How Genealogists Researched in the 1800’s

Genealogy is a fascinating field that allows us to trace our family history and understand our roots. However, researching our family history wasn’t always as easy as it is today. In the 1800s, genealogists faced many challenges that made their research much more difficult than it is today.

In this blog post, we will explore how genealogists researched in the 1800s, and the challenges they faced.

The Challenges of Genealogical Research in the 1800s

The 1800s were a time of significant social, economic, and political changes that affected how people kept records. One of the biggest challenges that genealogists faced during this time was the lack of reliable sources.

Vital records, such as birth, marriage, and death certificates, were not standard in the 1800s, and many churches and municipalities did not keep them. Census records were also not as detailed as they are today, and many people were not included in them.

Another challenge was the difficulty of physically accessing records. Genealogists had to travel to various archives and repositories to find documents, which could be time-consuming and costly.

Despite these challenges, genealogists in the 1800s still found ways to research their family history. Here are some of the methods they used:

  1. Family Bibles: Family Bibles were often used to record important family events such as births, marriages, and deaths.
  2. Church Records: Church records were a valuable resource for genealogists in the 1800s. Churches kept records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths, which could provide valuable information for family historians.
  3. Local Histories: Many towns and cities produced local histories, which often included information on early settlers and prominent families.
  4. Census Records: Although census records were not as detailed as they are today, they still provided valuable information about families and their members.
  5. Graveyards: Genealogists often visited graveyards to find information about their ancestors. Tombstones could provide important information about birth and death dates, as well as family relationships.


Genealogical research in the 1800s was much more challenging than it is today, but genealogists still managed to find ways to trace their family history. They relied on family bibles, church records, local histories, census records, and graveyards to piece together their family trees.


Published by Darrell Gibbs

A father of three children and five grandchildren who retired in 2015 and began a career as a non-fiction writer in genealogy resource ebooks for new family historians. Aspiring towards the future as a Historical Fiction Author of his premier book "Wessex Reign".

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