Welcome to Genealogy Information by Ron Ulrich


This page will try to present information to simplify you genealogy research. I will attempt to update it as I find out further information and expect your feed back if you find "missing URLs" or erroneous information.  There is so much detective work needed to perform this research, but I will attempt to share what I have learned while doing my research.  I won't try to classify the material into areas for beginners or for advanced researcher's, but I will give some details for those of you who are starting off down the trail for the first time.  There are lots of places to look.  The web is just one. It is rapidly becoming a wonderful source of information.  The more and more that people share their information on the web, the less you will be required to wander out on the highways to search for your data.  Let's begin.

Since every journey begins with a single step, genealogy can begin by looking at you. Think of your own genealogy as a collection of individuals that have had some interaction with you. Each of whom has had a series of easily identified life events. These events typically include such things as: birth, christening, education, marriage, military service, employment,
death, and burial. They are important enough to us that we usually have some record or evidence of their existence.  Genealogy is made up of these materials.  You should begin your project by writing down all the information you have on your own life events. This includes recording (as much as is possible) the important pieces of information:

  • the name of the person involved
  • what was the event
  • where and when did the event occur
  • and what evidence is there that the event actually took place (what is the source of the information)
  • In writing this information down, thefolloing are some guidelines to use:


      1. Capture the person's full name, including all middle names and any titles that might be relevant (Rev., Capt., Dr.).
      2. Spelling is important. Use the spelling exactly as it appears in the source of the information. During your research, you may find a family name spelled two, three, or even more different ways. Make note of any of these variations; this information may prove valuable at a later time. (Remember the census takers and other "gatherers" of records were not always accurate, they spelled the name the way they thought it should be spelled - not necessarily the way it was spelled.)
      3. ALWAYS write a female's name using her birth, surname or family name - NEVER her married name.  Because you will locate information about her prior to her marriage with this name.  And if you only know her married name, identify it with parentheses, i.e. Mary (Brown). This will give you a visual clue that you need to research further into her identity.  If you are using any of the "genealogy programs" either leave the surname blank (or enter UNKNOWN - even though it is suggested not to do so by the genealogy program makers.  This is because you will have many UNKNOWNs listed in your surname list by doing this.  But there aren't may good ways to do it anyway.).
      4. You should also make note of any nicknames that your research may uncover and write these in quotation marks. If your Uncle Jimmy was really named James, you would write this information as James "Jimmy" Francis Brown.  Sometimes a nickname can serve as a clue to other potential sources of information.
      1. Identify the event as clearly as possible. For example, when listing graduation as an event in a person's life, specify which level of graduation is being documented.
      2. Use standard abbreviations for events such as b for birth or bap for baptism. If you develop your own abbreviations for events, make sure someone reading your work one hundred years from now will understand what you were writing about. (Most genealogy programs have generated lists for these events, use them if you can).  Be consistent in how you present your information is the key.
      1. Record as much as you know about the location of a each and every event. For example, a marriage may have occurred in a church (or a park, a home, a court house, on a ship, etc.). When recording the location of this marriage, name the location, the town or city, the county, the state, and even the country if necessary.  By following this procedure, you will have a trail to follow to locate related sources of information.  Most places in the world, written records or vital records of events might exist at any one of these levels or records might also exist at all levels. Each record might provide a clue to a further piece of information. A marriage found in one county in 1845 might lead to a census record for that county in 1850. The WHERE in genealogical research is one of the most significant pieces of information you can discover.
      2. Another thing to remember is that place names, like family names, might have changed over a period of time. Your genealogical research may require that you learn as much as you can about the history of a community and where an event might have occurred. For example Turner (town), Androscoggin (county), Maine (state), might have been the sight of a birth in 1822. In 1780, that same place was known as Sylvester (town), Cumberland (county), Massachusetts (state). The records for the latter place might be located in a repository different from records for the former. In researching the marriage record for the parents of the child born in 1822, the researcher would have to look for records in both repositories.
      3. If you use abbreviations for place names such as ME for Maine or FL for Florida be consistent; don't use MA for one event, MASS for a second, Mass. for a third, etc. This can be confusing to the reader.
      1. As you write dates in your family history use the international method of date entry. (Or use the one suggested by your genealogy program)  In this approach, you write the number for the day, then the standard three-letter abbreviation for the month, and conclude with all four digits for the year. Thus October 11, 1884 or 10/11/1884 should be written as 10 OCT 1884. This method eliminates the confusion as to whether it is October 11 or November 10 and lends consistency to your project. (Genealogists don't have the Y2K problem because they use the 4 digit year)
      1. Even though this area is the most significant it is often ignored by the researcher of family history. When you gather information, regardless of the source (conversation with family members, the family Bible, a letter, a birth certificate, or a published family history) it is vital that you record this source as thoroughly as possible. This will allow you to show where your evidence comes from and could keep you from unnecessarily retracing your steps at a later date.This documentation allows others to judge the reliability and accuracy of your work. Begin early in your project by developing a system where you record the source of a particular piece of information as note to that information. Maintain all your sources in this fashion and you will have a complete record to allow the publication of your materials with validation for each item.

    You are now ready to begin writing what you already know by beginning with yourself. In genealogy, there are some forms that are basic to the hobby and it is important that you become familiar with these forms early in your project. It is on these forms that you will record all of the pieces of information you gather. With the advent of computers we have taken great steps to support much more accurate recording of information. And to allow for a more consistent method of sharing this information.  If you use pen/pencil and paper the following are approaches to follow. You might want to do this in any case and then enter your data later into your genealogy program.

    This isn't everything you will need, but it is a good start.  Now you are ready. You can also look at a commercial site Welcome to Genealogy 101 which may be more complete that what I provided you above.

    Where to begin your search

    Since you are on the web, it is perhaps easy to get started by going to the Genealogy Search Engines.  While this may not bring forth any information it is "easy" to do.  If you get no fruit from this effort, you will need to go to a "research facility".  This is a glorified term for a library (or other repository of information).  Try you local library. They sometimes have a genealogy area.  Again it may be too generic to be of any value, but it is a place to start.  Again, if you get nothing from this visit you will need to do some calling around.  One of the best places to begin is with the local stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes referred to as the Mormon's or the LDS).  The area with which you wish to speak is know as the Family History Center (FHC).  Their library is open to the general public and the resources they have on hand are astounding. But you don't have to travel to Salt Lake City to use the records. There are over 1,000 branch Family History Centers (FHC) in the United States.  If you have trouble finding one, please call the Salt Lake City, Utah FHC 35 North West Temple St. at 1.800.453.3860  x2584 - they will help you locate one.

    Another place to look might be a local historical society.  The problem with using these sources are that they are usually specialist in the "local" history, but they often have a vast set of resources that might help you. Also they will give you guidance to getting started.  A list of these organizations can be found by going to Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet.  In Maryland, the Montgomery County Historical Society; 103 W. Montgomery Ave; Rockville, MD 20850; which is open Tu-Sa 12-4 pm and can be reached at 301.762.1492

    Another place to look is the federal census records. The United States Constitution requires that a nationwide census of the population shall be taken every ten years.The first five censuses (1790 through 1840) counted the population and listed the names of the heads of households living in every state.  In 1850, the censuses listed the names of every member of a household, which made the federal census schedules a great source for finding families living in America. Most of these  old census lists exist except for 1890 (which was destroyed in a fire - but even parts of it exist). The manuscripts of the early censuses are now located in the National Archives in Washington, DC. The census "protects" the privacy of any person named in a federal census schedule for a period of 72 years. Hence the latest census that is open to the public is the 1920.  The 1790 through 1920 censuses have been microfilmed and are available to archives, libraries, and individuals. Census records have become a major source for locating the place where an ancestor lived, and after 1840 they also list date and place of birth, occupation, personal wealth, education, spouse, children, hired hands, and even immigration information. You may be able to use these wonderful census schedules at a library near you; however, the best place to find them is at one of the regional branches of the National Archives, which have microfilm for all censuses from 1790 through 1920. The National Archives branches are located at Washington, DC; Waltham, MA; New York City; Philadelphia; Chicago; East Point, GA; Kansas City, MO; Ft. Worth, TX; Denver, CO; San Bruno, CA; Laguna Niguel, CA; Seattle, WA; and Anchorage, AK.

    Tools to support Genealogists

    There are a number of ways to help you keep track of your genealogy information. The simplest and yet the hardest for most of us to use is the paper and pencil method.  Luckily for me (and many other genealogists) the computer came to our rescue. It has simplified our keeping track of various families and notes related to families. Most of the genealogist (at least beginners) often don't link the source of their data to the particular family or individual. Example, suppose you are looking in the US Census data for 1860 and find the individual/family for whom you have been searching.  You should link the Census data, page and other pertinent information to the notes associated with this source information. That way, when you have a question about the individual, you can stipulate that it came from the 1860 US Census and the particular county, state, date, page, dwelling and reel (census roll microfilm reel). The same applies to books or other reference material.  The problem with the internet and web site information is that many people have good intentions about keeping their web sites open but something happens and it vanishes.  So in the case of the world wide web data, try to record the URL (universal resource locator - the http:// address) and also the name and other pertinent details related to the source of the web site.  Other sources of data are: Family Bibles; Birth/Death/Other Certificates; Tanscripts/Manuscripts/Other Privately Published books; Interviews; Journals/Diaries; Microfilm Records; and Newspaper/Periodical Articles.

    Now for the tools

    The most popular currently seems to be the Family Tree Maker program. As mentioned earlier, they are also an excellent commercial source of information on genealogy.  Another popular program is the Personal Ancestrial File which is offered by the Latter-Day Saints (Mormon's) you can find lots of valuable information at their LDS Website. There are many local Family History Centers where they have lots of data on CDs that are available at no cost to the users. They can be reached at 1.800.346.6044 or at the Family History Department; Attn: Family History Support; 50 East North Temple Street; Salt Lake City, UT 84150.  Purchasing their program (for a modest cost) will provide the user with great reference material on how to frame the data you gather and the value of tracking your data sources.


    Genealogy Search Engines
    (place where you can search for people by surnames and more)

    Ancestry (a commercial organization that is a publisher of print and electronic data for genealogy)
    Family Tree (a commercial organization that is an online genealogy resource)
    Latter-Day Saints (genealogy search engine supported by the Mormon Temple)


    Other Place to look

    roots surname list name finder page
    the barrel of genealogy links page


    My Personal Genealogy Information

    My genealogy pages for the ULRICH ancestors/descendents (tree) information (as best I know it today) and for my personal family part of the ULRICH's.  To see all the family names check my SURNAME LIST.  I also have FAMILY TREES started for: BOS, BOWDISH, BRASSEUR, CHEW, CLARK, CLARK/WHITEHEAD, CONSTABLE, DUVALL, ELLIOTT, HANSON, PARRIOTT and PETERSON. All of these families have linkages to me.


    Ronald F. Ulrich

    Since May 13, 1996
    DISCLAIMER: The author makes no guarantee as to the accuracy of any information provided in this document and is not responsible for any consequences of its use.