The Ancestry.com Family History Wiki is one of the best ways for you to discover more information about records and family history research. The Family History Wiki was developed to help genealogists find information they need, but also contribute, by editing and adding information. Our Family History Wiki is completely editable by the community and allows for others to add great information.
Find the Family History Wiki by hovering over the ‘Learning Center’ tab in the navigation bar at the top of the page and you should see the ‘Family History Wiki’ at the bottom of the drop down list – or you can go there directly by bookmarking this link.
Explore to Discover What is Available
The old adage in the family history community is, “You don’t know what you don’t know”. Many of the issues deemed “brick walls” are not really problems due to the lack of records, it’s usually that we don’t have the right information or haven’t found the resource we need to tap into yet. The Family History Wiki is a way to explore and further your knowledge of record types and locations to try and break through research problems you may be facing.
When you first arrive at the Family History Wiki you will find a section entitled ‘Explore The Wiki’. This is a great place to look if you want to get a sense of what is available and do some casual reading. In this section you can be taken directly to both The Source and The Red Book, which are the foundation for the information on the Family History Wiki.
Another great way to explore the Family History Wiki is to take a look at the ‘Read the Featured Article’ section. If you are not stopping by to look at anything specific, this is a good place to learn a little bit more about any given topic.
Start searching the Family History Wiki! If you are looking for a specific topic, use the search feature and type in the keywords you are trying to find information about. Most likely you’ll be able to find an article that will help you out.
The source was first published in 1984 and continues to be the standard reference guidebook for genealogy. The current edition was published in 2006 and is written by expert genealogists.
The Source is organized by record type – so you can see everything having to do with census records, vitals records, military, etc. – it also has sections dedicated to specific types of research, like African-American, Hispanic, Colonial English, and more.
Each chapter is a link, which takes you to that chapter’s page containing an overview and a left-hand sidebar with links to related information. Do make sure and read the overview and scroll down to read the content that is on each page as these articles are written by an expert in the field and has great information that could help you.
The Red Book is another great resource and standard for American genealogy. If you need to know more about a city, town, state or county, this is the source to use. The Red Book can answer just about all of your questions about when certain states and counties started collecting records of any type.
The Red Book page is organized by location, first by state, and the layout is similar to that of The Source. An expert in that location’s history and genealogy also writes each article. Each location page will give you a history of that place which can help you understand why you may not have records during a specific time, why your family moved there, etc. Learning and understanding more about migration patterns and the history of a state or county can really make a difference in your research.
Don’t forget that the Family History Wiki is an editable document – something that you can add to if you have information that you think is valuable and that would help others.
The Family History Wiki can help you learn more about the area of research you are having trouble with and also help you discover resources or methodologies you weren’t familiar with. Happy searching!