Friday, March 5, 2010


When you decide to drive to a city or state that you have never been what is the first thing you do? Besides google :). You pull out a map. You figure out the best route to take and how long it might take you. You look for detours and construction and then you set off for the journey ahead. Well I've come to realize that genealogy is sort of exactly like that. You have to have a road map and that road map is you.

You are the key. You know where your going in way and you know the pitstops. Think about it for a minute. You know if there might be something a little unseemly in your families past and you actually know more then you might think. So that is where you start. Sit down and interview yourself. Ask yourself these simple questions.
  • How many relatives can I name?
  • Where where my parents born? Grandparents? Great-grandparents and so on?
  • What stories do I remember hearing?
  • What kind of information do I already have? ie. funeral programs, pictures, certificates
  • What information can I find? ie. court records, documents
  • If someone else asked me where to start or who to talk to first where woud I send them?

That last question might be the best one of the list. Most do as I did. They start with their parents because we assume they know but most of the time they know about as much as we do. When you really sit and think about it who knows the most? If I had started with my great grandmother who was alive when I was in college then I might have more names then I do now. She could have possibly told me her grandparents names and their parents and maybe even their parents. She might have remembered last names that are harder to find now or actual names instead of nicknames that had been passed down from generation to generation. There was a fount of knowledge at my fingertips and I didn't take advantage of it. Sure I asked her a few questions but nothing like I would ask her if given the chance again.

So set out with a good roadmap and then move on to the next step. Talk to those you can while you can. For they are your window to the past.

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