Ask an Expert: Roberta Sittel

Roberta Sittel (Photo by Gary Payne)How can you trace your genealogy?

Ever wonder about your family's history or who your great-great-great-grandfather was? Roberta Sittel, government information librarian at the UNT Eagle Commons Library, says "anyone can trace their family lineage with patience, persistence and a little bit of knowledge."

Sittel, an expert in government information and legal research, assists library users with finding the resources and knowledge they're searching for -- including clues to their hidden ancestries. She offers the following tips to help you get started.

Do your homework

  • Begin with a blank pedigree chart and put down everything you know about your family tree. Find blank charts at ancestry.com/download/charts.
  • Visit with relatives who are most familiar with your family history. StoryCorps, a national oral history initiative, also can provide help and questions to get a conversation started.

Use all resources

  • Start at your local public library. While many resources are available online, some are available only as paper copies. Libraries also provide access to subscription services such as Ancestry.com and Fold3.com.
  • Use subscription services and other websites. Both free and paid online services exist to help you find your family history. FamilySearch.org is a helpful free website, and the Portal to Texas History, a site operated by the UNT libraries, offers invaluable resources for relatives who may have lived in or passed through Texas.
  • Check public records. You can track down information in county courthouses or through local historical societies, but this can take time.

Keep looking

  • Share what you find. Register your family tree with subscription services, blog about it and post it for friends and family to see on social media sites. It might help you on your quest.
  • Not every clue will lead to success. In research there are always dead ends, but don't give up. There are always more clues.

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