Research & Learn

Indiana Research Links. Family History Basics. County Line Formation Map.

Resources for your Research.

  • Indiana WILLS & Probate Records (FREE at local libraries)

    • has Wills and Probate Records for Indiana –> Click HERE
      • They have them for other states as well and you can find them by clicking SEARCH / then CARD CATALOG / In the key word box, type the STATE where the death certificate will be located + “Wills” +”Probate” (example: “Indiana Wills Probate”)
      • Once in the database, you can Search the Wills by name and County, but it will ONLY show the Wills. There are many more probate records available to browse.
        • You MUST click on the BROWSE THIS COLLECTION button, search for the County, and then start looking for the Probate Order Books in the year that your ancestor died. Hopefully there will be an index!
      • I’ve even prepared a VIDEO for you to watch me as I work my way around the collection:

Books (available online)

County Resources

  • Gore triangle in southeastern corner of Indiana.
  • Montgomery County IN Probate Record.
  • History of South Central Indiana.
    • This is a section online from Looking at History: Indiana’s Hoosier National Forest Region, 1600 to 1950. It starts with a great history of Native Americans living in Indiana in the 1600’s and is an excellent resource to learn more about our pioneer ancestors.
    • History of South Central Indiana –> Click HERE
  • Monroe County Field Notes – Monroe County, Indiana
    • Monroe County Field Notes is a virtual dig to uncover stories about 19th-century landmarks and people, from 1816–1876. It’s fun and free to get involved and your research will help the Monroe County Library diversify the community’s history!
    • Monroe County Field Notes –> Click HERE

Family History Research BASICS

If you are new to Family History Research, we have some tips!

Where do I even begin?

  • Hello! If you have NEVER done any family history research but are curious about how to get started, this next section is a perfect starting place for you.
  • I’m Michele Kerr. I have been the staff genealogist for The Society of Indiana Pioneers since 2006. My background in family history research goes back a lot farther than that to when my son was in 4th grade. He came home one day and needed a family tree. As of January, 2022, he is 31 years old, which tells you just how long it has been since we dove into the whole family history research thing. But once I got started, there was not stopping!
  • Besides being the staff genealogist for SIP (Society of Indiana Pioneers), I have my own website where I have been adding tips on family history research for quite a while. As I began to figure out how I could pass on this information to prospective members of SIP, it just seemed to make sense to also make this content available here on the SIP website.
    • (Full disclosure: I’m not looking to sell anyone anything. I’ve been helping prospective members get started in their research for a long time and have a lot of great tips to share!
  • A few years ago, I produced an online video-based class with the goal to help people get started with their own family history research. It was shared with a group of digital scrapbookers. I am making it accessible to you as well, but don’t worry… The sections I am sharing are ONLY directed towards family history research basics and they are all FREE to prospective SIP applicants.
  • This section will include both reading sections and video sections and I’m hoping you will enjoy your own journey into your family history research!
  • So, again… if you are at the very beginning of your own journey to learn about your family’s history, you are in the right place!
To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.  – Chinese Proverb

A Series on Family History Basics.

These articles were written as a monthly series and hopefully can be used as a gentle way to ease into your own family history research.

#1 – Starting with what we DO know

Stories are powerful and telling your family story can have a great impact on your life. Reaching back into our family’s history helps us to build our own story and to make sure that our descendants will be telling them into the future. Your family history does matter.

#2 – Family Documents (We need them)

The next step in our journey is to tap into our own living relatives for stories. Just think… if you have a living grandparent, they will have stories about their grandparents and those are your gg-grandparents!

#3 – The Good Stuff with Stories and Details

Now it is time to get to the good stuff… Make contact with our family members and tap into their memories to gather stories that can be captured and written down for generations to come. Don’t put this off. Life is fragile and we are never guaranteed “wait time” to make those contacts.

#4 – Planting your family tree online

In the genealogy world there is a funny term called “cousin bait” and let me just tell you that it is the most positive and rewarding part of the whole family history research process. Family stories are priceless.

#5 – Newspapers are our grandparents’ Facebook

Working on your family’s history is a bit like going on an adult Easter-egg hunt and I’m not kidding at all…  This month I’d love to share with you my love of newspapers — the online newspaper sites in particular.

#6 – Books are my Jam!

This month, as we continue to add layers into our research toolkit, it’s time to look at books. That could look like an actual trip to a library where your ancestors lived or it could be from your home early in the wee hours.

Heritage Video Series

In my Family History Basics Video Series, we will discover how easy it is to learn about our families, several generations back. We will explore how to set up a family tree (for free) using and begin to use the Search tools in, and Fold3 (a military website.)

#2 - GATHERING _ Setting up an Ancestry Tree

As you begin your exploration of your own family’s history, a family tree is a great place to save everything you find: pictures, documents, and vital records.  In this video, I will take you to the special area inside of where you can set up your own family tree (for free and without a credit card) and show you around a bit.

#3 - GATHERING _ Adding Documents & Searching in Ancestry

If you have seen those commercials and curious how to use such a program, you are in the right place!  In this video, I will show you a way to get your feet wet as we take a free look around, add documentation to a family tree and also take a look at the free databases available to us —  (you guessed it!) all free!

It’s a great way to get started, with no commitments, and then decide if and when you might like to pay for a subscription or take advantage of what might be available at your local library.

#4 - GATHERING _ Researching Military & Online Newspapers

We have a great base with our family tree in place and a few documents added, but what if your ancestor served in the military or you can’t locate any vital records? Military documents are a rich resource because they add to a family member’s story as well as possibly give us more clues to their family details.  If you have ever read an obituary, you can agree that digitized newspapers are another valuable resource for finding all sorts of great stories about our families.

In this video, you can follow along as I do a little exploring in the subscription-based Fold3 and NewspaperArchive, all through my local library using my library card barcode (and all in my own home.) These two sights are amazing as they bring those fragile documents to us in their digitized glory — all searchable, which is the key.

#5 - GATHERING _ Researching Google Books & Find-a-Grave

At the risk of sounding kind of book-nerdy, I love everything about books, especially those that give us a peek into our own family’s stories. If you have ever wanted to visit the cemeteries where your families are interred but distance has been a road-block, then Find-a-Grave might be a great way to get there without driving.

In this video, you can follow along as I do a little searching around in Google Books, a wonderful resource for digitized old books, and Find-a-Grave website.  Both are well-deserving of your time. There are so many stories out there just waiting for you to begin your exploration!

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