Have you ever thought about figuring out your heritage and family history but weren’t assured how to start? In that case, you are not alone. With various forms of records, documentation, and numerous free genealogy websites to research, anyone can begin researching their family history and document their genealogy.
Genealogy is the journey to find the family history of one in as accurate away as possible. And it has become a favorite hobby for many Americans.
Multiple resources support users to get answers regarding their family history and separate facts from fiction. Whether one is adopted, separated from family, or searching for information for their family tree, the field of genealogy is vast and includes multiple branches.
History of Genealogy
Nobody knows when genealogy originated. It may be that when people started managing written records, people began maintaining genealogical records. We have a genealogical history at the time of the 6th century BC Chinese philosopher Confucius.
In ancient human records, people stored genealogies of one kind or another to show social status or establish a royal pedigree. Queens and kings ascended to the throne by birthright, and the need for accurate, written records of lineage was apparent.
In the middle ages, churches started keeping records of patrons, thus building files used in the genealogical analysis. It is a hobby for people for a long time. But it wasn’t until modernized times when the arrival of the Internet-enabled everyday people resources required to discover their ancestry, that genealogy enriched as successful as it is now.
Modern strategies help weed out fraudulent histories, thereby allowing genealogists to record an official report of a family line. However, some of the oldest known genealogies involve those of dynastic leaders, early kings, and pharaohs, and records present in the Bible and other holy books.
Therefore, many genealogies date back several years, but whether or not they’re proven verifiable is a matter of debate. In modern genealogies, the search for verifiably correct records is paramount to creating a legitimate family tree.
Kinds of Records and Documentation
Oral history has been passed down from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, this isn’t a source of accurate genealogical information. Oral histories often suffer from what we see in the game Chinese whispers or telephone: errors grow over time, finally swamping the original message.
Fortunately, multiple records and documents exist, which can help produce a genealogical record that withstands careful scrutiny. Some documents and papers commonly used to establish genealogy include:
- Birth and death certificates
- Army documents
- Immigration, naturalization, and emigration documents
- Employment records
- Social Security indexes
- Deeds, property ownership, and other land titles and records
- Census records
- Tax records
- Voter registrations
- Church documentation
- Funeral services
- Other spiritual rites of passage
- Court documents
- Wills and probate
- Guardianship and adoption
- Criminal records
However, oral histories may be weak, they are often priceless as a starting point for a genealogical search. They may be used to begin searching for documents that are much more likely to be true.
Identifying Reliable Resources
We have already discussed how oral history can be corrupted over time. The same is true for written documents, although clearly not as likely. What is more, just because a piece of information was written down, does not make it right. As we all know from our experience today, there are a few things that are published that are not correct. But in several instances, it is the result of a writer with an ax to grind. These instances are easier to discredit.
Primary and Secondary Sources
When knowing reliable resources for specific genealogies, keep in mind that there are two different types of sources of information: primary and secondary. A primary source of data is the originator of the record.
For instance, church documents regarding a funeral ceremony or baptism written at the time of the event would be primary. A written account twenty years later, according to an interview with the priest who performed the service, would be secondary.
Therefore, search for primary sources provided by witnesses who were eyewitnesses to the event at the time it happened to ensure higher reliability.
Kinds of Information
To make a reliable history, several key elements must be known, researched, gathered, and then examined for reliability. Similarly, the most valuable types of information genealogists use include:
- Family and given names
- Location or names of locations
- Work-related or occupational data
Recognizing practices or customs that were extensively used during the place, period, or culture an individual may have lived in is also of great value.
Discriminating Between Related People
One issue that often arises when trying to establish reliable genealogies is recognizing people with the same name. It’s essential to use all available tools at your order while separating a person’s identity from other same-name folks, those who use nicknames, and those with the same occupations.
However, some historical records may register a person by their given name and then use a nickname, causing the inexperienced researcher to think there were two people in the family line when indeed there was just one.
Therefore, the spellings of city or town names may vary from one record to the other. And this gets more serious the further you go back. Knowing variations of spelling over time will help the genealogist create a more accurate history.
Modern-day genealogists have a specialized tool only available very lately: genetic analysis. DNA testing may be used to verify or trace a particular lineage. Genetic analysis may show what country a person’s ancestors basically came from, presenting more knowledge that may be used to find reliable records.
Modern researchers realize that often find that genetic testing is what puts the missing pieces of a puzzle together and creates a complete picture.
The Research Process
Genealogists have a variety of tools available at their disposal to use when researching family histories. Generally speaking, the research process begins with histories and oral traditions. It then traverses to free genealogy websites, written records, and documents — frequently networking along with other researchers. After that, results confirmed through genetic testing.
No-Cost Or Free Genealogy Websites
Searching for some best and free genealogy websites? There are 50 free family history sources where you’ll find marriage, birth, and obituaries, research tips, death records, newspaper articles, cemetery listings, biographies, and much more.
Therefore, we had great fun making this list of top websites. Keep in mind, most free genealogy websites are available by the dedication and hard work of many volunteers! However, do not forget to appreciate them and give back if possible.
50 Free Genealogy Sites
We wish you good luck on your journey to find your family history using these free genealogy websites.