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8 Fresh Genealogy Tips for Building Your Family Tree

Do you need some new ideas for discovering information on your ancestors? Try these eight fresh tips.

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Do you need some new ideas for building your family tree? If you’re a beginner to genealogy, or even if you are a veteran, you may sometimes think you have looked at all the sources that could possibly exist on your family lines. This may lead you to a brick wall that seems insurmountable. The good news is that there are always new avenues to explore that may lead you to the answers you seek. If you need some fresh genealogy tips to help you take your family tree back even farther, try these eight interesting ones you may not have considered.

1. DNA

DNA is becoming a big part of the research for today’s genealogists. If you haven’t tried it, you should. DNA research can break through brick walls when nothing else can, and put you in contact with unknown relatives who may have photos and other valuable genealogical information on your line. Best of all, DNA testing is now affordable for everyone. – read more

2. Wills

You may have looked at the wills of your direct ancestors and come up with nothing useful to take you back another generation. But have you researched the wills of your ancestors’ siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors? These are all useful resources, as they have the potential to mention your ancestors or the generation who came before them, or at least give you clues to research further. – read more

3. Land Records

Looking at the sales history for land that your ancestor owned can give you clues. The people he or she bought the land from or sold it to can often provide information on relatives you may not have known existed, or prove family connections through marriage with another family in the area. – read more

4. Old Maps

Old maps kept by state and local governments often show the names of the people who owned certain tracts of land at particular times in history. Look at your ancestor’s neighbors and the people who lived within a reasonable traveling distance of them. In past centuries, people often lived near their relatives or close friends, such as members of the same church. Therefore, these old maps provide clues galore as to your ancestor’s life and associates. – read more

5. Military Pension Records

Whether your ancestor who was in the military is the one applying for the pension, or it’s his widow (or sometimes, even elderly parents applying for pensions on their deceased children’s service), you may find a treasure trove of genealogical information in the application. The person applying has to give descriptions of military service, marriages, and family relationships, and they have to get people they know to provide affidavits for them, vouching for their truthfulness, as well. – read more

6. Homestead Records

When your ancestor homesteaded land from the federal government, they had to provide proof they had met the terms of the homestead agreement, and get people who knew them to vouch for them to get the title to the land. There can be many clues to family relationships in these documents. – read more

7. Old Newspaper Records

Looking through old newspapers for articles that mention your ancestors can not only tell you about their family members (in the cases of obituaries, wedding, and birth announcements), but can also tell you interesting anecdotes from their lives. Sometimes, you may even find photographs of them in old newspapers in the places where they lived. – read more

8. City Directories

These were the phone books of the old days, before there were phones. Going back into the early 1800’s in some places, these directories show who lived in a town, what they did for a living, and often who lived with them (or at least their spouse). Looking through them can provide clues on possible family members living nearby, as well as your ancestor’s occupation and family makeup. – read more



Will founded Ancestral Findings in 1995 and has been assisting researchers for over 25 years to reunite them with their ancestors.