September 18, 2020
Hello everyone! I thought for this entry I would give an overview of common types of records that you might come across in your research. Different record types offer a variety of information on your ancestors from dating life events like birth and death to where they might have lived throughout the years. It is important to compile as many types of records to flesh out the profile of your family tree and the individuals found in it.
Census records are perhaps on of the most fruitful and accessible records that can be located in databases like Ancestry. They offer snapshots of your ancestors’ lives during specific times. These records are provided at ten year intervals for the US Federal Census and five year intervals for the state census. Other countries do provide census records following other patterns of release like the United Kingdom and Ireland. Federal census records are only released to the public after 72 years following the 72-Year Rule to protect personal identifiable information for individuals.
Vital records include documents such as birth, marriage, and death certificates. Sources for these records can be found in research databases, but county and state government offices do usually hold copies of them and can be requested for a fee, and in certain cases with the proper authorization, if you know what entity might have them. These milestone events are crucial when constructing the biographies of your ancestors.
Immigration and naturalization records are another common type that is sought after by descendent doing family research because so many ancestors immigrated to the United States. In conjunction with these, passanger lists or manifests of ships entering the United States offer documentation with names, dates, and other information. Databases like the one located at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Foundation are incrdibly useful for searching passenger lists especially if you know if you had an ancestor pass through this renowned checkpoint in American history. I have used it and found several lists where I saw every time my great-grandfather came to the United States from the Uinted Kingdom during the 1920s.
An assortment of other records that you can come upon also include religious records like baptisms or, again, marriage. Military service records can be found in databases like Fold3 (accesible on the library’s website amongst the genealogy databases), the US National Archives, or even the UK National Archives which I used for my own research. Property and probate records also come up on searches in popular databases.
Let’s not forget that you might be in posession of records yourself that was kept by your family. I know I have several letters, photographs, and even war medals that I received from my grandmother when researching her father. These are great primary sources when documenting any ancestor’s life due to their personal nature. You want to find as many resources and record types as possible, cross-referencing them for accuracy, to get the most complete picture possible.
Any personal questions, comments, or requests for assistance can be made to me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org