Principles of Family History Research

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Genealogical or family history research is the process of searching records to find information about your relatives and using those records to link individuals to earlier and later generations.

This article describes a process for doing genealogical and family history research. In addition to following a process, research includes knowing about the different types of records that have the information you seek. For discussions of specific records to use in your research, see the "Topics" on this wiki for the country, state or province of interest. You may also find information about records in the genealogical handbooks.

This article is intended for persons who are interested in learning more about family history research. For a brief overview of the research process, see A Guide to Research.

Table of Contents[edit | edit source]

STEP 1: Identify What You Know

Use Appropriate Forms
Recall Information
Gather Family Information
Gather Low-Hanging-Fruit Sources
Record Useful Information
Organize Your Records

STEP 2: Decide What You Want to Learn

Identify Candidate Families for Further Research
One Family at a Time
One Research Objective at a Time
Select the Easiest Research Objective
Prepare a Research Log

STEP 3: Select Records to Search.

Identify a Category of Sources
Choose a Record Type
Select Specific Records
Describe the Records on a Research Log

STEP 4: Obtain and Search the Records.

Obtain the Records
View the Records
Search the Records
Record the Results

STEP 5: Evaluate and Use the Information.

Evaluate the Evidence
Transfer the Information
Organize the New Records
Share the Information
Restart the Research Cycle

For Further Reading

How to ask questions

Using This Article[edit | edit source]

This article explains the basic steps of the research process. Figures illustrate the text while blue boxes provide important background information. Key points (maxims) are highlighted. A short bibliography of books about research methods under “For Further Reading” is at the end of this outline. The appendix includes a useful summary diagrams of the research process and record types.

See also[edit | edit source]