ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Use Ancestry Websites

Updated on April 17, 2014

Free Family Tree Makers

  • TribalPages - TribalPages offers both free and paid accounts, and allows you to attach pictures, documents, and stories to every name you add.

  • Mundia - A free version of ancestry.com's family tree maker.

  • WikiTree - A global, wikipedia-style genealogical database.

Get Organized

If you are new to the world of genealogy, the single most important piece of advice I, or any experienced ancestry researcher, can offer is to be organized right from the get-go. There are dozens of excellent, informative, and highly useful ancestry sites out there, but if you don't have a system in place to keep that information organized, they aren't going to do you much good. Consider a free, user-friendly online family tree like Mundia or TribalPages to keep your names and dates straight.

The Basic Search

Now that you're organized and have a free family tree ready to go, you'll want to start with some basic searches. All ancestry sites allow you to search by name, obviously, but what if your ancestor has a really common name, like John Smith or Elizabeth Jones? Try adding dates of birth, death, or marriage to narrow down your results. Most sites will even offer the option of approximate dates, so even if you don't know exactly when your great-grandfather was born, you can search for anyone with his name born between, for example, 1880 and 1900. Similarly, if you don't know any dates, but have a good idea of where they were born or died, you can add a country or even specific city to your search.

Census Sense

I found my great-great-grandfather on this census record after searching for his sister.
I found my great-great-grandfather on this census record after searching for his sister.

The Search by Association

Ancestry sites are great for obtaining census, parish, birth, death, and marriage records that we as individuals would otherwise have to pay for or spend hours in libraries and archives searching by hand for. This is handy for obvious reasons, but also for some not so obvious ones. As you get deeper into your research, it is almost guaranteed that you will run into a situation in which you can find tons of information on, say, a great-great-great aunt, but not her sibling, your direct ancestor. Consider using ancestry sites to search by association - if you can locate the census records of your great-great-great aunt, there's an excellent chance your own ancestor will turn up on one of them. Likewise with marriage records and parish records - even if your ancestor's name doesn't show up in a search, it may very well show up on the records of their siblings or parents as witnesses to baptisms or marriages, or in wills and obituaries.

This photo led me to a family line of almost 3000 names!
This photo led me to a family line of almost 3000 names!

The Photo Search

Ancestry sites aren't all just names and dates. Websites like Ancient Faces offer up a much more personal and interesting side of genealogy - the photographs and portraits of our ancestors. There's nothing quite like looking into the eyes of your great-great-great-grandfather, or seeing your great-grandmother as an infant. And, beyond the sentimental appeal, photos can also connect you to a plethora of information. Finding, or posting, the right photograph can lead to interactions with distant relatives, or trigger memories of your living relatives. One particular photo I found reminded my grandmother of all sorts of stories we'd never heard before, and the above portrait connected me to a distant relative that had thousands of names in a family line I'd had little luck researching. Try searching photo archives for surnames relevant to you, or posting photos you already have to see who bites.

Graveyards provide information that is literally etched in stone.
Graveyards provide information that is literally etched in stone.

The Graveyard Search

As morbid as it may seem at first glance, searching graveyards is actually among the most productive of genealogical tactics. Because most headstones include a full name, dates of birth and death, and often the names of spouses, children, or parents, they are a rich source of information - and the fact that said info is quite literally carved in stone makes it a solid and long-lasting source. Websites like FindAGrave are dedicated to ancestral research by way of gravestones, and are an indispensable resource. Try searching by surname, or by location - if you're unsure of a relative's full name, or want to see if any other relatives are buried nearby, you can search every graveyard in a particular city, or every grave in a particular cemetery. Not only will this lead you to numerous names, it is likely to connect you to living relatives doing similar research!

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)