Genealogy Tips & Tricks
~Whether you've been bitten by the genealogy bug
or you are researching for a 4-H project,
here are a few hints, tips, and tricks
to find those elusive ancestors!
1) Try to always work from the Present to the Past. Don't skip generations!
2) Talk with family and friends. They can provide clues and fill in gaps of your research. Also hunt through the attic for old boxes of photos, clippings, diaries, letters, or family bibles.
3) Fill out a Pedigree, or Ancestor, chart! When you visit Indiana or Genealogy Rooms at libraries, they will always ask if you have filled out a Pedigree chart.
*Note: When writing dates, put the date first and the month second to avoid confusion.
Ex: 3 July, 1890
You can download a chart for free from the Indiana State Library.
4) Fill out a Family Group Sheet. The group sheet lists the children of those in the Pedigree Chart.
This sheet and other forms are available at Rootsweb.
5) Keep a Log. Always write down where you find information. This will save time, energy, and headaches later on when you want to find that little tidbit from an old newspaper you wrote down about Great Aunt Essie.
~Okay, you are ready to log on to the Internet.
Remember, the Internet is a great tool, but it is not a magical box of information just waiting to spit out every answer that you need.
*A great starting point is with the Federal Census Records.
The census started in 1790. It was taken every ten years after that with more detailed information recorded than the last. (Unfortunately, a fire at the Commerce Department in 1921 destroyed almost all the 1890 records.) The records are open to the public after a 72 year waiting period. So the 1930 Census is available, and the 1940 will be unveiled in 2010.
Through the census, you can trace your relations' addresses and neighbors. Beware! The census holds many pitfalls. If people were not home, a neighbor might give the census taker information of the family to the best of their knowledge. If a parent was out, the children might have given information. The census taker could have even misheard what was said. So, be flexible with names and dates!
The Federal Census Records can be found on HeritageQuest or Ancestry.com. These are databases that one must buy, or you may go to a local library to view the databases in-house for free.
* Cemetery Records
Cemetery listings are available at most libraries. Our local cemetery lists are available on the left-hand side of this page.
*Birth, Marriage, Death Records
These records are a gold mine of information. Most require a fee and none exist before 1882 (at least in Indiana).