Your Guide to Researching
Tennessee Ancestors

General Guides to Tennessee Research

Two online sources cover each state. Throughout this page I will provide links to some, but not all of those links. Take a moment now to look familiarize yourself with what is there.

  • Family History Library Research Wiki: Tennessee
    • Remember: from this main page you can also click links to pages for each county in Tennessee
  • Ancestry Redbook Wiki: Tennessee
    • (note you will click the links to the right to see further topics)
  • Tennessee Genealogy Research Guide (use tabs on top to navigate)--A Univ of Tenn Knoxville LibGuide

Books you might purchase or use in a library include

Each of the three reference books listed below has a small section covering each state that includes maps, historical information, vital records coverage and a bibliography of resources for that state. (note: some libraries may have earlier editions; those are usable)

  1. Handybook for Genealogists ( 11th edition) (find in a library)
  2. Ancestry's Redbook, 3rd ed, revised. (find in a library) (see above for online copy)
  3. The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogical Research (find in a library)

Atlases, Maps & Gazateers

Statewide Genealogy Websites

Next, see what is available for your counties of interest at at one of these statewide sites. For each, use the county selection list to find out what is available for the various counties. Content will vary, but in usually you wil find the GenWeb site to be the most robust. All are volunteer driven sites; all data free.

Societies, Libraries and Archives

For more information on using libraries and archives, see genealogy guides to Libraries and Archives

Finding and Using Records:
adoption African American bible cemetery, census, church, city directories, histories, court & legal, military, land and property, naturalizations, newspapers, probate, tax, vital.

FIRST.. use the catalog at the place name box in the Family History Library catalog to find out what has been filmed covering the state of Tennessee the counties ofTennessee and the cities, villages or townships within the counties.

  • As you type Tennessee in the place box, you will see an alphabetical listing of counties in the drop down;
    • once in a county, you can click in the place box on the left to see an alphabetical list of the towns, cities and villages within that county.
    • This only shows areas for which material is available at the Family History Library.
  • An item will likely be in one of the three, perhaps two of the three and almost never in all three of these searches --you need to check each

NEXT... see what is Tennessee records are available online on the FamilySearch.org Records Collection

AND REMEMBER The Family History Library is not the only place you will find material. A great deal is available online or in libraries and archives, courthouses or other institutions and organizations across the nation.

To find evern more records that are available...

  • Search WorldCat to find genealogy related publications specific to Tennessee
  • You want publications that cover the state as a whole, as well as a specific region, county or city/village within the state.
      • The Allen County Library at Fort Wayne has an excellent collection that includes books covering the whole state. For each state they have created a pathfinder that provides a listing of the most commonly used books covering the whole state or a large region of the state. No one library has everything, but this bibliography will list almost all of the well known books for the state of Tennessee
        • This bibliography won't include listings of books that cover the counties for any state except Indiana. You will find those through WorldCat, the Family History Library Catalog and other sources.
  • Use PERSI to discover records that have been published in genealogical quarterlies, magazines and newsletters.

Below is information on some of the records you will seek; these links are intended to help you educate yourself on the use and value of the records, as well as find them.


African American:


Cemetery: For general informaton, see guide to cemetery records, this website

Census: For general inforamtion, see guide to census records, this website.

Church: For general information, see guide to church records, this website.

City and County Directories: For general information, see guide to city and county directories, this website.

County and Local Histories: For general informaton, see guide to county histories, this website

Court & Legal; For general information, see guide to law libraries, this website

Land & Property: For general information, see guide to land records, this website.

Military; For general inforamtion, see guide to military records, this website

Native American

Naturalizations; For general informaton, see guide to naturalizations, this website

Newspapers: For general information, see guide to newspapers, this website

Probate: For general information, see guide to probate records, this website

Tax Lists

Vital: For general information, see guide to vital records, this website.

Queries & Help

More Links

Page last updated May 22, 2014
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