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Genealogy Basics

Ready to jump into genealogy? This guide gives you the basic resources to get started the right way.


This pathfinder will be useful for beginners who would like to start a family history search using the Internet.  On a cautionary note, remember that the Internet is merely a vehicle to help you begin the process. It is not the only resource you should use, but is a wonderful road map to help you start your ancestry search. Some resources are free, others require subscriptions.

Key Resources

For an introduction to the topic, see:

  • First Steps in Genealogy: a Beginner’s Guide to Researching Your Family History, by Desmond Walls Allen (1998) ISBN 1558704892
  • Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (2nd ed.) by Elizabeth Shown Mills (2009) ISBN 0806318066



Genealogy is easier with connections. Search “genealogy” on whatever social media platforms you use from Facebook to YouTube. The results and connections made can be very helpful.


  • Family Chronicle
  • Family Tree Magazine

Organizations and Special Collections

  (Check with your state’s Genealogical Society & both state and local historical societies where your family lived, plus any ethnic heritage national museums – for example the National Czech and Slovak Museum or the Vesterheim - that apply)

  •  Godfrey Memorial Library
    134 Newfield St.
    Middletown, CT  06457
    Tel: (860) 346-4375 
    Fax: (860) 347-9874
    e-mail address: (Reference Librarian)

Free Forms For Download

Family Relationships

Citation and Legal Links

Search Aids

Search Terms (Use for computer searches)

  • Genealogy
  • Internet Genealogy

Subject Headings (Use in card catalogs and print indexes)

  • Genealogy-Data Processing
  • Genealogy-Computer Network Resources
  • Genealogy

Call Number

  •  929.1; 929.4 (Dewey Decimal)
  • 025.02-025.06929 (Library of Congress)

Indexes and Abstracts

  • EBSCOhost
  • First Search
  • Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature

Library catalogs

  • Your local library catalog
  • SILO - State-wide catalog
  • World Cat - World-wide Catalog

Cedar Rapids Campus Library

Benton Hall

6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA

Iowa City Campus Library

107 Credit Center Building

1816 Lower Muscatine Rd., Iowa City, IA 


If you need disability-related accommodations in order to use the Library, our website, or our resources, please contact the library at or 319-398-5697.