Some of you may have seen the ad already for the new tv show-Who do you think you are? premiring on March 5th. This show promises to raise the interest level in genealogy.
Many of you have asked me questions about genealogy before and I had promised to give some information about getting started, or what we will be doing in our schoolroom this year for genealogy.
My first recommendation is to sit down and determine what you know. Ask family members questions-dates, names, marriages, divorces, deaths, burials? Use this as a guide to get started.
How to record/where to record this information?
Once you start being able to fill in the blanks and find some answers, you'll probably wonder where to start or how to start recording this information. I use alot of the forms in this book by Emily Croom-Unpuzzling your past Workbook.
This book has wonderful forms for United States research. If your family has been here for only a generation or two, you will not find this book very valuable. Family groups sheets and Generation charts are included, and standard for any research project. The bonus, in my opinion, is the census record reports and the interview sheets.
Let's start with the census record reports. She has provided one for each census, except 1890. Almost all of the 1890 census records were lost in a fire and therefore you will not be able to search those. Different information was asked on each census record. You may be able to find out what state/country your relative was born in, their parents, what language they spoke, when they naturalized, and what they did for a living. I'll cover where to look for census records in my next post on this topic.
Ms. Croom's interview sheets are alot of fun. She breaks down the interviews by decade and asks questions pertinent to that time. Wonder how the family did during the Depression or WWI or WWII?
The other place to find free report forms is at the LDS Family Research Center You will find the forms listed at the bottom of the page located under Resources. While you are at this website, be sure to read the top of the page for some very valuable information on how to get started.
How to ask family members questions?
I was blessed with two wonderful great-aunts with lots of valuable information. I called one ten years ago and asked the question: Who was your family? She wrote me several pages with dates, names, places. In anticipation of my visit back home, she pulled out a box of old photos. Unfortunately, she passed the week before I was to travel home. I was left with a skeleton of information without a real look into the people themselves.
My other great-aunt, from a different side of the family, answered many questions via letter. I have saved all of them and treasure each one. Unfortunately, I asked specifics, and not the question that was most important-Who were they?
I recommend that you sit down and record your conversation with them, either by tape or video. Ask important questions, not only places, people, and dates, but questions about who they were. Where did they live? Stories growing up about their parents, grandparents, and possibly great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? What was grandma most famous for baking? Did grandpa tell stories about his parents or growing up? Once you start asking questions, they information will come to them. Record it, relax, listen and ask questions. If its being recorded, you don't need to write it down.
Pull out old photos and get them scanned. Identify the people, places, and dates on them. The first great-aunt I spoke of, had pulled out all of her photos, but they only had first names, and no one else could help identify them.
I think that this post is long enough. I will be posting soon on your next steps:
How to record/sort your information? To use or not use a genealogy program? What books can assist you get started? Where to go to get more information? How can the internet help? What websites do I use? How to verify information posted on the internet?
If you have any other questions, please let me know and I'll tack them on to the list already being generated. I will also discuss the lapbook that we'll be starting in a few weeks from Hands of a Child-Discovering my Family Tree.