I want to thank family and friends for all the positive feedback I’ve received about my post, Five Steps to Getting Started with Your Family Research! Since I’m asked about my research process all the time, I decided to share those “how-to” instructions on this blog. Now whenever I’m asked how did I get started with my family research, I can just refer everyone to that information!
Now that you’ve been interviewing family members about your ancestors and locating home sources to gather names, dates, and places to fill-in your pedigree charts and family group sheets, you’re probably ready to turn to a variety of online and offline resources to round out your research. When considering the Internet as a place to start your research, there are hundreds and hundreds of excellent websites out there you will use and enjoy along your journey. Just the thought of listing all the ones I frequent would be impossible . . . WHEW! But if I were to select just five websites to recommend for jump-starting your family research, I would recommend the five below because I visit them over, and over, and over again!
This website, filled with billions of digitized records, feeds my need for searchable census and military records, as well as, birth and death indices. Anyone who visits this site can launch an electronic family tree for FREE by typing in your name. Once you’ve found information you want to attach or save to family members of your tree, you will need to become a paid subscriber of the website. I’ve been using Ancestry’s FamilyTree Maker software to manage and organize my family history for quite some time. But, I became a paid subscriber of Ancestry.com in 2011 and totally enjoy the syncing capability I now have with my software and the entire Ancestry online community.
This is my favorite “go-to” website to search for death certificates to download and attach to my family tree. Being able to download and closely review ancestors’ death records have allowed me to fill in some pretty important gaps in my research. I have also been able to dispel rumors, as well as, shed light on assumptions and truths about some of my ancestors. Be sure to read a post I wrote about how FamilySearch.org helped me to reveal that my grand-father, Joseph Chapple (who grew up as an only child), wasn’t the only child my great-grandmother, Carrie Blanton, gave birth to!
USGenWeb and RootsWeb
Knowing where your ancestors lived, worked, and died in the US is very important to your success in locating information about them. So when I’m not able to physically visit states, counties, and towns where my ancestors lived right away, I turn to two great websites – USGenWeb and The RootsWeb Project – for help! Both of these websites, maintained by wonderful volunteers, provide free resources for the genealogy community. USGenWeb focuses on resources and information that you may find about your ancestors at the state level, while RootsWeb allows researchers to access searchable database and indexes for ancestors at the county level. Both of these websites have played an important role in me successfully locating obituaries, deeds, wills, and affidavits of heirship about my ancestors.
Once I’ve had a chance to carefully review an ancestor’s death certificate, I usually head over to FindAGrave.com, a very valuable online community dedicated to recording the final resting place of individuals around the world. The content at this website, mainly transcriptions and actual photos of tombstones, is provided by volunteers who are more than happy to transfer the management of your ancestor’s memorial page over to you to complete if you contact them. I truly appreciate this community a lot and show my support by sponsoring family members’ pages when I locate them. Sponsorship is a one-time payment of $5 which goes to helping them sustain the website, as well as, remove all the flashing banner ads on memorial pages.
This massive and wonderful website, personally maintained by the one and only Ms. Cyndi Howell, consist of over 300,000 links to online genealogical resources organized in to 188 categories! WOW! Actually, I call this website – the genealogist playground – because anything genealogy you can think of is probably linked at this website! If you’re looking for specific online genealogy resources relevant to your ethnicity, then this website is a great point of reference. Finding what you’re looking for is not difficult at all; just use the site’s custom Google search box, or click “Categories” along the site’s left sidebar to explore!