Starting Your Family Tree – Collecting Personal Data | The Nosey Genealogist's: Help Me With My Family Tree
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Starting Your Family Tree – Collecting Personal Data

by Nick Thorne - Please note: This post contains affiliate links. on December 8th, 2010

The favored rule of genealogy is to begin with yourself.  Work from the known to the unknown, gathering evidence each step of the way.

Next, gather information from your immediate family . The elders do not live indefinitely regardless of health or age and it is important to record everything that they can remember.

Whenever possible, conduct a one-on-one interview.  Let people know that you are coming , as well as the type of information in which you are interested .  With permission, use recording equipment.  Take accurate and clear notes .  Prepare for your interview by making a checklist of questions to remind you to ask the three key  questions:  who, where, and when . These questions will increase your genealogy know how and family tree research .

However, be prepared to follow leads from the person you are interviewing .  There are sure to be challenges in the process ; beflexible with your interview style and be open to the discussion and the stories that follow . When it is inconvenient to interview a relative personally , write a letter that is personal and conversational in nature .  If the communication goes unanswered, a telephone call may be necessary .  Writing may be difficult for an elderly person who might be interested in sharing information.  If this is the reason , a phone call might be more productive.

It is important to recognize that not everyone will be as interested or excited about family history and genealogy .
Use photos as a aid .  Often pictures refresh the memory, and unlock bits and pieces of family information long forgotten.  

Assure your relatives that you will be careful of the material loaned to you .  Respect the information they give to you.  Often relatives are reluctant to lend a family heirloom , so be prepared to photograph items whenever they cannot be removed from the premises .

Offer to share your research .  Keep your word .  After entering compiling data on  a family history sheet and pedigree chart , send  a copy to the person who has kindly given you   the facts .

Be  certain to ask if there is bible in the family and find out where it is situated .  Family bibles may contain facts  about   marriages, births and deaths carefully recorded on pages within.

enquire if others in your family has researched genealogy . If so, determine how you can obtain a copy

Family heirlooms often contains useful information :

  • Names and places are printed on the backs of old pictures .
  • Written messages on the inside of a book commemorating a birthday or a vacation .
  • Family scrapbooks that contain historic newspaper obituaries and articles , concert programs , plays,  and graduations .
  • Engraved silver.

There are an endless variety of family artifacts :

  • Certificates and other family records – birth baptism, confirmation , marriage record ,  death and burial , wills, lawsuits . 
  • Adoption records
  • Diaries
  • Funeral cards
  • School Report  

Develop a method to organize your research . Organizing all of this material is difficult if you don’t have a method .  You will want to create a filing system using both electronic and traditional techniques.  Use binders or folders with the surname as the label, keeping items relating to that surname together. When you have time , peruse each folder or binder carefuly, extracting relevant information.

Make sure to compare your electronic files to your paper files .

Don’t forget to backup your material in another location .  Many priceless family memorabilia have been destroyed by natural disasters , as well as by the apathy of others who did not know they were handling did not know the value of the irreplacable family artifacts . 

 

 

 

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