Find My Ancestor Blog

What Kind of Documents Do You Search For?

There are so many documents and records that are available to genealogists to help us find our ancestors, but sometimes it is hard to know which documents to look for and which ones give us the most information.

Some of the most common records we search for are birth, marriage, death, census, and military records. As we do more research and learn new techniques we learn there are records and documents out there that we never would have thought of using to help us break down those brick walls.

We all have those specific records we search for because we know they can be a goldmine of information. Some of us treasure one record type over another because of the time it was created, where it was created, or because of who it is about. Many of us have a "checklist" of items we search for for each person we do research on. The question is, what records or documents do YOU use to find the most information about your ancestors? Why do you use those documents? Where can they be found? Are they available online, microfilm, or only in person at an archive? Do these documents cost money to access or are they available for free to everyone?

Please take a minute or two and give your input on what kind of records and documents are the most beneficial to your research. Use the form "Genealogy Checklist" to give your input.


NGS Review Part 3

The following are my tweets from the opening session of the National Genealogical Society conference held last week in Salt Lake City. I am re-posting my tweets from the conference just in case you missed them and would like to know about some of the classes I attended.

  • "U.S. Naturalization Records, Colonial Times to Early Twentieth-century" by John Philip Colletta, PhD
  • Three periods of naturalization records
  • 1. Prior to 1970 2. 1790- Sep. 26, 1906 3. Since Sep. 27, 1906
  • Find a likely candidate and then secure and examine the original recede on microfilm or digitization.
  • Basic facts you need: ancestor's name,, native country, state and county where living during naturalization.
  • Where can you find naturalization records?
  • Citizenship columns in federal censuses: 1820, 1830, 1870, 1900-1930.
  • Find information in state censuses. He is talking about New York state census.
  • Why Naturalize? Vote, Ability to hold office, transfer land.
  • Check passenger ships records to see if a family member was already a citizen.
  • ALWAYS check state archives!! He emphasized that a lot!
  • Colonial Period - beginning in 1607: stautes of British colonies in North America(except for N.H.)
  • 1740: people could become a citizen of both Great Britain and the colony they were living.
  • White, males, 21yrs. +, land owner. These were people who could get citizenship at the time.
  • 1776: people who were born from this point forward are automatically citizens.
  • Pennsylvania Records of Natiralization 1695 177~ Most are Germans.
  • 1795: Free white females 21>. 5 years in country. 2- Declaration 3- Petition.
  • Sep. 27, 1906 Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization created.
  • 1922: married women must file separately.
  • Courts that naturalized: Federal, State, Municipal. Start with Federal and work your way down.
  • After INS was created forms were made that gave a lot more information than previous hand written declarations.
  • Of course, be sure to check
  • Great lecture on Naturalization by John Philip Colletta!!

  • "LDS Resources on the Internet - Where Can I Find Them And How Do I Use Them?" by Luana Darby
  • Early Latter-day Saint Database
  • Immigrant Ancestors Project - - not only for LDS records.

  • "FamilySearch's Tools and Resources for the United Kingdom and Ireland" by Diane Loosle
  • - England Jurisdictions 1851. For now it ony covers England.
  • FamilySearch Research Wiki. Repository for the collective research knowledge of the genealogical community.
  • Access online classes for free at
  • FamilSearch Forums.
  • Trees, Records, and Books.
  • FamilSearch Beta.
  • Currently there are 1.3 million records for the British Isles availabe on FamilySearch.

  • Waiting for "Immigrant Clue in Photographs" by Maureen Taylor to start.
  • Our immigrant ancestors took photographs the same way we do today.
  • Women immigrants would save all they could to buy a good dress to takes pictures and send home to family
  • Ancestors left clues in many of their photos.
  • Look for the fine details in the "costume clothes".
  • Red lines around photographs were generally taken in the 1870's.
  • In Europe, more than America, people dressed for their jobs.
  • The hardest costumes to figure out in photographs are military.
  • Wales developed a national costume to be distinct from England. Abt. 1860's.

  • Elizabeth Shown Mills class is packed already and it doesn't start for another 20 min!!
  • "Finding & Using Birth, Marriage, & Death Records Prior to Vital Registration.
  • In the 1100's is when records were started to be recorded a lot more regularly.
  • When records do exist, we still have to prove that the individual of record is the one we seek.
  • Many ancestors didn't have official marriages even when available because licenses &bonds cost money. Many were too poor.
  • Many couples could not legally marry even if they wanted to.
  • Beware of "the only one" of your relatives in a town. It may not be them or true.
  • "Research is NOT looking up the answer. Research is tracking down the answer."


New FamilySearch Affiliate Programs

I read a great article in the newspaper this morning. In the Mormon Times, a segment of the Deseret News they had an article about the New FamilySearch and the Apps that have been created by third-party companies that help make the New FamilySearch even better than it already is.

First, a little background about New FamilySearch. For the last decade the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been running and maintaining the popular genealogy website Many have used this website to find their ancestors and locate documents such as books, microfilm, and microfiche through the Family History Library Catalog. Over the past couple of years, FamilySearch has been developing and testing their new website, New FamilySearch, with the members of the LDS Church. The New FamilySearch has only been available to members, but will soon become available to everyone. 

To learn more about when the New Family Search will be available to the public, I suggest listening to the Genealogy Gems Podcast most recent episode(Episode 84). Lisa Louise Cooke, owner and host of Genealogy Gems recently interviewed Bryce Roper who works for FamilySearch. Bryce gives a lot of great information on what we can look forward to in the near future with FamilySearch.

The article in the Deseret News gave a list and description of the different affiliate programs that are currently FamilySearch certified with many more coming soon. Links to certified affiliates can be found at the website. Once there click on "More Great Products"

  • Record Managers:
    • Ancestral Quest (Windows)
    • FamilyInsight (Windows and Mac)
    • Legacy Family Tree (Windows)
    • MagiKey Family Tree (Windows)
    • RootsMagic 4 and RootsMagic 4 Essentials (Windows)
  • Print Services
    • Charting Companion (Web)
    • Family ChArtist (Web)
    • Generation Maps (Web)
    • TreeSeek (Web)
  • Access, sync
    • Family Pursuit (Web)
  • Access, update
    • Grow Branch (Web)
  • Access
    • Genetree (Web)
    • Get My Ancestors (Windows and Mac)
    • MobileTree (iPhone, iPod Touch)
  • Photo Hosting
    • Apple Tree (Web)
    • Family Photoloom (Web)
  • Temple Ordinaces
    • All My Cousins (Web)
    • Ordinance Tracker (Windows and Mac)
    • One Click Temple Trip (Web, still in beta)
  • Research Wiki Access
    • Live-Roots (Web)
To read the entire article, click here.


The GPS for Genealogy

In my opinion, one of the hardest things about doing genealogy is sourcing all of the information we find. Not only is it hard to know how to source things, but to remember to source them!

Mark Tucker did a great presentation on the Genealogical Proof Standard(GPS). Before his presentation I had heard about the GPS, but I didn't know exactly what it was, how to use it, or how it could help me in my research.

The first question some of you may have - What is the Genealogical Proof Standard? The GPS is a standard that has been set by many professional genealogists that we should follow to correctly cite our sources in our research. The GPS consists of 6 main points:
  1. Define Research Goals
  2. Search Reliable Sources
  3. Cite Each Source
  4. Analyze Sources, Information & Evidence
  5. Resolve Conflicts
  6. Conclude Written Proof
As I learn more about the GPS the more I think about how detailed this process is. I admit, my first thoughts on this were that it just seemed like way too much to do and way too complicated, but the more Mark talked about it and gave examples in his presentation I realized that this is something that is here to help us document our research and accurate in our findings. Even though it may take a long time to go through this process, at least we can sit back and look at it in the end and know that we did a thorough job on researching and citing. I am also confident that years down the road when our posterity is looking at the information that they will be glad we spent that extra time so they won't have to do the research all over again.

If you would like to learn more about the Genealogical Proof Standard, visit Mark's website at his blog Think Genealogy. On Mark's blog, he has links to the presentation he gave at the conference as well as a printout of the GPS. Thanks again Mark for the great presentation!