Research Strategies

The following articles are about Research Strategies

Resources for Examining Your Ancestors' Neighborhood

Author - Jennifer Holik
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

Epidemics and Pandemics: The Records Left Behind

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

Best Resources for Urban Research

Author - Lisa Alzo
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

Curb Your Enthusiasm and Grow as a Genealogist

Author - Harold Henderson
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

The Weather and Your Ancestors

Author - Jen Baldwin
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

Beginner Mistakes and How to Avoid Them [video]

Author - Amy Johnson Crow
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

How To Handle Conflicting Evidence: A Six-Step Program

Author - Harold Henderson
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

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

Author - Amy Johnson Crow
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

Creative Thinking for Genealogy

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

Your Homesteader Ancestors: Getting Past the Legends

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

Timelines as Genealogical Research Tools

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

Exploring Your Ancestors' World with Geography

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

Rip & Run vs. Write as You Go

Author - Harold Henderson
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

Use Your Ancestors' Social History to Your Advantage

Author - Stephanie Pitcher Fishman
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

Border Jumping: Researching Across State & County Borders

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

How Good Is That Record? Evaluating Sources [video]

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

Tips for Applying to a Lineage Society

Author - Diane L. Richard
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

Moving Right Along: Migration Trails

Author - Sunny McClellan Morton
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

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

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

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

Author - Amy Johnson Crow
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

Indecision as a Genealogical Virtue

Author - Harold Henderson
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

Not Your Grandmother's Diary

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

Building a Case With Your Genealogy

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

Seven Ways to be a Lucky Genealogist

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

Five Ways to Find Your Female Ancestors

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

Directory Assistance: Discovering Ancestors in City Directories

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

Keeping Track on the Road to Proof

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

Researching Poor Ancestors

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

New Views of Your Ancestors in Spreadsheets and Maps

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

Researching Black Sheep Ancestors

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

Six More Ways to Find Your Family History Muse

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

Ancestors on the Job

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

Solving the Paradox of Research Planning

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

Taking the Roll: 19th Century School Censuses

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

Why We Don't Write, and How We Can

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

Getting The Most When Hiring A Professional Genealogist

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

Making Heritage Happen: Planning a Fantastic Family History Research Trip

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

The (Not So) Private Lives of Our Ancestors

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

Getting Creative: Using Genealogy to Teach Writing Skills

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

Noble Family Histories Demystified: The German and Austrian Example

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

Writing The Story Of Stories

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

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

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

What Life Was Like In The Living Of It

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

Athletic Ancestors? Relive Their Glory Days

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

What You Should Know About Copyright And Genealogy

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

Tips for Removing Stubborn Genealogy Research Blockers

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

Tales From The Courthouse

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

Case Study Excerpts: Expect The Unexpected

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

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

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

Reborn Records!

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

Genealogy Research vs. Privacy Restrictions

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

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

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

Climbing The Spiral Staircase: Learning Genealogy

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

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

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

Brick Wall Breakthrough: Follow The Breadcrumbs On & Offline

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

Howell To Reed Difficult Handrighting

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

Getting To The Good Stuff: Locating The Richest Genealogical Resources

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

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

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

Borders: Just A Line On a Map

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

Where Is Your Proof?

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

How To Collaborate With Other Genealogists

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

Dusting The Ash Pile: Creating Ancestor Profiles From Burned Counties

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

Indirect Evidence To The Rescue

Author - Harold Henderson
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

Digging Up Bones: Locating Cemeteries And Identifying People In Them

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

Postage Stamp Genealogy

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

The Importance Of Using Original Records

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

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

Author - Lisa Alzo
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

Getting A Genealogical Education

Author - Gena P. Ortega
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

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

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

Genealogical Societies: They Do Your Genealogy Good

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

What Is Forensic Genealogy?

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

A Trip To Bountiful Genealogy Research

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

Tips To Help You Find Seemingly "Lost" Ancestors

Author - Diane L. Richard
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

Family Reunion Sense and Sensibility

Author - Maureen A. Taylor
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

Five Strategies For Finding Forgotten Females

Author - Lisa Alzo
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

Volunteer Projects Help Family Historians

Author - Sherri Bradley
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

Mobile Ancestors: Why They Moved And How To Find Them

Author - Diane L. Richard
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

Planning A Genealogy Research Trip

Author - Kathleen Brandt
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

Reversing Gears: How To Find Living Relatives

Author - Martin Fischer
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

Fear Of Citing

Author - Melody K. Porter
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

Source Citation: A Genealogist's Best Friend

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

Finding Ancestors with Common Names

Author - Charles S. Mason, Jr.
Common names present a problem for every genealogical researcher, regardless of their level of experience. For researchers with less experience... Read More

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

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

You Found Them Where? Getting Around Misspelled Names.

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

Medieval Genealogy for the Medievally-Challenged (Like Me)

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

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

Author - Jeanne Larzalere Bloom
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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