I’ve been meaning to start posting on this blog for a while and just never got around to it. As a lot of my friends and family will tell you, I have been interested in genealogy for a few years now and I’ve been researching my family history now since 2007. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a ton of fun. Finding a new piece of information becomes a high, and once you get started you won’t want to stop.
With that, my sister told me I should start a blog to share with others some of my knowledge of genealogical research. So on that note, my first blog post is going to help you figure out where to get started. Most people don’t even know where to begin, and trust me I was one of those people who went into researching genealogy blindly. Hopefully after these tips, you’ll have a jumping off point to get your research started.
- Grab a piece of paper or a notebook and something to write with. This paper is going to contain what you already know. Write down your name and birth date and place, at the very least. Then include anything else you can think of. If you’re married, you can write down your marriage date and place. After this write down anyone else you know in your family, even if it’s just their name. Write down as far back as you can go (e.g. parents, grandparents, great-grandparents). You may not be able to go back very far, but that’s okay.
- Next, start asking other family members what they know. Family members are one of the most important resources, you may not remember your grandma, but your mom will remember her. Also family members might have photographs, documents, or even family trees they started. One of my regrets is that I was not alive to ask ancestors those questions I cannot find the answer to.
- Once you have information to start with, you can start a family tree. I use the family tree maker on Ancestry.com. The tree maker is free, without having to purchase their subscription. Put in any information you know. I would not recommend putting in information you do not know. Facts are better than guesses. You can make notes and annotations for additional information. This would be information such as the hospital where a family member was born or died, etc. I will go into more on Ancestry.com in another post. There is so much I could say about it.
There are a few helpful websites I have used to find stuff locally. One of them is usgenweb.net. It is a super useful site that has state level sites, ilgenweb.net being one, and then county level sites, clintonilgenweb.net being one as well. These sites are great because they have information people from your area have already compiled. I am lucky to have family who stayed in the same areas for a few generations. These sites have birth records, death records, marriage records, cemetery records and photos, as well as photographs of people, and even more. This site will save you time from having to go out and compile this.
Check your local library and the library in your county seat or largest city. Libraries have books and photos of local history and may have microfilm or online copies of newspapers, which have stories, obituaries, and birth/marriage announcements. Also libraries sometimes have genealogy sections. The Edwardsville Public Library has a genealogy library compiled by the Madison County Genealogic Society. These groups can be helpful too in helping you with your research.
The last place I will talk about today is the Family History Center. These are found at Latter Day Saints churches across America. The Mormon church has microfilms and online archives or research. You can get started at http://www.familysearch.org. Some things require a username and password, but it is free to make one. They are constantly adding new information. If you go to the research center there are employees who can help you with research. I would do my own research and write down who I am looking for and as much information you know about that person as possible before going.
Well that’s all I have today. Happy hunting!