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 3 introduced you to ways to organize your family information. Part 4- goes into more detail of places to find more primary documents and how to protect them.
Part 4- Where can I find primary information about my family?
Some of the things you can look for can be family photos, marriage certificates, birth and death certificates, wills, census records, school records, historians, military records and books written by local authors that tell of the settlers of your ancestors home towns. National or state parks may also have information on your ancestors. Though it may ‘creep’ out many of you, cemeteries are not to be ignored in finding information about your ancestors. More likely than not, others have been searching for the same ancestor and many of those have left behind information they are willing to share with you. The more you discover, the more places you will find information.
It is important you have a separate spiral notebook to keep track of where you find all of this information. There will be several times you will need to know where you found these items and information. To stay organized, be sure to write down the title of what you found, the date and where you found it, and the date the item was written, whether it is a book, an article, or record, whatever it is. It is a good idea to write down which family member it belongs to or is about and why it is important to them. Leave some room to add any personal information you have about it and any hints of who to further contact, or other information you might have come across looking for this item. That happens more than you might think, you look for one thing and come across more things about your family.
When working with photographs, be sure to scan or copy the back of the photos as well as the front. There can be some great identifying information on the back. Sometimes the information is written on the holder that the photo is in. Keep an eye out for any writing and make sure to keep the information together with the photo.
Reminder: When you get together with family ask what memories or items they might have. Ask permission to photograph or scan or copy the times. This way they can keep what they have, but yet share it with you for recording for future descendants.
By now you may have someone of a kind delicate documents or other items that you don’t want to lose or get destroyed. Do you have a fire proof safe? Do you have a lockbox or other place to keep valuable in? This could be the right time to invest in ways to protect family mementos and other items. Finding out how to store photographs, negatives, newspapers, velum documents, other important papers and personal items, will greatly ease your mind and benefit those that you hand down the family history items to.
In the next article, Part 5, we will cover putting it all together in charts and designs to show off your family and some unique items to include with it.