Resources for Genealogists

Genealogy: About Genealogical Research

Learn about resources available for research and research methods

Online Tutorials and Guides

Getting Started page from National Genealogical Society

Help for Genealogy Researchers and Getting Started from the USGenWeb Project

How to get started in Genealogy, from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS)

Palaeography: reading old handwriting 1500 - 1800: A practical online tutorial, from The National Archives of the U.K.

Finding Your Ancestors, online course (free, but requires registration)

Ancestors, Beginning your Search, companion web site to PBS Ancestors series.

Genealogy Learning Center from

Genealogy Classes, free online classes on beginning genealogy, internet genealogy, and tracing immigrant origins.

Where to Begin, Rootsweb Guide to Tracing Family Trees

Genealogy 101, from HeritageQuest.

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Consult books and articles

Consult books and articles about what records are available, where they can be found, and steps in the genealogical research process. Here are the names of some books you may find in your local library or bookstore. (Please note: these are not endorsed by the National Archives. They are mentioned here as possibly helpful resources.)

  • Bentley, Elizabeth Petty. The Genealogist's Address Book, 4th edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999.
  • Crandall, Ralph J. Shaking Your Family Tree. Dublin, NH: Yankee Publishing, 1986.
  • Croom, Emily A. Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy. Cincinnati, OH: Betterway Books, 1995.
  • Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1990.
  • Jacobus, Donald Lines. Genealogy as a Pastime and Profession. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968. Reprint, 1991.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1997.
  • Rubincam, Milton. Pitfalls in Genealogical Research. Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry, 1987.
  • Stryker-Rodda, Harriet. How to Climb Your Family Tree. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977. Reprint, 1993.
  • Szucs, Loretto D., and Sandra H. Luebking. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Revised edition. Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry, 1997

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Attend Workshops and Conferences

We provide workshops to help people learn how to use historical documents when conducting genealogical research. See our list of upcoming workshops.

National, regional, and local genealogical societies also often hold workshops and conferences geared towards beginning genealogists.

You can also order professionally-recorded cassette tapes of lectures from previous national and regional genealogy conferences. These cover the vast array of genealogical research topics, and many are geared to the beginner.

Join Genealogical Societies

In addition to sponsoring workshops, other help is also available through genealogical societies. Most publish newsletters and other materials describing genealogical research and services in the area. Many also have libraries and other helpful resources. You may find it helpful to join both your local genealogical society as well as those where your ancestors lived.

To find a genealogical society in North America, you can search by state/province from the Federation of Genealogical Societies web site or contact the National Genealogical Society.

Other web site that may assist you in locating local societies are:

U.S. Genealogy sites state by state

Genealogical and Historical Societies listing their publications for sale online

Historical and Genealogical Societies of the United States

Directory of Genealogy Libraries in the U.S.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272