== Step 4. Find and Search the Records ==
You may be able to obtain the records you need from the following:
'''Family History Library.''' You are welcome to visit and use the records at the Family History Library. The library is open to the public. There are no fees for using the records. '''Family History Centers.''' Copies of most of the records on microform at the Family History Library can be loaned to family history centers. There are small duplication and postage fees for this service. You can get a list of the family history centers near you by writing to the Family History Library. '''Archives and local churches.''' Most original documents are at federal, state, church, and local archives or in local parish offices. While the Family History Library has many records on microfilm, additional records are available only at these archives. You can request searches in their records through correspondence or by visiting these offices. '''Libraries and interlibrary loan.''' Public, academic, and other research libraries may have compiled records and some original records for tracing immigrant origins. Some libraries provide interlibrary loan services to borrow records from other libraries. In addition, many indexes and catalogs are available through local libraries. '''Professional researchers.''' You can hire a professional researcher to search the records for you. Researchers in the country of origin may keep lists of emigrants compiled from various sources. For information on hiring a researcher, see [[Hiring a Professional Genealogist|Hiring a Professional Genealogist
.]] When requesting services from libraries or professional researchers through correspondence, you will have more success if your letter is brief and specific. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope when writing within your own country. When writing to other countries, enclose international reply coupons (available from your post office). You usually need to send a check or money order in advance to pay for photocopy or search services.
'''Suggestions for Searching the Records.''' Follow these principles as you search the various records for your ancestor:
'''Search for the immigrant's entire family.''' The records of each person in a family may include clues for identifying other family members. Look at other records and in other places to find a missing family member. Other people with the same surname may be relatives. '''Search each source thoroughly'''. Note the immigrant's occupation and the names of witnesses, godparents, neighbors, relatives, guardians, and others. '''Search a broad time period.''' Look several years before and after the date you think an event occurred. '''Use indexes.''' Many records have indexes that help you use the records faster and better. However, many indexes are incomplete. They may only include the name of the specific person the record is about. They may not include parents, witnesses, and other incidental persons. Also, the original records may have been misinterpreted, or names may have been omitted during indexing. '''Search for previous residences.''' Information about previous residences can lead to additional records that may have more information. '''Watch for spelling variations.''' Spelling was not standardized when most early records were made. You may find a name spelled differently than it is today.
== Step 5. Use the Information ==