Patricia Andrus
© copyright 2001
updated 13 October 2001

Objective: To look at basic sources that could help in finding information about ancestors and their country of origin. If you have not yet located the country of origin for your ancestor, use the principles in this discussion and apply them to researching in the United States.

Resources to be discussed:


Research Guidance

Using the Internet, go to After the "Welcome" page loads into your Internet browser you will see "Tabs" like file folders at the top of the page. Click your mouse on the tab that is "Search". When the next screen opens up, click on "Research Guidance" in the blue border. On the left hand side of the page, you will see a dialog box and a link entitled "Determining the Country where Your Ancestor Lived" click on this. The following is from that screen:


To find information about an ancestor, you need to determine at least the country the ancestor lived in for an event such as birth, christening, marriage, or death. These suggestions may help you identify where your ancestor lived:

  1. Start from what you know. If you are confident about where one ancestor lived, start with that ancestor and work back to the next generation.
  2. Survey previous research, and see what others have listed. To survey previous research, click the Ancestor Search tab in FamilySearchTM. The computer will search Ancestral File, the International Genealogical Index, and other Web sites that may contain information about your ancestors.
  3. Find a place where one or more members of the family lived, and look in the records of that place for members of the family. You may find parents living with a child, or you may find information about the parents in a child's record.
  4. If your ancestor immigrated to the United States and you are unsure of the country he or she came from, read this outline, Tracing Immigrant Ancestors, in Research Helps.


Research Guidance: Research Guidance is a tool that helps you decide what records to use to find information about your ancestor. It lists the best records to use, recommends the order in which to search them, provides step-by-step instructions for finding information in the records, and tells you where copies of the records may be located.


Glossary: The Glossary contains definitions of words and terms that you may find in Research Guidance. The glossary also has non-English words and their English translations.

Research Helps

Research Helps includes research outlines, forms, maps, historical backgrounds and information on how to find a map, name variations, and so forth.


What is the Family History SourceGuideTM? (On CD)

This is an electronic collection of more than 150 research outlines from the Family History Library published in 1998. It is designed for those who have basic information about their ancestors and now need to be guided to original sources. Family History SourceGuide includes:

Suggested system requirements are:


Internet Resources

Searching/Browsing Web sites at After the opening page comes up, click on the tab for SEARCH then click on Web Sites in the blue border. You can enter a Keyword to search on or click on the variety of choices listed. Be sure to check out the "Tips" for keywords.


Other Internet Sites

Cyndi's List:
      This is an alphabetical subject list which includes countries of the world. Click on the country and it will open up to the links about that country. Be sure to scroll down through all of the sections under that country.

World Gen Web Project:
      This lists countries either in an A-Z Index or by regions of the world. Clickable region maps are also another way to access the locality. This site is hosted by RootsWeb. You can access RootsWeb and Cyndi's List from here, plus other resources and databases.,europe.html
      This will take you directly into the Genealogy SiteFinder: Places/Geographic. This has the most detailed localities of countries in Europe. The number in brackets following the country name indicates the number of listings in that country. If Europe is not the area you want to look at, just back space and take off the ",europe.html" and then add a ".html" after the word "geographic" to choose other foreign regions.

Genealogical Database Network:
      GeneaNet states their mission "is to make the power of the Internet available by setting-up a universal register of all the world's genealogical resources whether Net-based or not and whether free or fee-paying." Joining is free. There are three tabs for searching and one is to search by country. Click the country you want and the next page opens up in the language of that country and includes articles and databases that you can click on to search. Languages are displayed by the flag of the country at the top of the screen. Click on the British Flag for English.

International Information:
      You can search for people or businesses in yellow/white pages, e-mail or business directory. From this site you can search in 187 countries for information, services and also Web sites.


This is by no means a comprehensive list of Internet sites, but it is a beginning to build on.
Good luck in your searches