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Genealogy Research: Home

Just getting started with Genealogy or a family history pro? This guide has some tips, tricks, and tools you can find at LPL that'll be useful for any researcher!

What is Genealogy?

Genealogy is the process of tracing lineage, or a line of descent, from an ancestor to a descendant. Family history often includes genealogical study and the use of family trees, but includes oral traditions, and is general more personal. The two terms are often used interchangeably and even more often are used in tandem.

When doing research into your family's history, be sure to reflect on the privilege that comes with the preservation of records. Those descended from enslaved peoples or who come from a family that fled its homeland in a time of peril may not have access to the resources that you do.

This is why family history research should also be proactive! Start preserving your stories now, so your voice can be heard for generations to come.

Getting Started

Everyone's starting point for genealogy/family research will be different.

Here's some key information that can be useful in beginning your research:


Names are the easiest way to identify someone, especially when combined with the other types of information. Full names are ideal, but last names are a great place to start. Be sure to make note of any evolutions in spelling or complete changes to a family name. Maiden names of married women can be incredibly helpful, too. Look for trends in given names (i.e. every eldest son is named Thomas).


Birth and death dates are much more unique than names, and yield highly specific results when all three are used in tandem. Look for these dates and the dates of other important milestones such as marriages or graduations.


Make note of the repeating locations, and the locations of significant events. Identifying the hospital where a relative was born may lead to a whole new archive of information. Use known places to look for more pieces to the puzzle!


If you can connect one person to another, you can double the information at your disposal. Relationships are not limited to those that may be documented (i.e. spouses with marriage papers, a child with his mother's name on his birth certificate). There may be anecdotal information from friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Don't be afraid to get creative with your search!

Searching at Home

So, you're ready to research but not quite ready to dive into a database? What should you do? The answer: start at home!


This is the most obvious step when it comes to genealogical research. Look at your family's papers! Pull that old trunk out of the attic and comb through it. Cards and letters, photographs, government documents, and family bibles can be a wealth of knowledge in your efforts to trace your family's history.


Oral history is a great way to record lived experiences, and an even better way to spend time with family members. If you have the ability, speak to those close to you about their lives. Where did they grow up? Who did they spend their time with? What was most important to them? These questions will often lead to more questions, then more questions, and eventually, some answers. 

Using the Library for Genealogy Research

Liverpool Public Library offers a variety of databases and resources related to genealogy and genealogical research. Some of these services are restricted to use within the library, so be sure to plan accordingly!

Check out the Ancestry LibGuide for instructions and tips on using this resource.


Remote use: Liverpool Cardholders Only.

To learn more, training materials are available at:

Video instructions (13 mins):

Remote use: Liverpool Cardholders Only.

To learn more, training materials are available at:

Remote use: Liverpool Cardholders Only. If you have a card from another OCPL library see

If you have trouble accessing, please go to

If you have trouble accessing, please go to

Note: years and issues of newspapers may not be complete.