Finding Your Family
So now you've decided you want to research your family history but you don't know where to begin? This is a question that everyone beginning their family's genealogy always asks. The answer is simple...start with YOURSELF ! You always want to start with what you know and then begin to fill in the gaps and missing infomration. The basic questioins that are always foremost in your mind are Who, Where, & When.
- Who was your ancester?
- Where did they live?
- When were they alive?
In determining the answering the above questions, you should follow the steps below:
- You should always start your Genealogical Researching with Yourself gathering all your Vital Records (birth, marriage, civil and church records). Most of us have documents for ourselves. By reviewing our own documents, we begin to develop the skill of finding genealogical information. We discover what is asked for on a certain record, and what to begin to look for. For example, a birth certificate gives us parent's names, especially our mother's maiden name, place of birth (state and city), and a date. A church record will add information such as Godparents, and the name of the church used by the family. These are all clues and resources to help us with further research.
- The next step to your genealogical research is to write down everything you know about your family, and then put it on Pedigree and Family Group charts. You can find these from your local Genealogical Society, Latter-day Saints Family History Center, and local libraries. The Latter-Day Saints have a web site with Basic Information on Beginning a Family History Search. You can find it at: https://www.familysearch.org/locations.
FHC = Family History Center, is a branch of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) Church in Salt Lake City Utah. There are over 2,000 local branches in about 50 countries around the world with libraries containing filmed records.. The FHC is open free to the public. You do not have to be a member of the church to use the library. No one will try to convert you or preach to you. To locate a FHC near you, check your phone book yellow pages under "Churches, Latter-day Saints" for a listing, or call 800-346-6044.
- Next you will want to do family interviews to gather all the information you can. Be interested in their stories and ask questions. Use a tape recorder, or video camera, and take notes. Remember though that your family stories are not always fact. You must find the proof to document the story. Facts in a story will change from constant telling and interpretation. Selective facts with be added or omitted. It is up to you to find the truth in the story through the documents you find. Prepare your questions ahead of time, write them down and refer to them during your interview. You don't want to interrupt the flow of what your relative is remembering, so ask any clarifying questions or missed questions at the end.
- Be sure to search the attic for home sources! Every family has cherished keepsakes of past generations. Look for bibles, journals, letters, pictures, school records, newspaper clippings, certificates, military items, and anything else related to the family. Each piece can give you valuable information about your ancestors.
- Check and see if there has been a family history already done for your family name. You just might find that Uncle Henry already published a book about his ancestors. There are quite a few records that go into a great and complete family history, from obituaries to the US Census, gathering as much information as possible is vital to building the perfect family tree. Find out what research has already been done for YOUR family tree at OneGreatFamily. Check the Library of Congress and your local library.
- Excellent record keeping is essential to doing genealogy. Get Organized!