How do I begin my genealogy research?


Start with what you know.  Compile the names of your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. as far back as you are able.  Also write down basic biographical information, such as when and where they were born, married, and died.  Approximate dates are fine.  Many records and books are organized by geography location and date range, so knowing this information will help focus your search.

Census records are one of the best places to start looking into original records.  The federal census began in 1790 and is conducted every 10 years.  The most recent census available to researchers is the 1940 census.  You can access census records through subscription databases such as Ancestry Library Edition/ or Heritage Quest or through free websites like FamilySearch (requires a free account).

The Genealogy Division has a brochure, Beginning Your Genealogy Research which provides additional tips for getting started.

If you have questions, feel free to visit the Indiana State Library or to contact us.  We can provide additional assistance based on your specific research needs.  Please note that due to staff and time constraints, we cannot conduct extensive or open-ended research.


  • Last Updated Sep 24, 2021
  • Views 4
  • Answered By Stephanie Asberry

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