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All about International Resources

Searching for your ancestors overseas can be an exciting part of your genealogical research. You may get exposure to new languages and customs and a better sense of who you are and where you came from. In addition, your search may lead you to long lost cousins who can become lifelong friends.

For example, Ken Marcer, of Chicago, was looking for relatives in Finland. He called the Finnish embassy in Washington, D.C., and they suggested calling the Finnish Immigrant Institute in Finland. Through this organization, Mr. Marcer was able to obtain the addresses of the church registries in towns where his relatives had lived, and in twelve days, he received a list of names that included birth, death, marriage dates, and moving dates and locations. In his overseas research, he "hasn't come across a dry hole yet." He has found the addresses of living relatives in Finland and recently met a cousin in Canada when she was on a business trip from Finland. Mr. Marcer thinks that his genealogy research is worthwhile because it is interesting "to know that instead of being a small family, we may be related to half of Finland!"

The types of records and resources that you will find overseas vary from country to country, but when they exist, they may help you find ancestors that you couldn't have discovered otherwise. However, because conducting research overseas tends to take more time and money than conducting research in the United States, you should only start on overseas research once you have used the foreign records that are available in the United States. Many international records are available online or on CD. In addition, the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has microfilmed records from many foreign countries.

If you're worried about language problems, don't be. Many records are in a standard format, and you only need to recognize a few key words, such as birth, death, mother, and so on. For some pointers on overseas research, chekc out the topic Tips for International Research.

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