How do you trace your ancestors

Start building your family tree and find your ancestors in billions of historic records. This works best when used with a monthly subscription to the Ancestry website. This forum app gives access to a rapidly growing genealogy community online. Somewhere for newbies to ask for friendly pointers and for experienced hands to share advice.

Enter a few facts and we’ll help you discover a lot more.

It is also a good place to pick up birth, marriage and death certificates. Family trees that are easy to build and to view even offline. There are three privacy settings and a function to create a fast family tree by connecting with relatives via Facebook. If you want to view historical documents, including census returns, wills and nonconformist records, you have to pay to subscribe via TheGenealogist website.

Another great tool for creating and editing your tree. A useful feature allows photographs to be incorporated. Has a good but basic facility for looking up records, but you need to pay a full subscription to view search results. It supports 32 languages and is renowned for its worldwide genealogy community, helping you link to relatives overseas.

Designed to help you search for family graves worldwide, but equally useful for those who want to share their findings via crowdsourcing. Add photographs of headstones and transcribe memorial inscriptions to build up the database. Also lets you post a request for local volunteers to search for your ancestor's headstone in a cemetery. Links with Dropbox and iTunes so that you can view trees and research logs created with RootsMagic desktop software. Gedcom files can also be converted from other genealogy software companies for viewing as RootsMagic files while you are out and about.

Contains tools, including a date calculator, perpetual calendar, and relationship calculator. Every genealogist needs a first-class filing system and One Note is proving a credible competitor to the popular Evernote app. Incorporate digital photographs of old letters, clippings from genealogy websites, videos and audio interviews into your searchable notes, share them with relatives and sync with all your devices. Accompanies one of the best family tree building software programmes, Reunion.

Easy to use and with detailed but simple layouts, this app lets you work seamlessly on the go. Build on prior research. Find out whether your family has done any genealogy research before. Look for any existing online or physical documents that tell about your family. Also, look for pictures that can give you a sense of what life was like back when the photo was taken.

Look for family trees, records, and research projects that might give you a solid starting point. Make a family tree to organize what you know. Start with yourself, and map out everything that you know about your family history. Trace the chain of ancestry backward through your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, and beyond.


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Add birthdays, death dates, marriages, locations, and any other relevant information. Make a simple "direct route" list first. Branch into the past from you to your mother and father, then their parents, and then their grandparents By the time you list your great-grandparents, you already have 15 people on your "tree". To start your quest, find out as much as you can about those 15 people. Try running a simple web search. Find out when and where these ancestors were born.

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Note when these people married, and how many children they had. Figure out when and where these people died. Method 2 of Search the census records. Use the US Census online at Ancestry. Start with the most recent ancestors: find their names on each census, and work backward into the past.


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The online censuses are indexed — so if you put in the name and birthday, it may bring up the correct person along with other possibilities. As you start building the family tree, note the details that suggest other areas to search — e. Add or remove words to clarify the results. Search for their maiden name as well as the married name of female ancestors. The census records may confirm or suggest a marriage date. Be aware that the spelling of names may have changed. Some ancestors may not have been able to read or write well, and they may have used uncommon spellings. Old censuses may indicate whether or not a person was literate.

How to Trace Your Ancestors as Slaves

Narrow down your search results. After checking the census history, try a search of all records. It may help to narrow the records down to marriage and divorce, or immigration, or military. Search any census category that might include your ancestors. Try using tax and voter lists. Use naturalization papers. If your ancestors came from another country, you may need to look for their immigration and naturalization papers.

Trace your family tree

Naturalization papers have two parts: the papers and the final application. Unless you have that second paper, you can't be sure they were naturalized. They could have waited several years between the two, and the final paper could be in a different courthouse — even a different part of the country.

Use the census to trace where your ancestors lived, and look for naturalization records in those places. Consult the passenger lists of ships. If your ancestors immigrated across the sea, you might be able to figure out exactly when if you find their name. Track down physical records. If you know where your ancestors were married, go to that location church, courthouse, etc. Marriage certificates often feature the names of the parents of the bride and groom's parents.

This may be a useful clue to get you on track. See if the location was used for other ancestors, and look for their records as well. Find your ancestors' gravestones. If you know where your deceased relatives are buried or commemorated, visit the cemetery in person.

Look for clues: birth and death dates, names that don't match your records, or other relatives buried nearby. Don't be afraid to travel to distant cemeteries if your ancestors lived and died in various places. You might find it valuable to physically trace your ancestry by making it a journey.

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Use baptism records to suggest birthdays. If your ancestors' church baptized children, look through the baptism records. If you don't know an ancestors exact date of birth, the baptism can help you approximate when a given family member was born. Most baptisms are done soon after birth. You should also be able to find marriage and death records in the church archives.

Church records are not always complete. If the church is far from you, call before you travel. Method 3 of Explore online ancestry-research services. In most cases, you will pay someone to go out and research your family tree. You will need to provide as much relevant information as possible, including names, locations, dates, professions, and connections. This can be a great option if you don't have the time, energy, or inclination to do the legwork yourself.

Some of these services are scams.