Death records are also less restricted than most records by privacy laws. While monetary restrictions and privacy concerns mean that the majority of death records are not yet available online, many online death indexes are available through both official and volunteer sources. Details listed in the SSDI generally include the name, date of birth and death, zip code of last residence, and social security number for each listed individual.
Continuing the search for death records, online cemetery transcriptions are another huge resource for information on your ancestors. Volunteers from around the world have traipsed through thousands of cemeteries, posting names, dates, and even photos. Some larger public cemeteries provide their own online index to burials. RootsWeb's country, state, and county sites are another great source for links to online cemetery transcriptions, or you can try a search for your family's surname plus cemetery plus location in your favorite Internet search engine. Once you've used your personal knowledge and online death records to trace your family tree back to people who lived around the beginning of the twentieth century, census records can provide a treasure trove of information on the family.
Census records in the United States , Great Britain , Canada , and many other countries are available online -- some for free and some through subscription access. In the United States, for example, you can often find living and recently deceased family members listed with their parents in the federal census, the most recent census year open to the public.
Genealogy and Family History
From there, you can trace the family back through previous censuses, often adding a generation or more to the family tree. Census takers weren't very good at spelling and families aren't always listed where you expect them, so you may want to try some of these search tips for census success. By this point, you've probably managed to narrow down the search to a particular town or county. Now's the time to head to the source for more detailed information. There you may find newspaper abstracts, published county histories, biographies, family trees, and other transcribed records, as well as surname queries and other information posted by fellow researchers.
You may have already come across some of these sites in your search for cemetery records, but now that you've learned more about your ancestors, you can dig even deeper. In the spirit of location, my next step in the family hunt is to visit the Web sites for local libraries and historical and genealogical societies in the area in which my ancestor lived. Often you can find links to these organizations through the locality-specific genealogical sites mentioned in step 5.
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You may find online indexes, abstracts, or other published genealogical records. Many great nuggets of family history information are exchanged and shared via message boards, groups, and mailing lists. Searching the archives of the lists and groups which pertain to your surnames and areas of interest may yield obituaries, family histories, and other pieces of the genealogy puzzle. Not all of these archived messages can be found via traditional search engines, however, necessitating manual searching of any lists of interest. Some may require you to join free before searching the archived messages.
Hopefully, by this point, you've found enough names, dates, and other facts to help you distinguish your ancestors from others of the same name -- making it a good time to turn to the family research already done by others. Thousands of family tree have been published online, the majority of them included in one or more of these Top 10 Pedigree Databases.
Discover your ancestors - Genes Reunited
Don't forget to ask relatives whether they can put names to the faces. You've talked to the rellies and looked at the photographs. Now it is time to start the search in earnest.
Most of the major resources are now available online, generally for a fee. The two largest are Ancestry and Findmypast, but there are smaller lesser comprehensive sites like thegenealogist. However, lots of material is available for free if you know where to look. The largest is FamilySearch which lists millions of births and marriages but few burials before The data is far from complete and it is not always accurate, but it is a useful starting place.
The site also has a detailed index to the census. Another great free site is FreeBMD which provides a detailed index to birth, marriage and death certificates from All of these sites are simple to use with lots of help available if you are not certain what the records are telling you.
If you have Scottish ancestors, then most of the work has already been done for you. Indexes to Scottish births, marriages and deaths, census records and parish registers are all online.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of other sites devoted to family history. In fact, it can be difficult to find the one you want! There are links to nearly , at Cyndi's List.
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Otherwise, just enter the name of an ancestor into Google and see what is available out there. You may be amazed what you will find. Family history has given great pleasure to many hundreds of thousands of people. It's difficult enough to be a challenge, but not so hard that it is impossible to crack. And who knows what will come up? You're unlikely to be related to anybody rich or famous, but most researchers are just happy finding a poacher who was hung for sheep-stealing.
There might be , websites devoted to genealogy, but many researchers still prefer to rely on books. As a result, dozens of new family history books are published each year. Some are general guides, others describe the records in more detail, while others tell the stories of individual families. If you are looking for a guide, choose the most up-to-date one you can, as older books will miss out the latest websites and releases of new records. Be warned that many of the most commonly available books are often rather out of date and surprisingly inaccurate.
There are a number of specialist publishers, whose books are likely to be both more accurate as well as cheaper. However, they can be difficult to find in bookshops. It may be best to buy them through the publisher's own websites or via Amazon. They include:. Thank you for everything. Search the site Search term is required.