Genealogy Learning & Guidance
By Kimberly Powell, About.com Guide
Learn the basics of family history research, how to make sense of what you discover, how to organize and record the data you collect, and how to use the Internet to discover more about your ancestors. Plus, advice on those beginner mistakes you'll want to avoid.
- The Basics: Begin Tracing Your Family Tree
- 10 First Steps for Finding Your Roots
- Common Genealogy Questions & Answers
- 10 Genealogy Mistakes to Avoid
- Cousin Relationships - How Are We Related?
- Where Do I Look for That?
- 6 Strategies for Finding Roots Online
- 10 Tips for Your Visit to a Courthouse, Archives or Library
- Location, Location - How to Begin Your Research & Find What You Need
- How to Identify & Avoid Genealogy Scams
- Did My Ancestor Come Through Ellis Island?
Organize and Record Your Research
Genealogists use a variety of charts, forms, software, systems and standards in an effort to organize and record the piles of data that seem to accumulate during the course of their research. Learn how to use these genealogy tools and software to help you keep track of your own family tree.
- How to Fill Out Genealogy Charts
- Download & Print Free Genealogy Charts & Forms
- Which Genealogy Software is Best?
- Family Tree Software Roundup - Reviews & Ratings
- Binders, Notebooks or Folders? Organize Your Paper Files
- Organize Your Digital Files
- Common Genealogy Numbering Systems
- Document Your Sources: A to Z Guide
Analyze & Evaluate What You've Found
How do you know if the Ernie Powell you found in the 1900 census is really your great grandpa? Did your ancestors come from Poland or Ukraine since the records conflict? Now that you've pulled together names, dates, naturalization records, marriage certificates and family photos, it's time to analyze the bits and pieces and pull them together into a family tree.
- Apply the Genealogical Proof Standard
- 8 Ways to Avoid Barking Up the Wrong Family Tree
- Watch Out for Assumptions!
- What Else Does the Record Tell Us?
- 5 Steps for Verifying Online Genealogical Sources
- Have You Really Found Everything That's Available?
Skills, Strategies & Techniques
As with most hobbies and professions, genealogy research requires a special set of skills and research strategies.
- 5 Golden Rules for Growing Family Trees
- Brick Wall Strategies for Dead-End Family Trees
- How to Read & Understand Old Handwriting
- Abstracting & Transcribing Genealogical Documents
- How to Request Information & Documents by Postal Mail
- Cluster Genealogy - A Research Technique
Surnames & Heraldry
Have you ever wondered what your last name means? Why the spelling of your family's surname has changed over time? If there's a coat of arms or family crest in your family's past? The last names we bear play a very important role in the history of our family.
- How to Find the Origin of Your Surname
- Glossary of Surname Meanings & Origins
- Why Your Ancestor May Have Changed Their Name
- Searching for Smiths: Strategies for Common Names
- 10 Tips for Finding Alternate Surname Spellings & Variations
- Naming Patterns & Customs
- Understanding Dit Names
- 10 Top Places to Locate Maiden Names
- 100 Most Common U.S. Surnames & Their Meanings
- Hispanic Surname Meanings & Origins
- English Surname Meanings & Origins
- Irish Surname Meanings & Origins
- Scottish Surname Meanings & Origins
- German Surname Meanings & Origins
- French Surname Meanings & Origins
- Italian Surname Meanings & Origins
- Polish Surname Meanings & Origins
- Australian Surname Meanings & Origins
How to Trace Your Family Tree in...
Once you trace your family tree back several generations it's likely that your research will take you to a new country. While the basic research strategies remain the same, each country has its own individual records, resources and history.