Are you a “newbie” to the subject of Genealogy? I have been doing my own genealogy research as a hobby for several years now and over the years I have acquired some knowledge from fellow researchers and what works and what doesn’t. I hope to share with you some of that knowledge and help get you on the right path to tracing your own ancestry. It’s time to nurture the roots of your tree!
Some of the Basics
1. Start from the very beginning; use what you know and then proceed into the unknown. Document all your facts as this will be your flesh and bone foundation. It will help your overall strategy and try to also document family traditions, memories and the like. It’s all relative! No pun intended 🙂
2. Take notes! Interview family members, writing down the date, who was interviewed and create a list of questions for them to answer. You can videotape each interview or you can buy a voice recorder for all your communications.
3. Next, you should definitely create a research plan! I won’t say it is mandatory, but it will help you stay more organized; you can enter all the data on the research plan that you know on any particular person in your tree. You should create a research plan for every generation or person and include fields such as: names, birth and death dates, places, and sources where you can probably find the information you don’t have. Don’t forget to cite the source information that you have found also! This is very important as you probably won’t remember where you seen the data last. It could have been NARA (National Archives), FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc.
4. Research logs are also important- keep it accurate and up to date. On a research log you can document what you have searched such as the ancestor’s name, type of record, the date of your search, trips to the library and what was found, online resources and any side notes. Keeping in mind to record your findings for each ancestor and your results is an important part of your research. You will want to note what era your ancestor lived in and so on. You can find sample research logs through Cyndislist.com to help you create your own. It’s important that your fields have enough space in which to write your information in. Small field boxes that are too small will cause you to cram what you can into these areas which in turn, may cause you some confusion.
5. Your research notes should be able to be read and understood by anyone and should also indicate the reason behind your search.
6. Filing Systems are a great way to keep you organized as well. You should order them alphabetically by surname, color coded, then create sub folders that have ancestors and the years searched. If you don’t want to go that far, you can always just file them alphabetically by surname so they are easier to locate in the future.
7. Stay organized and keep your files in order from the start of your search for your family roots. It will save you a ton of time having to go through hundreds of pieces of documentation, notes, logs, plans, calendars, deeds and BMD records that you have accumulated over time. There are many different types of documents that you will accumulate over any given period of time, so keep it organized or you will be forever hunting for it later!