- Start from the known, and expand to discover the unknown. Family members and local records are usually the best place to start.
- Select a few good Internet sites and become familiar with them.
- Use your e-mail address and take advantage of the Internets networking capabilities. Join a mailing list with which you have a common ethnic, geographic, surname or subject interest. Regularly use Internet and e-mail contacts to search for data and research new leads. Practice makes perfect.
Document your results.
Kinds of Internet Sites
- Cyndis List, the best known subject guide to genealogical sites, covers over 250,000 sites in over 180 categories. For example, Hoaxes and Scams Page of Cyndi's List is a register of common scams.
- Personal pages centered around one family. These are easy to set up and there are a number of free hosting sites.
- Crowd source - that is use other people's research and expertise. An example is Family Search, from where information can be freely viewed and exchanged. The quality of such information, of course, depends on each individual researcher's reliability and documentation. RootsWeb, home of Roots-L, the largest genealogical mailing list, also has a search engine for the USGenWeb archives and is the oldest Internet genealogy service.
- Official (civil) records, such as the Ellis Island Records (requires free registration). Many official records, such as the Hamburg Passenger Lists database, are available through Ancestry.
- Indices to and abstracts of vital records, like the Wood County Vital Statistics Internet Resources or the Social Security Death Index (1965-).Vital Records Information shows how to obtain official records of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces records for each U.S. county. How to obtain birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates provides this information for records held at the state level.
- Information extracted or abstracted from non-official records, such as the Stevens Point Obituary Index, Marshfield Newspaper Index or the Palmer List of Merchant Vessels.
- Websites created by or on behalf of the local genealogical community, like the USGenWeb Project, or the Heart O Wisconsin Genealogical Society .
- All genealogy is local. In South Wood County, Wisconsin, for example, McMillan Memorial Library's Local History On-Line has a wealth of digitized documents capturing the historical flavor of the area, while their Local Genealogy Resources highlights McMillan's genealogy collection
There are a number of good tutorials available for beginners. Rootsweb's Wood County site has Help Me I Am New, How to research in PortageCo WI & WoodCoWI website, and How to navigate on a website. Family Search provides the Family History Lesson Series and Online Research Series Classes
Organizing Your Results
There are a number of good software packages to organize your findings. It is important that your software be able to export GEDCOM format, which makes sharing files easy. The software should also let you add notes, attach photos / images and document your sources.
Personal Ancestral File allows you to quickly and easily collect, organize and share your family history and genealogy information, while PAF Companion creates charts. No longer supported the LDS.
Outside the Box...
- Sites with maps and gazetteer information such as Google Maps and Google Earth, an Atlas of the German Empire and gazeteers, such as the GEOnet Names Server,and Kartenmeister.
- Phone books, both in the US and around the world.
- Photo archives, such as the Library of Congress, Panoramic Maps, Navsource and Wisconsin Heritage Online.
- IPL2 is a good source for identifying quality websites on any subject.
Google Books has digitized many history titles.
Library Funded Genealogy Databases
- HeritageQuest Online provides access to census data, local histories, tax rolls, cemetery lists, military rosters, and more. Can also be accessed from home with a valid McMillan or South Central area library card.
- AncestryPlus provides access to more than 4,000 databases, including census data, passenger lists, military records and much more. Available for in-library use only.
- Access NewspaperARCHIVE contains tens of millions of searchable newspaper pages, dating as far back as the 1700s. Coverage can be spotty. Searches can be limited by newspaper, city or state. Can also be accessed from home with a valid McMillan or South Central area library card.
This program can be found at : http://www.mcmillanlibrary.org/programs/genealogy.html