Welcome to the Bell Family page at Surname Finder, a service of Genealogy Today. Our editors have compiled this checklist of genealogical resources, combining links to commercial databases along with user-contributed information and web sites for the Bell surname. As additional sources for vital records, original documents, vintage photographs and surname-based DNA projects are discovered, this page is updated to offer the best list for researching Bell ancestry. Share this page on Twitter!
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The Bell Family Tree
It is important to remember that there is no single Bell family tree, as last names were assigned to people for various reasons. We are often asked, How can I find the second married name of a female Bell ancestor? and you might be surprised at the answer.
Best Tree Collections for Discovering Bell Ancestors
Keep an open mind when searching through Bell records. Years ago many people were unable to read and write, thus a given ancestor's name could be spelled in a variety of ways depending on who recorded it. If you want to know How can I locate old newspapers for Bell research?, then read this frequently asked question.
Top Five Genealogy Databases to Search for Bell
Vital records are essential for family history research because they were typically created at or near the time of the event, making the record more reliable. There are currently matching Bell records at Ancestry.com! Start exploring this online Bell family history resource today.
Origins of the Bell Surname
It is quite possible for two people with the Bell last name to have been given that surname for entirely different reasons. Discovering the country from which your Bell ancestors originated can often yield additional clues for the meaning of the surname. Were you aware that Bell is a common Irish surname? The article "The Luck of the Irish Research" may be helpful for your research. Keep in mind that it was not unusual for a last name to be altered as an ancestor entered a new country.
According to An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names [page 68], the surname BELL is defined as A name taken from the sign of an inn or shop. The sign of a bell was frequency used. Bel, French, beautiful, handsome, fine.
Bell DNA Projects
While DNA testing cannot conclusively tell you if two Bell ancestors were related, it can easily prove if they weren't. Be sure you understand what types of research issues each different DNA test can address before you spend any money. If you're not sure how DNA testing could aid your Bell research, read "When do you use DNA?".
Bell Family History
Every family has a different history, and every document you discover about your Bell ancestors will help paint a picture that can be shared with your relatives. Whether you are a beginner or expert genealogists, knowing How do I find my Bell family history on the Internet? is always useful.
Networking with Bell Researchers
When you've come up against a brick wall in your genealogy research, posting a message board query can help; one of the biggest benefits is that message board queries are accessed through search engines, which means even someone not specifically engaged in genealogy but interested in your subject may find your query and bring valuable new information to the table -- it happens! The article "Looking for John Smith - Focusing a Query" provides some valuable tips for posting successful Bell queries.
You may also want to consider posting a query to the Community Message Boards at Genealogy Today to get assistance from other researchers on your most elusive Bell ancestors.
Bell Achievements & CelebritiesDid you know that Bell was the 58th most popular surname in the 1990 census of the United States?
Web Sites & Blogs with Bell Research
If you are having difficulty locating records for the last name of Bell, contact the folks at ProGenealogists for a free research estimate. You may also find it helpful to read, "When, Why and How to Hire a Professional Genealogist."
To recommend your web site/blog for inclusion on this page, please submit a link to the user-contributed directory at Genealogy Today. Your web page may appear once its content has been reviewed by our editors.
Upcoming Bell Family Reunions
Notifying everyone in advance to bring old photos and documents can bring big rewards, making a special place at the reunion (maybe even a special Bell booth) where people can come at their leisure to sit, look and chat; in addition to information and clues that might be written on the back of a photo, every photograph has a story and serves as an excellent stimulus to recall -- people might comment not only on the people in the photo, but also on what's in the background, or they might have information around where the photo was taken or the event -- just be sure to have someone there to capture new information. The article "Planning Details For A Family Reunion" may provide you with tips for hosting a successful Bell reunion.