Finding Your Ancestors
Lisa South, Certified Genealogist
week we discussed the importance of surveying what
research has already been done before beginning
your own research. Today we carry on the
discussion of how to proceed once you have
completed your survey phase.
Ah, now we can
put on our Deerstalker hats, pick up our pipes and
say, “The game’s afoot!” All genealogists love to
do the survey phase because of the ease of doing
it and the great rewards that come fairly fast.
For example, OneGreatFamily may contain thousands
of your ancestors already researched by other
genealogists, just waiting for your discovery.
However the detective inside of me thrills as I
try to put piece by tiny piece together to find
the prize - new information about an
The sources to search in our
original research phase are too numerous to give a
comprehensive list. A few of these, for example,
are: vital records, church, military, courthouse,
and immigration. Each of these will be discussed
individually in future newsletters. In this
newsletter we’ll focus on the research procedure
1. Set a genealogical goal.
Too many beginning genealogists set a goal to find
out everything about their families, but even
setting a goal to find out everything about one
particular family is too broad. A genealogical
goal should be very specific, e.g. to find out
Madison Almon’s birth date.
which record would most likely have this
information, e.g. Madison was born before birth
records were recorded in the state of his birth
but died after death certificates were kept. Death
certificates usually list the birth
2. Decide which record would most
likely have this information, e.g. Madison was
born before birth records were recorded in the
state of his birth but died after death
certificates were kept. Death certificates usually
list the birth date.
3. Find out where the
record is being stored (on microfilm at a library,
in a county court house, at the National Archives,
etc.). In Madison’s case it would be Alabama Vital
Records, State Department of Public
4. Obtain a copy of the record or
extract pertinent information.
the information. (see OGF archives newsletter on
Evaluation of Evidence)
6. Publish the
results. To publish the results means different
things to different genealogists. For some, it is
publishing a book or putting the information
online; for others it means recording it in his or
her own records.
Once these six steps have
been accomplished, the research procedure is
completed. Begin again by setting another
genealogical goal and continuing through the six