I have been researching my family’s history for several years now, off and on. The past few months, I have been going at it non-stop. I couldn’t just stop researching after all the work I was putting into my blog on a daily basis. My readers want something new, something that will also help them in their own research. They want fresh articles with substance. So I kept going and going like the Energizer bunny!
Genealogy is a very interesting topic to me and even doing all the research and hitting brick walls along the way, I still find myself trying to break through. There is one brick wall that still eludes me, but do you think I am quitting and giving up on this one person, who happens to have disappeared off the face of the Earth after he was born? Not a CHANCE! If anything, it makes me want to search even more. There is bound to be something that I haven’t found on him; somewhere the evidence is hiding out just waiting for me to find it.
I have discovered that my family on my father’s side emigrated from Scotland, going back several hundred years, but I still have to prove everything with the correct documentation. So how do you find the information you’re seeking?
For myself, I started writing a Blog to keep track of my research findings, and I think it has helped immensely. It keeps things in order and it’s easier to go back to a particular article that I wrote just in case I need to refer back to it for some reason, or if I forgot a name or a date of importance. Keep in mind though, that you really should cite the source of information and give credit to the person or entity in which you have gained this information from. They probably put a lot of man hours into the research and published it on the web for others to read over. You wouldn’t want your work stolen and used by someone, now would you? Some may not consider it stealing, but it is. It’s a theft of words. The words or ideas belong to someone else, they are not yours. So definitely make note of your documented sources, especially if you plan on publishing it for all to see.
Awhile back, I had utilized Google’s Archive where I just researched and scanned old newspapers looking for a lead into my family’s past. A photo, an article, or even the obituary section would give me a lead to work with. It is a great resource that I don’t believe will be around much longer; there was a news article awhile back which claimed that Google was getting rid of the Archive on its’ own web site. What a pity! Here is the link to the article in which I am speaking of, just in case any of my readers are interested in reading further.
I have personally used other resources to aid in my family search; sites such as:
http://www.ancestry.com/– this site actually helped me find a few cousins that are researching the same surnames that I was. Check it out and see where your family roots take you. I like this site for the documents that can be viewed, the photos members have posted and the family trees that you can create for your own family. Granted, you will have to do the research yourself as all trees may contain mistakes. They could have copied this from the web just assuming the data is true. Assumptions don’t count. You can also view other public member trees to see if they may have some information that is similar to your own. I found War Draft records from World War II, Census records of family members, SSDI (Social Security Death Index), voters lists, BMD records (Birth, Marriage, and Death), old photos and plenty of leads to other members of my family, but I have to make sure that what is listed is actually true and factual information. It is a long process, and even better when you can accumulate documentation to back up your findings. (Which by the way I am still working on.)
http://www.findagrave.com/– This site has helped me many times! Users and volunteers post photographs of actual cemeteries and headstones. The information is displayed as a form of memorial, if you will. I actually found a relative this way by requesting a photo of a particular headstone in a cemetery in Virginia. My relative actually went to the grave site and searched for the headstone in a family cemetery. She then took pictures and sent them to me in an email. Such a treasure and I am forever grateful to her. Since I live in Hawaii, it’s not like I can just take a weekend off to travel on the mainland and do this myself, so I am really thankful that she was willing to go to such lengths for someone she didn’t even know, personally.
Here are a few other web sites that may help you in your family search:
http://refdesk.com/factgene.html (I really like this site- there are over 70 additional resources that lead you to other links)
http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ (I used this site once I found that my family may have emigrated from Edinburgh and was potential members of a Highland Clan)
I wish you all the luck in finding your family roots; it can be an adventure and also lead you to family members you may have never known existed! Take your time and don’t expect to complete your research overnight. It won’t happen just like that.