Genealogy is the study of a family line and the research into lineages and the major events in the lives of family members. These studies are done by hobbyists and professionals who spend hours pouring over public records from hospitals, churches, courts, and other areas. Many people also use oral histories to find information and the history is written up or outlined in a family tree.
Professional genealogists will sometimes look at the history of one group of people, like a study of a group living in a rural community, or those who belonged to a specific church during one period of time. These localized studies can sometimes help on a larger scale by showing information on a name or group of names, or by finding records specific to another type of family such as baptismal or death records.
The process of genealogical research typically begins with what the researcher already knows. He or she compiles a list of the dates and names they already know to help find the missing pieces of information. For example, if they know the names and birthdates of their nuclear family, their parents’ nuclear family and their grandparents, they’re often already far ahead of the game. Using just the birth or death date of one of their ancestors, they can often find that individual’s spouse and children.
In most cases the public records provide the most information, especially since many counties are now going to an online access system. Researchers can find birth and death records, marriage certificates, and even articles that mention their family members. These dates and names are sometimes inputed into family trees or other types of software such as group sheets or pedigree charts.
One of the best resources for genealogy is the Family Search website, run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This free search website lets users search by name and get results ranging from ancestral files to date of death. There’s no limit to the number of searches and many of the searches are connected. For example, one search may lead to more information on the parents and/or children of that individual.
This and That Genealogy Tips also contains some good information. Each article listed on this websites relates to different terms and ideas used in genealogy and how to do research. There are more tips found at Genealogy Research for Beginners. Researchers should also look at Genealogy Articles, Tips & Research for links to the more popular search sites.
Beginners especially should be aware of the best way to start and the mistakes to avoid. A few good resources include 26 Tips to Get You Started, Awesome Genealogical Tips, and Tips on Gathering Your Family Information.
There are many other websites where researchers can go to get more information on genealogy such as Cyndi‘s List, Rootsweb, Genealogy Tips and Tutorials, People Search, The Genealogy Homepage, All Surnames, and Genealogy Resources.