How can I widen my search for my ancestors

+3 votes
in Genealogy Help by Jane Bullis G2G Crew (340 points)

4 Answers

+4 votes
It seems that a lot of newcomers ask this question and some don't really know how to start searching. I started about 9 or 10 years ago and didn't know anything about ancestry or how to do much of anything, But then I went to my local library and luckily we had a genealogy section in our library. So I just told the director that I didn't know the first thing about searching for my ancestors and he pointed out that you start with your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so on, And he asked me where did they live?,  What was the names of my parents?, Did he fight in any war?., Where did he/she go to school? What was the maiden name of my mother,/grandmother/ great grandmother.?  Where else did they live?  What county?  What State? and he told me to ask that of every generation back, grandparents?  Great grandparents? and so on.  He said eventually you will find more records than you ever thought possible. He said also that if anyone was still alive in the family and thought that if they could answer some questions then do it. Because they know more about your grandparents or great grandparents and so on.  Like if you had a aunt, or uncle, or great grandmother that was not to sick to answer some questions try to get some answers but make sure you write down your questions that way you won't forget what you need to ask and all you need to do is to write down the answer.  I hope this has helped you at least a little bit. I do know what its like to not really know what to do first. But now you know start with what you know like your parents then find them which I did, then I went on to my grandparents, and so on. Thanks for letting me answer this. Nancy
by Nancy Turney G2G6 Mach 3 (31.8k points)
+3 votes
I'll take a different approach from Nancy who has made some very good points.

What problem are you trying to solve? Where are you in your research? Widening your search is a very broad question. It helps to narrow your question to something a bit more tangible such as "I want to find my maternal grandmother's parents. What I know about her is X, Y and Z and I've looked at the following records: a, b, c and d" By narrowing your question it becomes easier to get a helpful answer.

So, what problem do you need to solve?
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (542k points)
+2 votes
In addition to widening your search on the paper trail you might also consider DNA testing which help you to make contact with new family members who may have researched your ancestors.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (678k points)
+3 votes
On-line newspaper archives can be a great source, especially if your ancestors are from a town with a relatively small newspaper that is available on-line.  Small newspapers were the Facebook of the day.  You will find completely trivial information about people taking vacations, attending social events, or visiting relatives in the next town.  If you're lucky you will find a good obituary.  When you find your known ancestor interacting with an unknown person who is often identified as a relative in the article, you can build your database of family names.  This can then sometimes allow you to narrow down a record search.

Example: Article says Mrs. John Smith returned from visiting her sister Mrs. Fred Jones last week. You know that your great grandma Mary married John Smith but you don't know if she had any sisters. Now you know there is a sister who married Fred Jones. You have a Census record which shows Mary and John Smith and another person the widow Kathy Jones.  Is this your great grandma Mary?  Before you were not sure, now it is very likely and your aunt's name is Kathy.
by Charles Behre G2G Crew (850 points)

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