Beginning Genealogy

Download a copy of the Sherman Room’s Genealogy Starter Kit here.

Are you beginning to think about exploring your family history?  Need some help getting started?  This starter kit will introduce you to many of the tools available to begin your genealogy journey.

Genealogy can be both rewarding and frustrating.  When you answer one question, two more seem to appear.  Being organized and knowing where to look for information can help ease some of those frustrations.  Below are some books, internet resources and databases to help you get started.  Also included in this kit are forms to help you get started.  Stop in to the Sherman Room at the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, we would be happy to help you on this journey.


Internet Resources

  • Cyndi’s List
    • Cyndi’s List is one of the most comprehensive genealogy websites.
  • FamilySearch
    • FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization and website offering genealogical records, education, and software. It is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is closely connected with the church’s Family History Department. A great free alternative to
  • American Ancestors
    • Founded in 1845, the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is the country’s leading resource for family history research. For more than 150 years, NEHGS has helped new and experienced researchers trace their heritage in New England and around the world.
  • National Genealogical Society
    • The National Genealogical Society is a genealogical interest group founded in 1903 in Washington, D.C.. Its headquarters are in Falls Church, Virginia.


  • African American Heritage
    • A comprehensive mix of resources, records, and tools specifically pertaining to African American genealogy that can also connect users to a community of research experts, who offer mentoring and research assistance.
  • Ancestry Library Edition – Now Available remotely through December
    • Vast genealogical resource focused mainly on the United States and the United Kingdom, including census, vital, church, court, and immigration records, as well as record collections from Canada and other areas. Including census, vital, church, court, and immigration records.
  • Fold3 Library Edition
    • The premier collection of historical military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served from the Revolutionary War through recent conflicts. It contains millions of records from world-class archives, many of which are exclusively available on Fold3 Library Edition.
  • Heritage Quest
    • With an essential collection of genealogical and historical sources for more than 60 countries, with coverage dating back as early as the 1700s, this collection can help people find their ancestors and discover a place’s past, while also providing a comprehensive treasury of genealogical sources rich in unique records, local and family histories, and finding-aids.
  • Mansfield News Journal Index (ProQuest)
    • This online newspaper index not only includes articles and obituaries from the News Journal, but also companies, people, products, and more. From 2002 to the present. 
  • Newspaper Archive (Temporary remote access until December 31, 2020)
    • The largest historical newspaper online database with more than 70 million newspaper pages and more than 80,000 pages being added per day.
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
    • Large scale street plans and property and land use maps of everyday life produced by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company from 1867 to 1970.  Includes more than 660,000 large-scale maps of more than 12,000 US towns and cities

Forms and Charts

Five Generation Chart

This basic “pedigree chart” is a perfect tool for recording and referencing key facts about your family tree and a great starting point. On it, you’ll document names and birth, death and marriage details for five generations of your family. Begin by filling in what you know, starting with yourself. Continue by adding your parents and grandparents. After filling in the information you know you can create a plan to find the missing information.

Family Group Sheet

Simply put, a family group sheet is a form which list a husband and wife and their children. In addition to this there is also space for birth, marriage, and death information. This is another great tool to list and entire family unit and see what information you are missing.

Research log

A research log is a comprehensive list of what you have searched and what you plan to search for an ancestor. It can tell you what you found or didn’t find, and save you time because you don’t need to search the same resource again. You can have one research log for each ancestor or a research log for each repository or website you have searched. There is not one way to do this, the most important thing is that it makes sense to you.

Good luck on your genealogical journey and if you ever need help feel free to contact the Sherman Room at 419.521.3115 or

Or stop in and see us at the main library located at 43 West Third Street, Mansfield, Ohio 44903.

Our hours are currently Monday 10-8 and Tuesday thru Thursday 10-5.