Getting Started

   Getting Started

Whether you track your data using Family Group Sheets and Ancestor Charts or a computer software program, you must cite the source for every finding. If you don’t know how to do this, come to a Romanian Genealogy Society meeting or a Genealogy 101 class near you, and ask for help. You may think that you will remember where you found your grandfather’s birth date, but as time goes on, you will have accumulated so much data that it may be hard to recall the source. Any researcher will tell you how they wished they had followed this basic rule when they were first getting started in genealogy.

RGS Getting Started Video

If you are a more experienced researcher, going through your early research records and checking to make sure you have documented each source may open your eyes to things you hadn’t seen the first time around.

After a review of all available records;
_ at home (documents, photos, letters)
_ at the homes of family members (family Bibles, important papers)
_ through research of local records including vital records (birth, marriage, death)
_ courthouse records (land records, wills, probate and other records)
_ church records (baptism, marriage, death)
_ and other official records such as state and federal census, draft registrations, citizenship, and alien registration records
you will have likely found clues to your ancestral town of origin.

Some challenges when researching Romanian ancestry include:

• Handwriting on passenger lists, census records, and other official documents can be hard to read. It may be hard to discern the spelling of the names, and it is not uncommon to see multiple spellings.

• Names may have been recorded using Romanian, Hungarian, or other spellings. John, Jon, Ioan, Ion, Jovan and Janos are all variants of the same first name. In Europe, be aware that surnames are typically listed in front of first names.

• Depending on the location of the church and the time of the record making, church records may be written in Latin, Romanian, Hungarian, or in Cyrillic script.

• Information provided by the same person is often inconsistent from record to record. Birth dates are inconsistent. A relative who is listed as a “cousin” in one record may become a “brother” in the next.

Ten steps for getting started:

Begin with Yourself and Work from Present to Past: Record names, dates and places, and the source of each piece of information. We recommend using a Family Group Sheet for each marriage and include not just direct ancestors but their siblings and cousins as there may be key information to help in your search. Keep in mind, not all records will be online.

Look for Family Records at Home: Develop a method to organize the documents and information you discover. Examples of records at home include personal papers, birth/marriage/death certificates, photographs, scrapbooks, high school yearbooks, funeral cards, family Bibles, newspaper articles, and so on.

Look Outside the Home: Contact relatives, conduct oral history interviews, scan old photos. Continue to collect and document your data. Make note of other cities and states. Consider making a Timeline to see where you may have gaps in your information and to suggest further avenues of research.

Develop Research Goals: Try to stay on track and not jump from family to family in your research. Evaluate your evidence before forming a research question. Identify the goal of the next steps of your research and document which records you searched and what results you obtained (positive and negative). Using a Research Log will help with this. Documentation will prevent you from repeating steps in the future.

Use the Internet: The Internet is a good tool to aide in looking for; place and surname information, sites that have listings of database holdings, church or county histories or even looking for online classes. Facebook has many pages that provide an opportunity to learn or ask questions if you are stuck on a research obstacle. Be sure to verify any information you yourself have not researched before you accept it as verified. You don’t want to mix an unrelated family in with yours. 

At the Library: Explore what resources may exist at your local public libraries and historical societies. Look into inter-library loan. Many libraries offer access to websites like Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, etc.  RGS Membership includes access to the library at the Minnesota Genealogical Society. The library catalog is searchable online.

Check the Courthouse: Check before you go. Does the county permit public searches? What records do they maintain?  Often, records have been transferred to state or local historical societies. Some of the government record types include vital records (birth, marriage, death), probate (wills which are probated and those filed and not probated), and land and property tax records.

Other Research Places: Libraries from local, regional, public, genealogical and historical, archives; specific religious affiliate, ethnic, trade, insurance military association, and LDS Church family research center and their website

Join Special Interest Ethnic or Regional Genealogical Groups: Expand your knowledge by connecting with others who share your interest. Learn and collaborate on expanding your understanding of the unique characteristics and records of the group/area that you are researching.

Practice Ethics and Etiquette: Acknowledge provider of the information you use. Cite sources because there will be too many to commit to memory. Be polite and ask permission. Treat information obtained in confidence with respect. Be appreciative and give thanks for genealogical kindness from others.

RGS acknowledges the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International
for the framework of this section.

National Archives of Romania

National Archives of Romania


Romanian Genealogy Society
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Mendota Heights, Minnesota 55120-1367
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