Browse articles to learn more about genealogy research strategies and techniques
All Learning Articles
5 Free Websites for Learning Genealogy Research Places to learn more about genealogy for all skills levels
5 Steps to Discovering More Records Ways to find more record sources for your ancestor
5 Ways to Jump Start Your Family History Ideas for getting out of a genealogy research rut
6 Basic Rules of Genealogy Basic guidelines to remember in your research
9 Common Mistakes that People Doing Genealogy Make People looking for information about their ancestors sometimes make these mistakes
10 Free Useful Websites for U.S. Genealogy Research There are many free and useful genealogy websites available for U.S. researchers. We are listing here a few of our favorites that are broadly applicable to many people.
10 U.S. Census Tips For Genealogy Research Useful tips for locating your ancestor on the census
About Migration Patterns in Genealogy Research How putting your ancestors in a historical context can help you understand their migration patterns
About New England Town Records Why New England town records can be useful
Bulldozer Genealogy Why sometimes you need to look at the records more closely
Burned Courthouses and Lost Records What to do if you find out that the genealogy records to locate your family burned in a fire
Can You Really Trace Your Genealogy Back to Adam? Why the answer is no
Cautions in Using Family Tree Some potential issues to be aware of when using the FamilySearch Family Tree
Changing Place Names in Genealogy Research The names of places change over time and finding accurate ones is necessary
Climbing the Ladder One Rung at a Time Build your family tree one step at a time
Common Genealogy Jargon Definitions of common terms used in genealogy research
Considering Name Spellings in Genealogy The spelling of your ancestor's name may not be what you think
Cluster Research for Genealogy Tips for using cluster research when an ancestor is difficult to find
Dealing with Contradictory Evidence Help for evaluating genealogy records that have facts that contradict each other
Dealing with Errors Working around errors in genealogy related documents or the mistakes of others
Discovering Birth Records Types of genealogy records that may list a birth date
Examine Inherited Pedigrees Carefully Questions you should ask if you are using a family tree given to you by someone else
Examining Dates Critically in Your Genealogy Research It's important to do the math and make sure your dates make sense
Expanding Your Newspaper Search More information on your ancestor might be in additional newspapers
Exploring Church Records in Genealogy Some helpful videos about using U.S. church records
Family History Work is Work Though genealogy is challenging, it is rewarding as well
Find a Missing Ancestor by Searching for the Children If you are stuck on an ancestral line in your genealogy, more information on that person's children may help
Find Your Immigrant Ancestor - Border Crossings and Other Records On border crossing records from Canada and Mexico
Find Your Immigrant Ancestor - Manifests and Passenger Lists On using passenger lists for locating your immigrant ancestor
Find Your Immigrant Ancestor - Naturalization Records On locating and using naturalization records in genealogy research
Finding an Ancestor's Address Why you would want to find an address for genealogy purposes and possible records to use
Finding an Elusive Ancestor Ideas for finding a missing ancestor in your genealogy that it is difficult to locate
Finding Ancestors with Common Names Helps for identifying which person is your ancestor when they have common names
Finding Children Who Died Young Looking in the records for missing children who died young in a family
Finding Time for Genealogy Fitting in time to do genealogy in a busy lifestyle
Finding U.S. Marriage Records Some helpful tips to locate marriage records
Find Your Ancestor's Parents Possible documents that might list the names of the parents of your ancestor
Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor - Where to Start Steps to locating your immigrant ancestor
Focusing Your Research Tips for helping to keep your genealogy research goals in focus with so many records to choose from
Free Collections on Ancestry.com List of which collections on Ancestry are free to view
Genealogical Lessons from Archery Lessons learned from archery to help hit your genealogical target
Genealogy is Not Always Easy It may take some additional work to find the information you are looking for
Genealogy Records Types A summary of common types of genealogy records for the United States and ways that they may be useful in your research
Genealogy Sites with Records in Common List of genealogy sites who share some of their records with other sites
Going Beyond Just Names and Dates The stories of our ancestors are also important
Growing Your Family Tree Becoming a genealogist and not just a name collector
How to Find an Obituary for Your Ancestor Tips for locating newspaper obituaries in the United States
How to Find Your Ancestor's Burial Location Tips for finding out what cemetery your U.S. ancestor was buried in so that you can view their headstone
How to Stop People from Making Incorrect Changes in Family Tree Tips for keeping the correct information on your family in the Family Tree
How to Use FamilySearch Family Tree Effectively Why it's important to add sources
How to Use the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Steps to finding old county boundaries to further your research
How to Use the LDSGenealogy.com Site An overview of the features of the LDSGenealogy.com, a site designed to help you learn more about your U.S. ancestors
How You Know You Are Past the Introductory Stage in Genealogy Research Some indicators that you are no longer a beginner
Ideas for Finding a Woman's Maiden Name If you're having difficulty finding a maiden name in genealogical records, here are 9 possible sources to look for
Identifying Where Genealogy Records Are Located Guidelines for identifying a jurisdiction where your ancestor's records are located
Keys to Finding Relevant Genealogical Sources Some general rules on where to look for record sources
Limitations of Record Indexes Why you can't always rely on the index to find your ancestor
Limits of Historical Records Some of the limitations of genealogy records explained
Locating Offline Newspapers Tips for locating historical newspapers in the U.S. that haven't yet been digitized online
Locating Probate Records What probate records are and how to determine where they may have been recorded
Moving Your Research Skills to the Next Level Using more than one genealogy record and examining the records carefully
On Defining Success in Genealogy Research Finding joy in the journey
Preserving Family Stories Why should family stories be preserved and how can it be done
Preserving Our Own Family's History Ideas on preserving the history of your current family for generations to come
Probate Records and Land Deeds: Useful and Often Underused Often probate records and land deeds are overlooked in U.S. genealogy, but they might what you need to solve your brick wall. Here are the basics of what these records are and how to use them.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Declaring a Brick Wall Before you decided you have a brick wall in your genealogy research, there are some questions you can ask
Researching Past Owners of an Old Home or Property How to find out about who owned a home previously
Sanborn Insurance Maps - an Overlooked Genealogical Resource What the Sanborn Insurance maps are and how they can be helpful
Search for Every Ancestor, Not Just Your Direct Line If you want to do accurate genealogy research, you must look for all of the family members
Searching for Death Information Tips on finding death certificates and obituaries
Searching through Layers of Sources to Find Your Ancestors Looking at the deeper layers of genealogy records can be helpful
The Different Views in FamilySearch Family Tree The traditional, portrait, fan chart, and descendancy views in Family Tree
The FamilySearch Catalog: the Amazing Free Resource You Might Be Missing How to find two-thirds of the free genealogy records on FamilySearch
The Importance of Moving Our Family Records Online Why you should put your genealogy online
The Need for Examining Original Documents in Genealogy Why doing a check of the original document images is useful
The PERSI and Genealogy A summary of what the PERSI is and how to find it
Tips for Researching Immigrants to the U.S. Ideas for finding a place of origins and tips for specific immigration countries
U.S. Census Basics An overview of the types of census records available and what information they contain
Using City Directories in Family History Some helpful videos that explain using U.S. city directories in your genealogy research
Using and Finding U.S. Church Records Types of church records and how to find them
Using Civil War Pension Files The value of Civil War pension files are and how to locate them
Using Civil War Records Locating and using Civil War records for U.S. genealogy
Using Compiled Genealogies What to do if you find your genealogy in a book
Using Distances and Travel Time Between Places in Genealogy Research Using the time period and distance between places for better accuracy
Using DNA Testing for Genealogy Basic information about the types of DNA tests that can be used for genealogy
Using Land Deeds and Plats Tips for using land deeds and plats for U.S. genealogy research
Using Multiple Research Tools You can find more genealogical information if you use more research tools
Using Newspapers in Your Research Why newspapers can be helpful in genealogy research
Using Online Databases: from General to Specific Searches How to search from general to specific to get better search results in genealogy research
Using Old U.S. County History Books About county histories and how to use them
Using Revolutionary War Records Locating and using Revolutionary War records for U.S. genealogy
Using Tax Records for U.S. Genealogy Basic information about how tax records can be used to learn more about your ancestors
Using U.S. Census Records Effectively Some helpful videos that explain how to analyze the U.S. census records
Using U.S. City Directories Basics of using U.S. city directories in genealogy research
Using U.S. Land Records in Genealogy Some helpful videos about land records and how to use them
Using U.S. Military Records in Genealogy A helpful video about using U.S. military records
Using World War I and II Draft Registration Cards Draft registration cards and their uses in genealogy research
Unique Features of the FamilySearch Family Tree A brief summary of the unique features of Family Tree
When It Is Time to Quit Searching for an Elusive Ancestor How you know you have done a reasonably exhaustive search
When You've Done Everything to Find Your Ancestor Ideas for expanding your genealogy search
Where to Go from the 1940 U.S. Census Next steps for searching for genealogy records after finding your family in the 1940 census
Why Attend a Genealogy Conference or Class Things you can learn from attending a conference or class
Why to Use the FamilySearch Family Tree It's a good idea to put your genealogy research information into Family Tree
Why We Add Sources The importance of recording sources as you do genealogy research
Why You Want the Death Certificate of Your Ancestor Information that can be listed on a death certificate, when death certificates can be helpful, and how to locate them
Widen Your Search Looking for possible records that may not be as obvious
Y-DNA Testing: The Useful DNA Test You Might Not Be Using Yet Basics of Y-DNA testing
Brick Wall Case Studies
A "brick wall" ancestor is one that you are having difficulty finding. Below are case studies about a difficult genealogical question that we were able to solve with the details of how we did it. Though these articles might not be about your individual ancestor, we hope that reading about some of the strategies we used will help you to break down your own brick walls.
Brick Wall Case Studies #1: Solving a Connecticut man's unknown parents using genealogical records and DNA Descendants had been trying to find out who Ruluf's parents were for more than 100 years unsuccessfully. Family records, Y-DNA testing, probate records, land deeds, and death records showed his likely parents.
Brick Wall Case Studies #2: Discovering the family of a woman living in Ohio from an unknown place in New Jersey Online trees listed who Catherine's family was, but there were no sources to prove it and no document located that named her parents. Census records, probate records, newspapers, and researching her siblings gave the answers.
Brick Wall Case Studies #3: Finding the birth place and parents of an Italian immigrant to the United States Leonard spelled his name several different ways and put his age and immigration differently on each census. His marriage record, passenger lists to the United States, and Italian civil registration records pointed to his parents.
Brick Wall Case Studies #4: Finding the birth place and parents of a Danish immigrant to the United States John's passenger list to America hadn't been located and he had a common name. John's tombstone, the Denmark Lutheran church records, and Danish emigration records led to his family in Denmark.
Brick Wall Case Studies #5: Locating the family of an Irish woman in Connecticut Catherine was from somewhere in Ireland and lived in Connecticut. A combination of information from her marriage record, death certificate, and Irish Catholic records pointed to her place of origin in Ireland and her parents.
Brick Wall Case Studies #6: Finding the family of a Massachusetts Revolutionary War soldier It was a family tradition that Benjamin Clark served in the Revolutionary War. Vital records, town histories, and Revolutionary War pension files proved the family tradition to be correct.
Brick Wall Case Studies #7: Verifying the family of a Pennsylvania man with a common name There were online trees that showed Jacob's family, but few original source documents to prove it and many men of the same name in the area. In addition, Jacob lived before there were vital records kept in Pennsylvania or census records that listed all family members by name. Land deeds, census records, court records, marriage documents, tax lists, and probate records gave proof of his family members.
Brick Wall Case Studies #8: Finding the birth place and family of a Swedish immigrant living in Massachusetts Frank lived in Massachusetts and records showed he was originally from Sweden, but the town of his birth hadn't been found. A World War I draft registration card, a marriage record, and Swedish household books led to finding his Swedish family.
Brick Wall Case Studies #9: Finding the burial location of an immigrant from Ireland who died in New York Thomas was a man from Ireland who died in New York. An offline newspaper obituary led to his burial location.
Brick Wall Case Studies #10: Finding the family of an Irish family with common names living in New York City Edmond and Mary were immigrants to the United States from Ireland, their ages listed differently in the records, and no document had been located that named their parents or their specific place of origin in Ireland. Newspapers, burial records, death certificates, and Irish civil registration records identified them in Ireland.
Brick Wall Case Studies #11: Locating a San Francisco man's parents when a fire destroyed many of the genealogical records Matthew lived in San Francisco for many years and the vital records burned in a fire in 1906. Census records, newspapers, city directories, cemetery records, and voting records identified his parents.
Brick Wall Case Studies #12: Finding the parents of a New Jersey man with no vital or census records that listed his parents William didn't have a birth or death record, and his marriage record didn't list his parents. Studying families wtih his surname in the area where he was born, census records, and probate records identified to which family he belonged.
Brick Wall Case Studies #13: Finding the family of a Pennsylvania woman with no birth record Mary Ann was born in Pennsylvania and her father's name was known but it was uncertain which family she belonged to. Her death certificate, studying families in the area, census records, and Civil War records showed who her parents were.
Brick Wall Case Studies #14: Locating a vital records certificate using the index information There was an index for a birth certificate found online. Using the GS film number from the index and the FamilySearch catalog helped us to locate the document itself.
Brick Wall Case Studies #15: Finding a family's address in St Louis A Laux family descendant wanted to know where the Laux family lived in St Louis in order go and visit the old family home. Census records and a death certificate led to their address.
Brick Wall Case Studies #16: Finding a woman's family who had moved from Ohio to Australia Annie's marriage record and death record listed her parents as unknown, and she didn't grow up with biological parents. A ministerial directory, death record, death notice in the newspaper, and census record gave more about who her biological parents were.
Brick Wall Case Studies #17: Identifying a Pennsylvania woman's family without a document that names her parents No document had been located that named Sarah's parents. Studying families in the area where she married, tax lists, probate records, land deeds, church records, and census records pointed to her likely family.
Brick Wall Case Studies #18: Finding the family of a man from South Carolina living in Georgia No documents listed the names of the parents of Jones F Miller. Census records, probate records, newspaper articles, land deeds, and a Confederate pension file identify the family to whom he belonged.
Brick Wall Case Studies #19: Finding a man and his parents when only his initials and last name were known G W Gray appeared in the census with his wife and children, but his full name hadn't been idenitified yet. State census records, witnesses listed on a marriage record, census records, and Civil War draft registration records identified his full name, parents, and siblings.
Brick Wall Case Studies #20: Finding a Tennessee woman's parents without a birth record Prudence was born before birth records were kept in Tennessee and wasn't listed on any census records with her parents. Studying the families in the area where she married, census records, Revolutionary War pension files, and Daughters of the American Revolution records led to her likely father.
Brick Wall Case Studies #21: Finding a New Hampshire man's parents without a birth record Ezra did not have a birth record, and only his father's name was known. Studying the families with his surname in the area where he was born through the probate records, cemetery records, and census records pointed to Ezra's parents.
Brick Wall Case Studies #22: Finding an Indiana man's family when he hadn't been found with them in the census Jesse did not have a birth record, and he hadn't been found with his family in the census records. His obituary and studying the families in the area where he was born led to the family to whom he belonged.
Brick Wall Case Studies #23: Finding the family of an adopted man's biological mother The birth and death information for an adopted man's biological mother had been located. Creative searches in the census records, as well as marriage records and state census records identified her family members.
Brick Wall Case Studies #24: Finding the descendants of one of the daughters in a family A marriage record Nancy had been located, but nothing else had been located. Marriage records in the area, as well as census and death certificates helped us locate her other marriages and children.
Brick Wall Case Studies #25: Finding the hometown of a Japanese immigrant to New York Masazo was known to have come from Japan but there hadn't been a document located that listed his home town. Naturalization papers and passenger lists named his place of origin.
Brick Wall Case Studies #26: Locating the family of a New Jersey man with many men in the area of the same name John was born in New Jersey before birth records were kept, and he wasn't listed in the 1850 census with his parents. Studying his neighbors in the census, as well as examining the families with his surname in the area, family Bible records, and his marriage record pointed to his birth family.
Brick Wall Case Studies #27: Locating the family of a man who joined The Church of Jesus Christ (Mormons) in Denmark in the 1800s Soren's wife and children in Denmark were known, but the records about them didn't list anything that would lead to his parents, and he had a common name. Lutheran church records, the LDS Scandinavian Mission Index, and LDS baptism records helped ot identify which family he belonged to.
Brick Wall Case Studies #28: Locating the family of an African American man of unknown origins who lived in St Louis A man named O.C. Richardson lived in St Louis in the 1920s and 1930s, and no documents had been located about him. Family information, autosomal DNA testing, census records, and a death certificate identified his family of origin.
Brick Wall Case Studies #29: Identifying the family of a man who lived in Indiana who doesn't appear listed by name in any U.S. census records Hugh married his wife, had one son, and died a short time later. Newspapers, studying families with his surname in the area he lived, and census records helped us to know what family he very likely came from.
Brick Wall Case Studies #30: Finding the parents of an adopted child born in the 1870s in Ohio Emma was listed in the census in an adopted family and her marriage record listed her as having unknown parents. Birth records, studying the nearby families, and autosomal DNA evidence pointed to her biological family.
Brick Wall Case Studies #31: Identifying the family of a man with a common name There were many men named Charles Miller so it was difficult to determine which one he was. A draft registration card gave clues to identify the correct man.
Articles Especially for Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
5 Easy Ways to Get Started with Your Family History Ways to do family history besides doing genealogy research
Common Myths about Genealogy among Members of the LDS Church Family history work is a responsibility for all
Where Do I Start? First Steps for LDS Members Starting Their Family History Beginning steps for family history research in Family Tree
A Family History Success Story How our family successfully used the FamilySearch Family Tree in a collaborative way to find many names for temple work
The New Family History Center is in the Home Most LDS family history work can now be done from home
Success in Finding Ancestors or Cousins that Need Temple Ordinances Basics on finding research opportunities in FamilySearch Family Tree
Suggestions to a New Family History Consultant Helps for new consultants on getting started
Take Time for Your Family History The importance of family history work
Keep Looking! Find Me Please Spiritual guidance in LDS family history work
Time to Think About Your Ancestors Finding time for family history work
If Your Genealogy Appears to Be All Done Finding work to do when it appears in Family Tree that all of the work is done