Class and Website

This Class WAS Given At The Los Angeles Family History Library or LAFHL
which has been renamed The Los Angeles FamilySearch Library or LAFSL.

Instructor -- Jon Schweitzer
Made 25 February 2007.
Revised 13 February 2014.


This is a Website companion to the class.

Unless stated otherwise, the books mentioned below are in this Library. Their Call Numbers are parentheses.

Unless stated otherwise, the computer databases mentioned below are in this Library.

See "Tracing Immigrant Origins" Research Outline at

Attend all classes that apply to your areas of research.

Search for and find all siblings of the subject person. If you are unsuccessful in determining the birthplace and parents of the subject person, you will use the siblings as substitutes.

Search in your home for the names of birthplaces and parents in all your documents, obituaries, personal papers, books and postcards.

Persuade all your relatives to search through the same items in their homes.

When you make the first connection with persons who are not genealogists, do not send Pedigree Charts or Family Group Sheets. These items frequently intimidate inexperienced people and they won't fill them out. Ask them questions to get the answers.

If they are willing to fill out forms, fill out the top portion of the blank form that is at the end of this paper and send it to them. Ask each of them to fill out the blank lines and return the form to you. Enclose a SASE.

Also ask them to supply you with all names and addresses of other persons who might have more information.

If they fill out and return the form you can ask for more information, but not too much each time.

Search the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC)* at for the availability of microformed Death and Marriage Records for your research area. Search the Death and Marriage Records using microforms in this library.

Try to obtain copies of the vital records from relatives first. If you can't, then TRY to obtain lower cost uncertified copies of the original "Birth or Marriage or Death Record". Except for a few cities, "Certificates" were not made until after about 1907. Do not ask for certificates and you wouldn't go wrong. Look in the Redbook (Ref 973 D27rd or 973 D27rd or JGS 973 D27rd) to see when the county and state started keeping vital records. Try to order the vital records from only the county.

If the person died after 1962, search the Social Security Death Index* on a computer in this library or at home for a possible Social Security Number and residence address at death at See more information and costs at and Social Security Research at Send for a copy of the Social Security Number SS-5 Application using the form letter you can print at after you find your person and clicking on the left hand icon in the "Tools" at

If the person died between 1940 and 1961, send for a copy of a possible Social Security Number SS-5 Application. Use the pdf form HERE.

Search for the WWI draft registration card at at this library.

Search the Ancestral File* and IGI* for the birthplaces and parents at and

Contact the submitters who have submitted names to the Ancestral File HERE. Find their names and addresses under "Details" in the lower right of the screen.

Search for obituaries in an U.S. foreign language newspaper. There may be more than one obituary for the person. There may be obituaries where the person died, lived, used to live and where the children lived. See Newspaper Research at http://www.encinojon/newspaper/

Search all the county histories. There may be more than one. Someone must use a separate "All-Name Index" for each county history published before 1960. If there are separate "All-Name Indexes", they will probably be located in the county seat public library or the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne IN. Use "A Bibliography of American County Histories" (973 H23bi), "United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress" Vols. 1 - 5 (Rare Book 973 A3ka) and "American Library Directory" 2 Volumes (Ref 973 Am35) for details. Write the library and ask if they have all the county histories, "All-Name Indexes" and there are new histories. You can not do the research around here.

Search all the 1850 to 1930 Censuses to determine the state or country of birth and the year of entry into the United States. Use the free at this library.
Also in this library or from home the wonderful Heritage Quest website with it's U.S. Census resources and more may NOW be accessed from the Los Angeles CITY Public Library's (LAPL) website at: You need a Los Angeles CITY Public Library card number to access the Heritage Quest website. Scroll down and click on HeritageQuest Online. Enter your card number and the last 4 digits of your phone number you have on file with the LAPL, Enter and chose Search Census or something else.

Also you can also use Heritage Quest at home if you have LA COUNTY Public Library card at Look under "Reference" to find and click on "Heritage Quest". Enter your 13 digit (no spaces) card number and proceed.

Search all the state and federal censuses, trying to locate relatives or parents living in the same household or within a short distance.

* Family History Library Database in this Center

Ancestral File* and IGI* are also at

Search the passenger lists using the free in this library. Ask a consultant for that country what other emigration or passenger lists records are available. Search those records.

Search the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC)* at for the emigration (departing) records available for that country. Search those records. Example: Sweden has made indexes to the ships' passenger contracts. The index lists the person's name, age, parish, volume and page of contract, and destination.

The chances of finding birthplaces and parents from a source
decrease as one goes down this list.
B = Birthplaces P = Parents

If the person died before 1860, the best sources are marked on this page with #

Social Security Number Application - Man that died after 1940 B,P
Selective Service Registration--If not over 64 years old in 1942 B
Norway, Sweden, Denmark Emigration Lists after 1865 B
Federal Employment Job Applications B
Passport Records after 1920 B
World War I Draft Registration (1917) B
Naturalization Declaration of Intention - First Paper - after 1906 B
Petition for Naturalization for a U.S. born woman that married an alien 1907 to 1922 B #
Alien Registration after 1920 B
Hamburg Passenger Lists B
Death Records--If 1st Spouse was Alive B,P
Ancestral File* B,P #
IGI (International Genealogical Index)* B,P #
Marriage Registration or Application B,P
Obituaries in Foreign Language Newspapers in the U.S. B #
County or Town Area Historian B,P #
Veterans Administration / Veterans Affairs Records B
Hospital Admission Records B
Railroad Employment Records B
"Incoming" U.S. Records of Catholic, Lutheran, Scandinavian and German Churches B
Hereditary and Lineage Society's Records (DAR Research) B,P #
Passenger Lists after 1902 B
Voters' Registration after 1920 B
Morgue Files of Newspapers B
Local and County Public Libraries in the Research Area and
their Card Catalogs, Files and Resources B,P #
Court Records (Probate) B,P #
County Histories- Newer, separate "All Name Indexes" must be used at
    the local county seat library or Allen County Library - Use "A Bibliography of
    American County History" (973 H23bi), "United States Local Histories in the Library
    of Congress" Vols. 1 - 5 (Rare Book 973 A3ka) and "American Library Directory" 2 Volumes
    (973 Am35) for details - Ask the library if there are new histories. B,P #
Obituaries in English Language Newspapers B #
Church Records B,P>
Death Records if the Spouse was not Alive B,P
Town Histories B,P #
DAR Library Catalog - Volume One - Family Histories and Genealogies (973 A3da) B,P #
Genealogies in the Library of Congress - Volumes I and II (Ref 016.9291 K128g) B,P #
Pension - Private Employment B
Pension - Military B
Funeral Home (Mortuary) Records B
Family Bibles B,P
Inquiries in Local Newspapers or Genealogical Publications B,P
Anniversary Notices in Newspapers B,P
School Matriculation Records B,P
Passport Records before 1920 B
Local Articles in Newspapers about Person B,P
Membership Records in any Organization B
Old Letters and Postcards B,P
Licenses of any kind - Business, Hunting, Auto after 1920 B
Coroner's Inquests B,P
Passenger Lists before 1902 B
Diaries B,P #
Censuses B #
Tombstones B

* Family History Library Database in this Library
Contact Living Persons from or that have submitted names to:
Ancestral File* B,P #
IGI (International Genealogical Index)* B,P #
Genealogical Research Directory (maybe 929.1025 G286 grd) in other libraries B,P #
Use other phone directory databases on the "Web" at and
Look at for messages and post your own messages.

If you have questions or have reached a dead end,
consult an experienced area genealogist or consultant at this Library.

Send comments about this Web site to the Webmaster.

Click here to E-mail him.

This site may be freely linked, but not duplicated.
Copyright © 2007-2014 by Jon Schweitzer. All rights reserved.
This site and any internal links are copyrighted.

Print only page 5 if you want only the form below


Please try your best to fill in the information and return to:


PARENTS OF:_____________________________Born_________

Birthplace Names; farm______________parish_______________




Married to;_____________________________on_____________



first name___________________________

middle name_________________________

last name____________________________

Birthplace Names; farm______________parish_______________





first name____________________________

middle name__________________________

last name_____________________________

Birthplace Names; farm______________parish_______________