Researching your genealogy is a fun way to find out more about yourself and your family members young and old and close and distant. Sadly, it’s also quite difficult at times, which is why not a lot of people opt for this kind of research – those that do will usually give up by the time they’ve reached their great-grandparents.
One could say that the best resource you can have for genealogy research is your own family – their stories, newspaper archives, records, diaries and so forth. But past a certain point, you won’t have much to go on without consulting outside resources. There’s no shortage of genealogy resources to choose from in the U.S., which is why you’ll need to know where to look – here are some of the best ones to familiarize yourself with.
- The U.S. Census: It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start with the Census even before getting in touch with some of your family members. It’s a tremendous tome of information that will make the life of every genealogy researcher easier – data regarding your family that should be readily available includes names, birthdates, places of birth and residence, jobs and more. Sure, it won’t feature actual details from the person’s lives – details that make even the toughest family history research venture worth it – but it’ll cover the basics exceedingly well. The latest census is a good start, although you’ll want to check the older ones as you explore further.
- Military records: Very useful for accurate info regarding male (and, rarely, female) members of a family, good military records won’t just document those who performed active service but will also include those “on the outskirts”. They might prove most useful for studying family members who lived during a time of war. Florida Genealogy Records is an example of a resource that features both census information and military records, although its usefulness will wane as you reach family members from other states and possibly even countries.
- Newspaper records: Here is where things get interesting: newspaper records will offer interesting bits and pieces from the day-to-day of your ancestors, including deeds they became known for in their communities. Newspaper records will sometimes also feature dates of birth and death, but you’ll definitely want to explore resources like Florida Cemeteries and Florida Birth and Death Records for a more in-depth look into these.
- Florida State Archives genealogical guide: If you plan on reaching the 19th century and earlier (which you should), check this website early on to know where to look. Researching genealogy past the 1900s can get messy as the records aren’t nearly as easy to come by – here is where the die-hard hobbyists are separated from those who just want to know a bit more about their ancestors. For a complete tree, it’s likely that you’ll have to scour through most or all of the archives listed here as well as others you find on your own, but nobody said that the job of a Floridian genealogist was easy, right?