Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy

Step 4: Where to research…finding sources of information. 

There are many sources of genealogical information easily accessible to researchers today via the internet. The most notable sites dedicated to genealogy are Family Search (free and easily available through the Richards Free Library website) and Ancestry (fee based or free for Richards Free Library patrons). Another free source available through the library website is Heritage Quest. Search the web for genealogy websites to find the one you like the best! 

Free charts and blank forms to record your information are available from the National Archives website.

Google Books is a valuable resource because it has many searchable historic materials… and being able to search for a specific name or place saves a lot of time! 

For a list of typical sources for researching people and a community, see our compilation of Local History and Genealogy Resources for Newport, NH.

It is important to remember that many official documents contain errors. Never stop your research at an index; always view the original record when available.

Typically, your search of an online source such as Family Search will return the following: 

Birth, marriage, and death records

Social Security Death records

Federal Census Records: 1790-1940 (Confidential for 72 years)                                                                                     

1790-1840 records only list Head of Household by name.

1850-1940 lists individuals separately and gives information such as their birthplace, where they live, relationship to head of household, sex, color, age, married or single, immigration information, place of birth of parents, occupation. 1890 census records mostly destroyed by a fire in 1921.

Special Census schedules include:  Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mortality, Social Statistics, Slave Schedules (1850 and 1860), Veteran and Widow, and Merchant Seamen (1930) 

Military records

Immigration and Emigration records


Probate records (wills) 

Family Trees