In the United States, generally speaking, each state has jurisdiction over the government records that are kept regarding their inhabitants' births, marriages, deaths, divorces, land transactions, probates, health, disease, education etc. They were not responsible for private record-keeping efforts such as those done by churches, cemeteries, community groups, companies, businesses etc. Certain cities also participated in early record-keeping efforts even prior to their state's commencement of such things. And then there are numerous other entities involved with keeping records; these include shipping lines, publication companies (city and county directories, and phone books), orphanages, hospitals and military organizations.
If you are researching your genealogy in Georgia, then this article is for you. We will look at the history of Georgia, websites and other research aids that will help you with your Georgia genealogy.
The history and genealogy of Georgia is lengthy and interesting. Fought over for decades by the Spanish (in Florida) and English (in South Carolina), Georgia was finally won by the English in the early 1700s. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_(country), by 1732 a group of British philanthropists had organized to recommend that "worthy poor" (i.e. those who were incarcerated in debtors' prisons) be sent to the colonies in America to establish themselves as productive citizens, and the first group of 113 settlers arrived in what was to become Savannah, GA. Thus Georgia was founded At the same time, non-English immigrants (including Scots and Irish) seeking religious freedom were encouraged to settle in Georgia as a counterbalance to Spanish Catholicism, so search among church records of various denominations and ethnicities for your Georgia genealogy. In 1733 a group of 42 mostly Sephardic Portuguese Jews settled in Savannah. In 1752 Georgia became a crown colony.
The non-Anglican churches were in part responsible for the antagonistic feeling against Britain, and Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788. Since Georgia was a relatively new colony, compared to the other twelve, it had a much smaller army and contributed less during the American Revolution (you will find few Revolutionary War records in your Georgia genealogy). With an agricultural economy, early one-third of its population was black slaves and there were also a fairly large number of indentured servants (see http://www.pricegen.com/immigrantservants/links.htm for more information). During the American Revolution, many of the slaves escaped and joined British forces who promised them freedom, ending up in other British colonies such as Canada and the Caribbean (so, if you find your black ancestors in Canada, for example, in the late 1700s, look for them earlier in Georgia). One hundred and fifty years later, another Great Migration of blacks to the North occurred.
Long before white settlers arrived, the area was populated by Native Americans. In 1830, the year after gold was discovered in Georgia, the Indian Removal Act forced all Cherokees off the land and into what was to become Oklahoma. If you have Native lines in Oklahoma at this time period, you may be able to trace your genealogy back to Georgia, although written records of Cherokees are rare.
With its agricultural economy and heavy dependence on slaves, Georgia joined the Confederacy in 1861. It was the last state to be restored to the Union, in 1870. During the Civil War, Georgia was home to the infamous Andersonville Prison. Many records are available if you think your Union ancestor might have been incarcerated there. There are also numbers of Confederate soldier records available on www.footnote.com, and Southern Claims Commission records for sympathizers of the North who had property confiscated by Union troops during the war. A web site that might be of use in searching for your Georgia genealogy is http://www.georgiagenealogy.org/ with links to Footnote, GenealogyBank and Ancestry. The state government and universities are also making many of their records available.
With such a diverse population and interesting history, searching for your genealogy in Georgia promises to be exciting and challenging, but there are so many more records more readily available today than ever before.