How can i look for my ancestors

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Several free and fee-based online genealogical databases are available, including Ancestry.

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Tip: To manage your family tree on the go, choose a software program or online database that has a companion mobile app, such RootsMagic or Ancestry. Professional genealogists are seasoned detectives: They look for clues, notice patterns, conduct research, and collect data to methodically solve mysteries and uncover family histories. And, like detectives, these ancestry experts know that some of the most valuable clues in any quest often are hiding in plain sight—at home.

Smolenyak suggests focusing your hunt in the attic, basement, and drawers where photos, documents, and personal correspondence may be stored. Items with dates are especially helpful. Family memorabilia to look for and photograph if you do not have permission from the owner to take the item include old pictures, military records, diplomas and report cards, and of course diaries, postcards, and letters. Explain what you are doing and why, invite them to participate, and respect their wishes for how any item you discover will be handled, copied, or stored.

Plus, if you treasure hunt first and interview second, you will have artifacts to talk about with your relatives. Asking them to identify people or places in old photos, for example, can be a catalyst for stories and leads. Start by asking questions about your parents, grandparents, and, if possible, great-grandparents and beyond that will reveal foundational knowledge.

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Basic information to ask about includes full names and names of siblings, birthplaces and birthdates, locations or even addresses of family homes, nationality and ethnic background, occupations, education, military service, and where relatives are buried. If a relative appears hesitant or outright refuses to share specifics about a certain event or person, move on to another topic. By speaking with multiple relatives and following up with your own research, often you can fill in the blanks without upsetting or alienating anyone. New resources, services, and options are added regularly on popular genealogy sites including FamilySearch.

Browse the FamilySearch catalog of genealogical materials including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications , and request a free loan to the closest Family History Center typically at a public library where you can view the items in person. Geno 2.

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RSS Feed. Whether you search online, or offline at libraries, courthouses, or archives, many times our ancestors can be elusive.

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He works with his dad in construction. These include records of court proceedings, deeds, wills, probates, birth records and death records. There was a pickup truck blocking it, and a man unloading firewood from its bed. Peters, Missouri. Kenneth R Marks. Alice Lane. Both are available at genealogygems.

Sometimes they just cannot be found. Whether it be a birth date, census entry, or death date - or anything else of interest to us - we just can't seem to "score. Below are just a few reasons why we can't find our ancestors online: They aren't there!


Yes this is a possibility. I have a great great aunt, Carrie Marks, who shows up only in one record - the U. She is documented as the daughter of Louis and Caroline Marks, aged 11, born in California. One would think that at age 11, she would have showed up in the census at age 1, right? Nope - she is not there with the family.

Had she not been born yet and the age 11 reference in was wrong? Was she in a hospital at the time of the census?

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Unfortunately, there is no census to help and by that time she could have married and changed her name. Even more worrisome is that since her mother's name was also Carrie - maybe it was a census taker error. Maybe she didn't exist at all. Then again, maybe I just haven't found her yet.

Have you expanded your search? Just searching one or two online sources, such as Ancestry.

Yes these are huge resources, but just as everything isn't online, all the online stuff isn't in their collections either. There are tons of other resources. Thousands of online collections not named Ancestry or FamilySearch.

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Do you do only exact searches? People who write down others names often write them wrong. And then if there is an index created, they can be mis-transcribed or mis-typed. There are very few if any documents available online that were written by the ancestor themselves. They are generally recorded by someone else from first or second hand or worse information. So you need to be creative with your name searching by deliberately searching for names misspelled or using wildcard searches.

Yes I said deliberately misspell search terms. You will be surprised at what you will find.

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Do you combine searches and omit surnames? For example - if you can't find the surname in a collection - do you search for the husband's first name and the wife's first name also, in a specific geographic area? As an example, since their surname was often mangled, I often searched for husband "Ben" and wife "Jennie" with a blank surname in California because that is where they lived.

This may have given me quite a few folks who didn't have the correct surname - but all I needed was one! The right one! Have you looked beyond document collections? Sure census records are popular, and draft cards and naturalization, land and immigration records too. But how about newspapers? I have found new names of extended family members stated in newspaper obituaries and other articles just as much as finding a family together in a census.

They are a very underrated resource for you to find stuff. Besides you might find out that your great great uncle was an ax murderer! Are you aggressive? Or do you just give up too easy? Sitting around waiting for shaky leaves or smart matches? Then are you just waiting around for "cousins" to contact you - or the services themselves to shake a leaf on your screen?

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Ain't gonna cut it. You have to be an aggressive as well as creative researcher. And get out of the house if you can. Get to libraries, archives, courthouses and genealogical societies. There is a ton of material that can be accessed that is not digitized or is only available at the institution in a binder somewhere. Do you have a research plan? Or do you just search ad hoc, searching broadly for the same thing again and again? What's the old quote?

Yes collections change and are updated. But gee - get yourself a plan. Yes it seems like a lot of work when you'd rather be surfing for ancestors.