Could you spare 15 minutes to add to your family tree? Try some of these methods today!
(1) Go through your family file and fill in those empty death dates. There are 77.7 million records in the Social Security Death Index. The SSDI is available at Rootsweb. It is free. Or, you can look at Ancestry.
(2) Find your immigrant ancestors by going to Steve Morse’s site One Step Web Pages There, you can decide quickly what search forms are right for you. Or, if you have more time, you can also go to the Ellis Island site.
(3) Get on a mailing list. If you haven’t had a chance to visit before, now is the time to check out Rootsweb. You can do a search for a list about your surname, or a location. Rootsweb is much more than mailing lists though, so you might want to bookmark it and come back for a more detailed search.
(4) Do you think you have a Revolutionary War Patriot in your family? The volunteers with the DAR would be happy to do a lookup for your ancestor. Go to their site, and fill in the form. Also, if you are already a member of the DAR, you can login and search the database for free too.
(5) Go back through your notes from the last time you went to the library. Check your downloaded emails for new clues too. Sort through your piles of papers and get them into family groups. After staring at names and dates for hours the last time you did some research, it may have boggled your mind and clouded your thinking. Taking a fresh new look might make the information more obvious.
(6) Search with your genealogy program. If you are using Family Tree Maker it’s as easy as highlighting your family member’s name and clicking on the Web Search Results button. The program knows your female ancestor’s maiden name, and will do a search for that, as well as her married name.
(7) Use those lookup volunteers! If you use the USGenWeb to research family in locations you already know, don’t forget to click on the link labeled “lookup volunteers”. These kind-hearted souls have their own books or resources and are willing to help you out. Please though, do be polite and ask for one name at a time, and remember to thank them.
(8) Order military records. You can order the records online, or download a PDF file and mail it in. Either way, you will have to show a signed signature to get the records. If the veteran is deceased you have to sign. I have done it using both methods and it is very easy to do.
(9) If you do not already have a genealogy program, and you have a limited budget, you can download Personal Ancestral File (PAF) for free from Family Search (LDS). Registration is free, and does not generate spam.
(10) Privatize and then upload your family tree. This can be done at WorldConnect, Ancestry, or GenCircles.
(11) Scan some of your old family photos. Think that might take more than 15 minutes? Most flatbed scanners can accommodate multiple photos (depending on size, of course) so instead of doing them one at a time, do 4 or 6. Save that file and then go back later, when you have more time, and using your photo editing software, select each photo from the batch, and copy and paste it into its own file.
(12) Search the database at Heritage Quest. Not a member? You might be. If you have a library card you might be able to search HQ’s database through a link on your library’s webpage. Scroll down and look to see the list of states and the libraries that have links.
You might also check your online state library to see if they have a link too. Or, call the reference desk at the library and ask about access to Heritage Quest.
(13) Are you looking for family information in The United Kingdom or Ireland? Try looking at GenUKI. If you do not live in the UK, before you get started on their page, make sure you check out Researching from Abroad
(14) Do a simple search in Google (or your favorite search engine) for ‘surname’ family tree. Change surname to the surname you are looking for, and you will probably come up with many, many hits. I have a very obscure family name: Osgathorpe. I just did a search in Google and found (to my surprise) while writing this article, that there is a website devoted to that family name.
(15) Are you looking for an ancestor who might have served in the American Civil War? You can do a search at the CW Soldiers and Sailors System. You will not only be able to search soldiers and sailors, but also look up regiments, prisoners, cemeteries, battles, medals and parks.