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Tips for Finding Your Elusive Ancestor


In the years I’ve been doing lineage research, for my own family tree and professionally for clients, the organization of documents, photos, records and strategy for searching for ancestors has been key to filling in the leaves on family trees. For all those who love to be organized (and maybe for some of those who don’t) here are a few tips that will keep the documents, source citations, and discoveries in your family tree coming:

Keep a list of websites that offer source documents and indexes by ethnicity. This will help you the next time you are searching for Swedish records or want to study the geography or culture of Jonkopings Lan.

Get online. Blogspots, social media, chat rooms, and webinars from developers of genealogy software to magazines to internet websites all have information that will give you ideas to keep you on track in the pursuit of your elusive ancestor.

Ask questions. From the question-and-answer session of a genealogy webinar to questions posted online at genealogy websites, you will find helpful responses from people doing research and from professionals assigned to field questions in genealogy.

Keep track of tweets from genealogists who share information in their areas of specialty. People share information, websites, photos and memories that help you appreciate the breadth of knowledge ready for you to tap.

Join a genealogical or historical society. Many states and cities in the U.S. fund historical societies as a way to share documents, photos and the history of the state. Joining an out-of-state historical society will give you access to information and the camaraderie of shared sleuthing will boost your level of knowledge and experience.

Foster relationships with churches. Get to know churches in the areas you are researching. Develop relationships with people who are in charge of housing vital records – they are experts in areas that can lead you to another “Ah Ha” moment in your search for records and some of them are genealogists too.

Visit your local library. Librarians are awesome people who can help you when you need to take your research to another area of exploration. And don’t forget to visit your local Family History Centers – if there is one in your area. Remember – talking to people who have long memories, great resource suggestions, and the patience knowing not everything will be revealed in one step, is the best way to rejuvenate your search for information.

Visit my website. Do you have a question about your own family tree research? Email me: I’d be glad to help with possible leads, website suggestions, database searches and any “have you tried this” ideas.

Read Read Read – Genealogy research methodology, family history topics, research websites, magazines, newspapers – You’ve got resources at your fingertips and your next big lead just might be discovered through your own continuing education.

Good luck being the detective inside your family history!


Author: Laurene Cross
Laurene Cross is a genealogist and family historian who writes stories about your ancestry and cultural heritage. Owner of Find My Family Stories and 4Descendants – Lineage Research

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