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Beginning Your Family History

Step 8. Get the most research out of libraries, courthouses, etc.

The key to getting the most out of your trip to a research facility is to be prepared.

Always ask for help in any research facility. Go to the reference desk and ask for a general tour. If you don't ask questions, you will waste most of your time just trying to find where the records are located instead of finding your ancestors in the records.

Many libraries loan their collections to other libraries through a program called Interlibrary Loan. You may be able to get collections sent to your local library instead of having to take a long trip.

When you go to a courthouse, don't limit yourself to birth, marriage and death records. County courthouses have land records that give details about the land our ancestors bought and sold. Ask for grantor and grantee indexes to deeds. Probate records can also be found at the courthouse. Probate records include wills, inventories of estates and other legal documents filed after a person's death. Court records may include adoption, divorce or guardianship cases. Town or county tax records may help locate a family that does not appear in the census. Learn more about courthouse records from the sources listed in Step 1.

Who will you find?

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