Minnesota Historical Society M-Flame Logo

FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH

Step 6: What You Can Do At Home

Search your own records—talk to other family members, review deeds, look at Bibles, scrapbooks and photo albums, etc. Who are the 'keepers' in the family?

Research the family in the United States first, and then cross the ocean to your ancestral homeland. Records in the United States are usually kept in English (the exception being early and/or ethnic church records which may be in Latin or some other language), just as records in Norway are in Norwegian, Germany are in German, etc.

It is easier if you understand the purpose and general content of the records before tackling those that are handwritten in another language. Sometimes the records can tell you the specific town or village where your family lived.

Prepare for your next visit to the Library or other repository. Make a list of what you want to find out.

A trip to the Minnesota Historical Society might include checking census records, death certificates, birth certificates, or newspaper obituaries. Write down when and where your ancestors lived in Minnesota. The Library also provides research services for those needing help with their own research.

A trip to the court house in the county where your ancestors lived might include a search for vital records, land records, a will or intestacy proceeding.

A trip to the county historical society may yield additional information. Check the Minnesota County Historical Societies, Chapters & Local Organizations list for names and address of these institutions.

Organize the data you collect. As your family tree broadens, it becomes more difficult to remember all of the names, dates and places involved. Establish a system to keep it straight, and use it. Make or buy charts to put in a notebook.