10 Tips for Mapping Your Family History

Try a Genealogy Site (or 20)
A woman researches records and old newspapers to work on her genealogy in the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Provo, Utah. The library also runs a popular free website called FamilySearch. © GEORGE FREY/Reuters/Corbis

Fortunately for modern genealogists, there's no shortage of reputable sites to provide rapid-fire family map information. There are dozens upon dozens to choose from, but FamilySearch is one that is actually free, and allows the user to "attach" people to a virtual family tree, making the organization process startlingly easy.

Ancestry.com is a big box site that has a reputation for great content and ease of use. You get a free trial period of 14 days and then pay a monthly fee for access. "My family did not have much on the family history (for maternal or paternal), so I personally began by inputting what I knew into Ancestry.com and using their promotional period to see what I could find," says Kathleen Cogbill Warr with Old Dead People Genealogical Services. "Needless to say, I got hooked and I now do research for others."

Genealogy Today is yet another avenue for record collection, even featuring a criminal records search tool, often complete with sordid details and mug shots! Other sites focus on burial records and related information, like Internment and Find A Grave.

Standard search engines, like Google or Yahoo! are also helpful tools, but keywords may require finessing to get the results you hope for. So play around and check back regularly. You never know what random link will pop up.