For each ancestor I research, I put together a “source checklist”. This helps me keep on track and helps me keep organized.
Before starting my search, I need to find out what is available and where to find it. For researching in the United States, the following are three places to look to see what is available where:
- The Red Book is a must have for any serious genealogists library. However, if you are on a budget or prefer the digital copy, the Red Book can be found for free at ancestry.com. The Red Book is organized by State and provides State, County and Town Sources. See my post on The Red Book for more details.
- The Source: A Guidebook Of American Genealogy (Third Edition). Often referred to as the genealogist’s bible. Intended as a guide to selecting, locating, and using appropriate primary and secondary resources. This book can also be found for free at ancestry.com.
- Ancestry.com’s The Ancestry Wiki where you will find the free copies of the above two books as well as a variety of articles and resources.
Source Checklist – For each ancestor, I look for the following sources to find specific information on each one.
- Ask Family Members
- Federal Census – what census years should they appear?
- State Census – what state census records should they appear, if any?
- County Records – what counties did they live in? and when?
- Military Draft
- Military Service
- Military Pension
- City Directories
- Tax Rolls
- Land Records
- Wills & Probate (County)
- Other Court
- County / Local Histories
- Published Family Histories
- Online Family Trees
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