Ten Easy Steps Up the Family Tree
Your Great Great Granddaughter Is Looking For You
©1996-2009 Kathleen Mirabella
Ten Easy Steps Up the
Your Great Great Great
Granddaughter Is Looking For You
both by Kathleen Mirabella
If you are a beginner in family history
research, this is a MUST READ.
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
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
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
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
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.
and Kids Includes a site titled High Tech Ways to Dig
History - kids and adults who are still kids at heart will like
Your Great Great Great Granddaughter Is
Looking For You
by Kathleen Mirabella
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
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
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
Macoupin main page
materials contained on these pages are furnished
for the free use of individuals engaged in
researching their personal genealogy.
Any other non commercial use requires prior
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©Gloria Frazier 1996-2013
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