As you conduct your genealogy search, keep a written account of every step you make including noting the places you've visited online and in person. Alternatively, you can document your searches using video or voice recordings, whatever method works best for you. Store your documentation in a safe place, such as a fireproof filing cabinet, and make copies to be stored in a safe deposit box. In the event of your death or a natural disaster, all of your hard work won't be lost.
There is another great reason for keeping records and documentation of your research -- backtracking. Whenever you conduct a search, such as for cemetery records or census data, or find information in the form of gravestone rubbings, photographs or death certificates, keep them. Even if you do not have any clear reason for saving these documents now, you will most likely come to a dead end at some point in your research.
Backtrack using your documentation and records until you find a missing link, such as a misspelled name or date that has been altered. Sometimes issues as simple as lying to the military about being 18, as occurred frequently during war times in the past, or giving incorrect information on a census, which happened often in the case of unwed couples living under one roof, will throw a genealogical search off course.
What is a family tree maker and how can it make your family ancestry search easier?
A family tree maker is just what it sounds like. It allows you generate your family tree, often times you are able to view three generations of the same family using a special family tree software. A family tree maker also allows you to see different views of your screen, thus you may be able to see up to seven generations of your family on the computer screen.
This type of computerized family tree maker also searches a major ancestry/genealogy website while you are working on your computer inputting information. A special indicator will let you know when your results have been found. You will then be able to compare your search results with information you already have generated in a side-by-side format for easy viewing!
You can also merge information from the website the computer searches with your information you have stored on your computer.
You can download a family tree maker onto your computer by first finding one you like. Try doing a family tree maker search on a search engine. Many you will have to pay to download and others may be free. The download may take up to 45 minutes.
One last way to share your family tree project is to have a family reunion. Yes, it takes some planning, but once you have your entire family present, you can have a large poster board with all of the information you found on your ancestors to share. This may also give you an opportunity to expand on your family tree chart. Ask each family member to bring current pictures of their family, as well as old ancestor photos that they might have tucked away. Don't forget to take a big family portrait for future generations to enjoy.
In the United States, you can search vital records through the library, your local courthouse and in many cases you must contact a specific city department to seek more information. For example, in Missouri if you are seeking a birth record you must contact the state's vital record department and pay a fee to receive the record you are requesting. Check out your state's policy for finding and obtaining vital family records and then begin your family genealogy search.
Family history is one of the most enjoyable and addictive hobbies - but sometimes it can be very frustrating when you get stuck. Don't agonise too much over it - just go and search another line for while. When you come back, your mind will be refreshed and sometimes you can get some new ideas about where to search.
You've spent hours looking through some parish records without any luck. It's very, very easy to go on to the next search without making any notes about this - after all, you've found no information so there's nothing to write, right? No - a few months down the line you will find yourself experiencing deja'vu as you suddenly realise the records you have painstakingly searched for the last hour are the ones you looked at months ago. What a waste of time! Make sure you keep records of everything you've looked at even if it revealed nothing.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|