Getting Started, Step 1 – Finding Easy Information (FamilySearch genealogy)
Finding Easy Information Here are three sources of family history information you should consider as you get started with your family. Memory Take a moment, and try to remember as much as you can, and then jot it down. Record the information by family. This will give you an idea of the information you know and the information you will need to discover. Home You may have documents that have been passed on to you that you have forgotten about. Look for them in drawers, filing cabinets, attics, bookshelves, and basements. Look for letters, diaries, journals, certificates, and legal documents. Newspaper clippings, and obituaries that might list your ancestor’s next of kin. Look in places where family names may have been recorded, such as on pages in a family Bible. . . or inscriptions on heirlooms. Look for old photographs, and check the backs for information. Relatives Talk to your relatives. They may be able to share stories and information with you. Begin with your oldest relatives. Contact them, and explain why you are collecting information. Then schedule a time you can visit with them. Send some questions ahead of time so your relatives can collect their thoughts and make copies of important documents for you. Recording or video taping your visit is a good idea too. But keep things simple so your relatives don’t feel self conscious. During your visit, take good notes. To help break the ice show your relatives photographs or documents and ask them to describe the people and events they depict. Use the information you jotted down from memory, and try to fill in any missing information. Ask for full names; maiden names; birth, marriage, and death information; and memorable stories. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead, ask questions that will encourage your relatives to share facts and stories. Ask questions that begin with “What memories do you have…” or, “Can you tell me about…” Ask your relatives if they have information they would be willing to share with you, such as old documents and photographs. Finally, ask for the names of other relatives or people that you can visit. You may want to ask your relative to let the other people know that you will be contacting them. To learn more about collecting information, go to Step 1 of our website, and look in the Additional Resources section.