Genealogy – Learning Your Roots


Ancestry Tree-Genealogy resources-Search for Relatives

Learning your genealogy, or family history, can be a very insightful and important process. There are many reasons why people choose to investigate their family lines. It may be that you want to learn your family for any historic figures. For many, it is just about learning the family story and understanding where they come from. Whatever your reasons may be for taking an interest in genealogy, knowing where to get started in your search is very important.

Start With Your Own Family

Before you go into full research mode and find yourself bombarded with info on millions of people who share your last name, start your research within the family. Speak with older living relatives and ask for names, birthdates, professions, and other information that can help you identify older relatives and ensure that you are finding the right ancestors in your search. If possible, locate old family bibles or other records that may have been kept by previous generations. These types of records were tradition in families, and they are apt to hold a number of keys to unlocking your family ancestry.

I have found it useful to find a blank form (s) made available on line from many sources of genealogy. Two of the ones I use are a “ FAMILY UNIT CHART” and a “ SIX GENERATION CHART “ These forms will give you a guide  to collect basic information and start compiling useful data. By the way, once started, you will find it will take a lot of time. So if you are going to embark with the project be prepared!

The more information you have when you start your search, the easier things will be. For example, while having the name Jane Smith could provide you with a better starting point than just the last name Smith alone, Jane Smith, born in April 1874 in Saugerties, New York would certainly provide you with much more accurate information and give you a better idea where to start searching for records. Seek out as much information from relatives and family records as possible and you will find it much easier to get accurate, viable information about your relatives.

To help you along;

Use the following Family Unit Chart in this link


Use the Six Generation Chart in this link

Rainbow-Cliffs of Moher-Co. Clare
Other resources for starting your venture with Genealogy, click on the link below.

American Ancestors

Steps to Creating Your Genealogy

  1. Rule #1 of genealogy is to work from the known to the unknown. Genealogists quickly find out that their “unique name” is not so unique after all, that many people share the same or similar name and live in the same geographic area at the same time. To avoid accidentally attaching the wrong person to your family tree, you need to start with the known.
  2. Each of the steps below is described in greater detail in subsequent sections. The detailed sections include tools, techniques and tips to help you succeed on your genealogical quest.
  3. Identify what you know.Begin your family history by writing down what you know onto a standard form. If the first rule of genealogy is work from the known to the unknown, genealogy Rule#2 is Write it Down. Capture key pieces of genealogical information: names, relationships, dates and places of birth, marriage, and death. Interview yourself. Talk to relatives: what do they know? What family stories were they told?
  4. Decide what you want to learn (research goal).Review what you have compiled and determine what information is missing. What individuals or families intrigue you the most? Make a list of the missing pieces and choose a few goals or questions to research. Focus on one genealogical question at a time – multi-tasking while doing genealogy leads to confusion (and potentially errors).
  5. Identify and locate your sources.Options for finding genealogical information exist on the web, in libraries, court houses, churches, and your own home. Start with your house and your family.
  6. Research!Systematically go through your list of research questions, finding and recording your information. Keep in mind Rule #2: Write It Down, which includes writing down where you found the information. A date or name without a source is merely hearsay rather than information. Consult multiple sources while collecting as many records about a family or individual as you can.
  7. Don’t just read, evaluate. Who provided the information for the record? Was the informant a participant in the event (e.g. bride and groom for a marriage record) or someone else (e.g. daughter or undertaker for a death record)? How long after the event was the information provided (e.g. the birth date on a death record)? What new questions occur?

 Choosing a Genealogy Service

Puffin | Atlantic Puffin

For the majority of beginners, the internet and the library provide the most accessible sources of information about family history, although not everything is online or in a book. An efficient use of the internet or the library rests on understanding where the information you seek may be found.

Records with Genealogical Information


Type of Record


Information in Record

Vital Records – Created by Governments

This includes the recording of births, marriages and death by towns or states. Not until the twentieth century in the U.S. did government record keeping of vital events become universal.

Name, date, place and sometimes parent’s names, including mother’s maiden name

Vital Records –Created by Religious Institutions

Records kept by religious institutions of parishioners, including marriage certificates, baptisms, confirmations, burials, birth records, Hebrew School attendance, and other materials.

Same as above, plus witnesses to the event

Vital Records – Created by Families

Bible records

Name and date and sometimes place


US Census: Every ten years beginning in 1790. Until 1850, the census only listed the head of household and tabulated the ages of household members by age categories. From 1850 onward, the census became a much more useful source of genealogical information.State Census: Some states conducted their own censuses in between federal census years.

Name, age, and gender of each family member, occupation, birthplace and other information, depending on year

Immigration and Emigration Records

Records generated in tracking individuals arriving or departing a country. Includes ship passenger lists, border crossing records, and passport applications.


Few lists pre-1820. From 1820-1893 – just the name, age, gender and country of origin were recorded. Beginning in 1893 more extensive information such as last residence and marital status were captured. Passport applications typically include name, date and place of birth.

Naturalization and Citizenship Records

Records generated through the process of an individual applying for and becoming a citizen of a country. Beginning in 1790 the US naturalization process required two steps. After living in the U.S. for at least two years a person could file a declaration of intent to become a citizen, followed three years later by a petition for naturalization. The final certificate was issued based on the petition.

Name, nationality, date and place of birth, port and date of arrival. After 1907, may find spouses name, date and place of birth as well as information about children.

Land and Property

Records generated by the purchase and sale of land, such as warrants, deeds and mortgages. In the colonial period, most rural heads of house owned land.

Name, name of wife, names of family members, names of neighbors. Some states, such as Maryland, gave parcels of land names such as “Peace,” or “Dorsey’s Folly,” which makes tracing ownership across generations somewhat easier.


Birth, marriage and death notices are the principle uses of newspapers by genealogists although some ancestors generate news articles.

Names, dates of events, location, family members.

Popular internet websites for records include:

    Going International

    Genealogy Resources Ireland

    Useful Links to help you research your roots in Ireland


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