Genealogical Research Video Guides

To get started, consider downloading and/or printing the free forms that makes available to aid in genealogical research. Next, you'll want to refer to these video guides and resources provided here free of charge by the State Library of North Carolina.

Genealogical Forms

The first pair of videos will introduce you to the Ancestry Chart and Family Group Sheet, both of which are available for free download at the link above.

Part I: Preparing to Conduct Genealogical Research

Using Your Ancestral Chart

Ancestor charts help you organize your findings as you conduct genealogical research. Recording the following information for each individual will be helpful:

  • Date of Birth/Location
  • Date Married/Location
  • Date of Passing/Location

Family Group Sheet

With these sheets, you'll record basic information about a single family. Having some information concerning your ancestor's siblings often comes in handy when you lose track of your lineage through a gap in record keeping or a lack of extant historical sources.

The family group sheet provides a straightforward way to record an entire families information, most of which you'll find readily available from U.S. Census records.

Which Cousin is That?

Before you start digging into primary sources in earnest, watch this quick guide that breaks down some of the more complex circumstances you may encounter. Family trees can become exceedingly complex, particularly once you begin tracking cousins across multiple generations.

These tips will help you cut through the clutter to find the information you're looking for.

State Library Cousin Chart

Part II: Using Primary Sources to Conduct Ancestral Research

United States Census Records

Beginning in 1790, the Federal Government has conducted a census every decade. The state library's public facility in Raleigh offers census schedules from 1790-1930, as well as 1850 and 1860 slave schedules.

State Library Genealogical Resources

Slave Schedules

From 1850 forward, all free persons, regardless of race, were named in each census. In 1850 and 1860, enslaved African Americans were named in separate schedules that do not record names.

Finding Records of Enslaved People

Freedmen's Bureau Records via

Veterans Schedules

Two significant 18th century special Census schedules recorded veterans of wars fought by the United States. The first, in 1840, recorded surviving veterans of the Revolutionary War. In 1890, a schedule of Civil War Union veterans was recorded (though in some areas, Confederate veterans were recorded, too).

These were intended to assist in tracking claims by pensioners. These records and others may be accessed through your local public library, the State Library in Raleigh, a family history center, or a subscription database.

The Agricultural Census

Beginning in 1850, the Federal Government began to include an agricultural schedule in the census. After legislation passed in 1879, subsequent agricultural schedules became more complex, and many more questions were asked of each farmer and recorded by census takers.

These records can provide additional information to be used in conjunction with what you may find in the traditional census records for your family members.

Part III: More Ways to Research Your Ancestry

Where Did They Live?

Location matters in a big way when it comes to researching your genealogy. Knowing the locations your ancestors were born, married, and even where they passed can help you locate helpful records that will help you better understand their origins.

Keep in mind that the boundaries of towns, counties, and states rarely remained static throughout American history, so you may have to do some research on municipalities and other local government jurisdictions to ensure you find the right places to look.

Primary & Secondary Sources

Learn the difference between documents directly associated with past (primary sources) and works that deal with these sources of information (secondary sources). Well-sourced secondary sources with proper citations may well serve as an avenue towards primary sources you have missed in your own course of research.

In this video, you'll also learn the pitfalls of relying too heavily on secondary sources without checking their information against extant archival records.

Libraries & Archives

Learn about the facilities in North Carolina at your disposal as you begin to explore your family history.

Many resources do exist on the internet, including some that are provided by the state's digital archives offerings. Learn about the State Library's offerings in Raleigh, as well as other facilities like family history centers. North Carolina's State Library has a research room in the Government & Heritage Library at 109 E. Jones St. in Raleigh. 

NC Digital Collections: Searching for People by Name

Learn how to conduct online searches of the digital records maintained by State Archives staff. It's possible some records related to your genealogy have been digitized and made public on You also may be able to find catalog references in the archives that contain references to persons of particular interest.

This guide will show you how to conduct those searches efficiently and effectively.

NC Digital Collections: Tips to Get Started

Discover the full wealth of documents available in digital form in North Carolina's electronic archives. This guide walks you through free services that you can access at any time with a computer and internet connection. This can be very helpful as you begin to locate potential sources for your genealogical research.

Digitized newspapers, government records, and more are all at your fingertips:

Visit North Carolina's Digital Collections