If you’re researching from home, you need a strategy

With so many records digitized and accessible online, you need a strategy to research in an orderly fashion, especially if you are gathering data on your own. When researching at home, there are ways to make the most of what is online, find helpful documents and other facts, and have a better understanding of what else you need once you exhaust what is online, if you do.


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Your success will depend on what you know when you start, what era you are researching (since more sources are online for recent records), and where your ancestors lived. If the courthouse burned, or if they did not have adequate money or funding, records could be slim.

My latest foray into researching from home started off by searching Google to see if the names in any combination came up. You must keep a record of the different keywords used while searching during the project because various word combinations can produce different results. For other researching resources, you'll want to remember Google Books. Then check ancestry.com in the county records area for the state and county in question. And don't forget to check any public family trees because some contain valuable, authentic research that can help.

Next, go to familysearch.org, where many county records have been microfilmed, and these records are often digitized online. However, search carefully to find out what is digitized. I have found Find a Grave  a useful website, especially since additional family research there. DNA testing is a must and can produce some good links if you link to a cousin. Check the website USGENWEB for any county of interest because you'll find records published, local contacts and book references. The local historical or genealogical society's website is another must.

DeKalb County deeds, 1867 to 1874

Dr. A. B. Pruitt has published “Abstracts of Deeds, DeKalb County, GA, Books Q & R (1867-1874),” where he has carefully abstracted important information in these deeds. It is for sale for $20.25 from Dr. Pruitt by writing to P.O. Box 815, Whitakers,N.C. 27891. This is the fourth volume in this series and a must for anyone researching DeKalb County genealogy or titles to property. This volume contains many deeds related to the Stone Mountain Granite Company.

Check the catalog

When visiting a genealogy or local history room, always check the online catalog to know how they have arranged county-related volumes. A recent visit to one collection had county books divided by subject-histories in one place, cemetery records elsewhere and tax records on another shelf. Don’t assume that everything is going to be stored on one shelf.

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr., P.O.Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.