Beginning Genealogy

Document Sample
Beginning Genealogy Powered By Docstoc
					Genealogy Basics

How to get started researching
    your family history.
      Laramie County Library System
           Cheyenne, Wyoming
Genealogy Basics
 Record What You Already Know.
   Start with yourself and work backwards.
 Get Organized.
 Read a Genealogy How-To Book.
 Begin Your Research at Home.
 Look for Compiled Information.
 Research one Ancestral Line at a Time.
 Look for Original Records:
   Census Records
   Vital Records
   Social Security Death Index
Record What You Already
Using Pedigree Charts:
Begin with yourself and work
 back one generation at a time.
   • You are number 1.
   • Your father is number 2.
       Father’s name on the upper line.
   • Your mother is number 3.
       Use the woman’s maiden name.
   • Men always have even numbers, wives have odd
     numbers which are one more than their husband’s
Recording Information in
Pedigree Charts.
 Write surnames in capital letters:
   William James THOMAS
 Write dates military style:
   10 Aug 2006
 Write names of places from smallest to
   Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
Using Family Group Sheets.
A family group includes parents, children, and
the spouse of each of those children.
Prepare a family group sheet for
each couple, formally married
or not.
Include all children alive or
Include adopted children,
but indicate adopted.
Show where you found the
Work Backwards
From Known to Unknown.
 Work backwards from the present to the past,
 one generation at a time.
    This will help you keep from making mistakes.
 Dates and places of events are just as important
 as names.
 For every generation back the number of
 ancestors doubles.
 Know the history of where your ancestors
 lived. The more general history you know of the
 time and place your ancestors lived the easier your
 research will be.
What you need to find more
 A full name, use a woman’s maiden name if known.
 The event: birth, death, marriage, etc.
 A very important thing you need to know is the place
 where a person was born, married, lived or died, etc.
 An (at least) approximate date for a vital event
 (birth, death, marriage, etc.)
Get Organized:

Keep a research log.
Cite every source.
– Keep a written record of all the sources you have
– Try to photocopy the information and the title page of
– Indicate where the source is located and its call number.
– Interviews with relatives count as sources. Indicate
  person, date & time.
– Include both positive and negative results.
– Keep the information in files or notebooks in an
  organized manner.
Getting organized with forms:

Use pedigree (or ancestry) charts, family
group sheets, research logs, etc.

Genealogical forms are available for you to
copy in the LCLS Genealogy Room or at:
Get Organized with
Genealogy Software:
 By using a genealogy software program you can:

   Enter individual information
   Link individuals together
   Allow for as many notes as necessary
   Share information with others
   Download (copy) files from other people
   Add photographs, video clips or pictures of family
   Produce artistically pleasing and personally-designed
   Search databases automatically
Using Genealogy
Personal Ancestral File
There are others but PAF                                is good
is completely free.
   To install PAF software
     • Go to
     • Under ―Free family history software‖
     • Click on ―Download PAF‖
     • You will be asked to register the software.
     • Then choose English version 5.2.18 and click download.
       Follow the instructions.
     • A PAF icon is automatically placed on your desktop
     • Double-click on the PAF icon.
     • Start entering your genealogy information.
No further updates or support on this product.
Other Genealogy Software
 Also FREE:
    Legacy Family Tree – Standard edition
    Family Tree Legends

 For a small cost:
    Family Tree Maker – Generations
    Legacy Family Tree – Deluxe edition
    The Master Genealogist (TMG)
 For the Mac:
    Also GEDitCom, Genealogy Pro, Heredis, iFamily
Read a Genealogy How-to Book:
• The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy
     Val D. Greenwood
• The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy
     Loretta Dennis Szucs
• Complete Idiots Guide to Genealogy
     Christine Rose
• The Everything Family Tree Book
     Kimberly Powell
  See my genealogy bibliography handout
  (books are in the 929s on the 3rd Floor)
Use Home Sources:
These may be in your home or
the home of a relative:
  Birth, marriage and death certificates
  Deeds, wills, & titles
  Diaries, journals, & birthday calendars
  Family trees
  Funeral cards
  Certificates (from schools or jobs)
  Cookbooks and other books (check for inscriptions)
More Home Sources:
Closet doors (look for writing on
the inside)
Furniture (sometimes you'll find names and
dates on the bottoms or backs of furniture)
Autograph books and scrapbooks
Military service records
Newspaper clippings
Pictures (don't forget to look at the backs)
Even More Home Sources:
 School papers (report cards can have
 parents' signatures)
 Sewing samplers, quilts, and
 other handmade items
 Tax records
 Trunks and chests
 Make copies whenever possible and
 include the source
Look for Compiled Information:
 Learn what information on the family has
 already appeared in books and periodicals.
   Published information on your family could appear in
   four types of resources:
    • biographies,
    • genealogies,
    • local histories, and
    • published original records.
 These resources are published as periodicals,
 books, and computer databases.
Evaluate Compiled Information:
  Evaluate Written and Oral Evidence
    Remember the old adage: Just because it's in
    print (or online) doesn't make it true.

  Look to see if the book is documented; that is,
  did the author cite a source for each fact?
     Spot check some of the author's sources.
     • Are you able to find a document based on the
       footnotes or endnotes?
Finding Published Genealogies:
Look in WorldCat for books in other libraries.
  From the, click on ―WYLD Catalog‖,
  then “Articles, test preparation, readers advisory and
  more‖ under ―Additional Resources‖.
  Then choose “W” for ―WorldCat‖. You’ll need a library
  card # and PIN. The default PIN is WYLD.
Ask the 3rd floor “Ask Here” desk to ILL
(Interlibrary Loan) the book for you.
  There may be a charge.
More Places to Find Published
The LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City is
the largest genealogy library in the world. Go to and click on the Library tab.
Items with film notes listed can be ordered through
the LDS Family History Center located at Laramie
County Library for $5.50 per film.
Try the Library of Congress at They also have a large
collection of published family histories and many
historical documents in digital format available.
Look Online
for Family Histories:
Ancestral File at
  Ancestral File is a computer database containing information
  about some 30 million persons. Each person is linked to a
  family and through their family back in time as many
  generations as family researchers have provided.
Ancestry Library and Heritage Quest databases:
  Ancestry Library is available at Laramie County Library
  Heritage Quest can be accessed at home with a library card
  # and PIN. (the default PIN is wyld).
And don’t forget to just try your luck on an Internet
search engine such as Google at
Read a general genealogy
magazine to learn new
search techniques:
   Family Tree
   Internet Genealogy (and many more)
To find past articles about kin and their home
towns published in magazines, journals and
newsletters use the Periodical Source Index
(PERSI). Available on Heritage Quest database.
Over 200 periodical titles published from 1986 to
the present, are included in the database.
Choose One Ancestor
to Research at a time.

  Or one family line – be systematic.
  Learn where your ancestors lived.
    Knowing the county is essential to
    genealogical research.
    Use maps and atlases to find the county name.
    You can also search the Internet.
    Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and
    Marketing Guide is recommended.
Learn More About the Places
Where Your Ancestors Lived:
Consult Everton’s Handybook for Genealogists or
Ancestry’s Redbook.
 •   Gives history of county and tells where records are
     located. Also helps when boundaries have changed.
Dollarhide’s Map Guide to the U.S. Federal
Censuses, 1790-1920.
Search WYLDCAT (the LCLS library catalog) for
books with information from the county and state
where your ancestors lived.
 •   Use keyword search!!!
Look for Original Records:
 Many times you will use records that were
 created for purposes other than genealogy.
 Most records were originally recorded on
 paper. Many have since been microfilmed,
 indexed, compiled in books and/or on the
 Good indexes will always point you to the
 original source document.
Look for Original Records:
Primary Sources
 A primary record or source is one created by
 an eyewitness of an event.
   Whether the writer records the event as it occurs or
   describes it at a later time does not change the fact that
   a record created by an eyewitness at any time is a
   primary source. Vital records (birth, marriage &
   death certificates) are usually primary sources.

   However, the period of time between the event and the
   recording of the event could dramatically affect the
   source's accuracy.
Original Records:
Secondary Sources
 A secondary source is based upon evidence
 gathered after an event occurred by a person
 who was not an eyewitness.
    –   Newspaper clippings,
        compiled family history,
 Sources may be both primary and secondary.
    –A death certificate is a primary source for
     the death but may be a secondary source for
     a birth.
Census Records:
One of the best original records
 In the U.S., a census has been taken every
 10 years from 1790 through 2000.

 1790 to 1930 censuses are available to
 genealogists to search.

 All censuses taken after 1930 (1940-2000)
 are still confidential and the information
 they contain is not open to the public.
 There is a 72 year privacy rule.
Census Records
Why should you use census records?
  Census records are an extremely valuable tool
  in genealogy research.
  They are one of the easiest types of records to
  use and one of the most accessible for all family
  Census records lead to other civil and religious
  They narrow down the timeframe and places to
  search for civil and religious records.
  Both federal and state censuses are available to
How Census Records Can Help
in Your Genealogy Research:
Many of the censuses give not only names, ages
and birthplaces, but also state the relationship
of people within a household.

Depending on the questions asked in that
particular census, you may also learn when your
ancestors came to the U.S., if and when they
were naturalized, how many
children a woman gave birth
to and other vital pieces of
More about the
U.S. Federal Census:
 1790 through 1840 censuses listed head of
 household plus number of others living
 Beginning in 1850, census lists all names,
 ages, places of birth, occupations, etc.
 1870 census indicates if individual’s parents
 were foreign born.
 1880 and later censuses added:
   Birthplaces (country or state only) of each
   person’s parents.
U.S. Federal Census cont.
 1890 federal census was (mostly) destroyed
 by fire.
 1900 and 1910 censuses include:
   (1) the age of each individual, (2) how many
   years he had been married, (3) year of
   immigration, (4) citizenship status.
 1920 and 1930 censuses also give:
   (1) age & (2) lists the year of naturalization.
 Start with 1930 and work backwards.
the U.S. Census:
 Look at the census for the state where your ancestor
 lived when the census was taken
 Start with most recent census (1930) and work
 Note similar names living nearby—in the same
 county and in neighboring counties.
 Watch for spelling errors and variations, and over-
 sight. Do not be wedded to one surname spelling.
 Scan, photocopy or otherwise record the information
 you find, especially the year of the census.
   Always keep track of the source.
 Searching Census Information
 on Computer Databases:
1790-1930 Census Information are available in
  the library on Ancestry Library and
  Heritage Quest databases. Some can also be
  found at or at

Heritage Quest can be searched at home with
 your library card # and PIN #. The default
 PIN is wyld.
Ancestry Library:

 Ancestry Library
 is the library version of
 (a paid subscription website).
 A wealth of genealogy information
 available including scanned images of
 the original census reports.
 Available for searching only in the
Heritage Quest:

Heritage Quest
is another great genealogy
database provided through Wyoming libraries. HQ
also provides access to 1790-1930 census images
(and much more).

It can be accessed through the Laramie County
Library System’s website at
with your library card # (2900920xxxxxxxx) and
your PIN (default is wyld).
Vital Record information on
the Internet:
You can find some vital record information
on databases such as Ancestry Library or at
individual websites such as those from the
LDS Family History Library, state archives,
or universities.

But often you will have to write to the county
or state where the records are held and pay
money to get copies.
Write for Vital Records:
 Vital records are civil records of births,
 marriage,deaths, etc.
 Keeping vital records only began after the
 mid 19th or early in the 20th century.
 Start with yourself and work backwards.
   Obtain a birth and marriage certificate for
   Then obtain birth, marriage and, if applicable,
   death certificates for your parents, then
   grandparents, etc.,
Birth Certificates:

 Birth certificates reveal:
   Baby’s name, birth date and parents
   Birthplaces of both parents, their
   age, their occupations, and their
   The number of other children
Death Certificates:
  Death certificates can reveal:
    Place and cause of death.
    Name of deceased’s parents,
    Residence at time of death,
    Exact date of death, and date of burial
    Name of informant and relationship to
    Funeral home that handled the arrangements,
    name of cemetery
Marriage Records:

   Beginning in the 1600s, town clerks in New England and
   county clerks elsewhere (1700s) primarily maintained
   marriage records.
   After 1850s at State Board of Health/Bureau of Vital
 Other sources of marriage records:
   Justice of the Peace registers
   Found with county clerks, local historical societies,
   libraries or descendants of the Justices.
   Church records, especially New England, Quaker, and
Where to Write for Vital
Look in books such as International Vital
Records Handbook, County Courthouse Book,
Genealogist’s Address Book, Everton’s
Handybook for Genealogists and Ancestry’s
Redbook. All available at LCLS in the Family
and Local History section.
Websites such as “Where To Write for Vital
Social Security
Death Index:
 Available at, and Ancestry Library Edition.
    • The database contains information
      provided by the Social Security
      Administration and contained 88 million
      records as of January 2011.
 With their Social Security number you can
 write for a copy of the deceased’s ―Application
 for a social security card,” form SS5.
The Original
SS Card Application:
 Gives the name of the person's
 father, maiden name of mother, date of birth,
 address at time of application, occupation, and
 name and address of employer. This is primary
 evidence because it was written by the person
 To obtain a copy, write to:
    Social Security Administration
    OEO FOIA Workgroup
    300 N. Green Street
    P.O. Box 33022
    Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022

1. Record What You Know.
          Begin With Yourself and Work Backwards
2.       Read a How-to Book.
3.       Begin Your Research At Home.
4.       Look for compiled information.
5.       Research one ancestral line at a time.
6.       Look for Original Records:
          Census Records
          Vital Records
          Social Security Death Index
The Family and Local History
Room at LCLS:
The Genealogy Room (3rd Floor) is open:
   Monday – Thursday
    • 10:00 to 9:00
   Friday –Saturday
    • 10:00 to 6:00
    • 1:00-5:00
If no volunteer or staff person is available, ask for
help at the 3rd Floor “Ask Here” Desk.