Page 12 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - January 2018 - 25-01
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Page 12 Senior Times - January 2018
RESEARCHING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher, Senior Times
The holidays are over. It’s been six weeks
of sharing family memories and photos with loved ones and you’re exhausted. If you’re like many others you saw a photo or two or more that you could not identify. It has nothing to do with memory loss, you were just simply too young to know who those people were in the pictures.
So now you’ve caught the bug about finally developing that family tree, really digging into your heritage and finally putting it on paper. But how do you begin? Start your family tree by gathering together everything you have
– papers, photos, documents, and family heir- looms. Rummage through your attic or base- ment, the filing cabinet, the back of the closet. Then check with your relatives to see if they have any family documents they are willing
to share. Clues to your family history might be found on the backs of old photographs, in the family bible, or even on a postcard. If your relative is uneasy with lending an original, offer to have copies made, or simply take a photo.
While you're collecting family records, set aside some time to interview your relatives. Start with Mom and Dad and then move on from there. Try to collect stories, not just names and dates, and be sure to ask open-end- ed questions. A list of possible questions can be found on page 13.
Interviews may make you nervous, but this is probably the most important step in researching your family history. It may sound cliché, but don't put it off until it's too late!
Write down everything you have learned from your family and begin to enter the information in a pedigree or family tree chart.
These charts provide an at-a-glance overview of your family, making it easy to track your research progress.
Select a single surname, individual, or family with which to begin. Focusing your family history search helps keep your research on track, and reduces the chance of missing important details due to sensory overload. As much as you might want to, you can't do it all at once.
Explore the internet for information and leads on your ancestors. Good places to start include pedigree databases, message boards, and resources specific to your ancestor's loca- tion. If you're new to using the internet for genealogy research, follow the research plan in 10 Steps for Finding Your Family Tree Online.
1. Begin with obituaries
2. Dig Into death indexes
3. Check out the cemetery
4. Locate clues in the census
5. Go on location
6. Visit the library
7. Search message boards
8. Ferret out family trees
9. Search for specialized resources
10. Stop by the subscription sites such as
ancestry.com
Don't expect to find your entire family tree in one place!
1. Visit your local Family History Center where you can access the world's largest collection of genealogical information.
2. Look for the records of your ancestors including wills; birth, marriage, and death records; land deeds; immigration records; etc.
3. Organize your new information – take notes, make photocopies, etc. Make sure you save and date everything!
4. Visit the place where your family lived – look at cemeteries, courthouses, churches, etc. for information.
5. Make sure you continue to document everything, including taking pictures. You never know when you might need it.
6. When you have gone as far as you can go, step back and take a break – then choose a new ancestor to start searching for.
7. Remember to have fun!
A few final thoughts ...While it may seem obvious don’t forget to ask your family members if there is a genealogy book or other records within the family. This could give you a wonderful head start! Be sure to keep copies of everything you find in your search. It may not seem important now, but it probably will be in the future.
Make sure that you keep in mind pos- sible alternate spellings of your surname as you are researching.
I have been fascinated with how the pieces of my family’s history have been preserved. Ranging from photo albums to shoe boxes of trinkets, each is a wealth of information. When you are ready to go online to start filling out that family tree even further I have found that ancestry.com is a valuable resource. There is a fee but the wealth of information is invaluable.
If you have the bug to get started then just do it. The best preservers of history are the people so you want to begin talking to family members and friends as soon as possible.
Best of luck in your search.
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