The Theory of "Relativity"
Search Engine Optimization and SEO Tools
Starting Tips For Newbies
Before starting your search, be prepared.
This should get you started, but it's only the beginning.
- Set up a spot in your home just for doing your research and organize it accordingly. A computer, printer/scanner, notebooks, filing cabinet or portable file boxes, file folders, labels, etc. Even if your research is done entirely on your pc you will most likely have to print things out so be sure to have set up that will be helpful.
- Determine what method you will use to keep track of all of your family data. Take your time in choosing a family tree software program for your pc. Compare a few different ones carefully before deciding which will best fit your needs and level of computer skill.
- Gather together any family information you already have. Look through drawers and/or albums and pull out copies of birth certificates, obituaries, birth/wedding/graduation announcements, etc. If you check out my genealogy blog, The Neverending Search, I have posted a list of suggested sources for finding information on family members. Quite a few of the sources on this list are places I probably never would have thought to look.
Write down any and all information you already have on yourself and other family members working backwards (i.e. yourself, your parents, your grandparents, etc.)
Whether using a notebook or family group sheets, always start with yourself. Make note of full names, birthdates/birthplaces, spouse(s), children, etc. Everything. Trust me, the more information you start with the easier (sometimes) it is to find new information.
Table of Contents
Great Ancestry Research Software on Amazon
Basic Rules of Online Research
Mind Your Manners....
- Do not type in ALL CAPS because it is considered shouting. The only words that should be in all uppercase are surnames (last names). Try and use punctuation to the best of your ability, also.
- RE: Subject Lines. Make your subject line specific. Examples of vague subjects: "Searching for family" or "I need all you have on the SMITH family". Also, if you're on a surname specific message board, say, JONES, please do not use "Looking for the JONES family" as your subject line. Most people searching on the JONES board will assume that this is the family you're looking for. Try to include as much information in your subject line as possible. Ex: Noah EVANS b. 1877 Michigan.
- Once you have your subject line you can move on to your message. Again, include as much information as possible and be specific about what you are wanting to know.
- Be sure to leave a way to be contacted. An email address is probably best for researching online. I have an email that is ONLY for my genealogy research.
- If possible, if or when someone responds to your message board postings, try to thank them by email instead of responding with another post. This keeps from adding to the off-topic messages and makes searching a little easier. But, either way a thank-you is always appreciated.
Online Research Assistance - Cheap to Free
or how to avoid having to pay expensive professionals
Admittedly, I'm a world class cheapskate. My favorite word is free and if it's free I'll find it eventually. I have sent for certain state/county kept records and still not paid for anything. If you get lucky, some states and/or counties don't charge for certain records on file. Especially if they don't actually have to search for anything. The best way for that to happen is, of course, to check the location online and use any online database search available and then simply submit that data for them to retrieve, copy and mail out to you.
There are a lot of government kept records that are relatively, no pun intended, cheap to order. Depending on the type of information you are requesting you will most likely pay for postage (if the request can't be sent online) to mail the request and for a self-addressed stamped envelope for the forms to be mailed back to you, possibly a small charge for their time and usually no more than a few dollars for the actual copies. Now, price of copies will certainly vary depending on whether your copies are certified or uncertified so be careful to verify what their prices are.
My favorite way to find my information for free is by using genealogy message boards. You can usually find someone living in or near your location of interest that is willing to visit libraries and court houses in that area to look up the records you need. Most of the time they only request that you reimburse them for copy charges and postage. Most often, at least in my case, all they request is a heartfelt thank you and that you pay it forward by assisting other researchers in the same way.
Note: Never ASSUME they don't want to be reimbursed. At the very least, OFFER to pay them for whatever charges they accrue for helping and if you really can't afford to pay them then at least let them know up front.
In the end, I have come to the conclusion that almost anything can be had for little or nothing. All it takes is some searching and a polite attitude.
Personal Selections from Amazon
Genealogy Videos on YouTube
Genealogy Books on Amazon
Don't Forget The Breadcrumbs
This means to track your steps. If you've started using genealogy messages boards to ask for help when you've hit a dead end or brick wall you want to make sure that the person with your answer is able to contact you. Keep notes of where you've posted so that if you ever have to change email addresses you can update your posts. It's terrible to know you have the information someone is looking for only to have out of date emails and no other way to track that other person down.