First steps to get started in your family history search:
- Start with what you already know - Use a family tree or ancestor chart to document information you already know.
- Ask family members - Gather more information through family interviews, conversations, emails, etc.
- Find a recent ancestor you would like to investigate. Determine the specific information that you want to find (i.e. birthdate, birth place, date of death, etc.). This will help you focus your search.
- Get organized - Stick with your chosen organizational system as you collect information so that everything will be easy to find. This will prevent you from researching information that you have already found! For help, see this short video on organizing records from FamilySearch.org.
Forms & Charts
Download these free charts to help you organize your family history information.
- Ancestry.com - free ancestor charts & forms.
- Cyndi's List - Collection of printable forms & guidesheets, including family charts, research records, and blank census forms from several countries.
- Mid-Continent Public Library - Simple, printable forms for family charts, research logs, and American census records.
Searchable Record Databases
Search through records to find your ancestors. View images of records when available.
See note on each database for any costs.
- HeritageQuest - Access provided for free by the library. Sign in with your library card, click TexShare Databases, then select HeritageQuest to get started. Click here for a video tutorial on how to access HeritageQuest.
- FamilySearch.org - Census, military, vital records, and more maintained by the Church of Latter Day Saints. Access to records is free. Free account required in order to save documents & family tree online. Church membership not required.
- Ancestry.com - Searchable database of records. Build your family tree online. Subscription fee required for access.
- Find A Grave - Database of American gravesites searchable by name. Records created & maintained by volunteers. Free to access. Free account required in order to add or change records.
- Ellis Island Passenger Lists - Free database listing immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, New York between 1892 and 1924.
Genealogy Societies & Organizations
- Austin Genealogical Society
- Save Austin Cemeteries
- Williamson County Genealogical Society
- Austin Family History Center (Church of Latter Day Saints)
- Austin History Center (Austin Public Library)
- Texas State Library and Archives Commission
- United States National Archives
- National Genealogy Society
- Cyndi's List - Categorized & cross-referenced list of links to helpful genealogy websites and online resources.
- Steve Morse Website - Free tools to assist with advanced searches in databases across many websites.
- The USGenWeb Project - Collection of free websites for genealogy research organized by state & county.
- RootsWeb - Free resources to guide your genealogy research and message boards to connect with other genealogists. Sponsored by Ancestry.com
- AfriGeneas - Resources & tips focusing on African American genealogy.
- JewishGen - Resources & tips focusing on Jewish heritage.
- Family Tree Magazine - Tips, guides, and blogs on various topics in genealogy. Some content requires paid access.
- Military Records - Overview of genealogical military records housed at US National Archives