This is the approach that helped me capture thousands of new names
of ancestors and living relatives. There are obviously far more useful techniques to research your family history. These may not be useful for everyone; each person has to adopt various techniques to his/her own unique circumstances.
1. Communicate with the oldest relatives in the family and ask about
family names, towns, dates, significant events. Collaborate particularly
with family who have done research or who can share some of the
search activities with you. Gather photos, documents, letters, family
bibles (where newborns are recorded) – anything that can provide
2. Vital records – obtain Vital records which contain names of family
members especially parents but also children and family contacts. This
includes birth, death and marriage certificates, naturalization records,
military records, social security records (search the social security
death index (SSDI), etc. All of these records are obtainable, even those
from foreign countries although they’re more difficult to obtain. For
example, your grand father’s birth and death certificates will have his
father’s and mother’s names, as well the naturalization and other
records. Your name is sufficiently distinct to be able to follow the paper
trail fairly easily. The Austro-Hungarians were fairly compulsive about
record keeping and created many archives. The Church also was
recording loads of info. Scan, photograph, or copy any documents you
3. Research the towns of origin, know something about the history, and
learn how their records are archived. Try to latch on to groups or
people who are also researching that town and share information with
them. Most genealogists are very happy to share information, in fact it
might be hard to turn them off. Some people even go to the trouble of
visiting the ancestral towns. Finding relatives actually living in these
towns would yield lots of additional information.
4. Census tracts – most census records are available in libraries or can
be accessed via subscription type genealogy web sites, such as
ancestry.com. They make it fairly easy and they provide other data
bases that source information about your relatives.
5. Cemeteries – Gravestones could be very helpful, as well as the
documents the cemeteries have relative to the burial.
6. Software – buy family tree software. It’s < $100 usually, but they’re
user friendly, they organize the information for you, and even give you
ongoing advice. I’ve used Family Tree Maker, which allows you to
archive data and media and a very manageable style.
7. NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK – Find relatives who have researched the Find relatives who have researched the family or who are researching the family and are willing to share information. This will save you lots of time and link you up with more of your family.
8. LDS Church – The Mormon Church (Latter Date Saints) is probably one of the best resources you can find. They have archived tons of ancestral information throughout the US AND Eastern Europe and anyone can access this information. The Church in Salt Lake City hasan incredible archive, that’s the place to visit, I’ve not done it, but someday….. However, they will send you microfiche with loads of records.
9. Web site – I set up my own Sieger genealogy web site (which isn’t
really that hard to do) and have heard from at least a dozen family
relatives who have been of tremendous help and expanding my family
tree. Every one, it seems, is doing genealogy, and if you create a Family
Tree on line, some one will see it, and contact you. Of course, you may
not want to hear from long lost relatives, but I’ve had only positive
response. Family from California, New York, Massachusetts and Israel
have written me.
10. Books/web sites – there are tons of books and web sites on the
subject, many devoted to the part of the world you’re interest in.
11. Genealogists for hire – some people have hired genealogists,
especially for far away, strange places – to do some genealogy for
them. It’s usually not too too expensive but sometimes finding an
honest and capable one could be challenging.
12. Ellisisland.org – Excellent source of immigration information, gives
you also photos of the ships your ancestors took.
13. List Serves – This is a shared email service where you can upload
questions and read solutions proposed by other genealogists.
Jewishgen.com sponsors an excellent list serve which has taught me a
14. Specialty web sites – Many sites devote themselves to specific
interests, like Italian, or British, or Canadian ancestry. Jewishgen.com
is an excellent source of information for Jewish ancestry. It gives you
access to loads of archived data, teaches you how to pursue family
research, sponsors a list service, and for a small fee, will provide an
alert system that link researchers with similar ancestral names.
15. Genealogy Services – these could be a very convenient and
comprehensive source of information. Ancestry.com has very good
resources relative to Jewish Genealogy.v