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EDUC 431 (Ing)
Basics - Getting Started With Your Genealogy Research
I hope that you will find this short, very basic guide to genealogical research helpful. However, please give me a call or send me an email if I can be of any help!
Talk to your family - your parents, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles! Talking to your family is the very best way to get started with your genealogy research. Ask for:
- full names including middle names
- maiden names of women
- birth and death dates (or approximate years)
- where they family lived (county/state)
- the names of brothers and sisters
Recording the information on these free PDF forms can help you keep the information you gather clear in your mind.
Census records are a great source to find your family in a certain place, at a certain time. Almost everyone shows up in census records! The most recent census available is the 1930 census because they are kept private for 72 years. (The 1940 will become available next year in 2012!). So, to use census records, you need to find someone in your family who was alive in 1930.
Access census records through Ancestry Plus. (FLITE home page > Select a Database by Title > A > Ancestry Plus) This database is NOT available off-campus (their rules, not ours) but it is available in most Michigan public libraries if you are home and working on this project. Also, the Heritage Quest database (which IS available off-campus) has some, but not all censuses, so you could try that database as well.
- There are a lot of ways to get to the census records - try looking under Census Collections (in the left-hand corner). Click on U.S. Censuses and then on 1930 census link
- Fill in the name of one person and choose a state and maybe a county
- When you find a family that looks promising, check the names of the other family members with the information you've already gathered - do they seem to match up? does this seem to be the right family?
- Remember to look at the names around the family - these were their neighbors and often other family members
World War I Draft Registration records are a great source of information if you have any men you are researching that were born between 1873 and 1900. Unfortunately, there are not many records available for World War II servicemen and women. Over 80% of the Army's records burned in a fire in 1973.World War I Draft Registration Cards - available through Ancestry Plus
- click on the Search link and choose Military from the drop-down menu; then click on World War I Draft Registration Cards under "Featured Collections"
- search on first and last name and state; you may want to add a birth year if you know that
World War II Enlistment Records - freeling available on the National Archives and Record Adminstration's website http://aad.archives.gov/aad/
- search on the first and last name of the person
- click on the paper icon under "View Record" for more information
Birth, death, and marriage records are obviously excellent sources of information about your family. For these records, try these two databses (both freely available on the Internet).
This collection of digitized records from the Family History Library is particulary strong for Michigan records though you may find other states represented as well.
- search for a person's name
- limit your results list by clicking on Category > Birth, Marriage and Death and then choose one of the Michigan collections
- if you see a camera next to the result, there will be a digitized image of the actual record available
Seeking Michigan http://seekingmichigan.org
This site includes death records for people who died in Michigan between 1897 and 1920.
- click on Seek
- type the last name in the first box and choose Last Name (death records) from the drop-down box
- type in the county they lived in and choose County (death records) from the drop-down box
- I recommend leaving the first name blank unless you are dealing with a very, very common name and a very large area (like Wayne County or Kent County) because this is a good way to find out about family members that don't appear in other records, especially young children and infants.
You may be interested in a particular location if your family lived there for a long time and especially if you lived there too! A good place for finding a description of even small towns, villages, and townships is the HeritageQuest database.
- click on Search Books
- click on Places and type in the name of the county in Place Names
- from your results, look for books with titles like History of XX County with with illustrations and biographical sketches of their prominent men and pioneers and other titles that look like they are comprehensive histories
- click on View Image to see the full-text of the book
Interactive Immigration Explorer from
If your family immigrated from a particular country or are members of a particular ethnicity, you may find this website interesting and useful.
Plagiarism is the act of presenting another's work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is often unintentional, but it occurs whenever you use someone else's ideas or words without giving them credit. It can be obvious - purchasing a term paper or turning in a project done by someone else. It can be putting other's ideas into your own words. It can be cutting and pasting text from a web site. A simple rule: Do not copy text from Web pages or other sources without identifying and giving credit to the original author.
To avoid Plagiarism:
- Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas
- Write down the complete citation information for each item you use
- Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words
- Always credit original authors for their information and ideas
For more information about Plagiarism, please explore the Plagiarism web page provided by the Ferris State University Writing Center.
FLITE offers many ways to get in touch with a librarian. You can can call, email, and chat with us. FLITE homepage > Get Help
Of course, we'd also love to see you in person! If your question is research-related, it may be best to set up an appointment with a librarian. You contact the librarian directly or you can complete the reference consultation form. Either way, someone will get back with quickly and set up a time to consult with you. This can be done in person, over the phone, via email, or through chat. Setting up an appointment allows the librarian to prepare for your specific consultation which makes for a less time-consuming and more relevant conversation.
One of our missions at FLITE is to offer all off-campus students access to the high-quality research materials available through the library. Our Distance Education web site should help you with any questions you may have about reaching FLITE from wherever you are. If you experience problems logging on, please call (231) 591-2669 or (800) 4-FERRIS (ext. 2669).
Contact: Stacy Anderson / Email / Phone: 231-591-3635 / Office: FLITE 140C
Don't forget, you are welcome to come to the Oval Information Desk and ask for help any time. You can also call us 231-591-3602 or chat with us.
Last update: January 24, 2011