Hitting a research wall can be so extremely frustrating when you are wanting to discover more about your family history. I have been in this situation many times, and it can seem like you will never find the information you seek, and make you wonder if it really is out there, or if it is lost in history forever!

Here are a few tips to spur you along in meeting your research goals.

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Tip for Italian History!


In my quest to discover my Italian history, I have discovered (accidentally come across) some online resources that are FREE! One that has been particularly interesting, although time consuming, This site offers online digital archives to be used for genealogical purposes. This website is in Italian, but can be translated. The microfilmed archives themselves are just scanned images and cannot be automatically translated.

This site allows you to browse the records, or search for names. I have attempted to search by name, not all names/records in this database are searchable. Don’t be discouraged if the name comes up as having no results. The record you are seeking could still be in this database. If you know the region where your ancestors are from, you could browse by region. It may take some time to navigate the site, but it could be well worth it!

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Why & How to Research Descendants!

What do I mean by “Research descendants”? The traditional method of ancestor research is looking back into history to trace your families heritage by locating parents and grandparents of your known ancestors and then continuing on and on until you are unable to search back any further.

So… Why then would I have any interest in looking forward to the present time while researching my family history? The short answer is… STORIES and more information!

During my research, I have been able to learn of, meet and hear many stories from individuals who descend from the same ancestors that I do! It helps a bit that my great-great grandfather had 11 children- so I have LOTS of family to hear things from!

The most effective way I have found to get in touch with other descendants from your family tree is to talk to your family members, obtain names and phone numbers. Reach out to these people and ask to “talk family”. Offer to share what you know and ask if they can help fill in the blanks and offer more information (photos, letters, stories…) This will undoubtedly add so much to your family research! *** Also remember that often, your family will refer to individuals by their nickname or a shortened version of their name, so make sure you clarify who each individual is that they are speaking of.

Another way I have gone about finding descendants from my family tree is by using names of my great grandfather’s siblings and their spouses names (names and some birth/death dates received from family that I already know). I then plug the last name the child these people would have, dates that would be appropriate for a child born to them, and the parent’s names (using the mother’s maiden name – if I know it) into a search engine such as the MN historical society birth index, or  Then I “scroll” through the names provided and look for matches with information I already know. If there is a match between the fathers name, mother’s maiden name, last name and approximate birth date… I do more checking into that birth.  * Please note, I do not take this as positively a match for my family unless other information I find backs it up!

After I have a “possible match”, I will then search public records, census records and death records to attempt to confirm or disprove this as a match.

A great resource to help narrow searches of descendants in your family history are obituaries. Obituaries often list a number of descendants and can help provide names, as well as provide a general idea of generations of living family.

Once you have a confirmed match for your tree, it could be helpful to reach out to that individual or family branch. I have done this several ways. I have contacted family by email, letter through the mail, by asking a mutually known family member to connect us, and also through Facebook. Another way to go about this would be to connect with another person via the messaging feature on or another research site.

It can be very exciting to connect with someone you have not met regarding your family history, but keep a few things in mind…

  1. Be polite, NOT creepy! – Introduce yourself, explain how you believe you are connected with this other person. ASK, DON’T ASSUME if they would be willing to hear you out and maybe share some family stories.
  2. Do not expect them to have the same level of excitement as you do at first (or maybe ever).
  3. Know that they may have a painful past or history that they do not want to share. Be respectful of that and just leave them your contact information in case they or any other of your shared descendants would like to speak with you further.
  4. Don’t share too much right away. Be sure to share enough so they know how you are connected to them, but do not go into a great deal of information in written or verbal form until they are ready for more dialogue.
  5. If you set up a time to meet with them, make sure to bring another family member along with you so you have safety in numbers, and also so that you can share this family history experience with another family member.
  6. Do not assume you and your research are always right. It is always possible you have made a mistake in your research somewhere along the way. Maybe a family member remembered something incorrectly or didn’t divulge all the details of a story. Be open to what other individuals from your family say. Take good notes and research to find the facts.
  7. Have fun with this. Meet people and enjoy hearing and telling the history from your family! – Maybe even plan a huge “Extended Family Reunion”! Oh the things you could learn from a fun event like that!!!


As always, let me know if I can be of any help to you! Answering questions is free!!!

Thanks for reading. Happy searching!


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Important Document Overview

Here is a quick and simple overview of documents you should be searching for to aid you in your family tree research! There is a short description of information you could find in each one of these records.

Vital records can be of great value when uncovering your families past. These are true treasures!

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Research Trip Prep!

I am beyond excited to share that I have a family member who has the wonderful opportunity to travel to Italy and research more of our Italian heritage.

While she is there, we want her to be able to make the most of the time she has to research, so I put together a small research binder for her to travel with. I do have a great deal of information on our Italian ancestors and it would not make sense for her to take all of this information along with her.

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The binder I put together for her to take is a 1/2” bendable binder divided into 8 sections with plastic tabs (each with a pocket to hold items if needed). The sections are divided into the following headings…

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At First Glance

When I research, I type in my ancestor’s name and important dates I may have for that individual. If I am searching on,, or, I may get a lot of results that appear that they match my search!

I would like to share an example of a record that I recently discovered after searching for YEARS AND YEARS! Some searches will take you a long time. Be patient and diligent.

Here’s my example:

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Is Genealogy Research a budget buster?

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!!!).

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The Immigration Information Quest – Part 2

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, although I am not certain of this.

You can search directly from the Castle Garden website at  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.

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The Immigration Information Quest! Part 1


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.
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Get info!

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!
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