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Genealogy Guide: Researching your Ancestral Town


 If you know the name of the town your ancestors came from, you can locate the town on a map, identify the country and region, province, county, district, or other administrative unit it is in currently, and obtain the corresponding information for the time period when your ancestors lived there. With some research, it is possible to obtain this information even when you do not have the “correct” or present-day spelling of the town name.

Identifying the Town Name

To learn how to identify the name of the town(s) where your ancestors lived, please see our Research Guides on Getting Started, U.S. Immigration Records, and U.S. Naturalization Records. Other suggestions are available at Besides the name, try to obtain additional identifying information about the town. What type of industry or trade took place there? What languages were spoken? Was it near any rivers, forests, or borders? Was it near a larger city? Interviewing relatives is the best way to find out this information.

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