Category Archives: Genealogy 101

What is Heraldry and a Family Coat of Arms? A Beginner’s Guide

Guest article by John Lehman Esq., Coat of Arms Database

Understanding Heraldry and Family Coat of ArmsHeraldry is both a study of history and of war. What we think of as a family coat-of-arms (commonly referred to as family Crest) was in fact, a way or method of identification soldiers or warriors could use to inform them who their opponents were across a battlefield. It started out as the medieval form of creating a brand similar today of the images we associate with certain commercial products or companies.

Continue reading

5 Common Genealogy Research Questions and Answers for Beginners

Answers to Frequently Asked Genealogy Research Questions 

Common Genealogy Questions and Answers for BeginnersAre you new to genealogy? If so, then you probably have a lot of genealogy research questions!

What is the difference between genealogy and family history?

What is the name of my ancestor in this old photo?

Where can I find the best family tree software?

These questions and others will certainly arise as you begin to research your family’s history. But some genealogy-related questions are more common than others among beginner researchers. Here are just a few of these important questions and answers to help you along your genealogy research journey. 

Continue reading

Identifying Unknown Family Photos for Genealogy

How to Use Photo Clues to Identify Family Members in Old Pictures

Identifying Unknown Family Photos for Genealogy

Photo Credit: lizzelizzel Flickr via Compfight cc

One of the most enjoyable tasks of family history research is sitting down to sift through old family photo albums. While some may spark fond memories from childhood, or even help us recall events our parents and grandparents shared about their own lives, other photographs have narratives that remain unidentified. At one point or another in your research, you will stumble upon these pictures of relatives or distant ancestors whom you don’t recognize at all. It can certainly drive you crazy at times as you wonder, “Who is this ancestor, anyway?” and “What is this person’s story?”

Instead of continuing to wonder, use these photo clues and identification tips to help you decipher when pictures may have been taken, and figure out which relatives are in the photos.

Continue reading

Labor Union Ancestors: How to Find Them

Tips & Resources for Finding Your Labor Union Ancestors

It’s almost Labor Day! For most Americans this means a three-day weekend to enjoy the last moments of summer. But Monday, September 5 is more than just a federal holiday. In fact, the only reason we can hold our annual Labor Day cookouts with friends and family is because of our hard-working ancestors who participated in the U.S. labor movement. In 1880, the average American actually worked 12 hours per day! Your 9 to 5 job, employee benefits, paid vacations and a slew of other privileges wouldn’t exist without the formation of labor unions.

So, in addition to holding that annual cookout, think about spending some of your extra time this weekend to conduct genealogy research on your labor union ancestors. After all, they gave us the day off in the first place!

But where can you find information on your union ancestors, and how do you figure out if any of your ancestors belonged to unions? This article will offer resources and tips on finding your ancestors that belonged to labor unions so you can add their union stories to your family tree.

Continue reading

Cemetery Research for Genealogy: A Step-By-Step Beginner’s Guide

How to Use Cemeteries to Find Your Ancestors

Cemetery Research for Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide

Photo Credit: Ted and Jen via Compfight cc

Cemeteries are an exceptional resource for discovering details about your ancestors to add to your family tree. Whether you’re searching for birth information, maiden names, or additional family members, gravesites can enlighten you to an abundance of facts about your family’s past.

But if you don’t know where to begin when conducting genealogy research in a cemetery, it can be more than overwhelming! Thankfully, we’ve compiled the following basic steps to help you get acquainted with your first ancestral quest through a cemetery.

Continue reading

4 Genealogy Productivity Tools You Should Already Be Using

Boost Your Research Productivity with these Free Tools for Genealogists

Productivity Tools for Genealogy ResearchYou’re busy. We get it. But that doesn’t mean you have to let your important genealogy and family history research fall to the wayside. Yes, compiling your family’s story can often take an ample amount of time, but if you’re constantly making excuses as to why you don’t have the capacity to conduct genealogy research, you likely don’t know about some excellent tools that can help you stay efficient and productive — whether you’re at home or on-the-go. Of course, online family tree software is a simple way to collaborate with family members, plus increase your research productivity, but it’s just one of the many tools that can aid you in the process.

The following productivity tools for genealogy research will help you become an even more efficient researcher and organize your genealogical pursuits.

Continue reading

Is Your Family Tree Accurate? 3 Ways to Tell

Tips to Help You Check for Family Tree Inaccuracies

Is Your Family Tree Accurate? 3 Ways to TellAs genealogists, we can often get so excited about our ancestral discoveries that we may run straight to our family tree to input a date or name, but fail to check our fascinating finds for accuracy first. These inaccuracies won’t just give you a headache later as you attempt to connect the dots between certain ancestors, but can also make it more difficult for other genealogists to build upon your family tree.

Rule of thumb: you can’t always believe everything you hear through the grapevine, or even see with your own two eyes. This is why genealogists and family historians need to be sure that they check their research for accuracy before jumping ahead to conclusions. The following tips can help you check for inaccuracies in your family tree.

Continue reading

Basic Principles for Storing Family Heirlooms Correctly

Don’t Learn the Hard Way! Here’s How to Store Your Priceless Family Keepsakes 

Tips for Storing Family Heirlooms CorrectlyIf you wish to keep your family’s legacy in tact for future generations, you should probably think twice about storing your priceless family jewelry and other vintage heirlooms in the basement or attic. Just as you should store old family photos in the proper manner to ward off deterioration and other damage, there are also right and wrong ways when it comes to storing family heirlooms. This is because temperatures and moist environments that are often found in basements and attics tend to fluctuate, which can completely destroy your favorite valuables and genealogical documents.

But how do you store family heirlooms correctly for posterity? The following tips offer basic storage guidance for your family treasures so that your relatives can enjoy their beauty and benefits for years to come.

Continue reading

Family History vs. Genealogy: What’s the Difference, Anyway?

Understanding the Difference Between Family History and Genealogy

Family History vs. Genealogy
Whether you’re a novice to the world of family history research or have been working on your family’s story for a while, you’ve undoubtedly heard the terms ‘family history’ and ‘genealogy’ used similarly. While each type of research is beneficial to documenting and sharing your family discoveries, the activities associated with each are not one in the same. However, genealogy and family history research work in tandem when it comes to creating a cohesive family tree.

But, what are these differences, exactly, and what are the functions of each research type?

Continue reading

The Genealogical Proof Standard: An Overview

What is the Genealogical Proof Standard? Should I Use It? And Other Questions, Answered

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As you’re researching your family history, you will undoubtedly run into some genealogy brick walls and other roadblocks that could halt your progress. Seasoned genealogists and family historians know that direct evidence records such as birth certificates and marriage licenses can only take you so far in your genealogical journey; and pieces of indirect evidence may be the only option to fill in the branches of a family tree. So, how do you piece together all of these ancestral tidbits in order for them to make sense? And, most importantly, how can you know for sure if your findings are accurate?

This is where the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) comes in to save your research — and sanity. The GPS can help you navigate through those little pieces of indirect evidence that may otherwise cause you to throw in the towel on your research.

Continue reading