

    SHIELDS, John Henry. Born 1873 in Ark Lived in Rison, Cleveland Co. Ark. m. Zonia Holmes. First wife of 3. Children- George, Jeff, Nemiah, Policy. Father from Tenn. Cousin named Norman Shields.

    Searching for info Fletcher family-Andrew J. Fletcher b.1867 & Alexander Fletcher .1876 Village Springs, Blount County, Al.In the 1900 both were proprietors' of grocery store Avondale-Jefferson County, Al. need to know if anyone remembers or have any info.

    Looking for the parents/siblings of Flossie Larine MARTIN b. abt 1905-TN d. 1940 Pascola, MO. Md: 1st Cyd(?) GRUGGETT 2nd Elbert (Jack) HOUSEHOLDER any help appreciated.Linda Corman ICQ# 18502936

    I was wondering where I could write for information regarding an uncle who worked in the U.S.Post Office to get his application for employment. What would I need to ascertain that information? Diane Yates DYates5150

    Seeking parents/siblings of: GODECKER, Mary Ann b 17 Feb 1848 Clark Co., IN d. 7 Apr 1922 Lafayette, IN bur St. Boniface, Lafayette, IN m KOCH, John 11 May 1869 New Albany, IN.

    Do you know of these people from Patterson, St. Mary, Parish between the years 1880 and 1910? Parents Frederick and Riney (PICKETT) MINGO. Children: Cary, Isham, Shedrick, Lazuraus, Earnest, Martha, Mary, and Savinia MINGO.

    Looking for anyone with the following surnames : RINK, WELSBY, SEILER. The Rink and Seiler families are from Germany and the Welsby family is from England.

    Looking for info on Theophilus Larrabee of Preston Twshp, and any other Larrabee's residing in the CT/VT area during the 1700's and earlier. Have reason to believe his Father is Nathaniel of Stonington but not definite. Please contact me w/any info! :)

    Any info on Peter ORRISON (9/18/1810-3/18/1875) married to Mary Magdalena Couglar (or Sarah Kuglar) (2/1813-7/23/1870). Buried in Springport, MI. Children: Sarah,John,Annias, George,Peter,Catherine,Frank,Mary,Hannah and Lafayette. Thanks

    By chance is a Mary F. WRIGHT or her father Nathan WRIGHT mentioned in either of 2 books on WRIGHT Family from Virginia by Robert Grant. Mary WRIGHT would have been born abt 1840 & md William A. Robinson 8 Feb 1866.

    Additional Articles:

  • Federal Mortality Schedules
  • City Directory Research
  • Insurance Applications

    The Genealogy Lady established the "Genealogy Today" newsletter in April 1997. She answers questions online at, and sells books at her Genealogy Book Store.

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