Friday, June 28, 2024

Using ChatGPT-4o to Create a Genealogy Research Plan

 I recently asked Artificial Intelligence ChatGPT-4o to create a Research Plan of an ancestral family for me, assuming I was a novice genealogist looking for advice on how to research an ancestor. 

Here is my initial Prompt:

"From now on, I would like you to ask me questions to find information on my 3rd great-grandparents Henry Caringer and Sarah Feather. When you have enough information to give me research suggestions, create a list of possible places to search."

And the first Response was:

"Sure, let's start with some basic questions:

  1. Where and when were Henry Caringer and Sarah Feather born?
  2. Do you know the locations where they lived during their lifetime?
  3. What were their approximate dates of marriage and death?
  4. Do you have any information about their parents or siblings?
  5. Do you know if they had any children? If so, what were their names?
  6. Do you have any documents or records already, such as census records, birth/death certificates, or marriage licenses?

"These details will help narrow down the places and resources to search for more information."

Prompt #2 was:

"Henry Carringer was born in 1800 in Pennsylvania, and Sarah Feather was born in 1804 in Ohio. They married in about 1825 in Pennsylvania, and had 10 children - Eliza, David, George, Cornelius, Mary, Sarah, Henry, Louisa, Matilda, and Harvey. Sarah died in 1848 in Pennsylvania and Henry died in 1879 in Iowa. I don't know their parents or siblings. I have census records and burial records."

Response #2 was:   

"Great, thank you for the information. Based on what you’ve provided, here are a few more questions to refine our research suggestions:

  1. Do you know the specific towns or counties in Pennsylvania and Iowa where Henry and Sarah lived?
  2. Are there any family stories, letters, or other documents that might provide clues about their lives or family members?
  3. Have you explored local historical societies or libraries in the areas where they lived?
  4. Do you know where Henry and Sarah are buried? If so, which cemeteries?

"These details will help identify more specific resources and locations for further research."

My Prompt #3 was:

"Henry and Sarah resided in Mercer County, PA, and after Sarah died Henry moved to Louisa County, Iowa, where he was buried in the Columbus City IA Cemetery. I don't have any family stories or letters. I have been to Mercer County PA and explored the libraries and historical society there." 

Response #3 was:

"Thank you for the additional details. Based on the information provided, here are some research suggestions to find more about Henry Carringer and Sarah Feather:

"Research Suggestions:

  1. Mercer County, PA Records:

    • Church Records: Look for baptism, marriage, and burial records in local churches where Henry and Sarah might have attended.
    • Land and Property Records: Check Mercer County property records to trace land ownership and transactions involving Henry and Sarah.
    • Probate Records: Search for wills, estate records, and probate documents in Mercer County that might mention Henry or Sarah and their family members.
  2. Louisa County, IA Records:

    • Land and Property Records: Investigate land records in Louisa County to find out when Henry acquired property there.
    • Probate Records: Look for Henry’s will or probate records in Louisa County to identify potential relatives or details about his estate.
  3. Ohio Records:

    • Birth and Family Records for Sarah Feather: Since Sarah was born in Ohio, look into early Ohio records, such as birth records, to find her parents and siblings.
  4. Cemetery Records:

    • Columbus City Cemetery, IA: Check for additional family members buried in the same cemetery as Henry, which might provide clues to other relatives.
    • Mercer County Cemeteries: Look for Sarah Feather’s burial place and see if other family members are buried nearby.
  5. Census Records:

    • Earlier Census Records (1810, 1820): Look for Henry and Sarah’s families before their marriage, which might list their parents or siblings.
    • Neighbors in Census Records: Research neighbors listed in census records, as family members often lived close to each other.
  6. Newspapers and Obituaries:

    • Local Newspapers: Search historical newspapers from Mercer County, PA, and Louisa County, IA, for obituaries, marriage announcements, and other articles mentioning Henry and Sarah or their children.
  7. Genealogy Websites and Databases:

    •,, MyHeritage: Utilize these platforms to search for existing family trees, records, and documents that other researchers might have already compiled.
  8. DNA Testing and Analysis:

    • DNA Matches: Consider taking a DNA test and exploring matches that might connect you with other descendants of Henry and Sarah, potentially providing new information about their ancestors.
  9. County Histories and Biographies:

    • Local Histories: Look for published county histories or biographical sketches from Mercer County, PA, and Louisa County, IA, which might include references to the Carringer and Feather families.

"By following these suggestions, you can gather more information about Henry Carringer and Sarah Feather’s ancestors and family members. Let me know if you need any help with specific records or databases!"

That's as far as I went because the Chatbot answered my questions pretty well considering the limited information I provided.  The Chatbot did not mention possible military records or tax records.


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Marian B. Wood said...

If ChatGPT would include links to possible research sites, that would be even more helpful!

Minor Details said...

This is better than I would have expected. I have horrible ADHD and some days I feel stuck and overwhelmed about what to work on next. I use trello to help organize myself but sometimes I look at my plan and struggle what I want to prioritize. I will definitely be trying this.