Tips for Finding Your Ancestors

 I would like to share a list of sources that have been really useful to me in compiling my family tree. Some have been more helpful than others and some have been of no help at all. I have found that there is no one source that will solve your family mysteries, the more places you look, the more stuff you find. This is especially important if you are interested in more than just names and dates. I am always trying to add some flesh to my ancestors and finding little details here and there helps me build up a picture of their lives and who there were.

Your Family The best place to start is with your own family. Ask grandma and grandpa what they remember about their parents and grandparent. Ask to see old family photos and mementos. Not only will your family be thrilled to have someone to talk about the past with but you will pick up a lot of good information for starting your hunt. My parents were able to produce a mountain of photos of old family members, many long deceased. I had my mother put names to all the faces and I scanned them into my computer and labeled them all. From my husband's side of the family, we were able to get a lot of wonderful old photos and a report card from 1880! Best of all, getting information from your family is free! FREE

Nationwide sources: This pay to use site is well worth the money. I could not have done as much as I have without it. I started with a month to month subscription, but finally bit the bullet and paid for an annual subscription, at a cheaper rate. I also have the international component as many of my family were from England and Ireland. It's easy to use and very addictive. One word of caution: not all ancestry members are good researchers. There is not only bad information out there but some rather silly stuff as well. My advice would be to find trees that seem reliable and then go to other sources to find documentation to prove your connections.  COST

Google Books I found an enormous amount of information just by searching Google Books. It seems that after the Civil War people became very interested in genealogy and wrote massive amounts of books and family histories, some even traveled to England to find ancestor information from records in local parishes and cities. Many of my ancestors lived in New England and I was able to glean details from books with subjects such as: the history of Hampton, New Hampshire, the history of Watertown, Massachusetts and so forth. Sometimes just goggling names was enough to get a hit. I downloaded a lot of these books onto my nook to keep them handy for future references. Google Books FREE This is also a pay to use site. It is a bit different than but I have found it valuable for searching newspapers and city directories. They are now partnered with Fold3, formerly, and you can search for and order vital records from their site. COST

Fold3 Also a pay to use site. I have not used it since it changed names, they are a great resource for military records. I found a lot of information on different ancestors who participated in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812. Very easy to use. Fold3 COST

City Directories Many cities in the US began printing directories in the 1800's, the British had directories long before that.  They are easy to google.  Sometimes they are free and sometimes they are attached to a pay to use site such as  I have found not only addresses but often times in the early directories they listed occupations as well. The directories are a good way to hunt down your ancestors in between census, especially the 1880 and 1900, since the 1890 is lostFREE/COST

 Hathitrust   This is a great site to look for books.  kinda like googlebooks only better search functions. The web address is hathitrust FREE

Local Genealogy Societies  I have had really good luck shooting off emails to various local genealogy societies in the towns where my ancestors lived.  I have found them to be surprisingly helpful and willing to actually look stuff up for me, even though their websites might state otherwise.  I find that a very well written email and a bit of grovelling goes a long way. FREE This is a subscription site from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. To access the full catalog requires a yearly subscription. If you are researching New England ancestors, this site is a must have. It has been worth every penny and then some. The databases available include probate and court records from the 1600's. They have the full Great Migration Series. They also have access to 19th Century Newspapers which has been very helpful to me. If I had to choose one paid subscription it would be this one.    COST

Family Search . org   This is a fantastic free source for genealogy all over the world. It helps if you know how to really make it work for you. Much of what they have is not indexed. Instead of searching for a name, search for a place and find all the available unindexed documents associated with the place your ancestor lived. Then get ready to do some serious scrolling. I have found out some great stuff, but you have to work hard to find it. It may mean scanning hundreds of pages, but can be worth it if it breaks down that brickwall. FREE

Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness This is a facebook group of folks who are willing to assist you with your research. Now they won't do if for you, but they will do look ups, find obits, help you read records, etc.  They have been very helpful. Find them on facebook. FREE

England This is a tremendous site if you are looking for ancestors in England. The best part about this free site is the forums. There are all types of forums from general, historical, and best of all forums for each county. When I was looking for help finding ancestors in Manchester I was able to zero in on that area. The participants on the forum were terrific, helping with look ups and even copying and emailing information. The website has lots of great content as well. FREE This site is a search site for the BMD, births, marriages, and deaths in Britain. It starts in 1836 and can tell you in which quarter of the year the event took place. It also gives you a reference number so that you can order a copy of the record. I was able to get several marriage and birth certificates for ancestors from Manchester, these records list parents which is especially helpful if you don't know who they are! It is very easy to order certificates from the GRO, the general registrars office, they take credit cards so you don't have to worry about currency. FREE

free reg This is a companion website to freebmd and is searchable database of baptisms, marriages and deaths in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Not all parishes are included but most are. The results are a transcription of the parish entries. You can search by birth, marriage and death individually or all three.  FREE

Access to Archives This is the mother-lode of British Archives, it contains over 2,500 different archives. It is fully searchable. Most of the records are pay to view. It can be challenging to use and takes a bit of practice but it's worth a try. I have searched and found clues in the results without buying the documents. I have also bought wills and other docs which are emailed to you in digital format. Worth spending some time getting to know.  FREE COST

British History Online British History Online is a digital library of key printed primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland, with a primary focus on the period between 1300 and 1800. This is a great searchable site for printed documents, stick in your ancestors name, choose a century, a region and off you go. Many of the results are free but others cost to view. I have found this to be a highly valuable site. Also good for searching for Colonial immigrants to Virginia and New England.   FREE    COST

New England Northeast Kingom Genealogy is a great site if you are looking for information on ancestors in Northern Vermont. Vermont seems to have the best records of any state I have encountered, maybe because of its small population. Anyway, this site has many local records, newspapers and other data, it's really be a help for me and they also have forums. The owners will also assist with questions, at least they have helped me out. You can use the site for free, but for a small fee you can get a membership to use the search engine, it is well worth the money. North East Kingdom Genealogy FREE/ COST

The New Hampshire State Papers  a 40 Volume compilation of early records from the state of New Hampshire.  Hosted by Rootsweb, this is an excellent source for researching your New Hampshire roots.  Fully indexed and easy to use. FREE

Lane Memorial Library This library is in Hampton, NH but has a super website.  They are trying to identify every individual who has lived in Hampton prior to 1900, its great for finding your New Hampshire ancestors. Lane Memorial Library FREE

Early Vital Records of Massachusetts This website has compiled many of the vital records from all the towns in Massachusetts.  It is easy to use and has link to the vital record books the data is culled from. Early Vital Records of Massachusetts FREE

New Hampshire Registry of Deeds: All of New Hampshire's registry of deeds for each county is online. Not all are searchable, you'll have to check. Rockingham County is fully indexed and searchable back to the 1600's and it's free. Deeds are great for finding family relationships, esp. father and son. Most of these counties are free. Grafton County used to be free, but just hiked up their rate to $200 a year, ouch! FREE/COST


Colorado State Archives.  This is a handy site if you are looking for information on family in Colorado.  I was able to find a lot of marriages in this database. When you enter a name in the search, remember to put the last name first! Colorado State Archives . FREE


PTG-Pomeranian Genealogical Association If you have Polish ancestors from the Pomeranian Province of Poland this is a great site to search baptisms, marriages and deaths. The site also has some great maps of the area. The site is Polish and the translations are iffy. PTG search FREE


Reader Submitted Webpages: 

Genealogy: The Complete Resource Guide

How to Use DNA Testing to Trace Your Family Tree

How to Preserve Your Family Treasures

How to Handle Antique Textiles and Costumes

Preserving and Passing On Your Values: How to Create a Family Heirloom

13 Fun Family Traditions: Examples and Ideas

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are a breath of fresh genealogical air. After doing our family genealogy for about 30 years I too came up against Pierre De Morlaix in my husbands Perkins genealogy. How refreshing to find someone who believes that genealogy has to be documented. Pierre! Keep up the great search for real genealogies.

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