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Cornell University

Genealogy: Finding Your Ancestors Online

A guide to genealogy resources on the Web and in the Cornell University Library

About this guide

This guide lists and describes resources that can be used for genealogical research. 

immigrants arriving











Immigrants at Battery Park, New York, N.Y. c. 1900  from American Memory at the Library of Congress

How to start

The basic steps of genealogy

  1. Start with living relatives - collect stories and documents
  2. Go back in time generation by generation
  3. Seek evidence (also known as primary sources--official documents, materials, etc.)
  4. Be critical of all information sources (including relatives and the Internet)
  5. Keep good notes and organized files



  • Start with I'm related to someone famous
  • Start with my family immigrated from a specific country
  • Believe everything you find on the Internet

Top Ten Genealogy Mistakes to Avoid

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