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  • Introduction to Genealogy

  • What Is Open Source Genealogy

  • The Importance of Open Source Genealogy

  • Family Tree Organizing Tips

  • 12 Essential Genealogy Supplies

  • Genealogy Beginner Mistakes to Avoid

  • How Far Back Can I Trace My Genealogy?

  • Using Cemetery Records in Genealogy Research

  • Genealogy Research Through Living Family Members

  • Tips for Managing Your Genealogy Archive

  • Resolving Conflicting Genealogy Records

  • DNA Testing and Genealogy Research
  • How Far Back Can I Trace My Genealogy?

    It is always exciting as the genealogist for your family to uncover one more bit of information that leads you back one more generation.  In the never ending search for archives most start with free open source materials.  These can easily lead you through several proceeding generations with just a few hours of research.  Birth certificates, death certificates, court records and marriage certificates that you can find online will get you back to the early 1900’s or late 1800’s fairly quickly.

    At that point the research into your lineage becomes a little more time consuming and many people abandon open source research.  That’s really unfortunate because open source materials can actually go back a lot further than that.  You just need to be creative in your hunt.

    Let’s assume you are tracing someone back into the 1800’s.  At this point records from a courthouse could have easily been lost to a flood or fire.  In addition, as part of America was still being formed life was rough and records were barely considered.  But everyone was born, everyone died and probably everyone was married and had kids in between.  Have you considered looking at open source material from the area you think the person lived?  Churches have historians.  Find the church in the area, write a letter or send an email and you may just have stumbled on to a wealth of information on not only one person but probably many as most families were raised, lived and died within miles of one another.

    The point is, don’t just use open source materials for the obvious.  Look under every rock.  Army records often go back further than court records.  Immigration records will point you to a location overseas where a whole new course in your search is waiting.  Just keep searching.  Once overseas you may be able to go back hundreds of years using open source materials.

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