Ten Easy Steps Up the Family Tree
Your Great Great Great Granddaughter Is Looking For You
If you are a beginner in family history research, this is a MUST READ.
To do an interview, consider these questions for the interview.
1. Start with yourself and your immediate family, and find birth certificates, baptismal or other church records, marriage certificates, death certificates, and obituaries for your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. If some of these documents are unavailable, start with what you and your surviving family members know.
2. On a sheet of paper write your parents' complete names, including your mother's maiden name. (For the sheet of paper, try a Family Group Record printed out from your browser file print.) Record the middle names, but try not to use initials. Include any nicknames they may have used. List dates and locations of births, marriages, deaths, and burials. Stop and ask yourself, "Did I check those dates for accuracy?" And, record the truth. An illegitimate birth or a birth occurring six months after a marriage is a fact in family history research and should be recorded truthfully and accurately.
When listing locations, include the city, county, state and country.
List dates as 3 Feb 1884 or February 3, 1884, not 2-3-1884 which could be interpreted as February 3, 1884 or March 2, 1884. For your brothers, sisters, and yourself, list complete names in order of birth, including dates and locations of events as you did for your parents.
3. For your mother, list her parents and repeat step #2 for her family. Then do the same for your father's family.
4. Try to do the same for your grandparents and great grandparents, and so on for as many generations as you can.
5. Contact family members who may be able to help with missing information. Call ahead and tell your relative the reason for your visit. This will give the person time to search the attic for old pictures and other family treasures. Be prepared with questions to ask. Besides the missing dates and locations, ask them about their parents, grandparents, favorite vacations, earliest memories, childhood, etc.
To help in the recording of information, bring pencils, camera, and a tape recorder. Tape recorder? Caution! When you call for that visit, ask if you can use the tape recorder. Don't offend the person and cause him or her to "clam up." If you are able to use a tape recorder, you will not have to stop in the middle of a story to take notes. PLEASE make sure the recorder works and is loaded with fresh batteries and a blank tape.
Ask if you can photocopy documents, letters, family Bibles, obituaries, pictures, etc. Copy everything. That old letter might not seem important but could hold the clue you need in the future.
Be patient! It might take several trips to the same home before you really get all the information.
Note: Some people, especially elderly ones, are very very protective of their old and treasured documents. They may not let you out of the house with their papers to make xerox copies. It is nice if you own a portable copier, but if you don't, find out beforehand where you can make copies if you're too far away from your home base. If you have a spouse, other relative, or friend with you, offer to leave that person at the house to guarantee the safe return of papers.
6. Begin to identify photos. Use a soft lead pencil, never harder than a #2 lead. In the margins on the back of pictures, write complete names, location, date, and occasion. Never use a pen or write in the center of the photo. Bring your pencil when visiting relatives and ask them to label their photographs. With luck you might inherit their photographs.
7. When requesting information by mail, always include a LARGE self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) and offer to pay copying and mailing costs. Quoting a researcher about requests by mail, "You would be surprised how many times I have received a small envelope for me to return pages of material."
If someone sends you information, even if it is not your family, send them a thank you note along with stamps to cover their postage.
8. The most common mistake beginners make is not documenting where they found information. PLEASE, document your sources. Ten years from now you will wonder, "Where did I find Aunt Rita’s birth date?"
9. Visit the genealogy section of your public library. Ask the reference librarian where the genealogy section is located.
10. Join a genealogical or historical society in your area. Even if you have no ancestors from the area, you will find others interested in the same hobby, and you can learn from them. If you need assistance in locating a society, please contact Kathleen Mirabella.
Kids, Teens & The Next Generation - researching by the younger generation - Cyndi's site
The year is 2068. Your great grandson John, and his wife, Elizabeth, are in their small two bedroom apartment preparing for the arrival of their first child. There is barely enough space in the second bedroom for a crib and small dresser. The closet is stuffed with boxes of old notebooks and books that John had received from his grandfather. John had never looked in the boxes. His grandfather had told him the boxes contained family research done by his father and mother. John and Elizabeth considered it junk, they needed the closet space for the baby, so on recycling day your work of 30 years was thrown away.
The year is 2118. Your great great great granddaughter, Catherine, at age 25, has begun to trace her Family History. She had heard stories that one of her ancestors had traced the family back sixteen generations. No family member knew where these research records might be. Her grandparents, John and Elizabeth, had died before she was born. Her Aunt stated the family had come to America on the Mayflower. There was also the story about the family being in Macoupin County, IL, for five generations. Utilizing the Macoupin County, IL Home Page she decided to visit the Staunton Public Library. She looked through all the index cards and files. Nothing! She did not give up. She drove to the Carlinville Library. Nothing! She searched the Macoupin County Historical Library. Nothing! She could not comprehend how someone could do years of research and not leave copies of their work at a library. She left Macoupin County disappointed.
The year is 2007. You can change the ending of Catherine’s trip to the Staunton Public Library. Round up your bible records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, military records, pictures, handwritten notes, typewritten notes, computer generated notes, family group sheets, and anything else you have. Make a copy of everything for Catherine. She does not need a professionally completed book. We all know our research is never done. Place everything in a binder and send it to the Macoupin County Genealogical Society.
If you listen carefully, you can hear Catherine’s scream of excitement when she finds your gift to her.
Send Catherine’s gift to:
Macoupin County Genealogical Society
PO Box 95
Staunton, IL 62088-0095
Note: Each year send an update of your research to the Macoupin County Genealogical Society for Catherine.
Macoupin main page
materials contained on these pages are furnished
for the free use of individuals engaged in
researching their personal genealogy.