Introduction to Genealogy
Have you heard over the years that your family is descended from royalty? Or, perhaps, your family came over on the Mayflower? To find out if that is truth or myth, you will have to do a lot of research. Welcome to genealogy.
To begin your genealogical adventure, start with the known: yourself, then work you way back to the unknown. Identify what you know about your family, and then find the vital records to prove what you know. You will be concerned with pulling, from many varied documents of recorded history, four basic items: names, dates, places and relationships.
The three main recorded events in anyone’s life are birth, marriage and death. There are other records such as census, probate, land, tax, military and naturalization records that can also be useful. These official records are known as primary sources. When looking for your ancestors, you will want to gather as many of these records as you can find.
Secondary sources include obituaries, newspaper articles, published family history and tombstone inscriptions. Although not official sources of information, these records can still hold valuable information.
That’s a lot of information to gather! Now that you have gathered all this, you must evaluate it. You will see birth dates, death dates, and names change; worst of all, your ancestor will simply vanish! Don’t give up, keep searching and digging up those bones!
Don’t forget your history lessons. You will learn about immigration and migration, state and county formation, wars and cultures. It’s important to know the way of life of the ancestor you are researching so that you can distinguish from another person of the same name.
Organization is the sign of a good genealogist. Documenting what, where, and when you found your information will save you time and money. The more organized your genealogy research, the less likely you will mix up information or make other simple, yet deadly mistakes. Choose a filing system that works best for you.