Skip to Main Content

Basics of Genealogy

This guide was created to help people who are new to genealogy.

Intro to Civil Records

Birth, death, and marriage records are obviously excellent sources of information about your family. Both Ancestry Library Edition and MyHeritage Library Edition have strong collections of birth, death, and marriage records. Additionally, there are many free databases online that have records as well.

Seeking Michigan

  • click on Advanced Search (in upper right-hand corner)
  • type the last name in the first box and choose Last Name from the drop-down box
  • type in the county they lived in and choose County from the drop-down box
  • I recommend leaving the first name blank unless you are dealing with a very, very common name and a very large area (like Wayne County or Kent County) because this is a good way to find out about family members that don't appear in other records, especially young children and infants.

Family Search

  • search for a person's name
  • limit your results list by clicking on Category > Birth, Marriage and Death and then choose one of the Michigan collections (or whichever state is applicable)
  • if you see a camera next to the result, there will be a digitized image of the actual record available


For the more advanced genealogist, knowing the laws of a country can help you understand your ancestors and their times.