Everything you ever wanted to know about genealogy research and the proverbial kitchen sink. At least everything you need to know to become an efficient intermediate level researcher can be learned from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy, Third Edition. This compendium of genealogical knowledge covers everything from the reasons to start tracing your family tree through understanding the latest developments in DNA testing and associated research. This is the perfect book to give to a friend or family member interested in starting their family history. Here are just some of the benefits of this book, as taken from the cover:

  • “Guidance on sorting through census data, plus tips on widening your search with surname variations.
  • Tips fro fact-finding in newspaper archives, military records, Social Security records, cemeteries, and more.
  • The latest information on using Ancestry.com, GenWeb, and other online sources—plus hundreds of links to visit.
  • A new chapter devoted to researching African American lineage.
  • Expanded information on how to use DNA testing in your genealogical search.
  • Insightful ideas for breaking through the brick walls and seemingly dead ends all genealogists face.
  • A primer on organizing your work with charts, forms, and logs citing sources; and establishing a numbering system.”

Reading this book alone is made easier through clean page layout and design. Through the chapters there are plenty of examples, tips, pitfalls, and images to help the reader clearly understand each key point and to put new skills into practice. Beginning genealogists will be thrilled by the through, yet easy to understand content. Step by step the reader will learn the basics, come to understand the joys of success, and possibly get hooked for life. To see all this book has to offer, just read the extended table of contents below to get an idea of how thoroughly this book covers standard research skills.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy, Third Edition would make an excellent gift, even for yourself. If you want to encourage someone to get started with their family history, or just to bolster your own skills, consider ordering this book. You can find the book at the Family Roots Publishing; Item #: IG01, Price: $21.51.

 

Table of Contents

Part I Who Are You?

1. Why Genealogy?

  • What’s the Fuss About?
    • Why the Effort?
    • Will it Really Grab Your Attention?
  • Starting Down the Road
    • The Path to Addiction
    • Who Is an Ancestor?
    • What Family to Trace?
    • What Will You Get from Genealogy?
  • Embarking on the Adventure
  • You Won’t Find Perfect People
  • Genealogy with Success
    • No Two the Same
    • The Past Has a Personality

2. Start with Mom and Dad

  • Getting It Down on Paper
  • Don’t Be Too Pushy
  • Don’t Believe Every Story You Hear
  • Questions to Ask Your Family
  • Searchin’ the Attics and the Basements
    • The Objects with Tales to Tell
    • Picturing the Past
    • The Old Family Bible
    • “This Dead Dated the…”
    • Letters: Speaking from the Grave
    • “Ancient and Honorable…”: Lineage Societies
    • Account Books: Not a Penny More
    • Dear Diary
    • Baby Books: Not a Penny More
    • Address Lists, Samplers, and Other Treasures
  • No Longer Junk
  • Or Did You Start with the Internet

3. You’re Hooked—Now What?

  • What Are You Looking For?
  • What Should You Use to Take Your Notes?
    • That Important Citation
  • Writing It Right
  • What’s In a Name?
    • Women and Their Changing Surnames
    • Place Names Can Be Tricky, Too
    • Dating Problems
    • Did You Miss Something?
  • Beyond Notes: The Other Papers You Need
    • The Research Calendar
    • Correspondence Log
  • Word by Word: Transcribing and Summarizing Documents
    • Learning by Transcribing
    • Abstracts: Summarizing the Document
  • It Says What?
    • You Can Read It, But What Does It Mean?
    • “Strange” Old Words
    • Latin and the Law for Genealogists
    • Abbreviations
    • Making Sense of Chicken Scratches

4. Keeping Track of What You Find

  • Pedigree or Family Tree Charts
    • Large or Small, They Chart Your Family
    • Filling in the Pedigree Chart
  • Family Group Sheets
    • Keeping You Organized
    • Family Group Sheets and Sources
  • Descendant Charts
    • Drop Chart
  • Using Computer Programs for Genealogy Record Keeping
    • Computer-Generated Reports
    • Computer Searching: What Do You Want to Know?
    • Multimedia
    • Continuing Development
    • Finding the Right Computer Program

Part II Finding the Trail

5. The Internet: Online Any Time

  • So, Everything Is Now Online?
    • Online Information Can Be Wrong
    • When Private Information Isn’t Private
    • Online Information May Have a Price
  • Traditional Methodology Still Applies
  • Okay, What Kind of Stuff Is Out There?
    • Nothing Like an Original Source
    • Derivative Source Drive Our Research
    • Pointing the Way
    • Your Family Tree Is Online—You’re Done!
    • Online How-To Lessons
  • Now How Do I Get to All That Good Stuff?
  • Genealogical Transporting Through Portals
  • Asking Search Engines Nicely
  • A Simple Practice Exercise
  • Driving Into the Data Pool
    • Into the Wilds of Searching
    • Recognizing Your Ancestor
  • Perusing Printed Papers
  • Dip Into the Layers
  • Lost in Space
  • Bookmarks or Favorites
  • See Your Sights on These Sites
    • The USGenWebProject
    • RootsWeb
    • FindaGrave
    • FamilySearch
  • Subscription Services
  • Who Else Is Online?
  • What Else Is Online?

6 Kissin’ Kin: How to Find Them

  • Ma Bell Comes to the Rescue
  • Consulting Your Local Library
    • City Directories
    • Posting It
    • Sign It, Please
  • The Hometown News
  • After School: Alumni Records
  • The Genealogical Societies
  • Periodicals Galore
  • Families That Stay Together
    • Locating a Family Association
    • A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose
    • We’ll Meet on the Fourth Sunday
  • Using the Social Security Administration to Find Your Kin
    • The Death Index
  • The Internet: Finding Cousin John
  • Not the End of the Tale

7 A Rose by Any Other Name

  • Variations Aplenty
  • Handwriting Further Obscures the Names
  • Immigration Changed Lives and Sometimes Names
    • The Wish to “Sound” American
  • Talking to Yourself
  • Different Record, Different Spelling
  • Naming Patterns
  • Mother’s Name Preserved
  • Given Names Giving Us Trouble
    • Five Children, Same First Name!
  • He Was Called Billy; She Was Called Abby
  • Double Trouble
  • Which Do You Pick?

8. Getting the Most from Libraries

  • The Bigger the Better
    • Making Your Way Around
  • Winding Your Way with Books
    • Your Family on Its Pages
    • Catalog to Help
  • WorldCat
  • Magazines and Journals: Not at the Corner Newsstand
    • Crammed with Articles
  • Not Always Bound
  • The Wonderful World of References
  • Webster Was Never Like This
  • A Library Is a Library Is a Library
  • Genealogical and Historical Society Libraries
    • Lending Libraries
    • University and College Libraries
    • FamilySearch/The Family History Library
    • Other Magnificent Collections
    • Religious and Ethnic Libraries
    • Lineage Society Libraries
    • The Library of Congress

9. Your Family’s Hometown

  • Getting Started in the Public Library
  • Shelves of Possibilities
    • Old Settlers Remembered
    • Death Records
    • Vertical Files: Just Waiting to “Talk”!
    • County Histories: The Mug Books
    • The Web Shines here
    • Local Records
  • Local Scrapbooks
  • Gazetteers and Atlases
    • He Voted with Pride
    • City Directories: Home Sweet Home
    • Learning with School Records
    • She Grew Roses; He Went to Lodge
  • Artifacts and Memorabilia
    • Photographs: A Peek into the Past

Part 3: Following the Trail

10. Have You Done Your Homework?

  • Census Importance
  • Preparation Saves Frustration
    • Where Did They Live?
    • Which Census to Search First?
    • Last Touches for Your List
  • Cracking the Code
    • Those 1880 Children Retiring
    • Using the Soundex System
    • Shortcut Coding
    • Soundex Codes and Online Indexes
  • Indexes Before the Soundex
  • Locating a Copy of the Census Microfilm
  • Is It True?

11. Making Sense of the Census

  • Counting All Those People
    • Index Information
    • Soundex (Index) Microfilm 1880-1930
    • What Will the Soundex Cards Show?
    • Using the Microfilm Catalog
    • There They Are!
  • Using the Pre-1880 Schedules
  • The First Census: 1790
    • Searching the Microfilmed 1790-1870 Census
    • Creatively Using Sparse Information
  • The 1800 and 1810 Censuses
  • The 1820 Census: Males 16 to 18
  • 1830 and 1840 Censuses Narrow Age
  • Everyone Has a Name in 1850
    • Those Others Living with the Family
    • Slaveholders and Slaves
  • Leads and More Leads
  • The 1860 and 18870 Censuses
    • Special 1885 Federal Census
    • Special 1890 Civil war census
    • Searching the 1880-1930 Census Using Microfilm
  • Changes in the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 Censuses
  • The Long-Awaited 1940 Census
  • Mortality Schedules
  • Can You Trust These Old Records?
  • Now You’ve Got Something to Work With

12 Researching African American Families

  • Race in Records
  • Segregation
  • The Reconstruction Era (1865-ca. 1879)
    • The Freedmen’s Bureau
    • The Freedman’s Bank
    • Voter Registration in the South
    • The Southern Claims Commission
  • The Civil War and the End of Slavery
    • Confederates Received Pensions, Too
  • The Antebellum Period
    • The Underground Railroad
    • Free People of Color Before the Civil War
  • The End of Slavery in the North
  • Before Searching for Slave Owners
    • First Things First
    • Recreate a Family Group
    • Identify Neighbors and Associates
    • Identify Migration Points
  • Identifying the Owners of Enslaved Ancestors
    • A Note About Surnames
  • Records Specifically Concerning Slave

13. Corresponding Effectively

  • The Mechanics of Correspondence
    • Make It Look Neat
    • Include Your Contact Information
    • Spell Correctly and Get the Right Zip Code
    • An SASE for Reply
  • What Should You Say?
  • “Dear Courthouse”
    • Alternate Spellings
    • Write to the Right Place
    • Locating Other Addresses
    • Sending Emails
    • State Registration of Vital Statistics
    • What’s on the Shelves?
  • What’s It Going to Cost?
    • Offering to Pay Promptly
  • Sample Letters
    • Trying to Find a Will
    • The Obituary
    • Ordering a Vital Record
    • Dear Cousin
  • A Penny Saved

Part 4: In Your Ancestor’s Footsteps

14. A Little Traveling Music, Please

  • Counties Have Ancestors, Too
  • Don’t Pack Lightly
  • Pack Those technology Marvels
  • Prepare a Packet and Checklists
  • Map Out Your Strategy
    • The Lay of the Land
    • Have Contingency Plans
    • Call Ahead
    • Pack for Research
  • Now You’ve Arrived
    • Engage the People
    • Old-Timers Can Tell It All
    • While You’re in Town
    • Find Religion
    • Be a Tourist

15 Courthouses: Gateway to the Past

  • What to Expect
  • The History of the Farm
    • The Approach to the Clerk
    • Indexes Tripping You Up?
    • Making Sense of the Index
    • What Should You Note?
    • Search Strategies in Deeds
    • Is He Augustus W. Redman, A.W. Redman, or Gus?
    • It’s There Somewhere
    • Finally…It’s in Hand
  • Success at Last!
    • I Saw It Myself
    • Moving On
  • Those Departed Relatives
    • More of Those Indexes
    • Dies With or Without
    • Taking charge
    • The Probate Process
    • But He Didn’t Leave a Will
    • Checking the Estate Records
    • Letting the Published Indexes Assist
  • I Do Take thee As My Lawful
  • The Tip of the Iceberg
  • Are Courthouse Records on the Internet?

16. A Picnic in the Cemetery

  • The Chicken or the Egg?
  • The Usual Preparation
  • Cemeteries on the Web
  • Kinds of Cemeteries
  • When the Cemetery Moves
  • Sexton’s Records
    • Burial Registers
    • Plats
    • Plot Records
  • Do You Need to Visit?
  • Locating the Cemetery
  • Follow the Money
  • Procession to the Cemetery
    • No Fashion Statements
    • A Pictures Is Worth a Thousand Words
    • Mark Your Maps
  • Engraved in Stone
    • Reading the Markers Can Be difficult
    • Sometimes You Are disappointed
  • Don’t Leave Yet

17. More Than News in the Newspaper

  • Dailies, Weeklies, and More
  • Newspapers in the Area
  • Checking for an Index
  • Reading Every Word?
  • Topics to target
  • He died on the Fifteenth of June
    • Checking Several Papers
    • Other Unexpected Rewards In Obituaries
    • Urban Versus Small-Town Newspapers
    • The Family Thanks You
  • A Baby Was born!
  • Wedding Vows
  • Christenings and More
  • Love Gone Awry
  • Sale of Property
  • Legal Notices: The Fine Print
  • Other Miscellaneous Notices
  • Those Charming Advertisements
  • A Letter Is Waiting For
  • Ethnic and Religious Newspapers
  • Can the Internet Help?
  • Savor the Times

18. Did Great-Grandpa Carry a Rifle?

  • Didn’t Know He Served?
  • The Treasure of the National Archives (NARA)
  • The Revolutionary War
    • The Compiled Military Service Record
    • Let’s Try It Hands-On
    • Now His Pension File
    • Now in Print
    • Why Check Further?
  • The Lure of Bounty Land
  • The War Between the States
    • He Wore Gray
    • Confederate Pension Records
    • He Wore blue
    • If He Got a Pension
    • Other Civil War Records
  • Twentieth-Century Conflicts
    • World War I Draft Registration
    • World War II Draft Records
    • Personnel Records
    • Searching Details
  • Other Ways to Locate Evidence of Military Service
  • There’s More?

Part 5: Making Sense of It All

19. Order Out of Chaos

  • Filing the Charts and Sheets
  • Filing Systems
    • They Called Tennessee Home…and North Carolina
    • County Files
    • Document Files
    • Correspondence Files
    • Correspondence Cards
  • Using Computers to Cut Down on Paper
    • The Computer Becomes the Filing Cabinet
    • Naming the Computer Files
    • Correspondence Computerized
    • Mail Files on Your Computer
  • Commercial Products

20. Keeping Records Right

  • Getting Help with Citing
  • Family Group Sheets Are Convenient, But…
  • Putting It at the Bottom or at the End?
  • Keeping Track by Numbers
    • Descending Genealogies
    • The NGSQ System
    • Before They Came
  • Approximating Dates
    • By Date of Will
    • Rule of Thumb
    • Choosing Their Own Guardian
    • Of Age to Marry?
    • Why Bother with Approximate Dates?
  • The Little Children

21. Gaining Historical Perspective

  • Taking a Fresh Look at What You’ve Found
  • Expanding Your Research
  • Court Records Tell Many Secrets
  • Treasuring Your Ancestor’s Enemies!
  • Unexpected Finds
  • Looking Beyond the Records
  • Tornado Watch
  • Being a Student of Local and Family History
    • Illustrating Your Story
  • Closer to Home
  • The Art of the Interview
  • Putting It into Practice
    • Contacting and Interviewing Living Relatives
  • Checking Records for More Details
  • Beginning to Know and Understand
  • Writing the Story

22. Resolving Discrepancies

  • When Information Doesn’t Agree
  • The Data Doesn’t Conflict—There Isn’t Any Data!
  • Everything is Relative
  • Happy New Year–March25
  • Rushing to Conclusions
  • Theories of Relativity
  • Based on the Evidence
  • The Genealogical Proof Standard to the Rescue
  • Proof Summaries and Proof Arguments
  • Reaching a Sound Conclusion

Part 6: Expanding Your Horizon

23. Spending Your Money Wisely

  • Readin’, Writin’, and ‘Rithmetic
    • Networking
    • Exhibits
    • Hands-On
    • Institutes
    • Online and By Mail
  • Being a Joiner
  • Are You Being Served?
  • Developing Your Home Support System
    • Adding to Your Library
    • Bookstores
    • Feeding Your computer some Mapping
    • Using Your Compter to the Utmost
  • Budgeting for Genealogical Luxuries

24. DNA—Why the Hype?

  • Genetics and Genealogy (G&G)
  • DNA Tests Available for G&G Research
    • Y-DNA Test
    • mtDNA Test
    • Autosomal Test
  • Choose Wisely
  • DNA Testing companies, Kits, and Prices
    • Save Your Pennies
    • Can I Get a Discount?
  • Taking the Plunge
  • Want to Start a Project?
    • How do I Order a Kit?
    • What’s in the Kit?
    • On Pins and Needles
  • What is DNA?
  • How to Understand Your Test Results
    • Y-DNA Results
    • mtDNA Results
    • Autosomal DNA Results
  • Sharing Your Results
  • What Started All This Fuss?
  • Privacy Issues
  • What Can You Expect from the Project?

25. After the Basics—What?

  • Our Immigrant Ancestors
    • On the High Seas
  • Swearing Allegiance—The Naturalization Process
  • Passport Records
  • And More, and More, and More
    • The Homestead Records
    • Taxing Matters
    • The Government Gets Into the Taxing Act
  • Native American Research
  • Ethnic Records—Other Countries
    • Research in England, Ireland, and Norther Ireland
    • German Research
    • French Research
    • Hispanic Research
    • Italian Research
    • Asian Research
  • Still More Federal Records
  • Potpourri of Other Records and Sources

Appendixes

A. Glossary

B. Relative Resouces

C. Worksheets

D. Census Forms

Index