you have gleaned information from websites and message boards, you may want to
obtain copies of official documents such as birth, marriage and death
certificates, which were generally recorded after 1900. If you can’t find a volunteer to help out, a
trip to the town or city will be necessary.
City or county courthouses often house these documents, and can make
either certified (official) or non-official copies of the documents. Some states, however, require proof of
kinship to the individual about whom you are seeking information, so find out
what the requirements are before making the trip. Also, copies can often be ordered online or
by phone, so you might be able to save yourself a trip.
libraries are often a very valuable resource for genealogical research. Most libraries have a local history or
genealogy section, where you’ll usually find books about the town or even
specific families, microfilm archives of local newspapers (which will include
obituaries) and, occasionally, indices of vital statistics for the area. More and more libraries are beginning to
digitize their holdings, but until this process is complete, your best bet is a
physical visit to the library. Be sure
to bring money for copies, and a notebook for taking notes.
many towns often have historical societies which collect memorabilia and
genealogical data from the town’s history.
Here you will find volunteer experts who, if they don’t have the
information you need, will be able to point you in the right direction. These volunteers will be familiar with common
surnames of the area, and might even be able to introduce you to a distant
relative. Keep in mind that many
historical societies, especially in the New England area, are only open from
late Spring through early Fall, so call ahead to make sure someone will be at
the center during your visit.