Beginning Genealogy Tips


Write down what you know about your ancestorsā€” names, dates and places. A "pedigree chart" or "ancestor chart" is a good place to organize and record this information.

  • Begin with yourself as No. 1 on the chart.
  • Fathers' names and information are recorded beside even numbers. Record mothers' information beside odd numbers.
  • Identify names, dates and places you are missing. Start with the generation closest to you and work your way back through time, filling in missing pieces of your puzzle. How do you do that?

1. Contact relatives and ask them for information. Perhaps they know of other family members who have already done research on the family.

2. Look at home for sources that can add to what you know about your family: family Bibles, newspaper clippings, military certificates, birth and death certificates, wills, marriage licenses, diaries, letters, scrapbooks or photographs.

3. Go to libraries to search collections for information.

Sources might include:

  • genealogical societies
  • published genealogies
  • vital records: birth, death and marriage records
  • federal and state census records
  • city, county, and state histories
  • will or probate records
  • obituaries in local newspapers (indexed by the library)
  • maps and land/tax records

Information can be found in many formats:

  • Microfilm
  • Microfiche
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Genealogy publications
  • Online

Use our public access computers to locateĀ information through internet sites and online subscription databases.

Library Staff can also help you with suggestions.


  • Check for spelling variations in names when searching indexes.
  • Look for facts and clues regarding dates, places, and names.
  • Make it a habit to keep thorough and complete records of your research steps.
  • Always document your sources carefully.
  • Consider contacting or joining a genealogical society such as the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society (SCIGS).

Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society - SCIGS

  • SCIGS meets the 1st Monday of each month at the Main Street Library. Call the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center at 563- 26-7902 for information about the Society's next meeting.


The library is pleased to provide several online subscription databases for patron use at all Davenport library locations:

  • Access Newspaper ARCHIVE contains tens of millions of searchable newspaper pages, dating as far back as the 1700s. It is your gateway to searching and reading historical newspapers online.
  • Ancestry Library Edition is the library version of Access a wealth of indexes and actual images of documents from the U.S., Canada and the U.K..
  • Go to the Genealogy & Local History link to search our Select Local Resources database for obituaries, marriages, military records and Iowa census indexes for Scott County.
  • Explore our image archive and photograph collection for portraits of your family members, a family residence, or just to get a feeling for life in the Quad Cities during the time your ancestors lived here.
  • Read our blog for more genealogy tips and interesting local history stories.
  • Use the library catalog from your home computer or within the library to search our collection for vital records, maps, county histories, directories or genealogical publications pertaining to your surname or location of interest. Check out a general "how to get started" book from the circulating collection.

**Heritage Quest Online provides information about people and places in census images, family and local histories, selected records from the Revolutionary War Era and the Freedman's Bank.

**Fold3 (formerly Footnote): Military records including Revolutionary War and World War II Archives, as well as the Chicago Tribune newspaper, the African-American Archive and the Native American Archive.

**Accessible from home with your Davenport Library card number at (Do Research Online)