For those just getting started with their genealogy research, the
library can provide basic information and forms. There are also local
genealogists available for those who want additional personal assistance
with their research.
Supplies you will need:
Two three ring binders, a small notebook such as a steno pad, several
black ink pens, several sharp pencils, and a supply of Family Group
Sheets and Four Generation Pedigree Charts. You
can start with the simplified FamilyGroup
Sheet and Family Tree
Sheet from the Library. The staff at the Library can
provide you with a complimentary copy from which you can make additional
copies, or download a copy (note:
Tree uses Tabloid size paper 17x11, a Letter Size Family
Tree 8.5x11 sheet is also available but shrunk to fit).
Always write your name, phone number and address on each
Start with yourself and work backward in
Using the Family
Tree Four Generation Pedigree Chart
begin with yourself and fill in as much information
as possible. Interview family members and examine all documents such as
family Bibles, wills, property deeds, photographs, letters, birth
certificates and military discharge papers.
Never start with a supposed ancestor and work
Read one or more basic guides to genealogical
Check books that we have in our collection by using the catalog
online for other genealogical resources
Attend basic workshop:
Sign up for one of the basic genealogy workshops at the library,
sponsored by the Genealogy Society of Craighead County. The charge for the
workshops will vary.
Use the library resources:
Use the library's online catalog to search for material located in the
library or at the branches. Genealogy Databases offer
a wide range of information including census records from around the
country. Patrons must have a library card to access the
Always try to find primary sources:
Indexers, authors and abstracters inevitably make mistakes. Whenever
possible, look at original wills, deeds, birth certificates and other
documents, or copies of them on microfilm.
Read documents with caution:
You will see old-fashioned terminology, handwriting, spelling and
grammar. There are tools to help you decipher old documents.
Beware the common pitfalls of
Think of ways your surname could be misspelled, then search under those
spellings. Remember that boundaries and names of counties sometimes change.
In recalling where they lived years ago, relatives may name the nearest big
city rather than the actual locale, or say the name of the county seat when
they mean to name the county. Study the ways various documents are
organized before you try to use them.
Keep careful records:
Whenever possible, make photocopies of documents. Always record titles
and dates of your sources.
Expect to visit many libraries and archives and to use many
types of tools:
No single collection will hold every document that you need. Likewise,
no single source will answer all your questions. You will eventually use
most of the tools of the genealogist: census records, deeds, county
histories, wills, death certificates, etc.
Please keep in mind that the library staff members are not genealogists.
They can help you locate the published materials in the library, or suggest
other sources, but they cannot do the research for you. If you need further
assistance the library staff can refer you to a professional genealogist
who will help you for a fee.