Research Tips for Beginners
- Talk to your parents and grandparents before it is too late!
[Actually that's good life advice too!] They will have family
facts and family myths that will be invaluable. Your family may
have an old family bible, with the births and deaths and family
events written in beautiful copperplate. Write down everything
they tell you or whatever information about the family that you
can find, however seemingly trivial.
- Record everything you know, including sources. Organize it
in a chart; a family tree or pedigree chart.
- Try to find or calculate the dates and probable places of
births, marriages and deaths. How old were you when you last
saw your grandmother and how long after that did she die? Look
at the backs of old family photos; they often record names and
dates of value to your searches.
- Get in touch with your extended family: cousins, uncles,
and great aunts. Have a list of questions or a chart they can
fill in. To jog their memory, ask questions about the ancestor's
work, character, residence, the church they attended, when they
came to Canada, and from where, etc.? Ask to see old photos and
find out about the people depicted. Take notes of conversations
with these helpers; better yet, record the conversation on a
tape recorder. Ask them to prepare a talk or paper on their particular
branch of the family and anything they know about other branches.
You may be happily surprised how cooperative they may be once
over some initial reluctance.
- Look for detail: lot, concession, township, or town; parish;
employment; military service; dates and places of birth, baptism,
marriage, and burial. It is particularly important to be sure
of the religion and name of church or parish where any of these
events occurred, or the name of the regiment, or the name of
the employer, or the like. All these places keep records which
can be invaluable in later searching.
- Look for church and cemetery records.
- Government records can be very helpful.
- Census: Canadian census 1851-1901 lists both parents and
all children and others living in the home. This is where you
need the address information.
- Wills and probates - Most 20th century records are in the
county court archives; 19th century records are on microfilm
in the Ontario archives.
- Land records are in the County registry office. There you
must have the lot and concession numbers, or lot and plan numbers,
or at least the town or city street number.
- Township records may provide land grant and other information,
including examples of signatures. Also, land assessment rolls
can be as valuable as ownership records.
- The Canadian Archives may provide early land grant information.
- See the description of the material available through FamilySearch at Family History
Centers at Latter-day Saints' churches.
The Family History Centers also maintain an index to millions
of family history records called the International Genealogical
Index. The UOVGG is a FamilySearch affiliate library and microfiche records can be ordered from FamilySearch and viewed at the UOVGG library using their microfiche readers.
- The most important tip for a beginner is; nothing is unimportant!
If it has to do with your family, record it and its source.