For Adults

Research Your Family Tree


03/23/2020

Researching your family tree can be as casual as a porch sitting conversation with your Grandpa or as serious as doing scholarly research or planning a vacation around visiting cemeteries, libraries and local historical societies.

This is a guide to help you get started researching your family history from home including links to Indiana and national websites about genealogy.


Take an online course or do research with your IndyPL library card:

African American Genealogy Video Workshop
Learn basic principals of genealogy for those of African ancestry and other ethnic groups including information about specific challenges and databases. This program will be led by Nichelle Hayes, leader of the Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library.

Universal Class Online: Genealogy 101
Researching your family tree can seem like a daunting task, but you can learn techniques and tips to make it more manageable. Thanks to the availability of information online, many people can easily conduct a lot of their research from home. This course presents tips and strategies for beginning the process of constructing your family tree, learning about various records and sources that are available, and understanding basic genealogy terms and tools. The full course lasts 9 hours and is broken up into 13 lessons. Once you enter your library card number and set up an account in Universal Class, enter "genealogy" in the search box to find the class.

Kanopy Great Courses: Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealogy
Genealogy is a journey of self-discovery that can teach you as much about yourself as about those who came before you. But what holds many of us back from unearthing our family history is uncertainty about how to go about it. Discover which resources you should use and trust, how you should make your way through tangles of public records, and more. There are 15 video episodes that each last about 30 minutes.

You can also use your library card to search Ancestry Library Edition. It is currently available to you from home until April 30, 2020. Typically, you can only use Ancestry Library Edition inside our locations. The Library Edition is different from the version a person can buy because it does not have some of the personalization tools such as creating and linking family trees, but you do have access to directories, photos and these two particularly rich sources of information:

  • Vital records which include birth, marriage, death, will, and probate information.

  • Census records which include the names of household members, ages, birthplaces, residence, occupation, and more. There has been a US census every ten years since 1790. There is a 72 year privacy restriction so the most recent census available is the 1940 census.

If you have never used Ancestry Library Edition before, you can watch a video tutorial. Two more helpful tips are how to email, print and save records and this link to blank charts and forms.


A lot of research can be done online. Genealogy--searching online for your ancestors is a nice overview of e-materials you can borrow with your IndyPL library card to learn how to use the internet to research genealogy. This guide was created by IndyPL_MicheleP. She has created a second guide, listed below, to help you get started and to inspire you. Finally, here are additional online resources collected by IndyPL staff. They regularly help people navigate their genealogical journey and have recommended these sites as good sources for uncovering facts and details about family history.

Newspaper Obituaries
Obituaries are a common source of historical information about individuals. Find out how IndyPL can help

Digital Indy
For those wanting to know about Indianapolis history the Digital Indy collection is a treasure trove. It includes digital images and recordings of cultural and historical interest to Indianapolis residents as well as students, researchers and others. There are digital copies of high school yearbooks, local postcards and all kinds of interesting photos and documents. Maybe you can find a relative's picture in the Indianapolis Firefighters Museum Collection.

Indiana State Library Genealogy Division
Home to one of the major genealogical collections in the Midwest. The site includes a virtual tour, e-mail reference requests, and a list of independent researchers.

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Gateway
Located in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Allen County Public Library houses one of the largest genealogy collection in the United States.

Indiana Genealogical Society
In addition to preserving materials related to the early settlement of Indiana, the Society also aids in the publications of family histories and researches family migration in the state.

Genealogical Society of Marion County
A chapter of the Indiana Genealogical Society, this society maintains a directory of cemeteries in Marion County, and a guide to Marion County church records in their site's Marion County Data section.

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites
Gateway access to thousands of links arranged by category.

Family Search
Established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this site offers access to the largest collection of genealogical data.

U. S. Genealogy Web Project
Categorized by state and county -- one of the best basic sources.

The Society of Indiana Pioneers
Composed of people who are descendants of the early settlers of Indiana.

Find A Grave

The National Archives
The National Archives offers resources for genealogists and family historians originating from every branch of the Federal government.

Indiana State Library Cemetery Locator File

Indiana African American Genealogy Group
Promotes the accumulation and preservation of African American genealogical and historical materials.

Note for the future: Now is a good time to look through your old photos and gather some to bring to one of our scan-a-thons after we begin scheduling them again. We are on the look out for photos of families, houses, street scenes, clubs, neighborhood events, businesses, and prominent residents. At a scan-a-thon event IndyPL staff members scan your photos for you. Watch our calendar for scan-a-thons in the future.

Do you need help? Contact the Webmaster or Call-a-Librarian at 317 275-4184.

IndyPL_MaureenD


Genealogy: get started by using eResources

While you are exercising social distance and staying at home, this is a great time to get started tracing your family tree. Here are some eBooks, downloadable audio books and streaming videos to help you get started and to inspire you. #indypladults IndyPL_MicheleP

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy

Rose, Christine

This user-friendly volume offers readers an opportunity to understand the craft of genealogy, explore their roots, perform online research, and begin to discover their true identities. Includes new information on the release of the 1930 census, the pros and cons of online research, and creating family trees.

Discover your Roots

Dig up your Family History and Other Buried Treasures

Blake, Paul

52 ways to get to the root of family history. It's one of the most fascinating and popular new pastimes, and now researching family history-from distant ancestors to interesting facts about birthplaces and childhood homes-is easier than ever before.

Genealogy

Helm, Matthew

Tracing your ancestry can be a deeply rewarding and enjoyable endeavor. With the help of this hands-on guide, you'll find out how to start your genealogical research using the latest tools and techniques, including DNA testing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where can I find collections of actual genealogical resources such as family histories and census records?

Genealogists can find genealogical resources in Indianapolis at the Indiana State Library Genealogy Division. Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne houses the other major collection of genealogy materials in Indiana. These sites are, of course, currently closed, but are excellent resources to note for future visits.

Can I find information online about cemeteries?

Yes. The Indiana State Historical Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD). Once you click on the link, it will take you to a certain section of the State of Indiana website where you can click SHAARD ACCESS and login to the database as a guest. After entering the database as a guest, you can search for cemetery registries and records.

Comprehensive websites such as Cyndi's List include links for cemeteries outside of Indiana.

What kinds of genealogical materials can I find at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library?

You will find a wide selection of materials covering basic methods of genealogical research and aids to navigating the ever-growing amount of information available to the genealogist. Our Central Library maintains a collection of Indiana county histories and an extensive file of local newspaper clippings that can aid in genealogical research. We look forward to hosting you when we re-open.