Genealogy Search Tips

Tips for Finding Ancestor Information

Discover an Ancestor's Place of Birth, Date of Birth, Occupation, Father's Name, Mother's Maiden Name and More

Below and on the previous pages are all of our search tips - they are not categorized and are in the order in which they were added to this site.

Find a Residence

If you are looking for the residence of a male who was living in the United States in 1942 you might try looking for a copy of his World War II Draft Registration Card.

All males born between April 28, 1877 and February 16, 1897 were required to register for the draft and place of residence questions were on the form. You should be able to find his residence street name and number, city, county and state. See our discussion of Military Records for additional information.

Find a Birth Date

The United States Federal Census for the year 1900 is a good place to look for birth date information because this census also provides the month of birth. The other US Census years provide an age or year of birth but not the month of birth.

Assuming there is no index - If you know the month and year of birth you might then be able to find a birth announcement that was printed in a local newspaper at the time of your ancestor's birth. Just browse through a copy of the newspaper for each day of the month online or with a microfilm reader.

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Find a Residence

Military records for the different branches of service are good places to find residence information. In the United States an individual's enlistment records should contain at minimum the county and state where the individual was residing at the time of enlistment.

The amount of detail in the residence information depends on the form used by the branch of service at the time of enlistment. See our discussion of Military Records for additional information.

Find a Residence

Marriage License Applications are a good source of useful information including the residences of the bride and groom.

You can also find the names of the parents of both the bride and groom and this includes the maiden names of both mothers.

In many cases you can find the residence addresses for all 4 parents of the bride and groom. Family Search is a good online source for marriage records.

Find a Birth Date

Military records for the different branches of service are good places to find birth dates. For example an individual's enlistment records should contain the individual's date of birth.

In most cases military records are an accurate source of birth dates because the individual submitted information about himself or herself while still young. See our discussion of Military Records for additional information.

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Find a Birth Date

Funeral home memorial cards are a good source of birth dates. These are the small cards that the funeral home traditionally prints as a tribute to the deceased. They are usually available to everyone who attends the deceased's wake or funeral.

Sometimes these cards can be found online and in many cases they are in family possessions. They are also called Prayer Cards, Funeral Cards, Memorial Cards or Holy Cards.

Find a Birth Date

In many cases you can find the birth date of a deceased individual on his or her tombstone at the cemetery where he or she was buried.

You can go directly to the cemetery and transcribe the tombstone information or you can shoot a photo of the tombstone.

You can also try to find the tombstone information online as there are some sites that concentrate on compiling this information. Here is the link to The USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project.

Find Obituary Information

Sometimes you know an ancestor's death date but don't have access to a newspaper that probably printed the ancestor's obituary.

You might try an organization such as a university or college from which your ancestor graduated. Many alumni magazines have published alumni obituaries and many of these previously, published magazines are available and free online.

Search Census Records

In general the US Census is indexed by the words or terms found on the written census. So if there were spelling mistakes on the written census these misspellings will appear on the indexed census. If you can't find a census record for your ancestor try different spellings in your search terms.

You might also try different search terms that are spelled correctly. For example change the search for "Raymond Kane" to a search for "Ray Kane". If Ray Kane was transcribed from the written census then you will probably find your ancestor's written census record with this search term.

Find Ancestor's Birth Year

You can find a person's age or year of birth in the US Federal Census in each of these census years - 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940.

See our discussion of the US Federal Census for some additional tips on finding ancestor information.

Find Ancestor's Address

In some cases you might know where an ancestor lived but would like a specific address at some point in time. There are a number of good sources for that information.

Census reports and Directories, like city, school, employment and other organizations, are good places to find addresses. Phone books, year books, marriage applications, draft cards and other military enlistment applications are also good sources.