Sunday, August 29, 2010

Getting Started with your Family History

Getting Started:


Family history can seem a bit daunting. We hear people say all the time that they want to do family history work but they haven't because...well it sounds like work. It can seem overwhelming and the most often heard phrase is "I don't know where to start!" Well don't worry. We've broken it down into 3 easy steps that you can do to get the wheel rolling.

Miller/Swain "Family Box"
When LaRee and I started with our family history, we found all sorts of papers, documents, photo's and the like scattered in various places. Picture albums, family bibles, boxes of papers handed down from grandparents and parents, etc. Here are few things you can do to get you started on your own family journey:

Miller/Swain Important Papers
1- The Family Box: Put everything you can find into a cardboard box. Start collecting anything and everything and put it your "Family Box." Keep it in a conspicuous place so everyone will see it and add their "stuff" to it.

2- Embrace technology: Computer technology will make the sorting, storing, finding, analyzing, and enjoying your family history materials much easier. Software (both free and fee) are available to help you. One of the best, and free is PAF 5.2 (Personal Ancestral File). You can simply download it on your computer and your family tree is ready for you to enter information.

Example of a Pedigree Chart
3- Fill out a 4 generation group sheet: Start with the basics. Write down everything you can about the biographical information of your ancestors. (Names, Dates, Places, Births, Marriages, Deaths, etc.) This information is essential for future searching to make up your pedigree. Click here to find a form and download a pdf.

Start there and you'll start to see holes that you want to fill in, or you'll see an interesting name or date and you'll want to investigate to find out more about that person. Is someone's death date around 1863? Did they fight in the civil war? Was someone born in England or Denmark and die in New York? Can you find out what ship they came over on or find them listed at Ellis Island? Do a dogpile, google or wiki search to see what you can find out. We recommed visiting familysearch.org and typing in the name of your first deceased ancestor, whether that is a parent, grandparent, start with the one closest to you. Put on your sleuthing hats and away you go!

PS if you have the means, a subscription to ancestry.com is well worth it, but you can certainly get started by utilizing he free search engines listed above.


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