Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Family History Month, Research

Like a good craftsman, a genealogist needs to have the right tools to get the job done. Not having the proper resources or even knowing a resource exists can cause a lot of headaches and be a waste of your time researching a dead end. We asked resident expert Juliana Smith for a list of resources to help make discovering your family history as easy as possible, and she delivered this handy guide for you to sink your teeth into.


Genealogy Charts and Forms – From family group sheets to research extracts, these printable charts and forms can help keep your research organized and easy to understand.

Blank Census Forms – The U.S. Federal Census is important to genealogical research, so it’s critical to know what questions were asked in each one. The census has evolved drastically over the past several decades, so having a blank form for each census can help find clues to your ancestor’s past.

Soundex Converter
Many databases allow you the option of Soundex searches so that you can grab more phonetically similar variations of the surnames you are researching. Use the Soundex converter to find out the Soundex codes for your family surname variations, that way if one of the variations you have found in your research has a different Soundex code, you’ll know you need to search it separately.

Tools for Source Citations



Ancestry Support Community & Message Boards
The Support Community is an amazing tool to be familiar with as our community might be able to answer your tough genealogy questions. Having trouble with finding a record? Did your ancestor’s county courthouse burn down? Ask your question and let our community do the rest. Also, as you gain genealogy experience and have some tips and tricks under your belt, pay it forward and help somebody else in the community by answering their question.

RootsWeb is a gold mine of information. Anything from mailing lists to research templates and search engines, RootsWeb has it all. Browse through the different sections of the site and become familiar with what is available – you never know when you’re going to find an article or link that could help you out.

RootsWeb Mailing Lists
If you’ve got something to research, RootsWeb has a mailing list. There are mailing lists that you can subscribe to based on any number of topics – you could be looking for a surname, a specific city or any other genealogical topic. Subscribe to these lists to receive information based on that topic.

County Look-up
Need to find out what County a city is in? Find out with the County Look-up page.



5-minute Finds
Anne Mitchell hosts our 5-Minute Finds video series – each video is five (5) minutes and covers great family history tips like Hidden Treasures in Your State, Wife Hunting and using “Exact” Search.

The Barefoot Genealogist
Crista Cowan has produced a wonderful video series that covers such gems as Discovering Your Colonial Immigrant Ancestor, Researching Newspapers to Find Genealogy Gold and Using City Directories in Your Research.

Research Guides
This page has all of our free research guides. A guide is included for most major areas of research and can be a great place to get started once your tree has grown and you need a little guidance and direction.

Be sure to check out the newly added “5 Ways To Jumpstart Your Research“.

The Source and Ancestry Red book
The Source and Ancestry Red book are two publications which are now fully digitized and available on the web on the Family History Wiki page. These two reference books can help you with just about any kind of record you might be searching for and can help when you feel you’ve reached a dead end.

Genealogy Glossary
Sometimes it might seem like genealogists have their own language! We’ve put together a glossary of terms to help you decipher it.

U.S. Enumeration District Maps and Descriptions, 1940 (Requires free registration)
Get an aerial view of your ancestor’s neighborhood during the 1940 U.S. Federal Census!


Knowing what information is out there is half the battle and we know that with this handy “toolkit” you’ll be well on your way to destroying any brick wall you might face. Happy searching!!


Question: What is your favorite research tool? Share it in the comments below!



  1. Stacey Monks

    The family charts are my favorite tool. I’ve started attaching a lined sheet to the back of them to keep track of addresses, occupations and other misc data from the records I find. It helps me get a good feel for where my ancestors were living and occupations are great for verifying if a record belongs with the family I am researching. there is a lot of information, especially in the census records, that doesn’t automatically get added when you save the record to your tree. It took me a few sheets to realize I needed to use a pencil 🙂

Comments are closed.