Doing genealogical research in the probate office in Searcy, Arkansas, Sep 2011

Some of you may be interested in my research methods while writing Jordan’s Journey. I used no one approach to write the book, combining many different ways of accessing information. If you are interested in specific topics or have specific questions, please let me know so I can address those issues in future posts.

My primary sources can be broken down into the following broad categories:

  • Family photos, correspondence, and interviews
  • Online sources, particularly and
  • Real-world sources, such as libraries, archives, genealogical/historical societies, and courthouses

First, you gather what people know by talking to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone in your family who knows anything about the family lineage. Write the lineages down on paper if that’s easier for you, but ultimately, you will want to get it into a computer. There’s much more you can do with your information in digital form.

The best way to record your information is at’s tools for building your online tree are simple yet effective. You don’t have to purchase a membership to get started. You need a membership to take advantage of’s valuable databases–but you can build a tree based on your knowledge without paying a cent. And that’s where you need to start anyway: with what you know. If you want to go further, you can invest in a membership or even access’s databases at a local library.

Which leads to the next phase… If you get serious about genealogy, you’ll want to visit places such as libraries, archives, genealogical/historical societies, and courthouses. While a lot of information is available online today, there are still plenty of details to uncover that have not yet been digitized. Besides, rummaging through old records can be pretty fun and gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you find what you’re looking for.

And that’s more than enough to get you started. In reality, genealogy is a lifelong hobby. You can flow in and out of it as time and interest allows. But no matter how much you accomplish, there’s always more to discover and explore. Genealogy will keep you busy and entertained (and no doubt frustrated sometimes) for years to come.

If you are interested in learning more about my research or need guidance on where to look next on your own, leave a note in the comments, and I’ll help out in any way I can.

And be sure to watch the trailer for Jordan’s Journey. The book will be available soon!

Take a trip into the past

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