Cindy Freed

Cindy Freed

Cindy Freed is a genealogist, researcher and writer. She has spent 20+ years exploring her family history and has branched out into Civil War research.

Along with her day job at the Better Business Bureau, Cindy writes a monthly column for The In-Depth Genealogist, Blue and Gray Trails. Previously Cindy was a regular contributor to 4th Ohio, First Call. The quarterly magazine for the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Descendants Association. Freed also maintains her website Genealogy Circle at

“I want to research the Civil War and the men who served from both sides. I don’t want these soldiers lost to history. I want to help their descendants learn their stories and I want to help tell their stories. We stand on those soldier’s shoulders today. I want to remember them and honor them.”

Cindy lives in west-central Ohio with her husband, Ron and is the mother of four. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website, Genealogy Circle at or emailing her at

Cindy Freed is the author of IDG’s monthly column, Blue and Gray Trails and her book Ancestors in a Nation Divided,” an In-Depth Guide to Civil War research as well as IDG’s  “An In-Brief Guide to Researching Your Civil War Ancestors”.

Go In-Depth with Cindy Freed:

What is one tip you would give a newbie genealogist?
I have worked on my family history off and on again for 25 years. There are two things I wish I would have made a regular practice from my very first pedigree chart. Cite everything! I know, I know you hear it everywhere but that’s because it’s so important!

My reason for not document sources of information at first was simple. “I’m only doing this for me. No one else will ever see my genealogy research.”  Silly, silly girl.

There are a number of reasons to cite your sources like adding credibility to your research and giving the original author their rightful due but the one reason I find most important after years of genealogy work is simple. By citing sources I’m not researching those same sources again and again. I’m not wasting valuable time reading a county history or census over. Years ago I thought I’d remember everything, not so much today!

Cite your sources. Even if you’re not exactly sure “how” to do it, get the important facts from your source on paper. Author, Publisher, date, city, volume, page. Then check the internet. There are many examples as to how to cite everything from printed material to websites. Save yourself time in the future by not reexamining the same information over and over again. Cite your sources!

My second tip would be to add collateral ancestors as you find them. You know your great Aunt Mildred’s children and grandchildren or your g-g-grandfather’s first wife and their kids. I didn’t do that when I started my genealogy research. I only pursued my direct-lineal ancestors.

Oh how I’ve come to regret that decision! Many times, especially when researching various documents at the courthouse I’ll come across a name that is vaguely familiar. I’ll think, “I should know that person,” and skip the document only to find much later, the person was a first cousin to my ancestor.

There are many leads I’ve passed over because I didn’t have collateral ancestors listed in my files. In fact knowing who your ancestor’s relatives and neighbor’s were only helps to enhance the bigger picture of how they lived. So I strongly suggest documenting all collateral ancestors as they turn up in your research. You never know they may be key to a big break-through.

Is there one area / specialty in genealogy you would like to learn / study?
There is a specialty I love and I’m pursing it right now. I really enjoy learning about the Civil War. It’s an event in our history that actually changed the course of our country and affects who we are as a nation today.

We are in the midst of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. After all the commemorations and observations are over and as time moves us further from that event, I fear we’ll lose those soldier’s stories. We’ll lose the knowledge that everyday men fought for something they truly believed in, their homeland, their way of life.

I want to continue to learn about the Civil War and the men who fought on both sides. I don’t want these soldiers lost to history. I want to help their descendants learn their stories. I want to help tell their stories. We stand on those soldier’s shoulders today. I want to remember them and honor them.

What is your social media tool of choice for genealogy?
Twitter! Hands down it’s Twitter! I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Twitter. The genealogy community is very warm and welcoming there. Information is freely given. In fact many blog posts or newspaper and magazine columns are shared there. I have come across tips and suggestions I would never have seen were I not on Twitter.

Twitter has also been helpful in promoting my blog! Through Twitter I have met up with a couple distant cousins and hope for more in the future. In many ways I’ve found it to be a resource as well as fun. I love Twitter and recommend it!

Find Cindy on Social Media:

Cindy Freed’s Reprint Policy:

You have permission to reprint articles that have been written by Cindy Freed appearing in The In-Depth Genealogist, except any articles published in Going In-Depth, when meeting the following requirements:

  • The article must be reprinted in full with no changes.
  • You must include the following bio with links for each article reprinted.
  • You must link back to the original article through the statement included below.



© 2012 Cindy Freed

Cindy Freed is a genealogist, researcher and writer. In addition to Cindy’s monthly IDG column, Tracing Blue and Gray, she is also a regular contributor to 4th Ohio, First Call. The quarterly magazine of the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Descendants Association.

You can learn more about Cindy or contact her through her website Genealogy Circle (

This article originally appeared on The In-Depth Genealogist and can be found here. [insert original link]