Ancestor Research - Tips to Getting Started
Genealogy can be an immensely rewarding hobby, but many find it difficult getting started. Whether it be an issue of what to look for or how to collect all the information, a few tips can greatly aid those just beginning their ancestor research.
Organization is Key
As you will find during your research, different people organize in different ways. So what is the right way? There is no one correct way to organize your research, but there are some things you need to do.
Don't fool yourself into thinking your research is organized because YOU know where everything can be found. Although you may be doing your ancestor research because of your own personal desire to learn about them, your work will probably be even more valuable to those who follow after you.
Knowing that others will be looking to your research in the future, your organization needs to be consistent. You could put your research in binders grouped by person, family, or surname. Whatever you choose it would be helpful to make a note of how your research is organized. This could easily be done on your computer and printed or copied for each binder you use.
A quick test of how well your work is organized is to ask someone who hasn't seen or heard much about your research to find certain things. If they can easily find the things you ask them to look for then your organization is a success. If they can't find what they're looking for, then neither will your future relatives.
Stay Focused / Set Goals
Ancestor research can be very time consuming and frustrating. For this reason, many choose to utilize a professional genealogist to do their research. This is a great option, but you can also do your research on your own. You just need to apply a few ideas to avoid getting discouraged.
To start, ask yourself what it is that you want to learn about who your ancestors are. Come up with a few questions that you would like to have answered through your research. This will make your research much more enjoyable and feed your desire to continue researching.
Remember to look for information on your ancestors in addition to dates. While it is vital to find birth, marriage, death, and other dates to fill your blank family tree, it can be quite monotonous. Finding odd facts about your ancestors can give you the encouragement you need to keep on searching.
In addition to making your research more interesting for yourself, this information will make your work even more valuable to future generations. While many will appreciate your efforts of putting together all the important dates, everyone will enjoy the other bits of information you have gathered.
You may wonder whether it is really necessary to document everything. The answer is a resounding Yes! Even things that you may not consider to be important could prove to be invaluable later.
If you sit down to interview an older relative make a note of all the little things they tell you and the dates they give you. Even if they are only guessing, it is always better to at least have a ballpark figure to start from. Though their memories may not be entirely correct, they are much more personal than other sources you will find and could help you find an ancestor that you previously could not find.
Another important aspect of ancestor research is your sources. Just as with the other information you gather, you need to document the sources for everything. You never know when you may find conflicting information from different sources and will need to revert back to your original source for confirmation.
In summary, although these three tips are not all inclusive of the things you need to know, they should be sufficient to get you started well and headed in the right direction.
About the Author:
Kent Fairbourn is the Great Grandson of John A. Scorup (a member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame) and a Client Account Specialist for 10x Marketing, an Internet marketing company. Go now to Heirlines Family History and Genealogy for a Free Professional Genealogy Consultation.