"Genealogy - Life in the Past lane!"

James Stuart Whitaker, Jr. - Family Historian

 
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Tips for Research

Maybe you would like to begin researching your family tree. Here are some practical tips for research I recommend you begin with. Happy hunting!

  • Talk to everyone in your family about what they know about the ancestors, keeping in mind that memories can fade and that some of their information is inaccurate. (Great Grandma was a full-blooded Indian or we came over on the Mayflower are two examples of information that is said over & over that is usually not true.) Write down what you've found out. Buy or download a free genealogy program to organize your information. Brother's Keeper is shareware and can be downloaded for free. Using a computer program all of your information is organized and can be emailed to someone easily.
     
  • Use ALL types of spellings when you look for records. Many times the spelling changed (Hawley to Holley) or the person writing down the information had trouble deciphering the script. Sometimes names are spelled so "screwy" that your best bet is just to go through the pages. The "s" looks like "f" in some old script, so Smith could look like Fith to a beginning transcriber.
     
  • Use the search engine on this web and others to locate surnames.
     
  • Post a query on the query board. There are a number of different query boards including Surname Boards -Gen Forum & County Boards. (They're listed in the Links section)
     
  • Join the email list and ask questions about your ancestors there.
     
  • Check census records in the county and in surrounding counties. The 1850 census records begin listing all of the family members and where each was born.
     
  • Check the Cemetery records.
     
  • Check the funeral home listings. Many times people did not have money to buy a tombstone, but their remains were handled by an undertaker.
     
  • Check the local Genealogy Library to see if they have any biographical information on the family you are searching for.
     
  • Check the birth, death and marriage records. Those may list parents names, etc. Get copies of these records by ordering them from the appropriate source.
     
  • Check the old newspapers in the library. You may also write one of the libraries to see if your family member's name is listed in any index they may have of old newspapers. (Sometimes people have done abstracts of old newspapers and have made an index of the names they've found.)
     
  • If the ancestor was in the Civil War, order the records! They have a great deal of information in them!

Don't take every piece of information someone sends you as gospel! Ask for sources! Verify information! Have an open mind! YOU could be mistaken!

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