Researching your family history and ancestry can be time consuming and sometimes emotional. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding endeavors you accomplish. With genealogy research on the rise and quickly becoming a favorite hobby for many, undoubtedly there is joy and excitement in discovering one’s lineage. Uncovering important facts and putting together pieces from a wide variety of sources about your family’s past is central to the genealogical journey.

Research shows that faith was a sacred and important element in the lives of many of our ancestors. Whether congregating in a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, or a house of worship, our ancestors were often serious about their faith. Knowing the religious beliefs of your ancestors is a good way to commence your family history and genealogy research. If you are not aware or have no clue how to begin, a visit to the West Oaks Branch Library and Genealogy Center is a good place to start.

Researching the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps collection is an excellent resource to help determine where your ancestors worshipped. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Company, established in 1867, compiled and published maps of U.S. cities and towns for the fire insurance industry to evaluate the risk of insuring property. The maps are large-scale plans of cities and towns showing detailed information on commercial and industrial buildings, residential areas, and churches. These maps can help you pinpoint where your ancestors lived, worked and worshipped. Ultimately, looking closely at the records of a place of worship can provide a wealth of information. Many churches kept (and some still do) detailed records of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. Knowing more about the history of your ancestors’ faith and possible places of worship could be a way to uncover vital records pertaining to members of your family living long ago and in places far away.