U.S. Goals



Project 9: United States

Explore research in the U.S.


N. America     Brit. Isles      Scandinavia      Cent. Europe      West/So. Europe      East Europe      Asia/Pacific/Africa      S. America      Ethnic Groups

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Part A: U.S. Records and Searches




Goal A1: Learn about U.S. records for your research.

Getting a firm grasp of the basic types of records used in research will help you make better choices in the areas you explore.

Choices

A Understand United States records and their uses.

Summary
  1. Learn about different record types and the basic information they include.
    FS—Records, an Introduction—3:37
  2. See brief descriptions of 20 essential record types (census, vital records, family stories, newspapers, etc.) in this Findmypast article.
    FMP—20 Family History Resources
  3. Learn how to evaluate information in the records you find: who recorded it, when, and how it matches with other information.
    FS—Understand How Records Are Created—3:44
  4. Learn about how to get the most from the records you find.
    AC: Five Things You Should Do With Every Record—5:07

    3 Overlooked Clues in Genealogical Documents
  5. Read this article for tips on beginning your U.S. research. It also describes many types of U.S. records and where to find them.
    RIV—U.S. Beginning Research—9 pgs.
  6. Explore the United States page of the GenealogyInTime website. Record collections are listed and described in order from newest to oldest additions, including FamilySearch, Ancestry, and many other sources.

B Become familiar with various types of index records.

  1. Learn about the United States Public Records Index. This collection has records for many people who lived in the United States from 1970-2009, which can be a great help for those tracing your recent ancestors or missing family members.
    FS - U.S. Public Records Index
  2. Explore the U.S. Public Records Index collection on FamilySearch to find information and clues about recent ancestors.
  3. Recognize index-only records (no record image included) and learn how to use them in your research.
    AC—Index-Only Records—30:38

C Use the Record Selection Table for planning U.S. research.

Summary
  1. Study the FamilySearch U.S. Record Selection Table
  2. Using the information in the table, map out a strategy for records to search for your U.S. ancestors.




D Get acquainted with other types of records for your research.

Summary
  1. Watch this video to help you explore the Ancestry Wiki, which points to many types of records.
    AC—What Records Exist—28:29
  2. Use the Record Hints and Research Help features in FamilySearch to find additional record types. Try the tips in this article on ancestors in your Family Tree.
    FS—Finding More Records for Your Family Tree


Goal A2: Learn about location and geography as search tools.

Becoming familiar with locations and geographies will help you determine where your ancestors lived and where they moved to, or from.

Choices

A Devise a strategy for locating your ancestors, based on where they lived.

Summary
  1. Learn about geography and genealogy in this Ancestry video.
    AC—Geography and Genealogy—21:39
  2. Read this FamilySearch Wiki article for helpful location strategies.
    FS—How to Locate Your Ancestor in the U.S.
  3. Identify where genealogy records are located.
    LDS—Identifying Where Records Are Located
    | LDS—5 Keys to Discovering More Records
  4. Learn how the changing of a place name can affect your research.
    LDS—Changing Place Names in Research
  5. Learn about the clues that come with locations, in this case study from the FamilyLocket blog site.
    Location, Location, Location

B Use maps effectively.

Summary
  1. Learn what types of U.S. maps are available and what genealogical information they might contain.
    FS—United States Maps

    BYU—Understanding Maps for Genealogists (60:09)
  2. Explore printable maps from the United States National Atlas.
  3. See current county locations for all U.S. states at this Census.gov site.
  4. Watch this Ancestry video to see how maps can connect you to your ancestors.
    AC—Maps, Paths to Your Ancestors—18:00
  5. Explore the 1900 Collection for old maps of the United States, or U.S. regions, or U.S. towns and cities.
  6. Explore the David Rumsey Map Collection. Browse by location (second column) or year (fourth column).
  7. Explore the Old Maps Online site for United States maps.
  8. Explore state and county maps in the Genealogy Hound site.
  9. Explore historic county boundaries for all U.S. states, on the Newberry site or the RandyMajors site.

C Use gazetteers effectively.

A gazetteer is a list and description of places. It can be used to locate the places where your family lived.

  1. Learn about gazetteers and how they complement maps in your research.
    FS—U.S. Gazetteers
  2. Use gazetteers and atlases in your research.
    FE—Using Gazetteers and Atlases in Genealogical Research

D Use city, county, and town directories effectively.

Summary
  1. Learn about U.S. county and city directories in this FamilySearch article.
    FS—United States Directories
  2. Use city directories to find clues about where your ancestors lived.
    AC—City Directories—32:00

    AB—City Directories for Genealogy
  3. Learn about county and town resources in this article.
    GC—Using County and Town Resources
  4. Find out more about city directories in this research guide from Ancestry.
    AC—Six Things to Find—3 pgs.
  5. Learn techniques for researching city-dwelling ancestors in the U.S.
    AC—Researching City Dwelling Ancestors

E Use histories and timelines effectively.

Summary
  1. Explore county histories to get a sense for the area where your ancestors may have lived.
    FS—County Histories—18:00
  2. Read these articles for tips on using timelines.
    GC—Using Timelines in Your Research
    | Timelines and Your Family Tree
  3. Learn how to use Excel spreadsheets to create timelines.
    FS—Using Excel to Create Timelines—18:47
  4. Discover historical information for the time and place you are searching.
    BW—Discover Background Information
    | BW—Study Time and Place
  5. Learn how to find U.S. records before 1850.
    FS—U.S. Records Before 1850—57:06


Goal A3: Learn about U.S. research by region and state.

In addition to searching for ancestors by U.S. state, you can find a wealth of state resources that give you additional information about your ancestors and the states they lived in.

Choices

A Do effective research in individual U.S. states.

  1. In the State list at the top of this page, access the State page you are interested in. Each State page has Goals and Choices, similar to other Projects in The Family History Guide.
  2. In each State page, access the county of interest in the County list at the top (such as AL Counties).
  3. Read this article for an overview on doing state-by-state research.
    GC—Using State Resources for Genealogy
  4. Explore the U.S. Genealogy Records links on the LDSGenealogy.com site (non-denominational).

B Find resources for research in the Midwest.

  1. Explore resources at the Mid-Continent Public Library / Midwest Genealogy Center in Missouri.
    GC—Using State Resources for Genealogy
  2. Watch these videos for strategies on doing Midwest U.S. research.
    FS—U.S. Midwest Research, Lesson 1: Locating—12:00
    | FS—U.S. Midwest Research, Lesson 2: Census and Vital—20:00
  3. Follow this case study for Midwest U.S. research.
    FS—U.S. Midwest Research, Lesson 2: Census and Vital—20:00
  4. Explore the Regional Facebook page for the Midwest Genealogy Research Community.
  5. Explore the Books We Own site for books that can be checked out or researched for you by others.

C Find resources for research in the Northeast U.S.

  1. Read the New England Guide to research from American Ancestors.
    AA—New England Guide
  2. Here is a Primer for New England research.
    GC—New England Primer
  3. Learn about New England vital records.
    FS—New England Vital Records—10:39
  4. Explore Resources of New England.
    RIV—Resources of New England
  5. Explore the Regional Facebook page for the Northeast Genealogy Research Community.
  6. Explore the Books We Own site for books that can be checked out or researched for you by others.
  7. Learn about Mid-Atlantic research.
    FS—Mid-Atlantic States Overview—85:46


D Find resources for research in the Southern U.S.

  1. Learn about U.S. research in the Mid-South region.
    FS—United States Research: Mid-South Region—61:56
  2. Explore the Regional Facebook page for the Southern Genealogy Research Community.
  3. Explore the Books We Own site for books that can be checked out or researched for you by others.

E Find resources for research in the Western U.S.

  1. Learn about West Coast Resources in this Ancestry article.
    AC—West Coast Resources
  2. Learn about U.S. research in the Pacific States region.
    FS—United States Research: Pacific States Region—100:00
  3. Learn about U.S. research in the Mountain West region.
    FS—United States Research: Mountain West Region—82:34
  4. Explore the Regional Facebook page for the USA—West Genealogy Research Community.
  5. Explore the Books We Own site for books that can be checked out or researched for you by others.



Part B: U.S. Vital Records




Goal B1: Understand vital records.Vault

Birth, marriage, and death records, commonly known as vital records, are great resources for locating and verifying your ancestors' information. Note that "certificates" (such as birth certificates) is a fairly recent term, so this goal focuses on "birth records" to be more inclusive.

Choices

A Learn about vital records in the United States.

Summary
  1. Read this document by Jill Shoemaker to get a good overview of types of vital records and where to find them.
    RIV—U.S. Vital Records
  2. Use the FamilySearch Wiki for U.S. Vital Records.
  3. Read about how to find birth and death information in various records.
    AC—Births and Deaths in Public Records
  4. Learn about vital records in more depth in these videos.
    FS—United States Vital Records—59:00
    | FS—Finding Your Ancestors in Vital Records—53:51
  5. Learn more about vital records and explore resources in these articles.
    FS—Vital Record References
    | FS—Finding Your Ancestors in Vital Records—6 pgs.
  6. Access the stevenmorse.org website to learn more about U.S. vital records.
  7. Learn to find U.S. vital records and alternative sources. AC—Finding Vital Records and Alternatives—8 pgs.


Goal B2: Explore birth records in the U.S. Vault

Birth records are one of the best ways to verify information about your ancestor.

Choices

A Learn about practical sources for finding birth records.

  1. Learn how to find birth records.
    How to Find Birth Records—4:47

B Do birth record searches on FamilySearch.org.

  1. Click the Search menu and choose Records.
  2. Fill in the ancestor name.
  3. In the "Search with a Life Event" area, click Birth and fill in the birthplace and date range information.
  4. Use the Search Tips at the right of the screen to optimize your search, and then click Search.
  5. You can also use the world map (scroll down in the Search screen) to click a country and search by location.

C Do birth record searches on Ancestry.

  1. In the Ancestry Menu bar, choose Search and then click Birth, Marriage, & Death.
  2. Fill in the search fields and click Search; or click Show Advanced for additional fields, and then click Search.


Goal B3: Explore adoption records and alternatives to birth records. Vault

Adoption and christening records can provide alternate sources when birth records are not available.

Choices

A Learn about adoption records and how to find them.

Summary
  1. Learn about the history of adoption and adoption records in the U.S.
  2. Get acquainted with adoption research. Consider medical records, home studies, birth certificates for adoption, and court petitions and decrees.
    FMP—Adoption Records and Genealogy
    | AC—Adoption Records
  3. Learn how to handle adoption in your family tree.
    AB—Handling Adoption in the Family Tree
  4. Learn about adoption records and how to find them. This FamilySearch Wiki article covers adoption societies and state-by-state adoption records.
    FS—United States Adoption Research
  5. Visit these Facebook pages for help with adoption research:

B Explore adoption records in more depth.

  1. Learn more about adoption records in this Ancestry video and article.
    AC—Adoption and Genealogy—24:31

    AC—Finding Adoption and Orphanage Records
  2. Get tips on finding adoption records in this video.
    How to Find Adoption Records if You Need Them—7:49
  3. Use the RootsWeb message board to read or post questions about U.S. adopted ancestors.

C Explore alternatives to birth records.

Summary
  1. Learn about baptismal and christening records in this Ancestry video.
    AC—Baptismal Records—36:00
  2. Learn about other types of records that might include birth information.
    LDS—Discovering Birth Records
  3. Solve research challenges of illegitimate children and missing fathers.
    GC—Illegitimate Children and Missing Fathers


Goal B4: Explore marriage records. Vault

Marriage records are helpful in establishing family relationships for ancestors, and they often provide evidence for parents of the married couple.

Choices

A Learn about marriage records and customs.

Summary
  1. Learn how to find U.S. marriage records.
    FS—How to Find United States Marriage Records
  2. Explore marriage record resources in this article.
    AC—Marriage Records
  3. Learn about U.S. marriage customs and traditions in the past.
    AC—Here Come the Brides

B Find marriage records and marriage indexes.

Summary
  1. Learn about using marriage indexes to provide clues about ancestors.
    AC—Marriage Index—22:00
  2. Watch this Ancestry video for tips on finding marriage records on Ancestry.
    AC—Finding Marriage Records—30:00
  3. Explore the GenWed site for U.S. and international marriage records.
  4. Explore marriage records on the RootsWeb site.
  5. Explore the Western States Marriage Index.

C Use marriage record searches on FamilySearch.

  1. Use the same steps as described in Choice B of Goal 2 above, except select Marriage Records instead of Birth records.

D Use marriage record searches on Ancestry.

  1. Use the same steps as described in Choice C of Goal B2 above, for birth record searches on Ancestry.

E Learn about marriage record alternatives and divorce records.

  1. Watch this video for finding clues about marriages in other records.
    AC—Clues in Non-Marriage Records—29:00
  2. This video helps you with hard-to-find marriage records.
    AC—Little-Used Marriage Records—29:00
  3. Learn how to find female ancestors by married and maiden names.
    FS Wiki—Maiden Names in the U.S.


Goal B5: Explore death records and obituaries. Vault

Death records and obituaries are a plentiful source for ancestor records.

Choices

A Learn more about death records.

Summary
  1. Learn about the types of information contained in death records.
    AB—Death Records
  2. Get an introduction to death records in this video.
    AC—Death Records—27:00

B Explore death record resources.

  1. Do effective searches for death records.
    AC—Searching for Death Records—27:00

    AC—Guide to Searching for Death Records—5 pgs.
  2. Find clues in death records that can give you more information about your ancestors.
    AC—Finding Clues in Death Records—26:00
  3. Here are tips for the kinds of death records to look for.
    FTM—Nine Types of Death Records
  4. Explore the DeathIndexes site for state-by-state research of death records and indexes.
  5. Learn how to trace American deaths abroad.
    AC—Tracing American Deaths Abroad

C Use the U.S. Social Security Death Index to provide ancestor information.

  1. Learn the basics of the Social Security Death Index. It has death records since 1962, and it provides names, birth dates, death dates, and place of last residence of deceased individuals.
    FS—U.S. Social Security Death Index
  2. Learn more about using the Social Security Death Index to find ancestors.
    AC—Social Security Death Index
  3. Access the Social Security Death Index on FamilySearch or on Ancestry.
  4. Learn about the Social Security Applications and Claims Index.
    AC—Social Security Applications and Claims Index

D Find death record alternatives.

  1. Learn about basic alternatives to death records.
    AC—Alternatives to Death Certificates—24:32
  2. See other available options when you can't find a death certificate for an ancestor.
    AC—Can't Find Death Certificates—25:00
  3. Use the RootsWeb message boards to read or post questions about U.S. death certificates.

E Explore online obituaries.

Summary
  1. Use the Discover Your Ancestors in Obituaries page on FamilySearch.org.
  2. Learn more about obituaries and what they contain, in this article.
    GC—Obituaries: More than Meets the Eye
  3. Learn more about online obituaries by watching these Ancestry videos.
    AC—Tips for Online Grave Digging—23:32
  4. Explore the ObitFinder site to search for obituaries.

F Make use of funeral home records.

  1. Use the FamilySearch Wiki page for researching funeral home records.
    FS—Funeral Home Records
  2. Learn more about funeral home records in this About.com article.
    AB—Funeral Home Records


Goal B6: Explore cemetery records and tombstones.

Cemeteries and tombstones are useful for gathering information about ancestors and for helping you feel a closeness to their heritage.

Choices

A Use cemetery records to provide clues about ancestors.

Summary
  1. Learn the basics about U.S. cemetery records in the FamilySearch Wiki, including types of cemetery records, online resources, and state-by-state collections.
    FS—U.S. Cemetery Records
  2. Explore cemetery records (video) and funeral home records (article) in your family history.
    FS—Cemetery Records—25:00

    GC—Using Cemeteries and Funeral Homes in Genealogy
  3. Learn more about exploring cemetery records.
    AC—Cemetery Records

    AC—Clues from the Graveyard—5:00
  4. Use the RootsWeb message board to inquire about U.S. cemetery records.
  5. Explore U.S. cemetery records by state on the AccessGenealogy.com site.
  6. Learn how to locate cemeteries for ancestor records.
    BYU—Using Online Maps to Locate Cemeteries (49:22)

B Learn about tombstones and how they can be used in research.

Summary
  1. Use this step-by-step guide on the FamilySearch Wiki to find and use tombstone, sexton, and cemetery information.
    FS—U.S. Tombstone and Sexton Records
  2. Go into more detail on finding and using information from ancestors' tombstones.
    FS—Listening to Your Ancestor's Tombstone, Part 1—26:03
    | FS—Listening to Your Ancestor's Tombstone, Part 2—25:45
  3. Read this article for genealogy tips with tombstones.
    GC—What You Can Find Among the Tombstones
  4. Learn tips for photographing gravestones in this article.
    GC—Tips for Photographing Gravestones

C Explore FindaGrave.com and BillionGraves.com for ancestor death information.

In addition to providing information about direct ancestors, these records often provide clues about parents, spouses, and siblings of ancestors.

  1. Watch this video for a good overview of how to use the FindaGrave website.
    AC—FindaGrave.com 101—25:00
  2. Explore records on the FindaGrave.com site.
  3. Explore records on the BillionGraves.com site.


Part C: U.S. Census Records




Goal C1: Get to know U.S. Census records. Vault

Census records are a great way to narrow down searches for ancestors in the U.S.

Choices

A Learn about the U.S. census and how it can be used for research.

Summary
  1. Learn the basics of U.S. Census records in this video or this article.
    FS—Overview, Federal Census—30:00

    RIV—United States Census Records—4 pgs.
  2. Explore resources for the U.S. Census in the FamilySearch Wiki (first article) or Ancestry Wiki (second article).
    FS—Wiki, U.S. Census Records
    | AC—Wiki, U.S. Census Records
  3. Get overviews of each U.S. census in this article.
    AC—Ancestry Census Guide—7 pgs.
  4. Read this Census Information Sheet to see the kinds of information that were gathered from the first U.S. Census in 1790 to the 1940 Census.
  5. Access the stevenmorse.org website to learn more about U.S. Census records.

B Learn how to find your ancestors in various census records.

Summary
  1. Find your missing ancestors in census records.
    AC—Finding Missing People in the Census—27:41

    AC—10 Census Tips from Ancestry—4 pgs.
  2. Learn strategies and techniques for finding ancestors in U.S. census records.
    FS—U.S. Census Research, Techniques and Strategies—61:01

    FS—Census Techniques and Strategies—4 pgs.
  3. Learn to find clues for ancestor deaths in U.S. census records.
    AC—Death Clues in Census Records—19:48
  4. Read about search tips for hard-to-find ancestors in the census.
    AB—Tips for Hard-to-find Ancestors in the Census
  5. Learn to use census enumeration maps.
    AB—Census Enumeration Maps

C Explore state census records to find clues for your ancestors.

Summary
  1. Watch these videos for an introduction to using state census records.
    FS—Finding Family History Clues in State Census Records
    | FS—State and Special Census Records
  2. Learn more about U.S. state and local census records.
    AC—State and Local Census Records
  3. Use the RootsWeb message boards to read or post questions about U.S. census records.


Goal C2: Explore U.S. Census records by decades.

Once you are familiar with census records, you can choose one or two census periods that apply to a selected ancestor. The Choices below are listed from latest to earliest census records, as that's the best way to use them when tracing your ancestor lines.
See also this comparison of features for each U.S. Census from 1940-1790, or this list of headings for each census.

Choices

A Explore the 1940 census.

  1. Learn about the 1940 U.S. Census in the FamilySearch Wiki.
    FS—1940 Census
  2. Learn about the 1940 U.S. Census in the Ancestry Wiki.
    AC—1940 Census
    .
  3. Pick up clues about finding family members in the 1940 Census in these Ancestry videos.
    AC—Tips and Tricks for the 1940 Census, Part 2—18:54
    | AC—Tips and Tricks for the 1940 Census, Part 3—27:11
  4. Learn more about 1940 Census records in this Findmypast article.
    FMP—1940 Census Records
  5. Access the 1940 U.S. Census index in FamilySearch.

B Explore the 1930 census.

  1. Learn about the 1930 U.S. Census in the FamilySearch Wiki.
    FS—1930 Census Records
  2. Learn about the 1930 U.S. Census in the Ancestry Wiki.
    AC—1930 Census Records
  3. Learn more about the 1930 Census in this Ancestry video.
    AC—Using the 1930 Census Viewer- 14:52
  4. Access the 1930 U.S. Census index in FamilySearch.

C Explore the 1920 census.

  1. Learn about the 1920 U.S. Census in the FamilySearch Wiki.
    FS—1920 Census
  2. Learn about the 1920 U.S. Census in the Ancestry Wiki.
    AC—1920 Census
    .
  3. Access the 1920 U.S. Census index in the FamilySearch Wiki.

D Explore censuses from 1910—1900.

  1. Learn about the 1910 U.S. Census in the FamilySearch Wiki.
    FS—1910 Census
  2. Learn about the 1910 U.S. Census in the Ancestry Wiki.
    AC—1900 Census
  3. Here are some tips for using the 1900 and 1910 censuses.
    What Are You Missing in the 1900 and 1910 Censuses?—26:15
  4. Access the 1910 U.S. Census index in FamilySearch.
  5. Access the 1900 U.S. Census index in FamilySearch.

E Explore censuses from 1890—1880.

Note: Most of the 1890 Census was destroyed, but a few records survived, and some places have substitute records.

  1. Learn about the 1890 U.S. Census in the FamilySearch Wiki.
    FS—1890 Census
  2. Learn about the 1890 U.S. Census in the Ancestry Wiki.
    AC—1890 Census
  3. Learn about the 1880 U.S. Census in the FamilySearch Wiki.
    FS—1880 Census Records
  4. Learn about the 1880 U.S. Census in the Ancestry Wiki.
    AC—1880 Census
  5. Learn more about the 1890 and 1880 U.S. Censuses in this video.
    FS—Census, 1880-90—25:00
  6. Access the 1890 U.S. Census index in FamilySearch. Note : Only a few states have records in the 1890 Census, and those collections are small.
  7. Access the 1880 U.S. Census index in FamilySearch.

F Explore censuses from 1870—1850.

  1. Learn about U.S. Census records from 1870-1850 in the FamilySearch Wiki: 1870    1860    1850
  2. Learn about U.S. Census records in the Ancestry Wiki:
        1870    1860    1850
  3. Learn more about the 1870, 1860, and 1850 U.S. Censuses in this video.
    FS—Census, 1850-70—25:00
  4. Here are some tips for using censuses from 1850-1880.
    What Are You Missing in the 1900 and 1910 Censuses?—21:06
  5. Access U.S. Census records in FamilySearch:
        1870    1860    1850

G Explore censuses from 1840—1790.

  1. Learn about U.S. Census records in these FamilySearch Wiki articles:
        1840    1830    1820    1810    1800    1790
  2. Learn about U.S. Census records in these Ancestry Wiki articles:
        1840    1830    1820    1810    1800    1790
  3. Learn more about the U.S. Censuses from 1840 through 1790 in this video.
    FS—Census, 1790-1840—25:00
  4. Access U.S. Census records in FamilySearch: 1840    1830    1820    1810    1800    1790


Part D: U.S. Immigration




Goal D1: Explore various types of U.S. immigration records. Vault

Immigration and naturalization records can provide information clues for ancestors when they arrive in the U.S., as well as for their countries of origin.

Choices


A Learn about immigration and emigration records.

  1. Get an introduction to U.S. immigration.
    FS: U.S. Immigration and Emigration
  2. Understand the basics of U.S. immigration and emigration in these articles.
    AC—Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors
    | RIV—U.S. Immigration and Emigration (10 pgs.)
  3. Learn more about U.S. Immigration records.
    FS—Immigration Records—7 pgs.

B Learn about tracing your immigrant ancestors.

Summary
  1. Get tips on finding your immigrant ancestors in these videos.
    AC—Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors—35:07
    | FS—Proven Ways to Find Your Immigrant Ancestors—30:50
  2. Read these articles on tracing immigrant origins.
    FS- Tracing Immigrant Origins
    | AC—Overview of Immigration Research
  3. Learn about approaches to immigration research.
    AC—Immigration Research Approaches
    | LDS—Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor
  4. Establish an immigration timeline.
    GC—Establish an Immigration Timeline

C Explore immigration resources.

Summary
  1. Learn about ethnic immigration sources in the article.
    GC—Resources for Ethnic Genealogy
  2. Learn about tracing immigrants who returned to their home countries.
    AC—State and Local Census Records
  3. Explore other reference works for U.S. immigration.
    AC—List of Useful Immigration References
  4. Learn to research individuals on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services site.
  5. Use the RootsWeb message boards to read or post questions about U.S. immigration.
  6. Explore the Books We Own site for books about U.S. immigration that can be checked out or researched for you by others.


Goal D2: Explore U.S. naturalization records and passenger lists.

Immigration and naturalization records can provide information clues for ancestors when they arrive in the U.S., as well as for their countries of origin.

Choices

A Learn about naturalization records.

Naturalization records document U.S. citizenship for ancestors coming to the U.S.

  1. Understand the U.S. naturalization process.
    GC—Notes on Naturalization

    FS—U.S. Naturalization Records—64:31
  2. Learn about naturalization records and how they are used.
    AC—Naturalization Records—27:51

    AC—Citizenship and Naturalization
  3. Learn how to find naturalization records.
    AB—U.S. Naturalization Research and Records
    | RIV—U.S. Naturalization Records—8 pgs.
  4. Explore naturalization records and sources at NaturalizationRecords.com.
  5. Use these tips for translating immigrant first names.
    FS—Translating First Names

B Explore U.S. passenger lists.

Summary
  1. Learn the basics of U.S. passenger lists and how they work.
    GC—What You'll Learn from Passenger Lists
  2. Learn about the major ports of exit and entry, such as Ellis Island, from Europe to the United States.
    U.S. Major Ports of Entry
    | Ellis Island Immigration Records
  3. Use passenger lists to track ancestors who arrived in the United States. FS—Passenger Lists
  4. Connect passenger information with other information sources, such as census records, as explained in this Findmypast article.
    FMP—Connecting Census Records and Passenger Lists
  5. Use the search tools on the stevenmorse.org website for passenger lists:
  6. Explore the Passenger and Immmigration List record collection on MyHeritage.
  7. Explore the Immigrant Ship site. Select a Volume, then choose the United States or a specific state as the departure or arrival location.


Goal D3: Explore other U.S. immigration resources.

Other tools and resources can help you identify places and events in U.S. immigration.

Choices

A Explore early American and colonial immigration.

  1. Watch this video for ideas on tracing British immigrant ancestors.
    AC—British Roots: U.K. to America—39:00
  2. Watch these videos to learn more about early immigration to the American colonies.
    BYU—Early American Immigration—27:00
    | AC—Colonial Immigrant Ancestors—29:16
  3. Learn about immigration to the U.S. before 1820.
    OT: Immigration to the U.S before 1820
  4. Here are some resources for finding early immigrants to the United States.
    FTM: Five Resources for Finding Early Immigrants

B Learn about other immigration records.

  1. Learn about alien registration records in this About.com article.
    AB—Alien Registration Records
  2. Learn more about alien registration in this blog from Olive Tree Genealogy.
    OT—Find Your Ancestors in Alien Registration Records
  3. Learn about passport applications in this FamilySearch Wiki article.
    AC—Passport Applications

C Explore the RootsMapper website to visually trace the immigration paths of your ancestors.

  1. Go to www.rootsmapper.com.
  2. Click the blue login button.
  3. Sign in to FamilySearch so RootsMapper can use your Family Tree information.
  4. Click Start and select the number of generations to display (default is 3). Ancestors appear as colored dots, with the number inside matching the number of generations before you.
  5. Drag the map and follow the colored lines to see migration paths. Zoom in (+) to add space between ancestors.
  6. Click an ancestor dot to move it away from nearby dots, or show the direct path from the ancestor to you, or display info about the ancestor. You can also change map options and pedigree view, or see country statistics.
  7. See more information on using RootsMapper.
    Official RootsMapper Demo

D Explore the BYU Immigrant Ancestors project for additional U.S. immigration records to search.

  1. Go to the Search by archive page to get started.
  2. Select an archive from the list.
  3. Fill in the search fields to use and click Search.


Part E: U.S. Military Records




Goal E1: Learn about U.S. military records. Vault

Many ancestors, or their relatives, served in the U.S. military at some point. One of the useful websites for locating military records is www.fold3.com.

Choices

A Understand U.S. military records and how they can be used in family history.

Summary
  1. Learn the basics of U.S. military records in this research outline.
    FS—Research Outline: U.S Military Records
  2. Gather sources for U.S. military records in the FamilySearch Wiki.
    FS—United States Military Records
  3. Learn about the basic types of U.S. military records available and how to find them.
    GC—Researching through Military Records
    | AC—Overview of Military Records
  4. See how military records can be used to further your family history.
    BYU—Military Records in Family History—27:00

B Learn to trace your military ancestors.

  1. Watch these videos to learn about identifying ancestors in the U.S. military.
    AC—Discovering Our Veterans—23:34 | AC—Track Down Your Family Vets—20:46
  2. Learn more about military veterans' benefits and pensions in these articles.
    AC—Records of Veterans' Benefits
    | AC—U.S. Military Pension Records May Unlock Clues
  3. Use cemetery and gravestone records to find military ancestors.
    GC—Final Resting Place
  4. Learn about other types of military records, including burial and census records.
    AC—Miscellaneous Military Records
  5. Learn about post-war immigration to the United States by those who fought.
    AC—Post-WWI and Post-WWII Immigration to the United States
  6. Explore additional resources for military research in this article.
    AC—List of Useful Military Resources
  7. Use the RootsWeb message boards to read or post questions about U.S. military records.

C Explore the Fold3 website for military records.

  1. Watch these videos to become familiar with the Fold3 website for military ancestors.
    YT—An Introduction to Fold3—4:30
    | BYU—Fold3—12:18
  2. Learn how to search for military records on Fold3.
    YT—Searching on Fold3—5:43


Goal E2: Explore military records by conflict. Vault

For an overview of service records for various conflicts, click here.

Choices

A Explore Revolutionary War records.

  1. Learn about Revolutionary War resources in this FamilySearch Wiki article.
    FS—Revolutionary War
  2. Get familiar with existing Revolutionary War records.
    GC—Revolutionary War Military Records
  3. Learn more about the events of the Revolutionary War at RevolutionaryWar101.com.
  4. Explore Revolutionary War resources on the AccessGenealogy site.
  5. Learn about civilian patriots in the Revolution.
    GC—Service to the Cause
  6. Learn about loyalists in the Revolutionary War.
    AC—Loyalist Resources on Ancestry
    | AC—United Empire Loyalist Research
  7. Explore the Books We Own site for books that can be checked out or researched for you by others.
  8. Explore the Military Indexes site for resources for the Revolutionary War.

B Explore Civil War records for ancestors.

  1. Learn about Civil War resources in these FamilySearch Wiki articles.
    FS—Civil War
    | FS—Civil War Records—2 pgs.
  2. Find your ancestors who were involved in the Civil War.
    AC—Discovering Civil War Roots—21:14
    | FS—Identifying Civil War Ancestors—8:43
  3. Learn more about the events of the Civil War at CivilWar101.com.
  4. Explore Civil War resources on the AccessGenealogy site.
  5. Explore the Soldiers and Sailors Database on the National Park Service website.
  6. Explore the Books We Own site for books that can be checked out or researched for you by others.
  7. Explore the Military Indexes site for resources for the Civil War.
  8. Explore Civil War maps and photos on the Fold3 site.

C Explore records for servicemen in World War I.

  1. Learn about WWI military resources in this FamilySearch Wiki article.
    FS—WWI United States Military Records
  2. Explore the livesofthefirstworldwar.org site for information on WWI research.
  3. Explore WWI resources on the AccessGenealogy site.
  4. Watch this video to see how draft cards from both World Wars can be used for research.
    AC—WWI and II Draft Cards—27:00
  5. Read this About.com article to learn about draft cards in WWI research.
    AB—WWI Draft Registration Records
  6. Learn more about record types for WWI research.
    6 Records to Trace Ancestors WHo Served in World War I
  7. Explore the Military Indexes site for resources for WWI.

D Explore records for servicemen in World War II.

  1. Learn about WWII military resources in these articles.
    FS—WWII United States Military Records
    | AC—Find them in WWII
  2. Study this WWII Research Guide from Ancestry for research tips.
    AC—WWII Research Guide
  3. Explore WWII resources on the AccessGenealogy site.
  4. Read this About.com article to learn about draft cards in WWII research.
    AB—WWII Draft Registration Records
  5. Search for WWII U.S. Prisoner of War records on FamilySearch.
  6. Explore the Military Indexes site for resources for the WWII.

E Locate your Korean War veteran.

  1. Read this article to learn how to locate Korean War veterans.
    GC—Locating Korean War Veterans
  2. Explore Korean War resources on the AccessGenealogy site.
  3. Explore the Military Indexes site for resources for the Revolutionary War.
  4. Search the Korean War Casualties database on the FOld3 site.

F Explore records for other U.S. conflicts.

  1. Explore Indian wars on the AccessGenealogy site.
  2. Learn about the War of 1812 in this FamilySearch Wiki article.
    FS—United States in the War of 1812
  3. Explore military records for the War of 1812 on the AccessGenealogy site and the Fold3 site.
  4. Explore the Military Indexes site for resources for the War of 1812.
  5. Learn about the Spanish American War in this FamilySearch Wiki article.
    FS—Spanish American War—1898
  6. Explore other U.S. wars on the AccessGenealogy site.
  7. Explore the Military Indexes site for resources for the Spanish-American War.



Part F: Other U.S. Records




Goal F1: Explore religious, church, and travel records. Vault

Religious, church, and travel records can provide information about where your ancestors settled, and where they might have relocated.

Choices

A Learn about religious and church records.

  1. This article has a comparative chart of religions and their corresponding record sources.
    RIV—U.S. Church Records
  2. Learn about religious institutions and church records on the RootsWeb site.
  3. Learn how to locate church records from various resources.
    GC—Locating Church Records
    | AC—Using Religious Records—4 pgs.
  4. Watch these videos to learn more about using church records in research.
    FS—United States Church Records—55:00
    | BYU—Religious Records—24:00
  5. Use the RootsWeb message boards to read or post questions about U.S. religious research.

B Explore religious records of various faiths.

  1. Trace your Baptist ancestors on this RootsWeb site.
  2. Explore Catholic research on the Local Catholic Church and Family History site.
  3. Find your Quaker ancestors on the Quaker Corner site or in this Ancestry article.
  4. Explore Jewish genealogy in the United States in this guide from the Center for Jewish History site.
  5. Explore Jewish synagogue records in the United States in this guide from the Center for Jewish History site.
  6. Read this document to learn about using LDS Church records in your research.
    RIV—LDS Church Records
  7. Learn what types of records have been kept for LDS ancestors.
    FS—Beginning LDS Research—3 pgs.

    FS—Finding Records of LDS Ancestors
  8. Explore the Books We Own site for books that can be checked out or researched for you by others.

C Explore travel and migration records within the U.S.

  1. Learn about patterns of internal United States migration in history.
    FS—U.S. Migration, Internal
  2. Explore records of those who migrated westward on the Oregon Trail.
    AC—Oregon Trail—20:00
  3. Use LDS records to trace families in their migrations.
    BYU—Tracing LDS Families—27:00

    RIV—LDS Family and Local History Sources
  4. Explore the FamilySearch Pioneers website to read journals and histories of Mormon pioneers.
  5. Explore the Early LDS pioneer database.
  6. Explore the Mormon Migration website to search for LDS ancestors who sailed to America in the 1800's.
  7. For more recent travel, explore passport applications. See passport information at the NaturalizationRecords.com website.


Goal F2: Explore property records—Land, Probate, and Wills. Vault

Land and property records often provide clues about direct ancestors and their immediate relatives.

Choices

A Explore land records.

  1. Learn about U.S. land and property records.
    FS—Wiki: Land and Property
    | FS—Understanding U.S. Land Records
  2. Learn more about using land records on the Linda Davenport site.
  3. Find online sources for U.S. land records.
    AB—U.S. Land Records Online
  4. Learn about federal land records from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
    AB—Federal Land Records from the BLM

    AC—Don't Overlook BLM Records
  5. Use land records to track information about your ancestors.
    AC—Using Land Records—27:40
  6. Learn about homestead and BLM records.
    Homestead National Monument of America
  7. Explore Homestead Records on the Fold3 site.

B Explore probate records.

  1. Learn about probate records in the U.S and how to use them to trace ancestors.
    FS—Wiki: U.S. Probate

    FS—U.S. Probate Records—56:44
  2. Study the Ancestry Probates Research Guide.
    AC—Finding Your Family in Wills and Probate Records—4 pgs.

C Explore wills and deeds for research clues.

  1. Learn about the types of information typically found in wills.
    AC—What's in a Will?—28:00

    GC—Wills and Testaments
  2. Learn how to critically examine wills in your research.
    BYU—Critically Examining Wills—65:00
  3. Learn about important clues found in deeds.
    AB—10 Important Clues in Deeds
  4. Locate sources for deeds online.
    Locating Historical Deeds Online


Goal F3: Explore court records online. Vault

Your ancestors may have participated as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or jurors in the U.S. court system.

Choices

A Learn about U.S. courts and records.

  1. Learn about court records in these articles.
    FS—Wiki: U.S. Courts
    | FS—U.S. Court Records
  2. Learn more about court records for research on the RootsWeb site.

B Use court records and electoral rolls for research.

  1. Use these resources for tips on finding court records for your ancestors.
    PBS—Using Court Records

    FS—U.S. Courthouse Research
  2. Learn how to find ancestors in court records.
    GC—Ancestors in Court Records
  3. Learn about using legal notices in your research, such as repossessions, bankruptcies, and debt collections.
    BYU—Legal Notices for Genealogists—64:13
  4. Get tips for visiting courthouses for research.
    AB—Visiting the Courthouse
  5. Learn more about U.S. courthouse research.
    FS—U.S. Courthouse Research
  6. Learn about using electoral rolls in research.
    FS—Using Electoral Rolls in Family History Research—24:59

    GT—Searching Electoral Rolls for Ancestors


Goal F4: Explore newspapers online. Vault

Newspapers can provide evidence for dates, locations, and events in the lives of your ancestors.

Choices

A Learn about newspapers online and how to find clues about ancestors.

  1. Learn about historical record collections in this FamilySearch Wiki article. It also provides many links to other newspaper resources.
    FS—Digital Historical Newspapers
  2. Learn how newspapers act as records that can be researched.
    FS—Newspapers as Records—24:00

    FS—U.S. Newspaper Research—6 pgs.
  3. Get tips for searching newspaper collections online.
    AB—7 Tips for Searching Newspapers Online
    AA—Mining the Treasures in Newspapers—67:07

B Explore online newspaper websites.

  1. Do research with newspapers online.
    PBS—Newspaper Research

    AC—Researching Newspapers—25:58
  2. Watch this video from Ancestry Academy to learn about using the Newspapers.com website; then explore the site.
    AC—Getting the Scoop on Your Ancestors—37:35
  3. Read the blog article and watch the video to learn about using the GenealogyBank.com website to do newspaper research; then explore the site.
    FS—Powerful Archive of Our Ancestors' Stories

    YT—How to Search GenealogyBank.com—3:43
  4. Learn about the Chronicling America historic newspaper site.
    AB—Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
  5. Explore the Library of Congress site for newspapers—Chronicling America. You can search newspapers from 1690 to the present, with over 9 million entries.


Goal F5: Access U.S. archives and libraries for record resources.

Archives and libraries have vast collections of records you can access.

Choices

A Learn about U.S. archives and libraries.

  1. Learn about archives and libraries in the FamilySearch Wiki article.
    FS—U.S. Biography
  2. Learn how to access records at the National Archives and Regional Centers.
    GC—National Archives and Regional Centers
    | AB—Descriptive Pamphlets of the National Archives
  3. Visit libraries or archives to do research.
    FS—Libraries and Archives—25:09

    AC—4 Things to Know before Visiting an Archives
  4. Learn about research that can be done at heritage museums.
    9 Tips to Research at Heritage Museums
  5. Explore FamilySearch links for U.S. libraries and repositories.

B If possible, visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

  1. Here are some tips for a successful visit to the library.
    FS—Tips for Visiting the Family History Library
    | FamilyLocket: Ten Steps to Success
  2. This video highlights visitor experiences at the library.
    YT—A Trip Worth Taking—2:51

C Access free genealogical books online.

  1. Explore United States repositories for books
  2. Explore free books online on the GenGateway site.
  3. Explore free books from the Archives.org site.
  4. Explore the Books We Own site for books that can be checked out or researched for you by others.


Goal F6: Get help with your United States research.

You can get ideas from others on your specific questions about U.S. research. Note: For state-specific questions, go to the corresponding state page in The Family History Guide and review the Get Help Goal. For regional questions, see Goal A3 in this Project.

Choices

A Access Facebook community pages for questions on U.S. genealogy.

  1. Here are a few Facebook group pages for general U.S. research:
  2. For additional Facebook pages, see the Genealogy on Facebook list.

B Explore genealogy societies in the U.S.

  1. Watch this Ancestry video about the benefits of joining a genealogy society.
    AC—Why Join A Genealogy Society—16:01
  2. View this list of genealogy societies on Ancestry (scroll down).
  3. Find genealogy societies on the Cyndi's List site.
  4. See also the Facebook pages for genealogy societies on the Genealogy on Facebook list.


QUIKLinks



More Records—FamilySearch

* U.S. Census:
1940   1930   1920   1910   1900   1890   1880  
1870   1860   1850   1840   1830   1820   1810  
1800   1790  
Census Mortality Schedule 1850
Census Slave Schedule 1850

* Immigration:
Alien Case Files 1940-2003
Border Crossings, Canada to U.S. 1895-1956
Border Crossings, Mexico to U.S. 1903-1957
Germans to America Index 1850-1897
Irish Famine Passenger Index 1846-1851
Italians to America 1855-1900
Japanese-American Relocation 1942-1946
Panama Canal Emp. and Sailing 1905-1937
Passenger Arr., Atlantic and Gulf 1820-1874
Passenger/Crew, New England 1911-1954
Passport Applications 1795-1925
Petitions for Natur., New England 1791-1906
Russians to America 1834-1897

* Military—Civil War:
Confederate Citizens or Bus. Papers 1861-1865
Confederate Non-Regiment Soldiers 1861-1865
Confederate Soldiers Papers 1861-1865
Confederate Soldiers Service 1861-1865
Pension Index 1861-1917
Soldiers Index 1861-1865
Union Colored Troops Service 1863-1865
Union Soldiers Service 1864-1866
Union Veterans Headstones 1870-1903
Union Veterans and Widows 1890
Widows and Dependents Pensions 1861-1934

* Military—Other:
Army Enlistments 1798-1914
Headstone Applications for Vets 1925-1949
Homes for Disabled Soldiers 1866-1938
Korean Ward Dead and Wounded 1950-1953
Pension Files 1861-1934
Pension Office Correspondence 1889-1904
Revolutionary War Service Records 1775-1783
Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications 1800-1900
Spanish American War Service Records 1898
Marine Corps Muster Rolls 1798-1937
Naval Enlistment Rendezvous 1955-1891
Navy Widows' Certificates 1861-1910
VA Pension Payment Cards 1907-1933
War of 1812 Service Records 1812-1815
WWI Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918
WWII Army Enlistment Records 1938-1946
WWII Draft Registration Cards 1942
WWII Prisoners of War 1941-1945

* Miscellaneous:
Freedmen's Bank Records 1865-1874
Freedmen's Bureau Hospital/Medical 1865-1872
GenealogyBank Obituaries 1980-2014
Obituaries, Germans from Russia 1899-2012
Public Records 1970-2009
Scientific/Tech. Personnel Files 1954-1970
Social Security Death Index

More Records: Ancestry

* U.S. Census:
Indian Census Rolls 1885-1940
Non-Population Schedules 1850-1880

* Immigration:
Naturalization Indexes 1791-1992
New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957
U.S. and Canada Passenger Lists 1500s-1900s

* Military:
Sons of the Revolution Applications 1889-1970
WWII Navy Muster Rolls 1938-1949
WWII Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard Casualty List Fold3

* Miscellaneous:
Cemetery and Funeral Homes 1847-2015
City Directories 1822-1995
County Land Ownership Maps 1860-1918
Land Office Records 1796-1907
Newspaper Announcements 1851-2003
Obituary Collection 1930-2015
Public Records, Vol. 1 1950-1993
Public Records, Vol. 2 1950-1993
Quaker Meeting Records 1681-1935
School Yearbooks 1880-2012
Tax Assessment Lists, IRS 1862-1918
Veterans' Gravesites 1775-2006