Choose a Record Type

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Principles of Family History Research
Step 3. Select Records to Search
Choose a Record Type

Now that you know whether you need genealogical records or reference tools, and have selected the category of records (compiled, original, background, or finding aids) to search, you need to determine which record type will best help you meet your objective. The following tables can help you choose a record type.

Sources Useful to Genealogists

Sources Useful to Genealogists.png

Compiled Records: Choices

Choose a Compiled Record Type.png

You may want to view the tutorial at FamilySearch Learning Center,"Ancestors Season 2: Compiled Records".

Original Records Choices

Choose an Original Record Type.png

Background Information Choices

Choose a Background Information Record Type.png

Finding Aids Choices

Choose a Finding Aid Record Type.png

Other Tools for Choosing a Record Type

Besides the tables, these tools can help you choose appropriate record types:

  • Articles in this wiki are available for the United States (including each state), Canada (and each province), and other countries such as Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, and Peru. They describe record types useful for those areas and cite some specific useful records. The record selection table for each national Wiki article shows possible research objectives, and the record types most likely to include that kind of information. For example, see the United States Record Finder. For a brief explanation of how to use this table in combination with the FamilySearch Catalog, see Guessing a Record Type to Use.

If a Wiki article is not available for your country, the Wiki articles for a neighboring country may be helpful. For example, many of the France Wiki articles may also apply to Belgium.

  • Handbooks generally identify record types for an area or topics to research. Some handbooks may use different terms for the record types (such as wills instead of probate records), but they give useful descriptions. Older handbooks may have out of date addresses and will not discuss newly available records or research strategies.