The point of these genealogy sites is to be extensive, thorough, and broad. That being said, when you search, expect to find all sorts of results. With lots of results, you might become a little overwhelmed, and that’s more than understandable. However, building your family tree is a mystery and all mysteries begin with a detective wondering, “Where do I start?”
A good way to orient yourself is by understanding what sort of historical record you’re looking at. There are definitely plenty that can aid you on your search for finding your ancestors, but by knowing the context, purpose, and usage of each type of document, you might be better able to understand just how your search is progressing.
The first and probably most relevant source of information you will come across is census records. Censuses were used by the government to discover various aspects of the population. They are still used even today in the United States, and are generally conducted every 10 years. Censuses are useful for discovering, among other things, size of population, average family size, average age, and so on. While you are searching online, you will more likely than not come across a census. The most recent available one is the 1930′s census. On the census, you might find all sorts of information. For example, a census records details of citizenship (including immigrant status), whether or not the person served in the military, family relations including marriage details, and even more.
More very popular historical documents are birth and death certificates. As you may know, birth certificates contain the names of both the father and the mother, as well as place of birth, date of birth, and various birth details. Death certificates also carry a lot of valuable information, such as the cause of death and date of death. What makes these documents so treasured are the exact dates tied to each. Because a date is provided, your records can be more specific and less ambiguous when it comes to who you might be related to. Marriage certificates are also very useful, as they are a means of connecting families.
Military records are another useful tool you will come across. These include a lot of information that can help perpetuate your search, such as birth/death dates, where the soldier lived, and which branch of the military the soldier was connected to.
These are only a few of the tools you are able to use on genealogy websites such as One Great Family. If you have ever been remotely interested in your past, consider trying out some of the free trials offered by these sites. After all, history is very real, and digging into your past can really bring so much information to light.