Tuesday, February 23, 2010

10 Steps to Make a Family Tree

Someone asked me how to make a family tree. I had to think back to when I first began. Here 10 steps to get you started on your family tree:
  1. Do your research. Go through your family documents and write down all of the family information that you can. Names, dates (birth, marriage, death), and locations. Ask your parents, aunts & uncles, cousins, and family friends if they remember any names that are not on your list.
  2. If your parent or grandparent passed away and didn't tell you family information, look through their personal papers. People who worked for any company that required a security clearance were required to fill out detailed personal histories. They usually kept copies of those applications.
  3. Create a draft family tree. You can write it down in a notebook, or you can use an online source such as http://www.myheritage.com/ Print out your family tree and look at the gaps.
  4. GOOGLE is your best friend! Search for people who may have already worked on your family name. For example, I found a lot of information when I searched on Copeland Genealogy, Copeland family tree, and Copelands in Kansas. Search for an individual ancestor with their birth year, for example.
  5. Sign up for a free 14 day trial on http://www.ancestry.com/ Ancestry.com is THE best tool for finding information from a centralized, easy-to-use source of public records and member's Family Trees. If you can get everything researched in 14 days, great. If not, it's worth signing up for their basic information - for historical information, entertainment, and invaluable connections to your unknown relations!
  6. Make sure to use Ancestry.com's useful tutorials and understand how to get the most out of Ancestry.com's sources. Build your family tree and connect with other members. Exchange, provide, and request information and photos to develop your family tree.
  7. Contact historical societies and libraries in the cities that your relatives and ancestors lived in. Historical societies often provide links to private genealogy researchers. I got some of the best leads when I set a budget and connected with a friendly, competent researcher in Kansas.
  8. Go to your local library and browse their genealogy sections. Do the same with a local branch of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). NO, they won't force you to join! You will soon see that reading and deciphering information in microfiche and old record books are a labor of love - and they may send you running back to Ancestry.com!
  9. Use obituaries to determine descendants, as well as living realtions. Contact them if you can GOOGLE and locate them. Or use the Internet white pages, inputting their name and city. Then send them a LETTER with details and photos, establishing your relationship to them or to their relations.
  10. Telephone or visit any relatives that may respond to your email or letter correspondence. The personal connection is undescribable and invaluable! Remember to enjoy yourself and to not give up!

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At March 1, 2010 at 1:49 PM , Blogger Catherine said...

This short posting offers a wealth of suggestions for the beginning geneological researcher to follow! Excellent directions!


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