Tips to get started in genealogy!

Did you know that the Steele Memorial Library has a genealogy collection? Have you ever wanted to research your family’s history? Below are some tips to get started in genealogy. If you are interested in beginning or continuing genealogical research, visit the Steele Memorial Library and check out our collection. You can also access some of our resources online via our website:

    1. Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends of the family,  etc
      1. Find out their birthdates, where they were born
      2. Find out marriage dates and details (who was the witness)
      3. Ask for death dates of deceased relatives and where they are buried
    2.  Talk to your oldest relatives ( Have a tape recorder ready)
      1. Ask if any family members have done any genealogy
      2. Ask questions about any stories family members may have
    3. Try to get copies of any birth, marriage or death certificates
    4.  Ask to see any family Bibles and make copies of family pages. Look at the hand writing and ink see if it looks like just one person filled in the info.
    5. Gather pictures of older relatives and deceased relatives and label them (Very Important)
    6. Fill out a family tree sheet with all the info you have collected to see where you need to start.
    7. Visit your local library to see what research aids they have available to help you.
      1. Ask what genealogy databases they have—Ancestry & Heritage Quest
      2. What census records they have on microfilm (1790-1880) (1790-1930 NY & PA)1940 released in 2012
      3. Local newspapers for birth, marriage or death records -abt 1835-2010 (many indexed)
      4. Cemetery records
      5. Family histories
      6. Local history books
      7. Check out How-To-Do- Genealogy books
      8. City directories
      9. Poorhouse records (Allegany, Chemung, Steuben, Tioga, Yates)(parts of Albany, Chautauqua, Chenango, Kingston, Seneca, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tompkins, Wyoming)
    8. Visit cemeteries and take pictures of gravestones and record info found on the stones. Talk to whoever is in charge of the cemetery and look at their records. (flowers with name tags)     
      1. Funeral Homes
      2. Church Records
    9.  Visit the courthouse & county clerks office
      1. Real estate records ( will tell you where they lived, moved & possible relatives)
      2. Marriage records (1906-1936)—Chemung county courthouse
      3. Naturalization records
      4. State census records
      5. Probate records ( are at surrogate court not at county court)
      6. Miscellaneous records—Civil and criminal cases
    10.   Find out what relatives have served in the military and try to get their service records (pension records) 
    11.  Document everything and keep records of every search to keep from repeating searches
    12.  Learn how to do research on the internet—Don’t believe everything you find, use it as a place to start looking and to verify
      1. Join online groups to put out query’s on your family
    13.  Be considerate of others and their privacy and treat them with respect
    14.  Be willing to share information and volunteer to help others with their research
    15.  Join local Genealogy or Historical Society’s ( talk to the historian for the town)
    16.  Save the information you have gathered in a way to preserve it. ( On the computer with a program like Family Tree)
    17.  Have fun with it and don’t be discouraged and give up. Genealogy is a great way to meet new relatives and make new friends.

Click here to download a printable, PDF version of “Tips to get started in genealogy”.

Click here to download a list of free genealogy internet resources.