Research Your Family History

Ellis Island Museum. Image in public domain.
Ellis Island Museum. Image in public domain. | Source

Where to Search

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Introduced by The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, FamilySearch.org offer the opportunity to build your family tree and do in-depth research in one place. There are many other sites where you can build your family web page at no cost for a limited web site and minimum cost when your database grows beyond stated numbers. Following is a list of some of these sites.

  • Genuki UK
  • Geni.com
  • My Trees.com
  • My Heritage.com
  • Rootsweb Free pages.com
  • Ahnenforschung.net (Germany)

Where to Begin

Researching your family history may be a frightening prospect but it is not as hard as you might think. There are many free online research web sites to walk you through the hard work of finding your family. Where should you begin?

  1. Start with yourself and your immediate family.
  2. Gather source documents. (birth certificates, drivers license, baptismal certificates, death certificates, obituaries, etc.)
  3. Create family group sheets with individual families (your spouse and children, your siblings families, your spouse's family)
  4. Question your living relatives beginning with your parents. (birth dates, marriage dates, death dates, birth place, death place, burial date and place, occupation, military service, immigration date and place, naturalization date and place).
  5. Work backwards to your grandparents and other living relatives. Interview them all.
  6. Check out and document all family stories and myths.

Some For Pay Web Sites

  • Ancestry
  • Fold3 (Top Military information site)
  • Archives
  • Genealogy
  • My Family
  • FamilyLink
  • Newspaper Archive (historical newspapers)
  • Tribal Pages

Ancestry.com

Ancestry is the top subscription family search web site. Ancestry operates in partnership with Rootsweb. Both these sites were originally set up as free sites and much of their information was donated by researchers. These sites are informative but do not be deceived by advertising. Family history research is time consuming and you may or may not find what you are looking for on the first try. Patience is important. Get your basic family history information together before you begin your search. Numerous subscription (for pay) web sites exist if you are willing to pay for your information.

First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Galveston, Texas built in 1850 by German immigrants. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Galveston, Texas built in 1850 by German immigrants. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. | Source
Ellis Island immigrants.
Ellis Island immigrants. | Source
History of Immigration from 1660 to 2009 Immigrants = persons obtaining legal permanent resident status. Entry from land border with Mexico prior to 1908 were not in this statistics.
History of Immigration from 1660 to 2009 Immigrants = persons obtaining legal permanent resident status. Entry from land border with Mexico prior to 1908 were not in this statistics. | Source

Cyndi's List

Cyndi's List is a free starting point for your genealogy research. An online resource for fifteen years, Cyndi's List is a comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online. Categories are alphabetized. Some categories are:

  • Africa
  • Ellis Island
  • Norway
  • Passenger Lists
  • Census records
  • Occupations
  • Odds and Ends
  • Podcasts for genealogy
  • Poorhouses and Poverty
  • Blogs for Genealogy
  • Books
  • Canada (census, military records)
  • Ports of Departure


Finding Family Portraits Bring History to Life

Jesse and Modest Rone taken in Missouri around 1912. Modest is holding a sucker and Jesse is holding a bag of penny candy.
Jesse and Modest Rone taken in Missouri around 1912. Modest is holding a sucker and Jesse is holding a bag of penny candy. | Source

The Olive Tree Genealogy

A great free online resource packed with transcribed genealogy records. Take time to look around the site. You will find passenger lists, ships search, research tips, and a Guide for Beginners in Genealogy.

Olive Tree Genealogy offers a three step process:

  1. Free genealogy records marked with the Olive Tree logo.
  2. Genealogy tutorials and help files
  3. Genealogy Resource Guide helps you search Huguenots, Palatines, Native Americans and more.

Clayton Library Center For Genealogical Research

The Clayton Library for Genealogy Research in Houston, Texas. Clayton Library is located in Houston’s Museum District close to Herman Park. It is a historical site with four buildings on the property.
The Clayton Library for Genealogy Research in Houston, Texas. Clayton Library is located in Houston’s Museum District close to Herman Park. It is a historical site with four buildings on the property.
Family Tree created over image of the Declaration of Independence created on The Arboreteum. http://creativefamilytree.com/the-arboretum/
Family Tree created over image of the Declaration of Independence created on The Arboreteum. http://creativefamilytree.com/the-arboretum/ | Source

Historical Societies and Genealogical Libraries

For those interested in hands on research there are many Genealogical libraries and Historical Societies. Check out the historical society for your state and county. Historical records were microfilmed in the past and it was necessary to do on site research. Computers and online databases have changed the way research is done but if hands on research is your thing you can still do it the old fashioned way.

Mariage license used to document historical marriage research.
Mariage license used to document historical marriage research. | Source

More Historical Organizations and Databases

  • Daughters of the American Revolution/DAR.org
  • National Society Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims
  • Daughters of the Republic of Texas
  • National Register of Historic Places
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • Family History and Genealogy/USA.gov
  • Resources for Family Historians and Genealogists/Archives.gov
  • Harris County Texas Libraries offer free computer access to Ancestry
  • Harris County Texas Public Library online access to HeritageQuest with Library Card number from any computer/hcpl.net

Documents You Will Research

There are many sources of family history information and as you gather your records you will find out about your family from family Bibles, birth certificates, death certificates, census records, marriage licenses, marriage records, marriage registers, military rosters, military pension records, border crossing information for immigrants, passenger lists and more.

Older records are being indexed and added to online data bases every day. Census records are only available at present up until 1940. The new census records are released when they are seventy years old. The 1900 census is particularly helpful because it gives a wealth of information. The form used that year required the actual birthdate to include the month, date and year. A good census taker would specify relationships such as son, daughter, niece, step-son, step-daughter, mother-in-law and so on. Later census records ask birthplace of the individual only. During the 1800s records asked about birthplace of parents as well as the individuals listed on the census.

Volunteer

Every document on FamilySearch.org or the US GENWEB project is indexed or transcribed by a volunteer. When you begin your research you will develop an appreciation for the time invested by volunteers who are dedicated to making historical records available to anyone who wants to find out who they are and where they came from.

US Genweb Project

The US GENWEB Project was created by a group of volunteers with the goal of keeping genealogical research free. This group of volunteers work together to provide free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. This Project is non-commercial and fully committed to free genealogy access for everyone. On this site you will find links to every county and state in the United States of America. Volunteers adopt counties where they transcribe historical documents. This site is user friendly and one of the best resources on the internet for family history research.

© 2013 Sandra Mireles

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5 comments

Smireles profile image

Smireles 2 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Millionaire Tips, I have used FamilySearch for years. I have hit a brick wall studying my Rone Family History and it is so aggravating, but I cannot travel to Tennessee to do on site research. I have them back to about 1800, though and I know the sources are there, I just have not found them.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA

Familysearch is my favorite site, since it provided me with a big breakthrough on my brick wall recently on a very common name. You've provided a great list of online sources for family history research.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States

This is an excellent article on all the resources you have right at your fingertips. I have been researching my framily for over 20 years and have learned some amazing things. A rew times I have had the opportunity to visit old courhouse and copy records that are over 100 years old. This is such a rewarding thing to do and it leave a legacy for those in your family also. Voted up- awesome - uselful- interesting . Great hub and shared!


Smireles profile image

Smireles 2 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you. I work on Findagrave.com, too. I manage the memorials of several family members. It is a very helpful site.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

I have recently been contacted by relatives who are working on a site called Findagrave.com pertaining to our family members. Will forward this to them in case they are unaware of all of these other helpful sites. Thanks!

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