80 Plus Genealogy Tips

By | April 13, 2017

Trying to find your ancestors can be an exciting journey for you. Here I will present to you more than 80 genealogy tips that will help you on your family history journey. It is a neverending journey as there is just so much information out there. So with that said wouldn’t it be useful if you knew where to look. Please read on as I give you many tips to help you with your ancestry search.

Genealogy Tips

This post will look at the following tips:

How To Begin Your Family Tree Search?

Sources of Information

  1. Work in a quiet area where you are free from any disturbances from friends or family.
  2. Set yourself a particular time of day or maybe a specific day to research your family tree.
  3. Ask your family for some quiet time while you do your research.
  4. Start with what you know. Start with yourself, then your parents and then your grandparents. Then you can work back from there.
  5. Look around your home for any certificates, documents, old family photographs, anything family oriented which may help you.
  6. Ask your relatives for help. They will have plenty of information, stories and heirlooms that will help you.
  7. Someone may have even have started on your family tree that you can use to begin your family history journey.
  8. Be careful though with any family history research that you find and use as they may have inaccuracies.
  9. You will need to verify any facts that you find before you start adding it to your own tree.
  10. Use the Evernote tool to help you order the notes that you will make while you research.
  11. Cite your sources of information. Trust me it will help you further down the road.
  12. Concentrate on one line and then a family member at a time. Otherwise you will become distracted while you are researching.
  13. Try to stay focused with your search. Try not to jump to another family member before you have finished with one. But by all means take notes along the way, so that you can come back to that ancestor when you are ready.
  14. Search online for your ancestors. You will be surprised as to what you will find on Google and the Internet.
  15. Research where your ancestors lived and worked. It will give you a deep understanding and appreciation for them. It will inspire you more to find all that you can about them.
  16. Visit local libraries, archives and family history societies where your ancestors lived. They will be of great help to you.
  17. Use a library’s computers to gain access to sites such as Ancestry and FindMyPast.
  18. Actually visit where your ancestor lived. This will also give you a deep appreciation for them. Locate where they lived, worked, married and died, and also any important events in their lives.
  19. Cemeteries are a great way to get key details on your ancestor, such as how old were they when they died, which parish they were from and even which house they lived in.
  20. Keep entering the research that you find into a genealogy software program. It will help you put your research into order and you can watch your family tree grow as you continue your ancestry journey.

How To Conduct A Better Family History Search?

5 More Tips For A Better Family Search

  1. Work with the facts that you know already. By doing so you can work towards the unknown.
  2. Not only cite your sources but record your progress as you trace your family tree.
  3. Printing out family charts and reports is a good way to track your progress. You will know who you have found and the information that you have already and what to get next.
  4. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your ancestors. This way you will most likely know where to turn to next for more information.
  5. Be thorough and collect everything and anything that you can about your ancestors.
  6. Share your research with others. You will be amazed at what you will find out from family, but also surprisingly from complete strangers as well.
  7. Map the migration of your ancestors. By doing so you will see a pattern in their movements.
  8. It obviously helps if you know the political landscape of where they lived as well.

How To Break Down Brick Walls?

More Breaking Down Brick Walls Tips

  1. Get help from your relatives. If you get stuck along the way why not pay them a visit.
  2. Get help from experts that you can find on social media sites such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter.
  3. Don’t come to conclusions until you know all the facts.
  4. Besides gathering facts about your ancestors, actually look into the details. This will help you to join the dots. Trust me you will understand when you do this.
  5. Check your research again. You will be surprised as to how errors will creep into your note taking, from jotting down the wrong date or even place.
  6. Become organized with your research.
  7. Record collections on genealogy search websites are a great resource to find information on our ancestors.
  8. At least check these sites once a month if you are unsuccessful with your search. New information is being added all the time.
  9. Your ancestor may have spelt their name differently from time to time, or maybe recorded incorrectly. So it’s worth putting different variations into search engines.
  10. Check guide books to where your ancestor lived.
  11. Learn the skills to become a genealogist. You can do this by reading genealogy books.
  12. Get a genealogy DNA test. This will help you to see where your next step will be. AncestryDNA has by far been the most popular choice for the family historian.
  13. Your ancestor may have lied on official documents. So be prepared for inaccuracies in your research.
  14. Visit your ancestors homeland and also ask the locals for any information that they may have.
  15. Check out historical newspapers. They may actually have articles featuring your ancestors.
  16. If you’re stuck on an ancestor then check their sibling. They may have the information that you are looking for.
  17. Or check out witnesses to important events, such as baptisms, marriages or deaths.
  18. Check out webinars for tons of useful tips, strategies and techniques on how to perform your research.
  19. Attend a conference and meet the experts for advice and help.
  20. Hire a professional genealogist. See later on in this post.
  21. Step from your research and take a break. You will feel refreshed and will be able to see clearly when you begin again.

Free Resources That Are Available To You!

Many of the tips I have already listed to you include ways that you can get information on your ancestors for free. Such as asking your relatives, visiting your local library, and even visiting the graveyard where your ancestor was buried. The following tips are further ways that you can use to research your family history for free.

Free Family History Search

  1. Why not ask your relatives to buy you genealogy products as presents for your birthday, Christmas or any other special event.
  2. Some genealogy software available online offer free versions. The Legacy Family Tree program offer a Standard Edition which can be download and used freely.
  3. There are free genealogy search websites, such as Family Search and FreeBMD.

Google, Its Tools and the Internet Are Your Friends

Google Search

  1. You will find a record on the Internet if it has been Google indexed.
  2. But it does take time for it to be indexed by Google. So please be patient if you do not find what you are looking for.
  3. Or it may be behind a firewall. Because of this you will need to sign up to sites like Ancestry, FindMyPast, MyHeritage to find it.
  4. There is a chance though that the records you seek are not on the Internet.
  5. Records are being added all the time so keep checking from time to time.
  6. Try a broad search for your ancestor first and then try to narrow it down.
  7. Try different spellings when searching Google or any other search engine or site.
  8. You may have to enter the area of your ancestor as well as their name, for example “john couch united kingdom”.
  9. Or try going to Google.co.uk rather than Google.com. The reason for this is that Google is country specific and so will give you results specific to where you are located.
  10. Using quotes can help you limit the number of matches that will be returned.
  11. The same can be said if you use the – symbol to reject results that you are not interested in. For example, john couch -edinburgh
  12. Using Google’s Advanced Search feature can help you pinpoint records that you are seeking.
  13. Google Newspaper Archive is another useful tool for you to find your ancestors.
  14. Google Maps, Images, Books and News can also be quite useful in your search.

What Information Do I Record?


  1. Be thorough with your research. Try not to get caught in the moment. Don’t add all that you find straight away. Check tip #5.
  2. Family trees on the Ancestry website are a great source of information but again be thorough with checking out facts that are recorded on these trees.
  3. Use logic and reasoning when using information will help you make connections and find ‘missing’ ancestors.
  4. Consider all scenarios as to why something is not as expected or maybe is missing.
  5. Be prepared that not everything will have been recorded and will not be found about your ancestor.
  6. Likewise be prepared to find something unusual or disturbing about your ancestors.
  7. Record whatever you do find. You want to give a true history of your ancestors.
  8. However, if there are any living relatives that maybe affected by any revelations that you find then you will need to be sensitive. Use your judgment wisely.
  9. Be prepared that you will come across brick walls in your research.
  10. You can overcome these though so try not to become overwhelmed or disappointed with your lack of progress with your research.
  11. Besides transcripts, check the original documents as errors may appear during the transcription stage.

Hiring A Professional Genealogist

Hire A Professional Genealogist

  1. Consider hiring a professional genealogist if you have hit a brick wall, you are overwhelmed by it all or you do not have time to do your own research but you are still interested in knowing your roots.
  2. State to the genealogist how far back you wish your family tree to be traced to and the level of information found.
  3. Try negotiating a fee for their services before any research is conducted.
  4. Check out the genealogists credentials before you hire.
  5. Association of Genealogists and Record Agents (AGRA) can help you find a genealogist that will help you with your family tree research.
  6. The Scottish and the Irish branches of this association can help you find a genealogist within Scotland and Ireland respectively.

Final Thoughts

Over the years researching my family history I have picked up some useful tips that has helped me immensely. There are though many more tips that I could have discussed here, but that would have made this post too long of a read for you.

500 Best Genealogy Tips

Instead you could buy the 500 Best Genealogy & Family History Tips PDF file through the Legacy Family Tree Store. Written by ‘genealogy ninja’ Thomas MacEntree has amassed 500 tips that can be found over 85 packed pages. Considering that there are hundreds of tips to be found in this book it is well worth a bargain at only $5.95.

These tips have been described as a brain dump by Thomas as he has collected them over many years. You can simply use the table of contents at the start of the PDF to find your problem. Or alternatively you can search through the book.

Topics covered in this book include:

  • Research methodology and strategy
  • How to use the Internet to your advantage
  • How to you use social media for research and being secure within it
  • How to preserve your family photos, stories, anecdotes and tales
  • Backing up your genealogy data,
  • Plus much, much more!


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post giving you more than 80 genealogy tips to help you with your ancestry research. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

10 thoughts on “80 Plus Genealogy Tips

  1. Etaya

    Great information, I’ve always wanted to start this and my family history is long and complicated so these tips are very helpful.

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Etaya. Over the course of building up this site I have amassed so many tips. I thought that now would be a good time to put all of them into a post, and also separate into relevant categories to make it easy for people to check out.

      I am glad that it has inspired and these tips will surely help you trace your family tree.

  2. Courtney

    These are some great tips. I have recently spent quite a bit of time with my 93 year old grandmother, as a result, I have become more interested in my family’s background. These tips will be useful if I decide to look further into my genealogy.

  3. Katie

    Hi Owain,
    Thank you so much for this informative post! Tracking your genealogy can seem like such an overwhelming project, but you have laid out the steps nicely! A few years ago, I used ancestry.com and was able to take one branch of my family tree all the way back past the American Revolution!

    It was so exciting to get a glimpse of my ancestors. I stalled on my other branches, because it was getting expensive. I think I will go back and try again now that I have read your cost effective and free ideas.

    I’m going to head to the library and look into Family Search and Free BMD. I didn’t realize that these free resources were available to me. Thank you so much for sharing this information!

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi there Katie, genealogy can at times seem so overwhelming. I know because it has happened to me more than one occasion when I have had so much information in front of me. But then I remind myself why I am doing this. Because I want to preserve my ancestors memories and pass it onto my children.

      There are plenty of free ways that can help you trace your family history, as I have pointed out in this post. Going to their library and using their services has been a great way for me to research my family. I have found out so much about my ancestry this way.

  4. Craig

    Hi Owain, these are great tips to help with our genealogy search. If you don’t mind I have some questions for you: #43 Check historical newspapers – what is the best way to do this, at a library?
    #48, 82 – Hiring a professional genealogist. I’d imagine this is quite expensive. Do you offer this service?
    #61 – I find Google searches do differ and even switching to .com from .co.uk can be misleading. I have found that connecting to a VPN server in that country even gives different search results from using .com in another country. What about other search engines like Yahoo or Bing, have you used them?
    Sorry for all the questions.

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Craig,

      Thanks for the comment and the questions. I will go through them each in turn.

      #43 – There are plenty of sites online that you could check historical newspapers. I have used some myself and have even found my ancestors that way. I will be adding a post about that in time.

      #48, 82 – It does depend on how much you are willing to spend. It can though be as low as a couple hundred dollars. I will be adding a post about this in due course. And no I don’t offer this service, just direct people where to go.

      #61 – Yes you could try different search engines, and you might get different results. I am so accustomed though of using Google. Using a VPN is another way around that as you suggested.

  5. Elizabeth

    Hi Owain!

    Have you heard this one? “My family coat of arms ties in the back. Is that normal?” I saw it on facebook yesterday with an appropriate graphic of a straightjacket. I had to be careful what I said. My husband posted it.

    Anyhow, as always I really enjoyed your article. Have you traced your own family tree? How did that work out for you?

    Most of what I know of my family is from oral history, a few pictures and some other relics. Perhaps someday I’ll get serious about it too.

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Elizabeth, I have heard that one, lol.

      Thank you for enjoying this post. I have traced my family tree back to the mid 1750s on various lines, some even further back. So I have really been fortunate with my genealogy research.

      Hearing family stories from my father really piqued my interest in genealogy. I realized quite young that I would have to record these stories before they got lost in time. I hope that you do too.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *