Beyond the Basics: What Next?

Beyond the Basics:  What Next?©

By Dayna Jacobs, AG®

(You are welcome to copy this for your own use, but please do not publish online or copy for distribution to others.  Thanks!)

So, you’ve started researching your Family History!  You have:

  1. Gathered any pictures, records, artifacts, newspaper clippings, Bibles, and scrapbooks from around the house and garage.
  2. Sorted through your box of “stuff” and organized your records into family groups.
  3. Started entering information into a genealogy computer database.
  4. Phoned Aunt Rhoda and asked her to help you fill in the blanks.
  5. Sent for vital records
  6. Found as many census records as you could.
  7. Looked online for any cybercousins or databases with information on your family, and checked to see what research has already been done.


 You are ready to expand your search with the following record groups:

  • Military
  • Land and property
  • Probate and other court records
  • Maps and atlases (topo, historical, Sanborn insurance)
  • County histories
  • Directories
  • Church
  • Periodicals
  • Manuscript collections
  • Newspapers – obituaries and other notices
  • Immigration and naturalization

A beginning researcher might depend on one or two of these record groups, or might want to be given a specific source, address, website or book to check.  However, Family History research is a matter of “learning how to fish” rather than being given a fish, so as researchers it is essential that we learn a general strategy for finding any kind of resource and record, whether it is in a library, courthouse or a digital archive.  In this class you will learn various methods for tracking down resources in any record group.


  • Determine your goal

  • Which record might have that data?

  • Where is that record?

  • Obtain the record

  • Search the record

  • Analyze and record the results

  • Choose a new goal


Linkpendium:  Find online resources for a locality or surname

FHLC:  Access the vast holdings of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

  • At click on “Catalog”.  Search using locality, keyword, etc.
  • When you find a source that has a microfilm number, order online and view it at your nearest FamilyHistoryCenter.

Periodicals: Locate records which have been included in genealogy society periodicals

  •  Search→Card Catalog→Periodical Source Index
  • Search by surname, locality (U.S., Canada, Foreign), or methodology.
  • Order a copy of the article from Allen County Public Library (instructions are found on PERSI) or access it in a local library.

Research Wiki:  Learn what the experts know about researching a given locality.

Online Catalogs for Repositories: Access the holdings of distant or local libraries and archives

Reference Books:  Tap into the most valuable published sources, many available online

  • The Handybook for Genealogists
  • The Source
  • Redbook
  • The Genealogist’s Address Book
  • Map Guide to the Federal Censuses, 1790-1920
  • Township Atlas
  • Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy
  • Various Indices to Military Records



  • View the original onsite in a repository
  • View an image of the original on microfilm
  • View an image of the original in an online digital archive
  • Find a book or website with an abstract or index of the record
  • Pay someone to view the original and extract, abstract, or copy it for you.
  • Write a letter to the repository requesting a copy of the record
The ICAPGen ℠ service mark and the Accredited Genealogist® and AG® registered marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.  All Rights Reserved.

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