Are you looking for information on your Alabama ancestors? You will be happy to know that there are plenty of places to look, both online and offline. Alabama is one of the better states in the south for finding genealogical information. It has very few counties with courthouses that burned, even during the Civil War, and it has a long and strong commitment to preserving old records. With many southern states, you might run into brick walls and frustration due to lack of information at the county, state, and even federal level. This is not so in Alabama. Here are the best online and offline sources for discovering your Alabama ancestors.
Located in Montgomery, Alabama just across the street from the state capitol building and next door to the first White House of the Confederacy, the Alabama Department of Archives and History is a treasure trove for anyone who is doing Alabama genealogy research. You can easily spend days in here going through their vast collection of Alabama historical and genealogical records. Among their collections, you will find such things as:
- Ancient marriage records
- Old military records (both service and pension)
- Old newspaper records organized by family surname
- Books on Alabama families, many with old family stories re-told in them
- Probate records
- Land records
- Cemetery records
- Old maps
- And much more
A perfect way to use these records to get a full picture of your Alabama ancestors is to find where they are buried and where they lived, then go out and find these places and get pictures for your family history collection. As long as you’re in Alabama, you may as well make the most of it by getting every bit of research out of it that you can. The information at the Alabama Department of Archives and History will give you a lot of new details on your ancestors, and point you in the direction for some solid in the field research once you’re done combing through the record stacks in the building.
This free website organizes user-submitted Alabama genealogy information by county. Most county pages are searchable by last name, though there may be some exceptions. This is the place where you will find gems you won’t find anywhere else, such as church records, wills, tax records, obscure newspaper records, family Bible records, written but unpublished genealogies, and more. Anyone who is doing Alabama genealogy research should use this site, as you never know what you are going to find there. There could be information on it submitted by a user that has never been accessed by anyone but immediate relatives for generations, and is not published anywhere else. You really need to look at it to see if there is anything there that could help you in your own research or that gives new information on your ancestors by name.
This paid membership site is the leader in online genealogy research. You can find many things here that you could only find otherwise by making a lengthy trip to the record source. Instead, Ancestry.com allows you to research from the comfort of your own home. You will find U.S. census records for Alabama on this site, which are enormously useful in genealogical research. You will also find birth, death, and marriage indexes for the state going back into the late 1800’s, and sometimes earlier. There are family history books on Alabama families in their entirety on this site, many of them not available anywhere else outside of their local libraries. You can also find user submitted family trees on Alabama ancestors, some of which may include photos of ancestors whose faces you’ve never seen before, or have only seen as old people (if the photos posted are of your ancestors when they were young). If you are doing any kind of Alabama genealogy research, this is the place to start it.
County Courthouses in Alabama
In addition to these sources, you can go to individual courthouses in the counties of Alabama and get records of court cases that involved your ancestors. These usually aren’t published anywhere. You can contact the courthouse in the county where your ancestors lived to see if they have any records pertaining to them before you go there. Sometimes, court cases can reveal a lot of detail about your ancestors lives and who they were as people.
These sources should be enough to launch you on a productive search for your Alabama ancestors. Use them, and be amazed at all the incredible new details on your ancestors from Alabama you will discover. Your family tree will thank you, as will future generations who will get to know these ancestors through your work. Go on and get started.
Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)