Locating the information to compile free ancestry reports is one of the basic tasks of a genealogist. Before you begin searching ancestors, you’ll want to think about and focus on the type of information you seek. There are essentially two types of records needed to complete free ancestry reports – primary and secondary records. Primary records consist of original birth, death and marriage certificates, contemporary period documentation, and even oral accounts may be considered as primary sources. Secondary material consists of transcribed original documents or historical accounts written in retrospect by someone who had access to primary evidence. Both can be found in archives, and we’ll discuss their value in creating free ancestry reports.
You’ll find most primary data in government record offices, libraries, family history centers, and even museums. These databases are popularly referred to as "archives", and though many use the word to denote the actual physical building where the records are kept, the correct technical meaning is a collection of manuscripts or documents. In this article we’ll use the word "archive" to refer to the most popular understanding of the term – the establishment where the records are kept.Start Your Free Family Tree
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Visiting an archive can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re just beginning your research. It is important to get through the initial apprehension however, as they are of great value in composing free ancestry reports. Each archive will have its own unique collections and way of indexing them, so it may take you a few visits to familiarize yourself with their system.
The information you’ll need to complete your free ancestry reports could turn up in any individual archive or collection, so give concentrated thought as to which ones will be the most use to you. You’ll most likely need to visit several different archives to find information on your ancestors, and will often have to return numerous time to complete free ancestry reports.
Some archives are considered to be of greater value than others by genealogists, but all can be useful sources of genealogical data. From the huge National Archives of most countries, to the smaller local libraries and study centers, all can lead you to your ancestors and contribute to free ancestry reports. You’d be best off beginning your search in a local archive such as your neighbourhood library. Often they are connected to the vast databases of National Archives, and you can frequently find the information you’re looking for right on your doorstep. If your local library doesn’t allow you access to BDM certificates or Census Reports, browse newspaper collections, electoral registers, trade directories, photographs, maps, and even private estate records. All of these can be very effective sources of information needed to create free ancestry reports.
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Family History Centers operated by the LDS (Mormon Church) are located in many countries around the world, and there may be one close to you. If so they are an excellent source of material for free ancestry reports, and their locations can be checked at the Family Search website under "Library". There are over 1800 centers in the United States alone, over 160 in Canada, about 70 in England, and in total – 4,500 worldwide. As well as containing valuable primary source data, they also feature ancestral files contributed by other genealogists. As with all secondary sources, ensure that you verify them by cross-referencing with original documentation before entering any data into free ancestry reports.
Each country has its own National Archives where all civil registration records are kept. This will include census reports, business records, educational records, and many other sources of possible value in creating free ancestry reports. Other national records may be kept in a General Register office, as in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where you’ll find, and be able to order BDM (Birth, Death and Marriage) Certificates.
As you can see it is well worth getting acquainted with archives if you want to create free ancestry reports. Other archives that may be of value are; municipal archives (those of particular cities), museums, and specialist genealogical libraries. Most access to these archives is free, and time spent there is invaluable if compiling free ancestry reports.
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