Honestly, if you are not careful, genealogy research CAN bust your budget! Genealogy research can also be FREE!
As I have stated before, I love free sites, and although you made need to do a little more “leg work” by choosing free sites, you can also have the reward of finding what you need by yourself and being able to prove for yourself that you are on the correct family line. * check out my Favorite Research Sites tab to see my list.
When you are involved in genealogy research, there are so many options to choose from and oh, so many research help sites. Many of these search engine sites are subscription based and you will be asked to pay for the use of these sites (This can be extremely frustrating when you do an online search for free searches and you are directed to a fee based site- Pet Peeve!!!).
A great site I would like to share with you for your immigration search is Castle Garden. Castle Garden was the first immigration center in America. Castle Garden was open before Ellis Island and welcomed many immigrants arriving between 1820-1892.
There are a few options for searching the Castle Garden records. Some of them may be found on Ancestry.com, although I am not certain of this.
You can search directly from the Castle Garden website at www.castlegarden.org. At this site you can do a search for your ancestor. I have noticed that with this site, you have to be pretty specific with names, as it has not recognized similar sounding names as well as other search engines I have come across. Through Castle Garden, you will not be able to view the actual manifest online. Rather you will view a transcribed version.
Once you have located your ancestors within the United States and discover that they Immigrated or traveled into or out of the USA; now you can get started on your Immigration Information Quest!
Before you begin, you will need a Research & Source Record form that you can find and print for free under the forms tab (or there are many other great research source forms out there to use). You will also need your research handy to reference birth dates, family members and census records to make sure of your “match” when you discover it.
Ready? OK… Let’s begin with immigration records.
You will find that sometimes when you are looking on line for certain records (ie: vital statistics before a certain year), you will only have access to the index numbers from the records and you will not be able to view the actual record on line. When this happens, I start a “Get info” page. This way, when I go to order documents from an out of state facility or I travel locally to research, I can be prepared to get the information I need quickly. * I do not have a “Get info” section in my family history binder, but it would not be a bad idea to add it if it would help you keep track of what you still need to get.*
On my “Get info” form, I jot down my ancestor’s name, birth/death dates, and the index #s that I need to find. Please visit my “Forms” section for a printable version to use during your research!
Here is a listing of my favorite search sites. I will include a short description of why I each one makes my list! I love free sites!
Let’s assume you have written down what you know on family tree chart or in your own note form. I like to have the family tree chart as well as several family group forms available while I research. If I have any dates/places or other specific information, I make sure to write it down before I begin my search.
I typically start with an online search. A FREE online search. Make sure to have a pencil with an eraser, your computer, a phone (in case you need to call your parent(s) or grandparents to confirm a fact), your printed forms, and a notebook.
Once you are all set, take a look at your chart. At some point you will notice some blanks. It could be that you don’t have your great grandfather’s birthdate or marriage date. This is where you start.