The Genealogist’s Toolkit: Ethnic Research

Once you have built your family tree a bit and have gotten into the “greats”, past your grandparents and farther back into other centuries, research methodologies and best practices start to evolve depending on your specific ethnicity. Research for each ethnicity is different and requires its own tailored approach for maximum success.

Research Guides

The following are resource guides that are available according to ethnicity. These guides are downloadable PDFs that you can read, save, print or bookmark as resources when you start to discover your international roots. Many have language tips, notable collections or databases, and can help you get the right start depending on where your ancestor hunt takes you.


African American Family Research on (Free downloadable PDF guide)

Finding Your Canadian Ancestors on (Free downloadable PDF guide)

Finding Your German Ancestors on (Free downloadable PDF guide)

Irish Research in the U.S. and Ireland (Free downloadable PDF guide)

Finding Your Swedish Ancestors on (Free downloadable PDF guide)

Finding Your Ancestors from the UK and Ireland (Free downloadable PDF guide)


Research Centers

Much like our research guides, the following research centers can help with just about any nuance you might encounter with the ethnicity you’re working on – whether it’s reading a record, translating fields or listing state archives, these research centers can help!


Dutch Research Center

French Research Center

German Research Center

Italian Research Center

Swedish Research Center

Spanish-language Records Research Center

Jewish Resource Page on

Our Jewish genealogy page will help you get started searching our Jewish ancestors. Thanks to our partnerships with various Jewish historical and genealogical institutions, you can start searching and learn more about Jewish genealogy. This page can help with a community locator based on surname as well as a names variations database.


Each specific ethnicity has its pitfalls and limitations and being able to understand them is crucial to successfully researching your ancestors. Some ethnicities pose language barriers while others a shear lack of records available at your fingertips on the web. Becoming familiar with the historical context of certain ethnic groups and just knowing what historical documents exist and which don’t will lead you in the right direction.




1 LindaOctober 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I’m having difficulty downloading the PDF file for the African American Family Research. It doesn’t seem to be working. Thank you for your help.

2 KimberlyOctober 21, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I also tried downloading the pdf. I clicked on the link and nothing happened.

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