Tips to Tracing a Family History
These days unearthing your family tree is not as impossible as you might think. Even if your family has no record of its ancestors, there is still hope of finding out who they were and what they did via a number of easily accessed genealogy resources. Below are a few helpful tips for tracing a family history on your own.
Subscription genealogy sites
Subscription genealogy sites do most of the hard work for you by compiling any available birth, death, marriage, medical and immigration records in one place and on one database. Easily the largest online database is currently operated by Ancestry.com, which represents a collection of family history information spread across U.S., UK and Australian domains. One way that Ancestry.com offers more is by compiling existing users family trees, so that you can get otherwise inaccessible information by finding a common ancestor. While you must pay for long-term access to such a site, most of these services offer a free trial to get you started.
Free family history sites
Two of the best family history sites are free. The USGenWeb project launched over 15 years ago, gives searchers access to less common information like state census records, land ownership maps and pension records. The information is organized on a state-by-state basis with some states maintaining their own special projects like Civil War histories or a collection of old tombstone inscriptions. If you believe your ancestors immigrated through Ellis Island, you can use a passenger search to check the organization's online charters for their information as well as for a wealth of other free genealogy resources and tips.
If your family has lived in one area for several generations, then your local courthouse is also a valuable resource for information on births, deaths, marriages and land ownership status. Courthouse records are searchable by time period and name as well as by record dates.
If you want to expand on your family history there are several websites and a few brick and mortar resources available to aid you in your search.