If you’re a history buff than you can appreciate the work that goes into researching a family lineage. We say genealogy is hobby. On the contrary, after ten years I’ve come to realize that it’s an obsession. Delving into the unknown and uncovering all of those family secrets is sometimes more captivating than watching a major motion picture. And if you are as curious as I am, the more you discover about those long since gone, the more you’re driven to uncover the next mystery.
Here are some idea’s to help get you started:
- No matter what your intent is, serious discovery of your ancestry or just wanting to find out Grandpa Blackie’s real name, know your genealogy terminology. Knowing the difference between a pedigree chart and a family group sheet will make the process a lot easier.
- Start with what you know. Fill out your chart starting with you and your immediate family, then your parents, and finally your grandparents. Ask a lot of questions and write everything down or use a voice recording device then document.
- After you exhaust your resources from grandparents on down, it’s time for the real work to being. When making inquiries about deceased relatives, make certain to ask for birth dates, birth places, death dates, death places, parent’s names, interesting stories, and photographs. Collect obituaries! They are a goldmine because of all the valuable information listed in them such as the names of living family members you could contact for information.
- Create files either electronically or manually, I do both, to store the information you have retrieved and for fact checking. I suggest a file for each surname with a master pedigree chart to keep families organized.
- Start a public online family tree. There are several websites that offer services; some are free while others charge. You can google genealogy sites to find many available. Ancestry.com is just one that has a free service for newbie’s and they offer a free two-week full access trial membership, remember to manually cancel if you don’t want it. Findagrave.com is also useful because the web pages have a wealth of information including photos. You’ll be amazed at how many notifications you receive about your ancestors once your information goes public.
There are many ways to collect this information and whether you are just starting your journey, or have been at it for years, it can seem overwhelming at times. The point of starting a lineage chart is to have fun while discovering where you’ve come from. If you begin to get frustrated or you haven’t eaten nor showered in a week, yes it can happen, take a break to get yourself put back together.
The great thing about genealogy is that it never ends. There will always be something new to uncover. For example, the US Federal Census Bureau is releasing the census records from 1940 on April 2nd. There will be about 130 million new family connections available waiting for you to discover.