Sunday, June 12, 2016

Family History by Cindy Flores Martinez

Genealogy, or family history, has been an interest of mine for a long time. Through the years, I’ve uncovered records of my ancestors that I never imagined I would. Today, I’m going to share my tips with those of you who are interested in finding your family history but aren’t sure where to begin.

When I was twelve years old, my great-aunt, who was my maternal grandmother’s sister, gave me the names and birthplaces of her (and my grandmother's) parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Even though I was so young, the information fascinated me. I wrote everything down on a pink sheet of paper and kept it. Years later, I found those names on a family history website on the internet. They led to more records and information and showed me how to find my dad's ancestors as well. Although there are no guarantees that you’ll find your ancestors’ records, it’s worth a try.

My favorite online tool is the FamilySearch website from Utah, which is found at . When you type your ancestors’ names, approximate birth years, and locations in the “search records” section, you might find results right away. If you don’t, there’s still a chance your ancestors’ records are there. At the bottom of the search page, you should be able to see the link, “Browse all published collections”. Clicking on it will take you to a vast collection of records, many of which are handwritten. A camera icon shows you if a collection is available to view online. By the way, every record that I've ever found has been free.

Each collection is usually separated by years or a certain number of pages. Thankfully, there’s a way to zoom out so you can see several pages at the same time. This makes it easier to find the year you’re looking for. While viewing a collection, just click on the square icons on the left-hand side of the webpage and you’ll see what I mean.

If you’re really fortunate, a collection will have a list of every person’s name within it and the page numbers where they can be found, so be sure and look for those lists.

Another search I recommend is Ellis Island records. They can be found on the FamilySearch website, but I suggest going to for more records.

I hope my explanation hasn’t confused you!

Here's some extra advice. Be prepared for what you might find! The records that I’ve found have shattered every family story that I was ever told. To give you an example, my recent ancestors on both of my parents’ sides are described in records as part Native American. I knew I had Apache Indian ancestry, but I had no idea that I had so much more Native American ancestry than that. My ancestors lived in different areas, in both Mexico and the U.S., which means I could be a descendant of various tribes, but the records don’t state which ones they are. I will definitely need to keep searching.

If you have any questions, please let me know. In the meantime, happy searching!

Cindy Flores Martinez is an Amazon bestselling Spanish romance author. She writes sweet romantic comedy and inspirational romance in English. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Her debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started out as a screenplay and movie project, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world. You can learn more about her at


  1. Very interesting blog, Cindy. And thanks for the helpful info.

    1. Thank you, Josie! There was so much I wanted to write about the subject because I've discovered such fascinating things while searching for family history records. Maybe I'll write a book one day.

  2. Cindy, that's so very interesting. I've often thought about searching for ancestors, but I've never had the time to invest.

    1. It can definitely be time consuming, Merrillee. Through the years, volunteers have indexed records or added the information to the database. If you're one of the fortunate ones, you'll find exact dates with your search results. If not, it helps to bookmark a page in a collection and then continue from there later on when you have time to spare.

  3. Family history is so fascinating. I recently took an ancestry DNA test and was very surprised by the results. Thanks for the helpful tips and links you shared!

  4. I love genealogy too, Cindy! It seems to be a passion on both sides of my family. One of my mom's cousins traced the family back to 900s (that's not a typo, no 1 missing ;) and one my dad's cousins sends an update to everyone in the family every year, going back to the 1600s. It took both of them years of research to put it all together. I have this dream of writing a series of historical novels one day based on my ancestors' lives because some of the stories are just so bizarre!