The favored rule of family tree research is to begin with yourself. Work from what you know to the unknown, gathering proof each step of the way.
Next, gather family tree information from your immediate family .The elders in the family do not live indefinitely regardless of age or health and it is important to record all that they can recall .
Whenever possible, conduct a personal interview. Let your relatives know that you are coming , as well as the type of information in which you are interested . With permission, use recording equipment. Take accurate and clear notes . Prepare for your interview by making a checklist of questions to remind you to ask the three important questions: who, where and when . These questions will increase your genealogy know how and family tree research .
However, be flexible in your approach in order to follow clues from the person you are interviewing . There are sure to be challenges in the process ; beflexible with your interview style and be open to the discourse and the tales that may follow . If one can't interview a relative personally , write a letter that is personal and conversational in nature . If the letter goes unanswered, a phone call may be required . It is possible that responding in writing may be difficult for an elderly person who might be happy to share information. If this is the reason , a phone call might be more productive.
Remember not all your relatives will be as excited or interested about family history and genealogy .
Use pictures as a aid . Often pictures jog the memory, and unlock fragments of family information long forgotten.
Reassure people that you will be very careful of the photos or documentation loaned you . Respect and be sensitive to the information they loan to you. Often relatives are hesitant to lend a family heirloom , so be prepared to photograph momentos whenever they cannot be taken from the home .
Offer to share your research . Keep your promise . After entering compiling data on a family history sheet and pedigree chart , send a copy to the individual who has shared with you the information .
Be certain to ask if there is a family bible and find out where it is located . Family bibles may contain information about births, marriages and deaths carefully written on the pages inside .
enquire if anyone else in the family has researched genealogy . If so, determine how to collaborate with them
Family memorabilia often contains useful information :
- Names and places are printed on the backs of old photos .
- Written messages on the flyleaf of a book commemorating a birthday or a holiday.
- Family scrapbooks that contain historic newspaper obituaries , programs from concerts , graduations and plays .
- Engraved flatware.
There are an endless variety of family artifacts :
- Certificates - birth baptismal, first communion, church confirmation , marriage , death and burial , wills, divorce and lawsuits .
- Adoption papers
- Memorial notices
- School Report
- Use historic newspapers to find obituaries
Develop a method to organize your research . Organizing what you have collected is difficult if you don't have a method . You will want to create a filing system using both traditional and electronic techniques. Use file folders or binders with the surname as the label, putting items relating to that surname together. When you have time , peruse each folder or binder carefuly, extracting relevant information.
Ensure you cross reference your paper files to your electronic files .
Don't forget to backup your material in another location . Many invaluable family collections have been ruined by natural disasters , as well as simply by the apathy of others who did not know they were handling did not know the value of the irreplacable family artifacts .
Employ the following steps to find your family tree .
1. Every section of a family's genealogy should be as complete as possible. Endeavor to assemble an accurate account of each family's history. Someday, our descendants will be researching us . Those who follow us will appreciate working with correct information as they research their family tree.
2. Do not be a copy cat . Do collect as much information as you can for proper assessment . Just because it is in print does not make it a true statement. Many early genealogies were based on incorrect research.
3. A famly history , to be useful should indicate the sources that were collected in the records . Use a reference bibliography and do your own research, when ever possible . Another person's interpretation of the information may not be complete or accurate . Copying someone's error only perpetuates the mistake.
Sources of data fall into two categories, primary and secondary . Primary sources are those statements or records , verbal or written, made near or at the time of the event . The source will be an eyewitness account or from someone associated with the event . The preference for primary sources should be obvious . A secondary source comes from a non-witness, or one not associated with the occurrence . The recollection possibly would have been made later , from memory. Information sources will be found in many places including vital records, census and obituaries .
4. Do not procrastinate . Relatives can give first hand eye witness versions not be found elsewhere. A life time of "tomorrows' may be needed to discover the answers to questions that you could have asked.
5. With records, as with sources , there are two criteria to judge credibility. Are the records original, or copies? An original is the first transcription of an happening in accordance with the lawor custom.
The occurance may be noted in more than one orginal records. The birth of a child could appear in Vital Statistics, in the Church Registry, and perhaps in the Family Bible. These records would be classified as originals because, in each case, it was the first entry of the birth in that vicinity. A copied record is one that has been transcribed, compiled, or copied from another record. The other record may have been an original, or it may have been a copy . Each time a copy is transcribed there is a possibility for error. Every new copy , increases the chances of errors.
6. A certified copy is considered an official copy, but it is a copy, and is subject to error. This issue has been reduced with the wide spread use of scanning or photocopying . A scanned copy of an original document can be considered the same as the original.
7. No genealogy is considered complete unless family tree research is done for each individual of the family. No one should be overlooked and no one should be eliminated .
8. A name ought to be recorded as the complete name. Avoid using ditto marks. Always record the complete names of the children on a family group sheet or in your computer database . When If a person has been known by a nickname, include it.
9. If you find a certain name has been used, such as Betty, on some documents, and or nickname for the same person on other records, ensure you make note of both the names.
10. A child born to unwed parents assumes the mother's name most frequently.
Use these 10 steps to guide your genealogy knowledge.
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