Genealogy is a great family hobby. No matter where you live, people from around
the world are enthusiastically searching for their ancestors. It helps give people
a reference of where they came from.
Beginners usually rely on assembled family trees that they find on the internet
or have acquired through a relative. The internet has driven the genealogy hobby to be what
it is today. 10 years ago, the detective process was much different. To learn about
your ancestors, you went to your local genealogical society, family history library,
and the national archives. These types of facilities were the starting point of
your journey to document your family history. Now these facilities seem to be the
end point for most hobbyists. For the family historian who wants to accurately document
their heritage we have a few helpful tips listed below.
Getting Organized for your Research Trip
Whether you are traveling long distance to take photos of family headstones, going
to a State Archive, or local library, you should be prepared. In order to maximize
your time, we have some suggestions. Know what the facility has before you go. Call,
Email, or if they have an online index, spend time to get familiar with the facility
and what it has to offer. Know their hours of operation, and their use policies.
Some facilities require appointments. To get the most out of a visit, plan as much
as you can to maximize your time at the facility.
Before going, create a to-do list. The more detailed your list is, the better
off you will be. Have a good idea of what you are looking for, and know what is
available. You may get overwhelmed with the digging and analysis process because
of too much or too little information that is actually available. Sometimes you
will start to find data for another relative from the same source that you were
actually trying to find for another ancestor. This might lead you off track, so
it is a good idea to have a copy of your family tree and family fact sheet to assist
with the exploration process.
Keeping Track of your Research
Once you get to your research facility, you may have a limited amount of time
to search. Gather as much as possible, but don’t forget to record the who,
what, when, where, and why. Make copies from different books, microfilms, etc. Don't
be the researcher who in their haste realizes after they get home and sort through
their information, that it is not organized or well documented, and may have to
throw some of it out because they can’t piece together their findings.
When making copies, be sure everything was copied correctly. Immediately bind
the information together with a stapler or paper clips. Write down all the necessary
info to recall the source. If the information is from a book, copy the cover, the
chapter details, and write down the page numbers (if they are not shown on your
copies). if you are missing something, it will be easy for you to call the facility
and ask them to copy what is missing. If you don’t have enough details, they
won’t be able to help.
Research Logs keep you Focused
Having a log will benefit you in knowing what has been researched and what to
work on next. Write down what you have found, either successful or not. Keeping
the log in a spreadsheet format can help to sort and filter on what has worked for
you, what has not, and gives the ability to recall information easily. We have research genealogy
forms for: pre-research, research, task log, document management and other downloadable
How to Manage your Family Ancestry
Over-whelmed with digging for your ancestry? Document what you have done, take
a break, and come back to it later. At the end of the day, the process should be
enjoyable and rewarding, so when things get frustrating take a step back and take
a deep breath. This will assist you to stay energized and focused on the task at
hand. If you are at a loss for what type of source to use to document your ancestry,
we have reference lists to help with
research your family ancestry.