Getting Started With Genealogy Research

Posted on September 25, 2017

by April S

First Steps in Genealogy Research

The first rule of genealogy: Begin with yourself and work backwards.


Talk to parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, anyone in the family who is older than you.

Ask the following questions:

  • What is your full name?
  • When and where were you born? Where did you grow up?
  • When and where were you married?
  • Whom did you marry? What is (his/her) full name? When and where was (he/she) born?
  • How many children did you have? What are their names?
  • What were your parents’ full names? When and where were they born? Where did they grow up? When and where were they married?
  • What do you know about your grandparents?
  • Do you have any family Bibles, papers or family photographs?

SUGGESTION: Record the people you talk to as well as writing down their answers, and keep the recording. Always ask permission first to record the conversation.

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Begin to fill in a genealogy chart with the information you have received. Fill in as many dates for births, marriages and deaths as you can. If you do not have exact dates, pencil in the approximate dates (ex., died 1870-1880, or born about 1908).

Try one of these helpful family tree charts:

Family Tree Chart 1 Family Tree Chart 2 Family Tree Chart 3

Family Search allows you to create a free family tree online.

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Begin collecting copies of death and birth certificates and marriage licenses. This step will involve money because all states charge for their copies. You will need to know the approximate date and the proper state and county. These records will give you information about the person and often about his or her parents. The Local History and Genealogy Department of the Library does have some records for Lucas County and can give you addresses for each state. Most state health departments have websites.

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Begin reading a book about doing genealogy. These “how to” books will tell you about many sources of information for genealogical research. Most branch libraries, as well as Main Library, have circulating copies of these books. You will not be able to do actual research at the branches, but the “how-to” books will prepare you for the next step (see list of resources at the end).

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Visit the Local History and Genealogy Department at Main Library. Bring your charts and plan to spend some time here. Our books do not circulate and must be used in the department.

We are open:

Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sunday 12 – 5 p.m.

Note: During Main Library’s renovations (Sept. 2018-2019), Local History will be open by appointment only. Call 419.259.5233 for more information.

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Join one or more genealogical organizations. See the list of local organizations below.

Toledo Area Genealogical Societies

Genealogy by Computer Society


When: 2nd Saturday of each month at 1:00 p.m.

Where: Toledo Lucas County Public Library Main Library, Huntington Meeting Room 325 Michigan Street Toledo, OH 43604


Genealogy by Computer Society Quarterly Newsletter


$10 – Individual $15 – Family


Don Hengen Phone: (419) 878-2365 Email:

Journey Genealogy Group, African American Project of NW Ohio


When: 2nd Saturday of each month from 1-3:00 p.m. (September – June)

Where: 1326 Collingwood Blvd. Toledo, OH 43610


$30 per person


African-American Legacy Project 1326 Collingwood Blvd. Toledo, OH 43610

Phone: (419) 720-4369


Ohio Genealogical Society, Lucas County Chapter


When: 3rd Saturday of each month at 2:00 p.m. (except December and January)

Where: Toledo Lucas County Public Library Main Library, Huntington Meeting Room 325 Michigan Street Toledo, OH 43604


Fort Industry Reflections (quarterly newsletter) and various books.


First Families of Lucas County First Families of Ohio Ohio Genealogical Society Convention


$15 – Individual $20 – Family


c/o Local History & Genealogy Department 325 Michigan Street Toledo, OH 43604

Toledo Area Genealogical Society


When: 2nd Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. (September – June)

Where: First United Church of Christ 7420 Erie St. Sylvania, OH  43560


TAGS newsletter


$12 – Individual $17 – Dual (two people/one address)


Toledo Area Genealogical Society P.O. Box 352258 Toledo OH 43635-2258

Toledo Polish Genealogical Society


When: 3rd Saturday of Each Month from 10 a.m. – noon (September – June)

Where: St. Michael’s School 420 Sandusky Toledo, OH 43611


$20 – Individual $25 – Couples, Families or Organizations


Paulette Kwiatkowski TPGS Secretary 7164 Venetian Bay Ct. Maumee, OH 43537

Genealogical Society of Monroe County, Michigan Inc.


When: 1st Saturday of the month at 1 p.m. (September – June)

Where: Monroe County Community College 1555 S. Raisinville Rd. Monroe, MI  48161


G.S.M.C. Record, quarterly newsletter


Annual Spring Seminar


$15 – Individual or Family


Genealogical Society of Monroe County, MI P.O. Box 1428 Monroe, MI 48161-6428


Genealogy Handbooks

Finding your roots : easy-to-do genealogy and family history / Janice Schultz
How to do everything Genealogy (fourth edition) by George G. Morgan
Journeys Home : inspiring stories, plus tips and strategies to find your family - National Geographic
The family tree guide to DNA testing and genetic genealogy / Blaine T. Bettinger
Easy family history : the beginner's guide to researching your family history / David Annal
Organize your genealogy : strategies and solutions for every researcher / Drew Smith

Online Genealogy Research

AARP Genealogy Online: Tech to Connect by Matthew L. Helm and April Leigh Helm
Discover your family history online [eBook] : a step-by-step guide to starting your genealogy search by Nancy Hendrickson
Mastering online genealogy / W. Daniel Quillen
The everything guide to online genealogy : trace your roots, share your history, and create a family tree / Kimberly Powell
Unofficial workbook : a how-to manual for tracing your family tree on the #1 genealogy website / Nancy Hendrickson
Genealogy online for dummies / Matthew L. Helm and April Leigh Helm (7th edition)
Unofficial guide to : how to find your family history on the world's largest free genealogy website / Dana McCullough
The Genealogist's Internet : the essential guide to researching your family history online / Peter Christian (5th edition)

A special thank you to the Local History staff for providing invaluable information for this helpful genealogy research guide.

Printable Genealogy Guide

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How the Library Helped Me Find My Family

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