For all you “Yes” people, way to go!
For all you “No” people, don’t lose heart!
- Should you lose heart because you only know a few things?
- Should you lose heart because the 27th Annual Family Reunion hasn’t taken place yet?
- Should you lose heart because you aren’t sure where to find information?
No, no and no! Don’t give up yet.
O.K. “Yes” people, I’m going to help the “No” people out for a minute and then we’ll ALL reconvene in a couple paragraphs.
Listen, “No” people, I am a firm believer that genealogical research begins at home. So, take a look at family records you have on hand or to which you have access: bibles, baby books, baptismal certificates, diaries, funeral programs, letters, newspaper clippings, obituary notices, photographs, scrapbooks, etc. Remember, if it has a name, a place and a date, it can be useful for genealogical research.
You can also call or email relatives and ask them for information. If you choose to go that route, be sure you have a detailed list of questions. A quick “I’d appreciate all you can tell me about the family,” may result in a big-pile-of-nothing-you-can-use. Be fearless in your pursuit of family information!
Welcome back, “Yes” people! Now that we are all together again, let us move forward!
Now, you have your pedigree chart filled out to the best of your ability and from it, you have been able to begin to fill out several family group sheets. If you have everything you can glean at this point, then it is time to go back into the sheets and make a list of what you had to leave blank. This “List ‘O Blanks” is what you begin to search for in other places. More on that next week, which might be even MORE fun!
Now is a good time to think about the organization and storage of all the information you are collecting/have collected. There are many ways to organize your genealogical material. I currently use three of the four organization methods below:
- Hanging Files
- Electronic Media
- Genealogy Software Programs
When establishing full names and dates of birth for my grand uncles and grand aunts, I used my Great Gramma Lyddie’s bible. It is a HUGE old bible with MUCH use and age on it. Inside, there is a “Births” page which was filled out. Now, I couldn’t carry that bible around—it was practically falling apart AND it’s so big, it wouldn’t even fit in the filing cabinet! So, I carefully took pictures of the pages with the information that I needed, and in the notes I made about the bible, I included the location and the date I photographed it. Back in the day, I printed all those pictures and placed them with the notes in a hanging file labeled “Dunsmore.”
Due the sheer amount of information I am collecting, I have since scanned those pictures into my laptop and put my notes into a Word document. All is saved in a file labeled, you guessed it, “Gramma Lyddie’s Bible.” Backing up my files on cd’s goes without saying.
I still have some hard copies of documents pertaining to the Dunsmore family in that old hanging file, but if I can scan it or get a good picture of it to upload to my lap top, there is a digital record of it.
A few years ago I purchased the Family Tree Maker software and I have been a subscriber to Ancestry.com. for several years. Both keep information very organized and they “talk” to each other.
Choose and develop an organization and storage system that works for you right out of the gate. Alphabetical organization by surname is always a good way to start. You can also organize by family groups. Your method will likely evolve over time, but the most important thing is to establish your method in the beginning, NOT after you have half a dozen bankers’ boxes of information sitting around your desk!
Next week, in the third and final part of this series, I’ll show you how and where to look to find the information you have on your List ‘O Blanks. Until then, Happy Organizing and Choosing a Storage Method!