Research Tips

I am looking for specific ancestors for my family tree

This area is designed for individuals who have been working on their genealogies for several years and are interested in tracing back their family trees for numerous generations. If you have been focusing more on broadening your tree and concentrate mostly on 20th Century resources, visit our Family History section. If you are just beginning on your genealogy, visit our Getting Started section.

Sign up for our free newsletter, GenToday-L, a regular publication delivered by e-mail. This newsletter features "Tracing Lines" by Ruby Coleman. This informative column covers topics of interest to genealogists looking for a more formal understanding of family research.

In the United States, nationwide food rationing was instituted in the spring of 1942, and each member of the family was issued ration books by the Office of Price Administration (OPA). These books contained stamps and gave precise details of the amounts of certain types of food that you were allowed. Genealogy Today has begun acquiring war ration books, scanning and indexing them, providing another resources for researchers. You can search this database by visiting the Registry of War Ration Books page.

There is also much to be learned from printed items, many of which have survived over 100 years. Whether it is a school graduation souvenir, church membership list, insurance property claims or orphan school reports, these items can supplement the public records with additional facts about our ancestors' lives. Genealogy Today started a project in 2003 to transcribe these small and medium-sized items into a subscription database called Family Tree Connection. You can search for your surnames and see what names are contained in the database before subscribing.

Another great resource for information are birth, marriage and death records - many of which are available online. If you're researching ancestors from the New England area, be sure to check your surnames against the New England Early Genealogy Connections web site. This subscription database is the first effort to connect names from the early New England period. All of the names include any available basic data: birth, death, marriage dates, towns of residence, citations documenting sources.

If you've been researching for many years and have traced relatives living in the United States prior to the early 1900's, you'll find the indexed censuses at indispensable. Click here to search their census collection. If your relatives, however, are concentrated in a specific state (or better yet, county), you might be more inclined to purchase just the regions you need on CD-Rom and spend more time browsing each enumerated district. Click here to locate the counties you would like to purchase.

A great number of efforts have been undertaken to transcribe records and publish them on the Internet - some are huge, while others are more specific and limited in size. We developed the International Registry of Genealogical Databases to provide a single unified catalog of all of them. You can search by location, years or type of source document. This information is available in our genealogy directory of local resources.

Sometimes the best way to search is not the most obvious. Several years ago, Christine Biship Smith created a database for breaking down brick wall by using unique first and middle names, which she called First Name Basis. This database, now part of the Genealogy Today portfolio, has helped bring hundreds of researchers in touch with lost ancestors. Click here to begin your search.

Be sure to stop by our Marketplace and browse through the Research Aids area for items to help manage and track your offline research.

Visit our Advanced Topics section for guidance on tackling research challenges like adoption, hiring a professional, and even learning what it takes to become a professional.

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