Research Strategies

The following articles are about Research Strategies

Jennifer Holik

Resources for Examining Your Ancestors' Neighborhood

by Jennifer Holik | Feb 19, 2014

Beyond the facts surrounding your ancestor, have you considered putting the person or family into historical context? By examining the neighborhood or the town in which your ancestor lived, you may discover information you never considered before or knew existed. Read More

Thomas MacEntee

Epidemics and Pandemics: The Records Left Behind

by Thomas MacEntee | Jan 14, 2014

Research related to epidemics and pandemics takes skill in unearthing not-so-obvious records and connecting the dots. Read More

Lisa Alzo

Best Resources for Urban Research

by Lisa Alzo | Jan 8, 2014

Many of us have ancestors who put down roots in the city. People who lived in cities tended to be more mobile; they may not move as far, but they seem to move more often. Luckily for genealogists, there are several resources you can use specifically for urban research. Read More

Harold Henderson

Curb Your Enthusiasm and Grow as a Genealogist

by Harold Henderson | Dec 4, 2013

We're all enthusiasm and energy when we begin in genealogy. We want it all, and all at once. And at first, we can get it. Enthusiasm is indispensable, but it can only carry us so far. Read More

Jen Baldwin

The Weather and Your Ancestors

by Jen Baldwin | Oct 17, 2013

Society has been affected greatly by natural weather patterns and extreme events throughout recorded history. Have you ever thought to research how the weather affected your ancestors? Read More

Amy Johnson Crow

Beginner Mistakes and How to Avoid Them [video]

by Amy Johnson Crow | Oct 9, 2013

There are some common traps that beginners fall into when they are working on their family history. If you've made these mistakes, it's alright. It's never too late to learn to avoid them. Read More

Harold Henderson

How To Handle Conflicting Evidence: A Six-Step Program

by Harold Henderson | Oct 8, 2013

Conflicting evidence is a bit like hearing Grandma tell a lie. Or did she just tell the truth, and everything we thought we knew to the contrary was the lie? Read More

Amy Johnson Crow

Why You Can't Find Your Ancestor in That County: Boundary Changes [video]

by Amy Johnson Crow | Sep 25, 2013

Being able to place an ancestor in a specific place at a specific time is crucial to finding records about that person. What can trip up genealogists is when a family didn't move, but their location did. Read More

Jen Baldwin

Creative Thinking for Genealogy

by Jen Baldwin | Sep 24, 2013

What do dog licenses, water permits and bawdy houses have in common? They are all resources that can - and... Read More

Jen Baldwin

Your Homesteader Ancestors: Getting Past the Legends

by Jen Baldwin | Sep 13, 2013

Owning land has always been part of the American Dream. For many, homesteading was an opportunity that could not be missed. Read More

Diane L. Richard

Timelines as Genealogical Research Tools

by Diane L. Richard | Sep 5, 2013

When I work on complex research problems or receive a thick packet of research from a client, one of my... Read More

Jen Baldwin

Exploring Your Ancestors' World with Geography

by Jen Baldwin | Aug 29, 2013

Geography is more than just maps, and there is substantial value in utilizing this science in your genealogy. Read More

Harold Henderson

Rip & Run vs. Write as You Go

by Harold Henderson | Aug 19, 2013

Back when I was a journalist, research was part of the job, but footnotes were forbidden. I developed a factory-like mass-production system for visiting libraries. "Rip and run" may not have been the best strategy even then. There is an alternative to ripping and running: Write as you go. Read More

Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

Use Your Ancestors' Social History to Your Advantage

by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman | Aug 13, 2013

By studying social history we can learn about the type of lives our relatives may have had. It can tell us a lot about the places, spaces, and faces that may have crossed their paths. Read More

J. Mark Lowe

Border Jumping: Researching Across State & County Borders

by J. Mark Lowe | Aug 8, 2013

Many state borders are defined by a natural land feature or river like the Ohio River serving as the border... Read More

Amy Johnson Crow

How Good Is That Record? Evaluating Sources [video]

by Amy Johnson Crow | Aug 7, 2013

As you continue climbing your family tree, it is only a matter of time before you find records that don't... Read More

Diane L. Richard

Tips for Applying to a Lineage Society

by Diane L. Richard | Aug 6, 2013

Whether you are applying to honor an ancestor or as an exercise in compiling documentation, working on a lineage society application is a great way to hone your research skills. Read More

Sunny McClellan Morton

Moving Right Along: Migration Trails

by Sunny McClellan Morton | Jul 30, 2013

When we learn how and why people moved around, we have a better chance of finding those whose trails we've lost (and we're more confident it's actually them when we find them). Read More

Harold Henderson

Did I Prove It? Ten Questions To Ask Along the Way

by Harold Henderson | Jul 23, 2013

Proof is social. And I don't mean that we have to post it on Facebook or compress it into a... Read More

Amy Johnson Crow

Source Citations: They're Not As Hard As You Think [video]

by Amy Johnson Crow | Jun 26, 2013

If source citations are scary to you, relax. They're really not as frightening as you think. Plus, there are good reasons for getting over your fear. Read More

Harold Henderson

Indecision as a Genealogical Virtue

by Harold Henderson | Jun 25, 2013

The research road leads from ignorance to knowledge. But that trip takes time. During that time, we need to be able to keep our minds open and not get too attached to any particular route. Read More

Diane L. Richard

Not Your Grandmother's Diary

by Diane L. Richard | May 28, 2013

We crave personal details of our ancestors' lives. Diaries are a great source, but don't always look like we expect. Read More

Claudia Breland

Building a Case With Your Genealogy

by Claudia Breland | Mar 19, 2013

There have been times in my research when an answer hasn't been found immediately. Over the years, I have learned... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Seven Ways to be a Lucky Genealogist

by Lisa Alzo | Mar 14, 2013

Certainly the old adage of "knowledge is power" rings true when it comes to tracing elusive ancestors, but it's just... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Five Ways to Find Your Female Ancestors

by Lisa Alzo | Mar 5, 2013

Tracing female ancestors is often one of the brick wall problems many genealogists face. With missing maiden names, lack of... Read More

Sunny McClellan Morton

Directory Assistance: Discovering Ancestors in City Directories

by Sunny McClellan Morton | Feb 27, 2013

We often learn about our American ancestors in ten-year intervals from the federal census. To that timeline we add milestones... Read More

Harold Henderson

Keeping Track on the Road to Proof

by Harold Henderson | Feb 21, 2013

Sigh. A few months or years from now, some dimwit is going to read my genealogy notes. That dimwit will... Read More

Diane L. Richard

Researching Poor Ancestors

by Diane L. Richard | Feb 14, 2013

Providing relief to those in need is not a modern concept. All through history, records reflect the providing of assistance... Read More

Jennifer Holik

New Views of Your Ancestors in Spreadsheets and Maps

by Jennifer Holik | Jan 24, 2013

As a genealogist, do you always know exactly what information you have, or do not have, for each person within... Read More

Gena P. Ortega

Researching Black Sheep Ancestors

by Gena P. Ortega | Jan 24, 2013

Do you hear that rattling? That's the skeleton in your ancestral closet. While some people may feel embarrassed by an... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Six More Ways to Find Your Family History Muse

by Lisa Alzo | Jan 22, 2013

Is finally writing that family history one of your goals or resolutions for 2013? For many genealogists, getting started is... Read More

Sunny McClellan Morton

Ancestors on the Job

by Sunny McClellan Morton | Jan 17, 2013

An ancestor's occupation can be one of the most telling details of their lives. Jobs hint at training, daily workload,... Read More

Harold Henderson

Solving the Paradox of Research Planning

by Harold Henderson | Jan 8, 2013

Genealogy starts simple for most of us. We interview relatives, we look up dates in known records Read More

Diane L. Richard

Taking the Roll: 19th Century School Censuses

by Diane L. Richard | Dec 26, 2012

When doing 19th century research, we often look at Federal census records, deeds, and tax records, but many researchers don't... Read More

Harold Henderson

Why We Don't Write, and How We Can

by Harold Henderson | Dec 18, 2012

I've done it, and you have too. After a wonderful day of discoveries on line or at the library or... Read More

Harold Henderson

Getting The Most When Hiring A Professional Genealogist

by Harold Henderson | Nov 13, 2012

Why would anyone who loves research hire a genealogist to help find their own family? Most of us would as... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Making Heritage Happen: Planning a Fantastic Family History Research Trip

by Lisa Alzo | Oct 9, 2012

While the Internet has made genealogical data available to us without leaving home, many researchers still dream of visiting the... Read More

Thomas MacEntee

The (Not So) Private Lives of Our Ancestors

by Thomas MacEntee | Oct 2, 2012

With all the news about privacy, identity theft, and the role of access to vital records, have you ever considered... Read More

Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

Getting Creative: Using Genealogy to Teach Writing Skills

by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman | Sep 25, 2012

As genealogists, we tend to have several passions in common: We love our family's history and we want to share... Read More

Glen Covert

Noble Family Histories Demystified: The German and Austrian Example

by Glen Covert | Aug 22, 2012

Discovering that you descend from nobility is not always a genealogical goldmine. Making such a connection will not automatically have... Read More

Lou Liberty

Writing The Story Of Stories

by Lou Liberty | Aug 2, 2012

My maternal grandmother was a natural storyteller. From the time I was born she filled my ears with stories.... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Fitting Genealogy Into Your Busy Life: Ten Tips To Maximize Your Research Time

by Lisa Alzo | Jul 31, 2012

Genealogy is a time-consuming activity. We can get lost for hours in microfilm, online databases (1940 census, anyone?), and... Read More

Lou Liberty

What Life Was Like In The Living Of It

by Lou Liberty | May 10, 2012

The historian, Will Durant, once indicated that a definition of "history" could be "human activity through time." The truth... Read More

Sunny McClellan Morton

Athletic Ancestors? Relive Their Glory Days

by Sunny McClellan Morton | May 9, 2012

There's a star athlete in every clan, if you believe what you hear at family reunions. Grandpa played wide... Read More

Thomas MacEntee

What You Should Know About Copyright And Genealogy

by Thomas MacEntee | Apr 26, 2012

[Note: the author is not an attorney and the information contained in this article should not be construed as... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Tips for Removing Stubborn Genealogy Research Blockers

by Lisa Alzo | Apr 19, 2012

Brick walls are an inevitable part of a genealogist's research life. In the simplest terms, brickwalls are often defined as... Read More

Harold Henderson

Tales From The Courthouse

by Harold Henderson | Apr 17, 2012

Court records are a form of postmodern literature - they drop us into the middle of stories with no known... Read More

Peggy Patrick

Case Study Excerpts: Expect The Unexpected

by Peggy Patrick | Apr 5, 2012

As a beginning genealogy researcher, my only expectation was to learn about my family. I began searching my paternal... Read More

Michael Pollock

Where Do I Find...? Identifying Place Names and Their Possible Significance

by Michael Pollock | Feb 28, 2012

One problem many genealogists will encounter is being unable to find records when they cannot identify a place associated... Read More

Don Edwards

Reborn Records!

by Don Edwards | Feb 21, 2012

How do you find alternate records for those destroyed by fires, floods, storms, earthquakes or wars? Can Civil War era... Read More

Kathleen Brandt

Genealogy Research vs. Privacy Restrictions

by Kathleen Brandt | Jan 31, 2012

As family historians we know the importance of vital records - birth, death, marriages, and divorces. These life events, recorded... Read More

Ruth Lang

The Stories Your House Could Tell: Researching The History Of Your House

by Ruth Lang | Jan 24, 2012

If you live in or have recently purchased an older or historic house, you might be curious about the history... Read More

Harold Henderson

Climbing The Spiral Staircase: Learning Genealogy

by Harold Henderson | Jan 12, 2012

As genealogists, we have all spent time learning which records to trust and which not to trust. We might start... Read More

Thomas MacEntee

10 Genealogy New Year's Resolutions for 2012 You Can Keep!

by Thomas MacEntee | Jan 2, 2012

The end of one year and the beginning of another is often a time for reflection. Most people ponder breaking... Read More

Claudia Breland

Brick Wall Breakthrough: Follow The Breadcrumbs On & Offline

by Claudia Breland | Nov 14, 2011

When I first started exploring my family history, I was insatiable - I couldn't find enough family records. When... Read More

Michael Pollock

Howell To Reed Difficult Handrighting

by Michael Pollock | Nov 3, 2011

Three words in the title to this article, "howell", "reed" and "handrighting", are intentionally misspelled to call my readers'... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Getting To The Good Stuff: Locating The Richest Genealogical Resources

by Lisa Alzo | Nov 1, 2011

Beginning genealogists often make the mistake of plugging the names of their ancestors into online databases, looking for any type... Read More

Gena P. Ortega

Become A Searchologist: How To Conduct Better Searches That Yield Results

by Gena P. Ortega | Oct 20, 2011

Beginning genealogists are introduced to research by typing a surname or a full name into a genealogy website and... Read More

Diane L. Richard

Borders: Just A Line On a Map

by Diane L. Richard | Oct 6, 2011

More often than not, whether you had a family living near a county or stateborder, there is a good chance... Read More

Susan Jackman

Where Is Your Proof?

by Susan Jackman | Sep 27, 2011

So you have all the evidence, but now you need to organize your findings in a way so that... Read More

Thomas MacEntee

How To Collaborate With Other Genealogists

by Thomas MacEntee | Sep 23, 2011

A sense of connectedness is what many of us in the field of genealogy experience once we get started... Read More

Heather Kramer

Dusting The Ash Pile: Creating Ancestor Profiles From Burned Counties

by Heather Kramer | Sep 13, 2011

When conducting research many genealogists encounter burned counties which can make it difficult to locate ancestors. Burned counties are counties... Read More

Harold Henderson

Indirect Evidence To The Rescue

by Harold Henderson | Aug 25, 2011

How I wish I could talk with my wife's great-great-great grandfather Samuel Wesley Boren (1828-1897) for a few minutes.... Read More

Michael Pollock

Digging Up Bones: Locating Cemeteries And Identifying People In Them

by Michael Pollock | Aug 2, 2011

Most people who have done any significant amount of genealogy research will have visited at least one cemetery. Such... Read More

Patricia Thompson

Postage Stamp Genealogy

by Patricia Thompson | Jun 23, 2011

What can you buy for 44� in today's economy? Not a cup of coffee or a soda or even a... Read More

Michael Pollock

The Importance Of Using Original Records

by Michael Pollock | Jun 16, 2011

Most people have been taught in school to find information primarily in a published source, be it a newspaper, magazine,... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Where is That? Strategies for Finding Your Ancestral Town or Village

by Lisa Alzo | May 16, 2011

Many genealogists eventually hope to "cross the pond" to find out more about their ancestral origins. In order to successfully make that jump, there are two key pieces of information you will need. Read More

Gena P. Ortega

Getting A Genealogical Education

by Gena P. Ortega | Apr 28, 2011

When you first begin researching your family history everything is exciting; with all the instant matches on genealogy subscription sites and finding new cousins with the same interest in your ancestors... Read More

Lisa Alzo

Diseases, Disasters & Distress: Bad For Your Ancestors, Good For Your Genealogical Research

by Lisa Alzo | Feb 3, 2011

Wouldn't it be nice if all the branches on our family trees were filled with bright shiny leaves that... Read More

Thomas MacEntee

Genealogical Societies: They Do Your Genealogy Good

by Thomas MacEntee | Nov 4, 2010

Just as humans were not meant to lead solitary lives, it is also true that genealogists can't function without some... Read More

Colleen Fitzpatrick

What Is Forensic Genealogy?

by Colleen Fitzpatrick | Oct 7, 2010

Who? What? When? Where? Are these the words of a genealogist researching his family tree or a forensic scientist solving... Read More

Thomas MacEntee

A Trip To Bountiful Genealogy Research

by Thomas MacEntee | Sep 9, 2010

As you progress from beginning genealogist to the intermediate level, you realize that not all research can be done... Read More

Diane L. Richard

Tips To Help You Find Seemingly "Lost" Ancestors

by Diane L. Richard | Jul 30, 2010

So, for one reason or another, you have "lost" your ancestor - now what? What you do depends on some of the possible reasons that they are "lost" and the time period and locale(s) involved. Here are a few tricks and tips to help you find an ancestor that appears to be "lost". Read More

Maureen A. Taylor

Family Reunion Sense and Sensibility

by Maureen A. Taylor | May 21, 2010

Every other year, my husband's family gathers for a reunion. It's the glue that keeps the family together. They've been doing this since the 1950s. For the planners it's an exhausting two-year process that culminates in a week long hug fest that welcomes generations of cousins from around the globe. Read More

Lisa Alzo

Five Strategies For Finding Forgotten Females

by Lisa Alzo | May 6, 2010

Every genealogist has at least one. I'm talking about the "Lost Lizzie" or "Elusive Edna" whose maiden name is left blank in your family tree. Indeed researching female ancestors can be one of the most challenging tasks in genealogy, but yet one of the most important to help trace family lines to the previous generations. Read More

Sherri Bradley

Volunteer Projects Help Family Historians

by Sherri Bradley | Apr 23, 2010

Picture're just starting your quest for information on your family. What you might not know is that there are many valuable free resources that can help you begin your search. I've listed several volunteer driven websites below that are dedicated to making family history resources free to everyone. I encourage you to use these tools and help out by becoming a volunteer! Read More

Diane L. Richard

Mobile Ancestors: Why They Moved And How To Find Them

by Diane L. Richard | Mar 19, 2010

Our ancestors moved - A LOT! Though there were families who remained in the same town or nearby for generations, there were also a lot of people who moved. And, many of those people might have made a few stops along the way to their ultimate destination, only staying a few years here and there. Read More

Kathleen Brandt

Planning A Genealogy Research Trip

by Kathleen Brandt | Jan 7, 2010

You have scoured bookshelves and archives at your local genealogy library, ordered periodicals and books through inter-library loans, and borrowed the Family History Library microfilms that hint to your ancestor's comings and goings. Read More

Martin Fischer

Reversing Gears: How To Find Living Relatives

by Martin Fischer | Dec 23, 2009

Building your family tree begins with yourself and your parents, and progresses generation-by-generation into the past. At some point every family history researcher, novice or experienced, hits a roadblock in that process. Read More

Melody K. Porter

Fear Of Citing

by Melody K. Porter | Oct 2, 2009

Fear of the unknown whether it is flying or citing sources can be paralyzing, so much so that many genealogy researchers avoid using source citations altogether. May be it seems too much like school or perhaps they think it unnecessary. Read More

Melody K. Porter

Source Citation: A Genealogist's Best Friend

by Melody K. Porter | Jul 2, 2009

Have you heard the saying that "Diamonds are a girl's best friend?" Well, source citations should be considered a genealogist's... Read More

Charles S. Mason, Jr.

Finding Ancestors with Common Names

by Charles S. Mason, Jr. | Jul 2, 2009

Common names present a problem for every genealogical researcher, regardless of their level of experience. For researchers with less experience... Read More

Linda Lorda

"You'll See It When You Believe It"! Your Outlook Can Result in Research Success

by Linda Lorda | Jul 2, 2009

You've heard the skeptical announcement, "I'll believe it when I see it!" Such a critical attitude is understandable when the... Read More

George Joynson

You Found Them Where? Getting Around Misspelled Names.

by George Joynson | Jul 2, 2009

Continuing your genealogy research despite misspellings can be quite a challenge. Years ago our ancestors' names were commonly misspelled. Maybe... Read More

Martin E. Hollick

Medieval Genealogy for the Medievally-Challenged (Like Me)

by Martin E. Hollick | Jul 2, 2009

Many genealogical breakthroughs necessitate a re-education for the researcher. Suddenly you are in a new geographic location, dealing with a... Read More

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom

Adoption Research: The Agony of the Search; the Thrill of Success

by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom | Jul 2, 2009

Adoption research can be exhilarating. With the secrecy surrounding many adoptions, it can be frustrating. It sometimes seems that you... Read More

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