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Where to Research Your Genealogy

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/19/2007 | Genealogy

For people who are interested in learning more about their ancestors, genealogy is an art that requires concentration, careful scrutiny, and seems to always yield some surprises. If you have been thinking about where to begin your research into your ancestral line, here are a few tips to help you get started.

One of the best places for any novice to begin is with your own family members. Sit down with your older relatives and ask them questions about your ancestral line. You will want to learn everything you can about who lived where, who married whom, where various family members lived, what civic groups they belonged to, if they attended a house of worship, and where they are buried.  All this information, plus any anecdotes your relative may recall, will help create an excellent springboard for your ongoing research.

If your town or city has a genealogical society, get involved with them. Many societies are connected through a network, which means you will be able to ask about records from just about anywhere, without having to actually makes trips around the country on the hope that you will find something relevant to your family tree. The genealogical society will also be helpful in teaching you how to organize your findings. Often, they will hold free classes in preparing pedigree charts, how to research government records, and many other tidbits that can prove very helpful to anyone just beginning to research the family tree.

If there is not a genealogical society in your location, turn your attention to the Archives department of the state where you reside. There you will find all sorts of records cataloged everything from census reports to property titles to marriage and death certificates. In addition, the archives departments in the various states often will assist persons in locating information on ancestors who lived in another state.   There are some restrictions on information, especially of more recent vintage. However, the persons employed in the Archives department will be able to advise you of any restrictions currently in place.

The Internet can also save you a great deal of time. A number of families now have family research sites up and running. One easy way to locate these sites is to use the full name of one of your male ancestors in a search. If there is already a site established for the genealogy of your family line, this approach should lead you straight to it. Once you locate the site, you may find that you will be able to acquire a wealth of information about your family history. At the same time, you may find that you have uncovered information that is not included on the site currently. By all means share what you know with others.  What you share may cause someone else to remember another piece of information that will progress the research even further.

Researching your genealogy is easier now than it has ever been. Where once you would need to take chalk and paper along to make stencils of gravestones, these days you can often isolate and download valuable information with a few clicks of the mouse. When you combine that with the living history of your relatives, researching your genealogy becomes a task that is both enjoyable and rewarding.