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15 Resources For Tracing Your Family Ancestry

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  1. 1. Free Ancestor SearchLooking for Your Family Ancestry? Search For Free & Find Them Today! 15 Resources For Tracing Your Family Ancestry By: Debbie PettittIf youre like me, when you were young, looking beyond your mother and father to find outwhere you came from just wasnt important.Well, Ive found that the older you get, the more important your ancestry becomes. Im not surewhy. Maybe I have a broader perspective on things now. Maybe Im just curious as to whetherthere was nobility in my family. Perhaps Im looking for some closet skeletons.Whatever my reasons, I do find tracing my ancestry fascinating. It is so interesting to learn aboutother people--how they lived, what they did, who they knew. But Ive also learned along the waythat most people havent a clue what resources are available to them beyond the usual -interviewing family, checking birth certificates and newspapers, etc.So here Ive compiled a list of 25 resources you should take advantage of if youre really seriousabout finding out "where you came from."1.The obvious, of course, is interviewing family members; not only mom and dad, but aunts,uncles, distant cousins. Start by drawing a quick family tree going back just two generations andstart making calls or sending mail or emails. Here are some of the basic things youll want toknow: • Complete names (married and maiden names) • Addresses throughout their live • Birth records • Military service (when and where) • Marriage records (even attendants, if possible) • Property records (state and county) • Burial records (where) • Old pictures, especially if they have names and dates2.Family bibles. While it doesnt seem to be such a common practice these days, in the past,families kept their bible forever, often keeping record of family members, births, marriages, anddeaths on pages within the bible.3.Old family letters. Once again, with technology, weve all but lost the art of letter writing (whatwill our own children and grand children have to look back on in years to come?). But older Page 1 of 3
  2. 2. generations tended to preserve letters of importance. These letters can oftentimes be of greatvalue in tracing your ancestry. They may contain important dates, facts, and places that will be ofhelp. Check return addresses and postmarks for information.4.Legal documents are a great resource. Such documents include deeds (property addresses),wills (names of kin you may not have known about), marriage licenses (note the witnesses), birthcertificates, voter registration, adoption records, and even judgements. Your search for thesedocuments should begin with state and county records.5.What about associations your ancestors may have belonged to? These would include churches,clubs, veterans groups and lodges, all of which may be able to provide background informationfor your search.6.Census data. After 1840 the Census collected age, place of birth, occupation, personal wealth,education, spouse, children, hired hands, and even immigration information. Copies of theoriginal decennial census forms from 1790 through 1930 are available on microfilm for researchat the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC(, at Archives regional centers, and at select Federal depository librariesthroughout the United States.7.Naturalizations records.For Pre-1906 Naturalizations:Contact the State Archives for the state where the naturalization occurred to request a search ofstate, county, and local courts records.Contact the NARA regional facility that serves the state where naturalization occurred to requesta search of Federal court records.For Naturalizations After 1906:After 1906, the courts forwarded copies of naturalizations to the Immigration and NaturalizationService (INS). Naturalizations from Federal Courts are held in the NARAs regional facilities forthe Federal courts for their area. Learn more: sites. Headstones will give dates and possible family names.9.Libraries. Here youll find newspaper articles (look for obituaries, and birth and marriageannouncements) and books on local history (what was taking place during their life). Manylibraries can be accessed online. You will also find genealogy information in several libraries, theAllen County Public Library in Indiana having the second largest genealogical collection in theUS. Another good source is the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT.10.Genealogy message boards. Google "genealogy message boards" and join in--youll find awealth of information available!11.Military records. Youll find several sources online, including NARA( Page 2 of 3
  3. 3. 12.High school and college yearbooks. These sources can help locate a relative or provide otherresources for your search. Check online.13.Family pedigrees. These are family groups already linked in a computer system. Accessing anindividuals family group sheet in a linked pedigree will also give you access to all of the recordsthat are linked to that individual. Two great sources are Kindred Connections( and the Family History Library( Immigration records. Two great sources are Ellis Island Records( and Security Death Index. This is a database of people whose deaths were reported to theSocial Security Administration (SSA) beginning about 1962. The best source is that youre all grown up and interested in finding your "roots", these 15 resources should getyou well on your way. Itll be a fun and rewarding adventure. Article Source: Copyright 2006 by Debbie Pettitt, webmaster of Ancestry Review, bringing you reviews of Internet resources and programs designed to help you uncover your family genealogy. Ancestry Review | Genealogy DetectiveFree Ancestor SearchLooking for Your Family Ancestry? Search For Free & Find Them Today! Page 3 of 3