What to Use
Not sure where to start? Begin with yourself. Document and research as much as you can about you and then slowly work backwards. Belongings, family heirlooms, and general ephemera are considered “Home sources” and can be key to beginning family research. Question everything and back it up with any documentation that you can find. Reach out to relatives and family friends for additional information, documentation, and materials. Map out what you have using a timeline and use our libguide to investigate any leads you might have. Below is a list of key terms, and basic resources for any kind of genealogical research. You can use the tabs for more specialized work, and always remember to ask a librarian if you need assistance.
At the center of any collection of family materials is the photo album. You should find as many pieces of photographic evidence as possible and take special note of what kind of photograph it is, what the time period is, and take advantage of the following resources and terms. If your photograph is one created by a studio, take note of the name and location as it could definitively place your relatives at a certain place and time.
Types of photographs:
Ambrotype: A photograph on glass and popular. This type of material will have been generated during the 1855-1860’s.
Tintype: A plate of sheet iron with a photograph printed on the metal. Invented in 1856 and continued until the early 1900’s.
Carte-de-Visite: Paper photographs about 2 ½ x 4 ¼ and displayed in the home after 1860 going into 1890. Larger photographs became trendy after 1870 and into 1910.
Modern gelatin dry plates: First manufactured in 1871.
Picture Post Cards: Created for individuals and shared among families, the photographs are personal and the messages telling. Location sent and locations sent from are evident. Penny post cards were manufactured after 1898. Two cent postcards would be dated from 1873-1898. White borders would be 1915-1930; linen surfaces would be 1930-1949; glossy pictures began in 1948.
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Genealogy "How To" Resources
These resources will give you additional information regarding the practice and procedure of genealogical research.