Genealogy Research Tips by Raymond S. Wright III
Research Tip 1: The Basics
Just getting started? The trick is to begin with yourself and work backwards. You'll ususally find gaps in information within your first four generations (those between you and your great-grandparents). Raymond Wright tells you the best way to go about your family search.
Research Tip 2: Compiled Sources
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints maintains databases full of information on families around the world. Learn what the databases offer and how you can benefit from previous research.
Research Tip 3: Social Security Records
Raymond Wright provides an overview to the Social Security Death Index and discusses what you are likely to learn from it. Find out why the Index was created and why it is the perfect jumping off point for further research.
Research Tip 4: Finding Ancestors at the Family History Library
The Family History Library has more than two million rolls of microfilm with original records like births, marriages, deaths, censuses, probate records, and more. Learn how to search through all of the information to find what you are looking for.
Research Tip 5: Your Family in Print
Have you ever considered that someone may have already researched part of your family tree? In this research tip, Raymond Wright discuesses how you might locate information on your family.
Research Tip 6: Gazetteers and Atlases
Gazetteers and atlases can give you an idea of where your ancestors lived and which jurisdiction recorded events in their lives. Gazetteers often provide descriptions of towns and atlases help you understand your ancestral terrain.
Research Tip 7: Federal and State Records
Would you look for passenger lists at a state archive or the national archives? In this tip, Raymond Wright summarizes where you're likely to find the records that you need.
Research Tip 8: Local Records
Vital records were usually kept at the local level before they were maintained at the state level. Raymond Wright presents an overview of what you can learn from local record keepers and how that information can help you.
Research Tip 9: People as Sources for Family History
Interviews with family members can unearth family stories, myths, and legends that can extend your family's history back one or two centuries. Find out who to interview and the kinds of questions you should ask to get the best results.
Research Tip 10: Preparing to Interview a Witness
With a little bit of preparation, conducting an oral history interview can be fun and productive. This tip covers everything from the best way to set up an interview session to how to phrase the most effective questions. Find out what you should know before getting started to make the most of your conversation.
Research Tip 11: Conducting Effective Interviews
Expert advice for interview day. Learn what you can do before, during, and after the interview to make your subject more comfortable and your fact-gathering more effective.
Research Tip 12: Evaluating Written and Oral Evidence
Wondering how to determine how reliable your sources are? In this tip, Raymond Wright discusses the value of first and second hand accounts of your family's history and what you can do to make sure you have the most reliable information.
Research Tip 13: Finding Ancestors in Passenger Lists
Passenger lists are some of the most popular record types for information since you can usually learn where an immigrant came from and where he was going. Find out why passenger lists exist and where to look for the most reliable information.
Research Tip 14: Searching for Ancestors in U.S. Passenger Lists
Not all passenger lists recorded the same information. Find out what can be learned and how to research your family in a list that isn't indexed.
Research Tip 15: Researching in European Emigrant Records
Before you jet off to your family's country of origin, find out what you can do to research your overseas roots without a passport. This tip goes over how to search for European records in your local Family History Center and three ways to get in touch with archivists in your ancestral homeland.
Research Tip 16: European Censuses
You're probably familiar with how useful U.S. census records are but have you ever considered looking for European census records? Most nations in Europe have census records. In this research tip, Raymond Wright discusses how to locate them and what you could learn.
Research Tip 17: European Censuses
Censuses are popular with genealogists. They name almost everyone in locality and often include important information about household members. Most family historians are familiar with United States decennial censuses, but may overlook them when searching for ancestors in European records.
Raymond S. Wright III is a professor at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah), where he has taught courses in family history and genealogy since 1990. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Utah. An Accredited Genealogist of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, Wright was manager of library operations there from 1979-1990. During his employment, Wright did numerous research assignments in archives and libraries in the United States and many foreign countries. He is a specialist on genealogical records in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Wright has served twice as chairman of the American Library Association's Genealogy Committee. He is also author of The Genealogist's Handbook: Modern Methods for Researching Family History.