How Can I Research My Family History

The question, "how can I find my family history" is fairly easily answered, but the answer itself is fairly complex-not because the sources for family genealogy are so limited but because they are so plentiful.   Ways to research the family history are limited to three-archives, relatives and of course the ever-present internet, but within those ways are incredibly diverse pathways to genealogical research. 

Sources for family genealogy on the internet number in the thousands, and every website, it seems, provides the amateur sleuth with more pathways to genealogical research than he/she can easily investigate.   Of course, no one said the ways to research the family history should be easy, but it's possible to whittle down the search a bit.  Archives are what they are, as are relatives, but there are several genealogical internet sites that have the best recommendations.   The question "how can I find my family history" gets answered here:

The highest and best accolades go to Rootsweb, an online database (under the aegis of World Connect Project) which has a stunning amount of data behind it.  This one-stop shopper of a website allows researchers to upload family trees which they can subsequently modify (to emphasize a certain branch) then link and share out in display for other family members or fellow researchers. 

Rootsweb is somewhat unique in that not only is it the largest database out there, but also it allows individuals to add to or remove information to allow for family births, deaths, events and similar updates.   This greatly increases the probability that current and reliable information is on the site, and the database (which is free), with 3 billion names and over three hundred thousand detailed family trees, probably cannot be bested as an immediate research source for any family genealogy, whether one is researching a single member of a single branch or creating an extensive family history.

A major social force that practices family genealogical study, not only for information but as the basis of faith, is Mormonism, so it's not surprising that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints should offer the website FamilySearch, which is free to all genealogists regardless of religious persuasion.  The databases are centered on sites of Mormonism in the US, but they provide wonderful image quality and an extensive set of indexes, as well as the records of numerous countries worldwide. 

A third (and often overlooked) source of family history is governmental: the U.S. Federal Land Patent Records website, located on the website for the Bureau of Land Management, is another excellent, free and comprehensive database, with access to Federal land records, as well as images of contracts, titles and all kinds of delightful genealogical clues for family detectives, all the way back to 1820.  It features not only an index to land purchases but also the actual documents themselves, and is an invaluable site for people whose ancestors were able to buy land in any contractual arrangement.

Finally, there's the invaluable (if slightly depressing) death records that one can search for family history and loved ones that time and memory may have obscured. is very likely to have extensive details about at least one of the ancestors in anyone's family tree.   There are over 3 million records contained in this little site, from over five thousand cemeteries listed worldwide.  And actually has all the available cemetery and funerary transcriptions, as well as links to other transcriptions from other cemeteries.  It's truly a global site that specializes in the records of the long departed and sometimes forgotten, and it's a great place to revive and revisit loved ones and old memories.

These are three websites that answer the question, "How can I find my family history?"

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