Dictionary definition of Genealogy
Genealogy - The study or investigation of ancestry and family histories. An account or history of the descent of a person or family from an ancestor.
The word Genealogy is derived from Middle English genealogie, from Old French.

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A free online resource with advice and guidelines about starting family research into ancestry and family histories

Glossary Genealogical Terms

Tracing a Family's History - Family Search !
The subject of Genealogy, or conducting research into ancestry and a family's history, is becoming increasingly popular. We are curious about our roots and what roles our ancestors played in their lifetimes. The process involved with conducting this type of search can be extremely time consuming but the information available via other Genealogy sites on the Internet has made this research process a whole lot easier. 

Family Search - On a baby names site?
The logical progression of most people who search for names is to go on to take a long look at their family, or surnames and their family's ancestry. The section on Surnames and their meanings and origins helps with some fundamental information which is useful when undertaking research into families ancestry and a family's history. The subject surrounding the research for a family's ancestry is vast and the advice we offer is for those just starting out on a genealogy search and tracing their family trees and history.

Family Genealogy Search Guidelines

Where do I begin my Family Search ?
The first question is always "Where do I begin?" Research is the key to success! There are no quick answers to tracing family trees and and conducting the research but the following information will certainly reduce the time required. 

Understand the history, origins and meanings of surnames before you start your search!
A couple of minutes reading through our section on Surnames will help with this task! There is plenty of information available to start you on the right track and ease the search process.

Family Search - understand the category of name
Understanding the category of a surname will help with your interest in genealogy and your research. It will provide a good starting point and eliminate any unnecessary areas of research. How would the family name relate to or describe your ancestor?

  • Search to find whether the family's name related to a place
  • Search to find whether the family's name describes a profession or trade ( Did you know that the name Kellogg was a derivative of Kill Hog ? )
  • Was the family's name an 'adopted' name ?
  • Search to find whether the family's name is descriptive name - describing a physical or characteristic attribute
  • Search to find whether the name might have been derived from a nickname

Essential References!
There are many reference books that can help - it's just knowing which ones to ask for! Search for Surname Dictionaries and Place Name dictionaries in your local library. There are also many online resources that you can access - using Surname Dictionaries and Place Name dictionaries as you key words when conducting a family search.

Official Records
Official records will help provide detailed information in relation to genealogy - massive databases can be found via the following and help with your family search:

  • U.S. Federal Census Records (1790-1930)
  • Birth, Marriage & Death Records
  • Historical Newspapers dating back to the 1700's

Genealogical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known as Mormons)
A extensive source of additional information is the International Genealogical Index (I.G.I.) compiled by the Genealogical Dept. of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons. This project and is not yet complete but the work of the Mormons is admirable in gathering vast amounts of data which could prove very helpful for those undertaking a family search.

Family History and Genealogy
Arrange to discuss your ideas and findings with other members of your family! Research into your own family history will provide you with excellent genealogy information about events and places. And will, no doubt, provide some fascinating insights that are just not available from any other sources. 

Language and Genealogy
Ensure that you are clear on which language the Family Surname belongs to. Families can work together and individual members can help with this type of confirmation and assist in your search.

Spellings can be a real nightmare to making a Family Search!
Many of our ancestors would have been illiterate! How were names recorded in the past? Many administrators spelled names incorrectly - so many official documents have resulted in different name spellings leading to a family search nightmare! This can be illustrated by looking at a name that is known throughout the World - William Shakespeare. If you search for the name Shakespeare you will discover that it was spelt in an astonishing variety of ways including Shakspere, Shakespere, Shakkespere, Shaxpere, Shakstaff, Sakspere, Shagspere, Shakeshafte and even Chacsper. The name of William Shakespeare's father, John Shakespeare, occurs 166 times in the Council Book of the Stratford corporation, and appears to take 16 different forms! Our thanks go to for this information. It certainly illustrates potential problems that can be encountered when conducting a search project.

Changes of Name - Emigration - Forced and Voluntary 
Many of our ancestors left their homelands for the chance of improved opportunities in different countries. The USA welcomed many such individuals. However officials were unable to understand the numerous different languages and so names were registered in a phonetic fashion by using the closest spellings that sounded similar to the original names. Many of our family ancestors, however, had no choice in their lives due to the practice of buying and selling people into slavery. One of the most famous books relating to the forced slavery of an African in America was ' Roots ' by Alex Haley. According to the search conducted by Alex Haley his ancestor was a man called Kunta Kinte who was an African from the Gambian town of Jufferee. A vital element in the story of Kunta Kinte is that he desperately wanted to keep his own name rather than take on the adopted name of his owner. Name changes obviously make investigations into a family's genealogy more difficult but this is certainly not impossible.

Family Search - a fascinating subject!
We hope that our guidelines will help with your interest in genealogy and assist you in your search for ancestry and family histories. We would be delighted to hear about your stories relating to your experiences when conducting your Family Search.


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