Learn More About Ancestry

There are many people in the U.S. who are interested in their genealogical background. But some of these same people may not know exactly what that background is. That's where an ancestry search comes in.

What does it mean to perform an ancestry search?

Census Records

When you're trying to research your ancestry, census records can be one of your best tools. Countries have held censuses for millennia, often collecting a surprising amount of information on people. No matter what country you live in, it's likely that you can use census records to find your ancestors, reaching back hundreds of years.

Different censuses have different requirements attached. In general, a census will collect at least an individual's name, age, race, gender, salary, and family status. But censuses rarely stop at just that information. Especially when it comes to modern censuses, certain records may include multiple pages on each individual person, collecting demographic information like country of origin, disability status, custody of children, and job status.

Birth and Death Records

Hospitals usually submit birth and death records to the courts to count individuals more easily. If a person gives birth or dies outside of a hospital, different people have to submit records; this can include nursing homes, birth centers, midwives, emergency centers and other individuals or organizations that directly witness the birth or death.

If you're looking to build your family tree or learn more about your ancestry, these birth and death records are extremely important. It's a good way to track your family history because birth records label the parents and death records often label surviving family members. By following birth records, you can look up the generations and even find extended family.

Immigration Records

Many people have immigration records that can help track ancestry, even if these immigration records stretch many centuries back. For example, any American with ancestry that doesn't include indigenous peoples will eventually find immigration records, even if those records are from hundreds of years ago.

A major problem you may run into is that immigration records can be especially difficult to properly find if they're from a long time ago. Many immigrants changed their names upon arrival to their destination country, especially in early America, and that may have been the result of clerical error or a deliberate change for a new identity in the United States. If you can track a variety of other records, however, there's a better chance that you'll be able to find these immigration records.

How Can I Use an Ancestry Search?

Although there are plenty of documents available through an ancestry search, you still might not know what an ancestry search can actually do for you.

Finding Out Where You Came From

This is the same reason why many people take DNA tests and start family trees. It's intriguing to know from where you really come. Most people don't pass down that kind of history for more than a few generations, so you may not know a lot about your great-grandparents, second cousins, or anyone else who isn't within your immediate family.

Although you may eventually reach a dead end due to the fact that some records simply don't exist anymore, that dead end could easily be hundreds of years back. That's more than enough to get better information about where you came from, the type of things that your family has gone through, and other facts that you're interested in learning about your family.

Discovering a Lost Relative

Do you think lost relatives may exist somewhere in your family tree? There very well may be. It can be amazing to discover a lost relative, especially because that relative may have additional information you can add to your family tree. By working together, you have a much better chance of fully filling out your family tree than you would on your own.

This is also helpful if you're trying to find someone who's estranged from your family for some reason. It's not entirely uncommon for families to have a schism at some point, which can end in your accessible family becoming much smaller than it once was. If you're looking to get in touch with the people who were on the other side of that schism, you might want to use ancestry records to do so.

Building a History of Your Family

There are some very interesting things you might discover when you trace your ancestry back hundreds of years. For example, maybe you come from a family that traditionally entered into the carpentry business. Maybe you have a long-deceased relative who was one of the first to immigrate into the country. Maybe your family used to know a family who's now famous. There are plenty of things this history can uncover.

Even though this history might not have a significant impact on your life today, it's still nice to know it. You can easily build a richer picture of your family when you have this kind of information on hand. Plus, they're fun stories that you can tell your children and pass down through the family for generations to come.

What's the Best Way to Perform an Ancestry Search?

With all these benefits, it makes sense that you'd want to start on your own ancestry search. Here are some of the best ways for you to do it:

Ancestry Record Databases and Archives

There are a variety of searching tools you can use online and in-person. That can include online ancestry records databases, professional searchers who will do the work for you, and official archives that hold records stretching back centuries. You can look into these searching tools to try and decide how or if you want to pursue your genealogical research that way.

The biggest problem that you'll likely run into is that it can be very expensive and time-consuming to start with these methods. If you visit a courthouse or other official record-keeping location, the cost of attaining the information you're looking for might surprise you. Even ancestry records databases that claim to be free may have hidden fees or poor organization. And professional searchers can charge thousands of dollars for their services.

Online People Search

If you're looking for something that evenly splits the difference between cost and efficacy, an online people search is just right for you. With an online people search like PeopleFinders, you can get the results you're looking for without having to pay per-page or per-document. Rather, you can access a huge variety of records from various locations all at once.

With an online people search, it's also easier to browse around and find the right records. Rather than having to wait many days or weeks for a record that may actually be incorrect, you can immediately access records and scan to see whether those records match what you're expecting.

Start a Family Tree With PeopleFinders

PeopleFinders is definitely the easiest way for you to perform ancestry research, whether that research is formal or casual. Even if you don't have any additional experience with ancestry research, the simple tools and extensive database are more than enough to help you start. With just a simple people search, you can access billions of documents covering millions of Americans, living and deceased.

There's an easy way to get information about where you came from and who your family once was. You just have to go through it with PeopleFinders. Start with a people search using your own name, or a relative about whom you have any kind of information, and let your journey into the past begin.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I do a ancestry search on peoplefinders.com?

To get ancestry information on PeopleFinders, you can start by searching for yourself, and then expand your search based on the list of possible relatives. Or, if you already know who your relatives are, you can search them directly.

Can I find ancestry records for free on peoplefinders.com?

No. While you can start searches for free, we do have to charge for access to our in-depth data.

How do I find ancestry records?

You can start with an online search here; start with yourself and work back. You can also access dedicated genealogical websites or the National Archives. Or see what you can find in those dusty boxes in the attic.

What are ancestry records?

Ancestry records are any documents, government-issued or otherwise, that tell the story of an ancester's birth, death and life in-between.

What is the difference between genealogy and ancestry?

Genealogy is the study of ancestry.

How do I find an ancestor's birth records?

You should be able to find an ancestor's birth records if you know their name and/or where they were born, and at least a general timeframe. Having at least some of that information will help with an online search, or contacting the county registrar in-person.

How do I find an ancester's death records?

As genealogical research oftens involves working backward, finding an ancester's death records is actually your best first step. As with birth records, having at least some rudimentary identifying information will make locating these records easier.

What Is an Ancestry Search?