Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Teaching family history basics

The problem is that genealogy is even hard to spell.  So naturally folks are intimidated.  But searching out ancestors on the family tree can be a lot of fun.  And it really is easy to get started.
First, start with what you know.  Fill out a pedigree chart, paper charts are available for free online and there are lots of great family history software programs out there.
Second, talk to your relatives, find out what they know and fill that in too.
Third, look for documents.  Collect birth, death, and marriage certificates.  Look for old photos, diplomas, yearbooks, and other mementos.  Newspaper clippings can give you lots of great details.
Fourth, look at what you've got filled out on your family tree.  Is there a blank line?  Are you missing an ancestor?  That's where you start looking.   In this article genealogist Barry Ewell talks about the "power of one."  The trick, he says, is to focus on one ancestor at a time.   This makes it easier to do a good job and have fun at the same time.
Fifth, fill in all the new information you've found.  File all your new documents.  And enjoy your success.
Sixth, Look for the next blank line and start again.

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