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The Basics of Ancestry Research

As genealogists, we all hope to find new and exciting…
Male student with glasses carefully reads an old book in a park

As genealogists, we all hope to find new and exciting information about our ancestors with each new record we uncover. However, in order to find those new records, we must first understand the basics of how ancestry research is done. This article will provide an overview of the most important concepts and steps involved in conducting successful ancestry research.

Create a research plan.


The first step in any genealogical research project is to develop a research plan. This plan should include a timeline and a list of the specific information you are hoping to find. It is also important to identify the records you will need to consult in order to find that information. For instance, are you trying to find more information on an ancestor named James McRoberts? You’d want to find documentation that can be traced to this particular relation. Once you have a clear plan, the next step is to gather the necessary records.

Seek supporting documents.

One of the most important records to consult is the census. In the United States, the census is a compilation of information about the nation’s population that is taken every 10 years. It includes the first and last name, age, sex, race, and birthplace of every person in the household. It can be a valuable source of information for genealogical research. Of course, this depends on your ancestor’s country of residence—if you know that this particular McRoberts was born and lived in Scotland, you’d tailor your search to Scottish or British documents.

Another important record to consult is the birth or death certificate. A birth certificate is a document that shows the birth of a person. It includes the full name of the person, the date of birth, the place of birth, the parents’ names, and the name of the person who recorded the birth. Birth certificates are available on microfilm and online. For example, you could discover that James McRoberts was born to Joseph and Marion McRoberts in 1858. Similarly, a death certificate is a document that shows the death of a person. It includes the name of the person, the date of death, the place of death, the parents’ names, and the name of the person who recorded the death.

A marriage certificate is an important document to consult in ancestry research because it can provide information about a couple’s marriage, including the date and location of the wedding, the names of the bride and groom, and the names of their parents. The certificate may also include information about the witnesses who attended the wedding and the officiant who performed the ceremony. Marriage certificates can be obtained from the county or state in which the wedding took place. This might show you that James married a woman whose first name was Agnes.

These records can provide important information about your ancestors, such as their names, dates of birth, marriage, and death, and places where they lived. Other useful records include military records and land records, amongst others.

Analyze the information you’ve gathered.


Gathering records is only the first step in building your family tree. The next step is to analyze the records and extract the information from them. This information can then be used to create a family tree.

The first step in analyzing your records is to organize them in a way that makes them easy to understand. You can do this by creating a family tree chart. This chart will show the relationships between your ancestors and other family members.

Once you have created your initial family tree chart, you can start to extract information from your records. This information will include the names, dates, and places of your ancestors and other family members.

You can then use this information to create your family tree. The most important part of this process is to make sure that your information is accurate. You can do this by checking your information against other records and by talking to other family members.

The final step in creating your family tree is to share it with your family and friends. This can be a great way to reconnect with your family and learn more about your ancestors.