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Tax RecordResearching your family’s genealogy and history is a complex process that can take hours, weeks, months, and even years just to get started as you can gather tidbits of information here and little there making the process in depth but in the end, rewarding. Genealogist, regardless of whether they’re just a Hobbyist doing it for their own personal gain or a Professional working on a project for a client has a vast collections of sources available to them for their project. Probably the number one resource available to any genealogist is their family members and friends of the family as they can provide the stories, the facts, and knowledge that will breathe life into your family’s story.

The first step for any genealogist is to begin gathering all of the basic information from family members and friends of the family, regarding names, dates of births, deaths, and marriages, places of residence and church affiliations. You can gather these items from documents such a birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, obituaries, newspaper clippings announcing the birth or a marriage.

Vital RecordsThe birth, death, and marriage certificates are all examples of Vital Records that can be obtained from County Clerk’s or from a State Department of Vital Statistics. Please be sure you check with your County Clerk or your State’s Registrar to inquire about the rules and regulations regarding those documents in your state before you assume you can just have a copy. The modern era of genealogy has changed and in some ways it’s gotten a little bit harder for genealogists to obtain those Vital Records due to identity theft and fraud.

Military RecordOther verifiable resources that you can use in your pursuit of your family’s history are adoption records, census records, religious records such as baptism or christening records; confirmations; Bar or Bat Mitzvah records; Marriage, Funeral or Death, or Church membership. You can also utilize coroner’s records, court records such as criminal or civil proceedings, diaries, personal letters, or family bibles, or even Immigration and Naturalization records. You can also utilize hereditary and lineage organization records like the Daughters of the American Revolution; land and property records or deeds; medical records, military records; newspaper articles; obituaries; passports, photographs; school records, tax records, or even voting records. These resources are all considered safe, verifiable information.

Sources that you should not consider verified due to the nature of the internet include Facebook; online websites claiming to have the complete genealogy of a family; or any other online source that does not back up its claims with verifiable data from the above lists. You can always cite those sources but do not rely solely upon them for any of your data as the information is not necessarily correct and valid. I’ve had personal experience with this, someone was researching our family and found several of us on Facebook and used the information that was there and when I looked at his data, I let him know he had several major errors most of which were correctable but due to Facebook being used as his primary source of information.

S Adam Day

This page was last updated: May 09, 2015 by Red Earth, PLP