Getting Started, Step 3 – Finding Challenging Information (FamilySearch Genealogy)


Finding Challenging Information You may come across ancestors that you know very little about. Their lives are like puzzles. Just waiting to be solved. There are two good principles for finding information about you puzzling ancestors. The first principle is to try to find information about your most recent ancestors and then work back in time. Start by finding information about your parents and uncles and aunts, then your grandparents, and then your great-grandparents. The second principle is to look for information on a record that will lead to other records. For example, you can look on your father’s birth record to find your grandfather’s name listed as a parent. Then you can find his birth record where you can discover the name of your great-grandfather. This process of looking for information on one record that leads to another is a key strategy in preparing a family history. Records and the Information They Contain The keys to discovering you puzzling ancestors may be found in public records that are kept by governments, religious organizations, and other record keeping institutions. From a birth record you can discover your ancestor’s full maiden name, her date and place of birth, and the names of her parents. A government census record can tell you where she lived and in some cases, the names of other people in her family. From a marriage record you can learn her age and the name of her husband. Newspaper articles may give you important information about events in her life and the times in which she lived. A death record or an obituary can provide the names of her children and other relatives. Using the bits and pieces of information you’ve found on different records you can reconstruct your ancestor’s life and share it with others. It’s important to know that birth, marriage, and death records are sometimes called vital records. Many times vital records can be found through the vital records offices of local governments. How to Find Records When you start searching for records, we recommend that you begin at FamilySearch.org. It’s a non-profit website where you can search for records free of charge. Family Search.org can instantly search through many different record collections containing hundreds of millions of records. If the records you are looking for aren’t available at FamilySearch.org you may want to visit a family history center in your area. These small, genealogical libraries are free to the public. They are staffed by volunteers who can try to help you find records for your ancestors Family history Centers have access to the world’s largest collection of records on microfilm that are not available on any web site. While you are there, you can also use a variety of commercial Web sites free of charge. Most family history centers are located in meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No proselyting is conducted at a center. To learn more about finding records, or to locate a family history center near you, go to Step 3 of our Web site and look in the Additional Resources section.

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