Genealogical Research on the
RRLC Pizza and… Series
You should have a sense of humor
as well as searching skills…
• Consider yourself a time traveler…because
you are working in many times and places,
and keeping them all straight and focused is
• Emphasis on kinds of sources, as each
person is different. Take the handouts and
modify them for your users. Local examples
are mentioned because we have easier
access to them.
• Start with yourself and work back. When
you get back to a stopping point, if you
wish, you can bring the collateral lines
forward back to the present.
• And note every fact that you find as you go
along. It is far easier to do that than go back
and source several sources for 6000 people
in your family tree after the fact.
• Start with yourself and work back through
your parents, grandparents, etc. Note their
names, dates and where these events
occurred. Are there patterns?
• Use good research practices - do one thing
at a time.
• Remember that the web makes much
research easier, but hardly everything is
• Wide variance in reliability and content don’t be a genealogical sheep and accept
everything that you find at face value.
Why are you doing this?
• What are your goals? Personal interest?
Helping patrons? School project? Family
reunion? Publishing? Joining a hereditary
Kinds of info to seek
• Basics - names, places, and dates (using digital
• Search for work already done - family trees as
found on personal sites, WorldConnect,
• Census, vitals, military, immigration, pictures,
newspapers, printed histories, directories,
yearbooks, phone book, land and surrogate
records, Persi, message boards, DNA, learning
pages on sites
• Evaluate evidence!
• Kinds of materials - directories, yearbooks,
vital record certificates (births, marriages
and deaths) diplomas,
• Remember that everything is not online.
Most is not. Use numerous sources.
What are some sources?
• Censuses. Military Records. School
• Libraries and their finding aids.
• Indexes, and the original records.
• Documentation - how good is it?
Pros and cons of online.
• More convenient -24/7 access from any internet
• Ease of use - type in a name and get instant results
• Saves $ on traveling to distant locations to look at
• Less than 5% of the world’s records (or less than 1% of
Canadian records) are actually available online because
mass digitization is very expensive.
• Little editorial vetting of data.
• and if the electricity goes off, you are stopped cold.
• Concentrate on one family branch at a time
• Do background research
• Don’t assume everything is online or in a
• Enough already! Where do you look? How
do you keep track? Programs, forms,
backups? Privacy of data vs. sharing
sensitive of hurtful info).
101 best websites:
• Census - film, online, books indexes.
(numerous sources for these).
• Borrow through ILL for items not held
• Does what you find online meet standards or have a plethora of exclamation marks?
• Web can offer indexes vitals stats, directories,
classified web site content, personal web pages
already out there, genealogical discussion groups,
city, county state genealogical or historical society
pages, individual libraries
• But you will not find everyone, and any given site
may or may not have accurate data. For example,
my own experiences indexing 1940 census….
• Keep track in a program - you are using a
computer to search, so make the data saved
in a program - and please keep it backed
• Keeping data in a program helps keep the
filling out and filing of forms more
• Why should you use forms?
• How should you fill them out?
• Where do you get them?
• All kinds of formats and helps Familysearch.org wiki (research guides,
thesauri, word lists, how to’s), online
research guides, translatable web pages,
overseas records, privately done pages
What about “stuff in the wild?”
• …the RGS CRPC locally.
• Or the lady [Martha Mae Schmidt] with 1000
pages of church records in St Louis, or the one in
Newark [Mary Lish] with 100,000 names from
Newark NJ cemetery. Or the city employee who
did a listing of the missing/destroyed Britton Rd.
• How do you find them?
• Word of mouth, message boards, writing to
libraries and archives, blogs, etc.
This group has digitized over …. pages of records,
and has received national recognition for its work.
• Looking at maps will help you determine
where people went to church, may have
moved (or not), and likely places of
emigration. But people do weird things, and
what is apparent to you might not be the
• There are numerous censuses - federal, state
local, school, church, etc.
• See Cyndislist.com, Dollarhide books on
census, etc. for sites which hold them.
• And ask online.
• Some countries have great helps - Czech
Republic, Sezam (Poland), Central Bureau
for Genealogy (Netherlands)
Don’t forget books
• There are many printed histories of
families, of locations, and how-to help
books for various kinds of research.
• It is becoming common to see newspapers
digitized and searchable for free on various
sites - at the same time that newspapers
themselves are getting pricier and more
difficult to access.
• See: www.fultonhistory.com, and
What can you trust?
• You have to apply common sense to a
source. “Genealogical sheep” find a fact
online and copy (and disseminate it)
without thinking critically.
Elizabeth Shown Mills is a recognized expert.
These are found in MCLS.
• Sites like Intelius.com, spokeo.com,
whitepages.com, Facebook, Google,
dogpile.com, mocavo.com, etc. can be
useful - or useless and misleading.
Sometimes you find interesting or reliable
info - other times it seems to be utterly
bogus. Never pay for what you can find for
free! Check yourself on these sites first.
Rootsweb - message boards - Free
Worldgenweb - down to the county level - Free
Various local historical sites -Free
Familysearch.org - Free
FHC portal at FHC’s - Free