When I worked at the Memphis library as a volunteer in the genealogy department people would often ask me, “How do I get started.” This is my answer.
Start with what you know. Start with your full name, your birthday, city, county, and state where you were born, when and where you were baptised, date and place of your marriage, name of your spouse, and any other information you would like to include.
Below is a link to the form I like to use for this purpose. This form is provided by ancestry.
Next, record the same information for your spouse and children. Keep up with the source of all your information. For this family group sheet your source would be “personal knowledge”. This doesn’t seem so important now, but later you’ll be glad you kept up with this information. Below is a link to a form provided by ancestry for keeping this information.
Just because I like a particular form doesn’t mean you have to use it too.
Below is a link to an ancestral chart provided by ancestry. I prefer the family group sheet because it gives me more room to write.
Below is a link to an individual worksheet provided by Midwest Genealogy Center. Again, I like this one because it gives plenty of space for writing.
After you have recorded all your information, go back one generation and record all that you know about your parents.
When I started to research my family, I sat down with Daddy and asked him about his family. Both his great-grandfathers served in the Civil War. Daddy had many fascinating stories to tell about their service as well as his own service in WWII. He also had many cool stories about his great-grandmothers. Record every story that you find because the stories will make your history come to life rather than just being a list of names, dates, and places.
I couldn’t ask my mother about her family because she had already passed away. My brother told me that she had left some of her family history in a paper grocery bag. He gave the bag to me and as I went through it I found the birthdates and death dates for her mother and father, as well as her father’s full name and her mother’s maiden name. I also found some things that I did not understand. Hold on to the pieces you don’t understand. They may be just the puzzle piece you are looking for later on.
Come back next week for the next installment of “How Do I Get Started?”
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