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Unique Ways to Research Your Family Tree

Library Sign

When I read The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, it purposed that you come up with a hypothesis and then try to find records that match that hypothesis. I don’t understand this method and I want to share with you some of the unique ways that I research.

My method is to find as many records as I can for an individual. I started out with which might have been where this method began to develop. Ancestry with its constant leaves popping up and the very human way of clearing those leaves to make “progress”, you end up attaching a lot of records. After a while, you realize that there is never really a way to clear leaves. Your tree expands infinitely in nearly all directions. You end up getting into an infinite loop of collecting as many records as possible. It is great that the internet has enabled us to do this. I think the other method of researching was based on limited time and limited availability of records.

After a while though you need to take the search offline. I once wrote Ancestry and asked if there was a way to query my tree. I wanted things like: everyone that died in Ohio or everyone that was married in Indiana. They told me that I would have to buy their Family Tree Maker software to have that kind of searching ability. Wrong answer, I pay them enough in subscription money. So, I began searching for other software which enabled me to import and search a GEDCOM. I found several but none worked as well as GRAMPS.

Once I pulled out information on everyone that had any event in Indiana. I took the list of cities and counties and Googled for the library of each one. Some libraries offer Obituary look-up for a fee. Some of the libraries have indexes on their websites. In any case, you have to find each library and look through their site. Then, I also found out that here in Indianapolis is the Indiana State Library. Equipped with the information in the indexes, I made several visits at the Indiana State Library looking through the newspapers on microfilm. It was very convenient that their microfilm is alphabetically organized by newspaper city.

The same is true for Ohio. The Ohio History Center Library in Columbus, Ohio has tons of microfilm of Ohio Newspapers. Their newspapers are organized by number in what appears to be the order they received them. Search their catalog online before you go. The time I went pre-equipped with catalog information I brought home 39 newspaper clippings in a full day there.

Although my method of trying to get as many records as possible may be unorthodox, it is perfectly fitting with my IT background and how I got my start with Ancestry leaves. I’ve pretty much got everything I can from the microfilm at the Indiana State Library. I can’t wait for my next trip to the Ohio History Center Library.

If you have any unusual research methods, please share in the comments. I’d love to try other ways of searching both online and offline.


Ryan grew up in a Baptist church. Throughout his high school years, he was heavily involved in youth group and leadership group at a Christian Missionary Alliance church. Ryan was pictured in his Junior yearbook with a Bible and a message about studying to be a preacher. Now, Ryan is Pastor/President, Minister, Certified Healer, and Certified Medium through New Sunflower Church. Ryan specializes in clairvoyance and tarot cards.

One Response to “Unique Ways to Research Your Family Tree”

  1. Becky Huffman

    I have always been interested in the family history. Where we came from; who were my ancestors and of course we all want to know did we come from anybody famous. That in itself seems a little silly because we all are descendants of God. We all began with Adam and Eve. How you be any more famous than that?

    Like the story above I too joined off and on for short periods of time and way before there was Early in my married life I worked on the family tree and uploaded a Gedcom. I thought I had it saved to my computer. I probably did, but that computer has since died and I lost all that information. Now I would have to purchase the previously mentioned Gedcom just to get all my information back. It’s a good thing I saved everything on paper too.

    I too have browsed the Indianapolis Central Library. My sister has been to Indiana State Library. I have yet to go to the Indiana National Historical Society but watching shows like Who Do You Think You Are prove the archives in the Historical Society can be valuable.

    Recently being the good grandmother I am I subscribed to a magazine for one of my grandson’s called Family Tree Magazine. It comes out 6 times a year and is one of the best investments a geneaologist could hope for. Valuable, valuable information in each issue. They point out several free sites, one of which is the,, which provides access to billions of records from the world’s largest genealogy collection in Salt Lake City. This is the web site that the LDS (Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) use. It is absolutely free and open to the public. I found a lot of information there that I could not find in and vice versa.

    So those are two valuable assets that I have found to be very helpful, Family Tree Magazine and I find hunting family history to be very intriguing. On my paternal side early in the 1800’s I learned of two of my father’s ancestors who married two sisters. On my maternal side I’m finding my grandfather to be an enigma. I can find very little to nothing on him and learned just this year that he was married prior to my grandmother to another woman and had a daughter with her. I can only find him in 4 census records and then the trail goes cold. Yet I grew up with him so I know there’s more to the story. I’ll dig further. On my husband’s side we found out he was adopted. We learned that he was descended from the Duke of Atholl and in searching records names like Prince of Dijon, Count of Flounders, Catherine the Great, King Richard, Helen of Troy popped up. And it goes further. Perhaps you’ve heard of Shem, Noah ibn Lamek, Enoch, Cainan, Seth, Adam.

    If your grandparents or even your parents are alive ask them about your family history. Because once they are gone that information is gone. Both my grandmother’s gave me a lot of family history as I was growing up. It’s only now that they are gone I realize I should have asked more questions.

    Come on. Start your own journey today.