Genealogy research guide

Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States, and genealogical sites are the second most popular destination on the Internet. Worthington Libraries provide materials in all forms to help the family researcher produce a history that is complete and of high quality.

Getting started

Genealogy projects can easily seem overwhelming, but getting off to the right start saves time and effort. Computer programs have aided immensely in recording-keeping, even for the beginner. Many basic books on genealogy can be found in the reference or circulating book section with the number 929. If you're a real beginner, these titles will give you some guidance on how to start:

  • Genealogy Online for Dummies by Matthew Helm and April Leigh Helm. 2008. [929.1028 HEL]
    Offers advice on researching family history on the Web, including search strategies, data sharing, government records, genealogical software, and publishing the results on the Web.
  • Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood. 2000. [929.1 GRE]
    The best single book that covers every aspect of genealogical research, from handwriting forms to land records.

Once you have some idea of research techniques, some recommended titles for research are:

Getting Specific

America's melting pot has brought together people from all over the world. Genealogical records vary from country to country. Titles that provide specific aid include:

Once you have found the geographical location of the information you are looking for, to determine where and how to get specific records, consult:

The Worthington Room at Old Worthington Library

Central Ohio has many unique genealogical resource centers. Old Worthington Library has the Worthington Room, which contains specialized material for searching local genealogy and archives. These resources may be in book form or microfilm. A brief selection follows:

Microfilm sources include:

Getting to Surf

It is always advisable to use caution in searching the Internet. Information is only as good as its source, which is not always easy to determine especially in genealogy, where there are no authoritative central agencies. Much of the information, even in published family histories, may be misleading family legends, rather than fact. Information posted on the Internet may be well-researched and factual or, with the best will in the world, may be composed of rumors and wishful thinking. Use your critical intelligence when you are looking at genealogical information on the Internet.

Genealogy is one of the leading subjects on the Internet. Web sources make it easy to find and share information. Much of the information a genealogist needs is NOT on the Internet, but valuable resources can be found there. Some popular sites are:

  • America's Obituaries and Death Notices (database)
    Obituaries and death notices from over 1000 American newspapers area valuable resource for genealogical research provided by NewsBank. Search by name, date range, or text such as residence, occupation, hobbies, family members, or other personal information. To use this database outside of the library, you must have a valid library card.
  • AncestryPlus, (database)
    This portion of the page is available free of charge to library patrons while in the library. It is easy to use, and has the most complete free census information. You can link to the fee-based portion of the site from the free area.
  • HeritageQuest Genealogy and Local History (database)
    This site has full-text genealogy and local history books, along with some census records. The census pages are easier to read and copy than AncestryPlus, but not as complete. The books are fully searchable by name and location. To use this database outside of the library, you must have a valid library card.
  • The Social Security Death Index (database)
    The Death Master File (DMF) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is available on computers inside the library. It contains over 87 million records, with the current update reflecting the latest information provided by the SSA as of June 2010. The file is created from internal SSA records of deceased persons possessing social security numbers and whose deaths were reported to the SSA.
    Probably the best-known gateway, with links to thousands of genealogy sites on the Internet. The site is free, but contains links to fee-based sites.
    This is a free site staffed by volunteers working together to provide Internet genealogical research in every county and state in the U. S. Obviously, some areas of the project are more complete than others. Many WPA records have been made available online through this project.
    This is a gateway site, with a busy listserv for asking and answering questions. Links to volunteer lookups, and lots of message boards.
  • FamilySearch
    Sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, this site enables users to search a database which will eventually have 600 million names, extracted from vital records worldwide. Heavy usage means this site may sometimes be slow.
  • Ellis Island Records
    This is the site that searches immigration records from the port of entry of many Americans' ancestors. Variant spellings and other problems plague this site, which is also slow due to heavy usage. However, it's still a chance to find out where and with whom your ancestors crossed the Atlantic. A useful interface may be found at
  • Family Tree Maker Online Search
    This commercial site allows you to search a huge collection of family pedigree charts and general genealogy information.
  • Genealogy Gateways from OPLIN
    This is an entry to the genealogical gateways provided by the Ohio Public Library Information Network. Under "Browse by category," choose "Genealogy."
  • The Official Land Patents Records Site
    This unusual site, a U. S. government database, provides image access to more than two million federal land title records for the Eastern Public Land States (12 states in all, including Ohio) issued between 1820 and 1908. Certified copies of land patents can be requested, for official documentation.
  • Worthington Cemeteries
    Three cemeteries, Walnut Grove, with 8,000 burials; St. John's Episcopal Church Cemetery; and the Flint Road Cemetery, can each be searched from this site. Slightly different information is available on each site.
  • Worthington Memory
    A cooperative project of Worthington Libraries and the Worthington Historical Society, this site includes digitized historic photographs and documents from the Worthington area.
  • Colonial Records of Connecticut
    This full-text database has digital images of colonial records from 1636 to 1776, with an alphabetical index. Many of Ohio's settlers came from Connecticut.
  • Hayes Presidential Center Library
    The Hayes Presidential Library Center has put its obituary database of local newspapers on the Web. Over 200,000 records are indexed. There is no fee to use the index, but there is a nominal charge for copies of the obituaries.
  • Ohio Death Certificate Index, 1913-1944
    A resource from Ohio Historical Society
  • The National Archives Online
    Selected resources from the National Archives that are online and searchable.

Genealogical Resource Centers in Central Ohio

Many genealogical records are available only in paper or microfilm at a specific site. Some local collections of interest are:

Columbus Metropolitan Library
96 S. Grant Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43215
The genealogy collection housed on the third floor in the Genealogy, History and Travel Division of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is one of the largest collections of genealogical resources in the United States. It includes abstracted records from Ohio's county genealogical societies.

Delaware County Historical Society
Delaware County Genealogical Society
157 E. William St., P. O. Box 317
Delaware, Ohio 43015-0315

Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society
Harrison House
570 W. Broad St. (corner of Gift and Broad), P. O. Box 44309
Columbus, OH 43204-0309

Getting the "gene" in genealogy

Not sure where to begin your quest for genetic genealogy information? Start with these online resources specifically geared toward those new to the field of genetic DNA research.

  • DNA for Newbies
    A forum for those new to the field of genetic genealogy, this resource from the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) offers answers to basic questions, information about the different testing companies available, DNA lessons, and helpful diagrams.
  • DNA-Newbie Newsgroup
    Curious about genetic genealogy but not quite sure what to ask or where to start? This yahoo group, sponsored by ISOGG, is dedicated to providing information about genetic genealogy to beginners.

DNA Testing Companies

The first step in determining your genetic ancestry is to get tested. A variety of testing companies exist offering different types of tests and price ranges. Do your research and select a test that closely matches your goals and finances. Remember, as with most purchases, that you get what you pay for. Here are a few options to explore.

  • AfricanDNA
    This testing company offers mtDNA and Y-chromosome testing along with a Genealogy Research starter package in combination with DNA testing.
  • DNA Ancestry
    Ancestry will explain and help you choose a mitochondrial mtDNA or Y-chromosome lineage test and find leads based on DNA testing, surnames, geography and haplogroups.
  • DNA Heritage
    Offers DNA testing for both amateur and professional genealogists, including Surname, Paternal and Maternal, this site also includes Surname projects, a masterclass feature, FAQ's, and a blog.
  • DNA Tribes
    DNA Tribes is a private firm specializing in genetic ancestry analysis, including both geographical analysis of world populations and the comparison of individuals to living populations and world regions. They offer Genetic Ancestry Analysis, Standard 15 Marker and Premium 21 Marker tests, and add on analyses.
  • Ethnoancestry
    Ethnoancestry offers tests of paternal and maternal genetic ancestry including Haploview, Oppenheimer Clan DNA Test, Deep Haplogroup SNP Tests, Custom SNP Test, amd mtDNA tests.
  • Family Genetics
    Family Genetics provides insights into genetic relatedness, genetic ancestry and historical migration patterns over thousands of years. They offer Y-chromosome, mtDNA, and Y-STR testing.
  • Family Tree DNA
    Offers Y-chromosome, mtDNA, combined y chromosome and mtDNA tests, XSTR DNA tests for males and females, and other specialty testing services.
  • Genebase
    This company offers maternal, paternal and combo ancestry packages and many search and analysis features.
  • The National Geographic Genographic Project
    A five-year research partnership between National Geographic and IBM researchers, this project uses cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world. Here you can purchase a Genographic Participation Kit that tests either mtDNA or Y-chromosome.
  • Oxford Ancestors
    A venture backed by Oxford University to harness the power and precision of modern genetics in the service of genealogy, this company offers maternal and paternal genetic testing.

DNA databases

Once you have tested your mt-DNA or Y-DNA you can enter your DNA into one of the many DNA databases available. This will allow you to see if and how closely you match with anyone. Here are some databases to start with.

  • Mito-search
    A free public service that allows individuals that have tested with companies to make their results available for comparison, this database includes added tools that allow you to compare side-by-side different users as well as many other features.
  • Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF)
    A non-profit organization dedicated to building the world's foremost collection of DNA and corresponding genealogical information Y-chromosome DNA results, the Sorenson database contains Mitochondrial DNA results and pedigree charts.
  • Ybase
    A database for genealogists to connect with their paternal relatives through DNA. Search by name or haplotype on 36 Y-chromosome markers.
  • Y-STR Haplotype Reference Database (YHRD)
    This database is interactive and allows the user the search for Y-STR haplotypes in various formats and within specified metapopulations.
  • Y-search
    A free public service from family tree DNA, with several tools that allow you to compare side-by-side different users and many other features, including the upload of GEDCOM files.

Additional information

  • Cyndi's DNA List
    A small part of the well known genealogical gateway Cyndi's list, this site contains a wealth of genetic genealogy links, such as general resource sites; ethnic groups and localities; family health history; genograms; mailing lists, newsgroups and chat; professional services and DNA testing; publications, software and supplies; and surname studies and projects.
  • DNA Channel on Roots Television
    Part of Roots Television, an online television network by and for avid genealogists and family history lovers of all stripes, the DNA Channel offers free video clips on a variety of genetic genealogy topics.
  • The Genetic Genealogist
    This blog examines the intersection of traditional genealogical techniques and modern genetic research and explores the latest news and developments in the related field of personal genomics.
  • The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG)
    Founded in 2005 by DNA project administrators, The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) exists to advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research, and promote a supportive network for genetic genealogists. Their website contains helpful information for both beginning and advanced genetic genealogists.
  • World Families
    Evolving from the Barton DNA project, this site now offers information and hosting services to surname DNA projects including testing information and forums.

revised July 2010