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Starting Out…

Your first experience at genealogical research? You're reading the postings and queries of others, you want to play, too, but where to start?

Well, your Combs lines begins with you and your parents. Your birth certificate lists both your parents, and probably their birth states. Their marriage certificate is likely in either your birth state, or that of one of your parents (it's a starting place, assuming your parents aren't alive to tell you themselves).

Once you've documented yourself and your parents' marriage, the next step is your grandparents who may have been married in either your parent's birth state, or their own birth state. This is the point at which you will be seeking not only a marriage certificate, but also census records (public through the year 1920). Other records that can add to your genealogy include cemetery, obituary, and death certificates. Estate records, including wills, settlements and accounts, deeds, and tax lists are also important.

Reminder: In the U.S., other than census and military records, which are federal, most records are filed in county courthouses rather than at city hall. Knowing the county is always more important than the city (excepting, of course, in New England and those Northern states with Township systems).

Excellent Advice for all Researchers from our Jeannette Combs Lehman:

"A few ideas that I learned along the way on my beginning research: Contact every known relative, near and distant, and ask them to fill out family group sheets for their family. Especially contact the older family members while they are still alive and able to remember things from their past. I started my research after all of my grandparents were dead and only a few aunts and uncles living. So I urge you not to delay contacting anyone that falls in this category. Above all else, don't depend on anyone else to do your work for you. You would not know if they are right or wrong. Use everything you get from others as a reference and set about to verify all info yourself. Libraries are great to browse in while you wait for answers from correspondence sent out. Genealogical Societies are also great, especially in the areas that you know your ancestor lived."

A lot of time and effort? Maybe not as much as you think - particularly on the internet where you have an excellent chance of meeting "cousins" who are researching the same lines as you, and willing to share their work.

The main thing to remember is that researching one's ancestors is always a matter of working backwards in time - beginning with yourself.

See the Combs &c. Mailing List for subscription information and posting tips.

Census Legends

This section is being expanded and is now located at:

Combs &c. Census Resources


Old Style/New Style Dating

This section has been expanded and is now located at:

Combs &c. Glossary: Calendars


Regnal Years

This section has been expanded and is now located at:

Combs &c. Regnal Years

Last updated 09-Apr-2008
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