How to Research My Family Roots


Authored by Geoff Vaughan in Family
Published on 02-19-2009

In the olden days before the Internet, researching one’s family roots involved a lot of legwork. You had to dig through old microfiches and newspapers at the library, look through old paper courthouse records, and maybe even make a trip overseas. Thankfully, there are many ways that one can undertake this research from the comfort of his or her own living room as well.

The first stop on a journey through one’s past should be the website Ancestry.com. It seems like his site has been around forever, and it keeps adding more and more database records to its treasure trove of information. To begin, you enter all of the information that you know about your family. You can then get ancestry hints, which can lead to additional searches that can result in discovering more facts about ancestors. If you enter a full name on the site, you can get a lot of historical data from census information. You can also compare notes with other relatives that are still alive that you may not even know about. This site really can provide you with a detailed sketch of your history. Some parts of it are only available with a paid subscription, but there is a lot of free information available as well.

Another thing that many people do to find information about long lost relatives is post messages on genealogy message boards. To find these sites, just do an Internet search for “genealogy message boards”, and links to many such websites will appear. On these sites, one can ask around to see if anyone out there shares his or her last name, and if anyone else has information to fill in some of the gaps in the family tree. This can be especially helpful if one has a little bit of information about the relatives in question and can offer up some clues as to what is being searched for. These boards are usually free to join, and can be a valuable resource for someone researching the family roots.

Some states and counties make civil, criminal, or both types of court records available for free over the Internet, and this can be a good research tool as well. Current court records can sometimes be found on the website of the state’s or county’s court system. But the more pertinent information can usually be found on the site devoted to the Archives Department of the state our county. Court records of many years ago are often released by this type of department, and often governments are more apt to release these records than current ones, since they are less sensitive due to the amount of time that has passed. Here, one can find out many things including birth, marriage, and death records, property ownership, and heaven forbid, sometimes even criminal records.

Through the use of these on-line resources, once can get a good start in researching his or her family roots. Of course, not every piece of information out there is on the Internet, even though it may seem like it sometimes. So, to have an accurate record, one may still have to dig around in old, dusty records and travel to exotic lands. However, these resources can definitely save a lot of unnecessary legwork.


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