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How to Find Your Family History in New York

    • 1). Speak with elderly family members and family friends. Ask that they recall all relatives who have passed away. Take note of names, relationships, dates of birth, deaths and marriages. Ask them to recall past family member's nationalities, church affiliations and places of residence. Collect any data from family Bibles. Ask permission to copy letters, diaries, obituaries and photos. Ask for tombstone locations and other family records. Keep notes of any variations in names.

    • 2). Chart all information that has been gathered from the above sources. Beginning with the most recent family members, chart a family tree. Clarify all relationships and exclude no one. Sort all records so the material is in clear, logical order for swift retrieval. Speak with the genealogy staff at the New York State Library or any public library for reading recommendations on creating your family genealogy.

    • 3). Find vital records pertaining to past family members and fill in the genealogy chart gaps by viewing official birth and death records. The New York State Library does not have official vital records for New York State, but they will provide an information sheet explaining where vital records may be found.

    • 4). Use historical sources when official records are no longer available. Study the geographical and historical background of previous family members. Study towns and counties, keeping note of adjacent localities. Study gazetteers, which list place names and their associated geographic location. Use the maps at the New York State Library as a resource. Become familiar with the migration routes followed by settlers into the New York area.

    • 5). Visit the New York State Library and ask to be directed to the genealogical collections, historical societies and archives. View census records taken by New York State. Use the online catalogs, and visit shelves with local history. View family genealogies by using surname card files and online catalogs. View military records for New York State and visit county courthouses to view New York State wills.

    • 6). Chart again all data gathered from above sources. Publish your findings for the benefit of distant cousins or organize it into a scrapbook for the benefit of immediate family members. Gathering ancestral information may be an ongoing project.

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