Genealogy research guide

Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States and countless resources exist to help you delve into your family tree. 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 seem overwhelming, but getting off to the right start saves time and effort. 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:

  • Finding Your Roots: Easy-To-Do Genealogy and Family History by Janice Schultz. 2013. [929.1072 SCH]
    Find advice and tools for getting started, including research techniques, interviewing tips and effective ways to use the library and internet in this book written by a librarian and authority on genealogical research.
  • Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood. 2000. [929.1 GRE (OWL)]
    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, try consulting WorldVitalRecords to determine where and how to get specific records.

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 at the Old Worthington Library include:

Getting Digital

It is always a good idea to use caution while searching the internet. Information is only as good as its source. Determining credibility for genealogical sources is especially tricky, since there are no authoritative central agencies. Much of the information, even in published family histories, may be misleading family legends rather than fact. Use your critical intelligence when 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. Requires a Worthington Libraries card and PIN for access outside the Library.
  • Ancestry Library Edition (database)
    This portion of 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.
    A well-known gateway with links to thousands of genealogy sites on the internet. The site is free, but contains links to fee-based sites.
  • Ellis Island Records
    This site searches immigration records from the port of entry of many Americans' ancestors. This site is prone to variant spellings and other problems; however, it still offers a means to find out where and with whom your ancestors crossed the Atlantic.
  • Family Tree Maker Online Search
    This commercial site allows you to search a huge collection of family pedigree charts and general genealogy information.
  • 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.
  • Hayes Presidential Center Library Ohio Obituary Index
    The Hayes Presidential Library Center offers a searchable index of obituaries from newspapers from throughout Ohio, from the 1810s to the present day. More than 3.5 million records are indexed. There is no fee to use the index, but there is a nominal charge for copies of the obituaries.
  • HeritageQuest (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, but not as complete. The books are fully searchable by name and location. Requires a Worthington Libraries card and PIN for access outside the Library.
  • The National Archives Online
    Selected online and searchable resources from the National Archives.
  • The Official Federal Land Records Site
    This U. S. government database provides image access to more than five million federal land title records issued between 1820 and the present. Due to organization of documents in the General Land Office collection, this site does not currently contain every federal title record issued for the Public Land States. Certified copies of land patents can be requested, for official documentation.
  • Ohio History Connection Death Records
    The Ohio History Connection offers this guide to searching for and obtaining copies of Ohio death certificates.
    This is a gateway site, with a busy listserv for asking and answering questions. Links to volunteer lookups, and numerous message boards.
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (database)
    This database provides a searchable interface for historical maps of Ohio towns and cities from 1882 through 1962. Requires a Worthington Libraries card and PIN for access outside the Library.
  • Select Ohio Public Records Index
    The Ohio History Connection offers this searchable index of assorted public records from the mid-1800s and early 1900s. It covers death certificates for select years as well as records from the Ohio Boys’ and Girls’ Industrial Schools.
  • 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 more than 94 million records, and is updated weekly. The file is created from internal SSA records of deceased persons possessing social security numbers and whose deaths were reported to the SSA.
    This is a free site staffed by volunteers working together to provide internet genealogical research in every county and state in the U. S. Some areas of the project are more complete than others. Many WPA records have been made available online through this project.
  • Worthington Memory
    Originally created in 2002 to commemorate Worthington's bicentennial, Worthington Memory brings together tens of thousands of records spanning hundreds of years, including digitized photographs and documents, an index of Worthington's current and historical newspapers, burial records from Worthington's three cemeteries, historic artifacts, audio and video.

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. Since 2007, the collection has grown to include the genealogy collections of the State Library of Ohio, the Palatines to America Society, and the Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society. The library's collection includes indexes and transcriptions of census, vital, military, court and other records, as well as state, county, and local histories, family histories, surname files, maps and atlases and more.

Delaware County Historical Society
2690 Stratford Rd.
Delaware, Ohio 43015
The Delaware County Historical Society is the county-wide historical society dedicated to preserving, promoting, and educating about Delaware County history. The Cryder Historical Center and Research Library and the Nash House Museum is located at 157 E. William St., Delaware, Ohio 43015.

Delaware County Genealogical Society
Delaware County District Library
84 East Winter St.
Delaware, Ohio 43015
The Delaware County Genealogical Society offers records from cemeteries, the Civil War, government, court records and more.

Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society
(Note: The Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society's office is housed in the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Genealogy, History and Travel Division.)
96 S. Grant Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Ohio History Connection
800 E. 17th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43211
The Ohio History Connection houses a wealth of resources valuable to the genealogical researcher, including city directories, muster rolls, letters, death records, land records, military records and county and state records. For those beginning their research, the Ohio History Connection also offers genealogical workshops, in cooperation with the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the Franklin County Genealogical and Historical Society.

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 Forum
    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.
  • The family tree guide to DNA testing and genetic genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger. 2016 [929.1072 BET]
    Get advice on the how and why of genealogy testing, including how to choose the right test, interpreting results and the ethics of DNA testing.

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.

  • 23andMe
    This DNA ancestry service provides ancestry-related genetic reports and uninterpreted raw genetic data.
  • AfricanDNA
    This testing company offers mtDNA and Y-chromosome testing along with a Genealogy Research starter package in combination with DNA testing.
  • AncestryDNA
    AncestryDNA (from 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.
  • BritainsDNA
    BritainsDNA traces your genetic inheritance beyond the written record, uniquely blending science and history to help you discover your ancient ancestry through YDNA (fatherline) and mtDNA (motherline) testing. Through autosomal DNA testing you can discover your recent ancestral mix, telling you what proportions of your genome are linked to different continents around the world.
  • 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.
  • 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
    This multiyear research project uses cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world. You can purchase a kit that tests nearly 300,000 identifiers, or "markers," to provide ancestry-relevant information.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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.
  • Your 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.

revised April 2017