Where did you get those long legs, that big nose, or that insatiable desire to conquer the world? Often the key to finding those answers lies with our ancestors. As the old saying suggests – you need to know where you came from to know where you ‘re going knowing our roots can help us understand ourselves and even prepare for the future.
One of the best ways to find information about your ancestors is through genealogy research. Genealogy research is way to learn about your ancestors and the history of your family by researching certain types of records. Many records that will help with genealogy research are public records, and therefore accessible by anyone.
One of the first places you might consider would be searching for vital records. These include birth, death, and marriage records. Often, there is a state vital records office that maintains these records. However, many state vital records office only provide vital records up to a certain point. Typically, it can be difficult to locate vital records prior to 1900 at the state level. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that state offices were required to manage vital records. As such, many records prior to the twentieth century were filed through local offices, such as the county clerk.
Another public records resource is the county recorder’s office. A recorder is generally responsible for deeds and other land related documents and/or contracts. Search for deeds in your ancestors ‘ name could disclose useful information about where they lived and other types of contact information. Furthermore, finding out whom your ancestor deeded property to, or whom they were deeded property by after a death could also lead to further clues. Recorder records may show the transfer of deeded property to an heir. This type of information can also generally be found with either a local probate court, or general civil court that handles probate matters such as wills and estates. Even where an ancestor has not left a will (dying intestate) often, a probate court will name the heirs of the state, even in the absence of a will.
In addition to vital records, recorded deeds, and wills, other public records that could help with your genealogy research can include business records and even inmate records. If you are performing genealogy research knowing the locations of these types of documents could shave a lot of time off of your research. The Free Public Records directory actually provides a list of links by state and even county of where you can almost every public record available.