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Monday, 10 March 2008

How to collect your Family Information

1. Interview as many of your living relatives as possible e.g. parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Also find out about who the person married as well as death dates and places and occupations. Always begin with current dates and work backwards. If you get stuck, don't worry, just move to the next line or investigate the brothers or sisters of your ancestors. Sometimes they can reveal some of the best information for your research and break down a 'brick wall'.

2. Birth certificates of individuals almost always show the parents names and often other information, such as the mothers maiden name (her surname before marriage), the fathers occupation and their residence at the time of the birth.

3. Marriage certificates show each of the couples ages, occupations, residences and parents (usually just the fathers)names.

4. Death certificates show death dates, birth dates (or age at birth), parents and much more information including cause of death, residence, and who registered the death (usually a relative). Birth, marriage & death records are known as Vital Records or BMD's for short.

5. Your local newspaper office archive or library are good places to look up obituary notices which can provide a wealth of knowledge.

6. Sometimes Church Records (also known as OPR's or Old Parish Records)such as Baptismal, Marriage or Membership etc can reveal as much as vital records.

7. Cemeteries that you know your ancestors are buried in can provide useful information, with tombstones often listing other members of the family and relationships. Always write down as much as you can from a tombstone and try and take a photo and record its position for future reference if you can.

8. Family Photo Albums often provide a lot of information, as well as a visual record of relatives. See if you can get copies or scans made of any photos in your relatives possession.

9. Although Census records have been taken since 1790, it is only since 1841 they have been of any use to family historians. They are taken every 10 years and the last available is the 1901 in the UK and 1920 in the U.S. Begin with these and work backwards. These will help fill in missing pieces and find family members. Libraries and historical societies usually have copies on microfiche, but now there are many sources available on the internet.

10. Use the search engines on the internet, such as Google or Yahoo!. Enter the surname alone for a general search or the full name of an individual. Many connections can be made using this method. There are some good videos on YouTube available on how to search Google in depth for which I have links on the sidebar.

11. Make a sheet called a Family Group Sheet (or download from the internet) for each person in your family. Take the info you get on each ancestor and enter it on a seperate sheet.

12. Check Court House or Register Office records for your ancestors Deeds, Probate, (Wills, estate, intestate, inventories etc) Voters records etc.

13. Old Directories, such as Trade or Telephone can be a source of information and are now often available on websites such as Ancestry and other sites, as well as libraries.