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Genealogy, a scientific discipline that involves the study of familial lineages, encompasses a variety of oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other informational records about a family. Genealogists compose written and charted records that make the connection of the kinship and pedigree of all relatives. Many hobbyist genealogists feel an urge to preserve their “family tree” tracing their lineage in hopes of instilling a respect for familial traditions, establish ancestral connections, or achieving a sense of self-satisfaction in the art of storytelling at family gatherings. Professional genealogists trace foreign familial origins, author and publish books on genealogical methods, work for software and online genealogical databases, and teach relevant courses at any educational institution. The field of genealogy aims to understand when and where people lived, their lifestyles, biographies, motivations, accomplishments, tragedies, and reputations. Many genealogists become versed in antiquated laws, political boundaries, migration patterns, motivations, and social, economic, and religious conditions of each time period a family relative lived.

What is Genealogy?

  • Genealogy Basics (PDF): A community workshop series that defines the field of genealogy, its standards, places to look for family history, and where to find resources on the Internet.
  • The Connecticut Society of Genealogists: Genealogy Basics: A five-step tutorial to learning the field of genealogy, including filling out a pedigree chart, finding essential clues, interviewing family relatives, verifying all findings, and sharing those findings with others.
  • Genealogy and Family History: Where to Begin: A general guide to understanding genealogy and family history, including where to begin in finding a reference point, finding sources, researching the surname, recording all found information and then sharing it with others.
  • Learning Genealogy: A comprehensive website that teaches beginners the foundational principles of genealogy basics, including how to get started, reasons to study genealogy, how to draw up a family tree, how to hire a professional, planning a research trip, how to watch for errors, and understanding soundex codes.
  • Beginning Genealogy (PDF): A professional outlines the basics of genealogy, provides traditional and online resources, and cites how to properly document all sources.
  • Give Your Family the Ultimate Gift – A Family Tree: A general guideline providing the necessary steps to building a family tree.
  • DNA Analysis for Genealogy: An authoritative article that describes the significant role of DNA in discovering an individual’s distant relatives.

Genealogical Studies and Career Opportunities

  • You’re a what? Genealogist: The Bureau of Labor Statistics presents an article about tracing the familial origins of a relative from the eyes of a professional genealogist.
  • Careers for Historians: Genealogists (PDF): An extensive article providing information for prospective students looking to specialize in a particular field of history.
  • Family History 101: A free social networking community that provides how-to tutorials, familial record preservation techniques, and free videos that help novice genealogists climb their way, rung by rung, up the professional ladder.
  • United States Genealogists on the World Wide Web: The U.S. Genealogical Society is an interwoven network of volunteers working together to provide free resources for those perusing on the Internet.
  • Society of Genealogists Information Leaflet No. 5: Genealogy as a Career (PDF): An extensive leaflet that sheds light on the field of Genealogy as a career option.
  • Get Paid to Research Family Histories (PDF): FabJob provides an authoritative guide for prospective students looking to make a career by researching family histories for other people. The guide defines the field of genealogy, identifies reasons people hire genealogists, lists the benefits of becoming a genealogist, and describes what a genealogist does for a living.
  • The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies: Genealogy as a Career: An educational institute located in the United Kingdom discusses the fine details on becoming a professional genealogist, and exactly what to do to become successful after graduating from college.
  • Ancestors: A companion website of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) providing extensive information on the related series, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ), “As Seen on TV” links, media kit, public survey, behind the scenes segment, and other pertinent information pertaining to the field of genealogy and ancestral research.
  • Genealogy Interview Questions (PDF): A comprehensive list of interview questions typically asked by professional genealogists, including questions related to oneself, family, childhood, school, transportation and surroundings, tradition, higher education and career opportunities, marriage, retirement, philosophy and overall outlook.

Metal Family Tree Sculpture

Start Your Family Research

  • My Family Health Portrait: A tool provided by the U.S. Surgeon General that assists family members in recording their family health history, printing health history records, and saving family health records for future updates.
  • Family Tree Magazine: A publication offering free genealogical forms, such as basic charts, worksheets, research trackers, organizers, census forms, immigration forms, record worksheets, oral history, and heirlooms.
  • Discover Your Family History: A Mormon-based genealogical research center that provides a searchable database of family records, trees, catalog, and related books.
  • Search U.S. Federal Census Records: A comprehensive searchable database that provides all of the U.S. Federal census records dating from 1790-1930.
  • United States Department of Veteran Affairs: Grave Finder: The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs database allows family relatives to locate the cemetery location of deceased military servicemen.
  • The Library of Congress: Local History and Genealogy Reading Room: A federal resource providing an array of genealogical data, including record collections, researching tips, bibliographies, and tutorials to acquiring published genealogies.
  • Where to Write for Vital Records: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a comprehensive list of U.S. State and territory information to inquire about an individual’s birth, marriage, divorce, or death.
  • FedStats: The Federal Statistics website provides pertinent statistical and genealogical information, including mapping statistics, statistics enlisted by U.S. Agency, statistical reference shelf, press releases, and more.
  • U.S. Geological Survey: This federal website identifies the location of geographic features in U.S. territories, a tool necessary for locating the specific whereabouts of an ancestral grave.

Genealogical Organizations and Associations