Wednesday, November 2, 2011

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.

1.  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

2.  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 husband is a descendant of Pocahontas's niece Princess Nicketti, NOT!).  My advice would be to find trees that seem reliable and then go to other sources to find documentation to prove your connections.  COST

3. 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.  FREE

4.  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

5. 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. COST

6. 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

7. Northeast Kindgom Genealogy is a great site if you are looking for information on anestors 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, newpapers 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.  FREE/ COST

8.  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

I will post more to this list as I have time so check back.

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