Most of us, it’s safe to assume, are interested in knowing where we come from, how we got here, who we are. One surefire method to uncover the answers to such questions is to study one’s genealogy — that is to say, to discover the identity of our ancestors. There are many ways to go about doing this — online databases, libraries, genealogy societies, professional agencies — some of them better than others. Knowing this, a safe rule-of-thumb is to utilize a variety of services if you’re looking for real accuracy and corroboration.
Genealogy isn’t just for family history hunters, though. Professionals such as attorneys, adoption specialists, journalists and writers, historians, photographic experts and others all might require the services of a genealogist to find a person’s heritage.
Below you will find links to several of these databases and publications that might help unravel the mystery of you.
Most of these databases’ basic services are free with login information, but if you want something more substantial or academic, you’ll be required to pay a premium. However, most of them offer a 14-day free trial.
- http://usgenweb.org/ – This site, run by volunteers, remains free for all services.
- http://www.archives.com/ – Offers only a 7-day free trial.
- http://www.myheritage.com/genealogy – Here you can download a free family tree builder.
Journals are available for both the serious family historian or amateur genealogist. Below are some of the most popular publications.
- National Geographic Society Quarterly has been published since 1912.
- The American Genealogist, published since 1922, is “dedicated to the elevation of genealogical scholarship through carefully documented analyses of genealogical problems and through short compiled genealogies.”
- American Ancestors Magazine appeals to genealogists and family historians at all levels of expertise.
- The William and Mary Quarterly is published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.
- Internet Genealogy is available in print and electronic forms and even comes as an app.
Organizations and Societies
These groups consist of professionals and amateurs alike. The more recently founded groups use sophisticated DNA and genetics research as part of their charting the movement of humans.
- Federation of Genealogical Societies, “Linking the Genealogical Communities”
- National Genealogical Society, founded in 1903
- Association of Professional Genealogists, founded in 1979
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania, founded in 1824 in Philadelphia
- New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845
- Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which “has collected more than 100,000 DNA samples, together with four-generation pedigree charts, from volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.”
- International Society of Genetic Genealogy, whose mission is to “advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research, and promote a supportive network for genetic genealogists.” Membership is free.
- National Geographic’s Genographic Project, which is “seeking to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.”
Some of these degrees and certificates are offered from colleges, others by professional societies.
- National Institute for Genealogical Studies
- Brigham Young University’s Center for Family History and Genealogy. Mormon are famous for collecting an unprecedented number of family histories. According to the WBGH Educational Foundation, “Original records — about 2.4 million rolls of microfilm containing 2 billion names that have been traced — are locked away behind 14-ton doors in the Granite Mountain Records Vault, a climate-controlled repository designed to survive a nuclear impact that is built into the Wasatch mountain range, about 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.”
- University of Washington’s Certificate in Genealogy & Family History
- National Genealogical Society
- Akami University’s Bachelor of Arts in Genealogical Studies
Feel as if you’d rather leave your family history hunting up to the experts? No problem. Below are some suggestions.
- A pdf. that explains how best to hire a professional genealogist.
- Heirlines, Family History & Genealogy, offers a free initial consultation.
- Melick Professional Genealogists also offers a free initial consultation.
- The International HapMap Project is “a partnership of scientists and funding agencies from Canada, China, Japan, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States to develop a public resource that will help researchers find genes associated with human disease and response to pharmaceuticals.”
- DNA Consultants, Home of the DNA Fingerprint Test
- Family Tree DNA — starting at $169, you can have your Y-chromosome tested.
- Headquartered in Salt Lake City, MyGenealogist.com has access to the extensive LDS Family History Library.