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Genealogy / Family History: Genealogy & Family HIstory

An introduction to researching your own family history

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Getting Started

The Genealogy / Family History LibGuide provides an introduction to researching your own personal family history.  The guide has several printable PDF forms that you may find useful to keep track of family members and other information, as well as a list of useful websites that are free to use.  

Identify what you know about your family.

  • Gather information about family members by using family Bibles, journals, letters, newspapers, obituaries and ask family members. (Treat all family stories suspiciously until verified with facts)
  • Write what you know about your ancestors on an ancestral sheet (see forms below). Start with yourself as # 1.
    • Write "surname" in all caps
    • List the dates: i.e. (08 Mar 1895) instead of 3/8/1895
    • Write places in order: City/Township/County/State (Country)
  • Think about any ways your family might have interacted with the federal government (military service, property and property ownership, naturalization, immigration, etc.) to find records verifying information.
  • Consider places your family has lived and/or owned property make sure to note property name and other information about location.

Two types of Genealogy Records

Compiled Records: These records have already been researched by others, such as biographies, family histories.

Original Records: Records that were created at or near the time of an event, such as; birth, marriage, death or census records.


  • Many local libraries have good genealogical materials, especially for the surrounding areas of the library's location check out Spartanburg Public Libraries Kennedy Room for local information.  Also local Family History Centers and or local history museums, they are an excellent place to obtain records.
  • Look at a broad time period. Check for spelling variations, write down your results, document your source, even if you come up empty-handed (it will keep you from checking the same source again).


  • Evaluate what you've found. Did you find the information that you were looking for? Is that information complete?
  • Copy the information to family group sheets and pedigree charts (see forms below).
  • Organize the information. Use a system that works for you, i.e.: cards, notebooks, or computer.
  • Share your information with interested family members.