This 6-part article is here to help guide you along your journey of discovery, laying a firm foundation for you and your descendants to carry on the task for many generations ahead. Part 1 explained why and what tools you need to start, Part 2 shows How.
Part 2- Who do I start with? The easiest and usually best person to start with is yourself. You know the most about you. If there is a specific family member you are trying to research, then start with that person, of course. Facts are usually the best place to begin. To simplify the example, let’s begin with you. Write down what you know: Full name, date of birth, place and city, state of birth. Next who are your parents, their full name-including maiden name and other names they might have, date of birth and place of birth, date of marriage and place, city, state and continue with each of their parents and so on. This is called a pedigree. When you have gotten as far as you can go, take a breath.
What else do you know about your starting person? Stories are a great place to learn more. What are the family stories you have always heard or you are hearing now? The holidays are an excellent time for family to tell their stories and for you to ask questions. An audio recorder, whether a tape recorder, digital recorder, recorder in your notebook or computer, many computers have a speech recognition program, get them out, learn how to use them and start recording. It’s okay if you only have your memory and a pencil and paper, use those. The important task is to start now, don’t wait!
This is where a spiral notebook or file folders on the computer come in handy. Use one for your pedigree, use another for family stories. Write one story you are familiar with. Is it a childhood memory that your parents and aunt and uncles have told? Now organize that story. Who is mentioned in the story? What date in time did it take place? Where did it take place? Who in your family does it connect to? What else is important about the story? Keeping these questions in mind, will help you so much in organizing and putting together your family genealogy and your family’s history. More question are: Is it a story that can be confirmed by a document? Is it a story that seems to have some missing parts which could be filled in with a little bit of investigation? Why is this story important to me or my family?
Next time -Part 3- What do I do with all of this information I have?