This guide is designed to help the beginning researcher learn about genealogy research, from tips and tricks to challenges and potential roadblocks. Information presented provides a broad overview of genealogy research and includes resources outside of th

What is genealogical research?

Basics of genealogy research

As with any research, you aren't always sure what you'll find until you find it. Genealogical research can be a wonderful way to learn more about your ancestors. It may also be a frustrating experience. Follow these best practices to have the most successful experience possible:

  1. Have as many names and dates handy as possible. You can gather these by chatting with your relatives, or by preliminary research. Know any special/foreign characters and spelling variations, as well as any birth years or death years. General ideas of locations in which your ancestors lived can be helpful as well.
  2. Common names may prove difficult to trace back. There is a chance you will trace the wrong line back; patience is key in genealogy research!
  3. Keep in mind that records from the censuses of population and housing are publicly accessible 72 years after each decennial census' "Census Day," so you may not be able to access the census records you are hoping for.
  4. Branch out from census and vital records: you can also find good information from things like: church records, military records, land and property records, cemetery charts, criminal records, and community newspapers. 
  5. Keep your research organized. Useful forms can be found at the Midwest Genealogical Research website (PDFs).
Last Updated: Jun 11, 2021 9:03 AM