Where Do I Start?
The best place to start is to write down and organize what you already know. Start with you, your parents, and if you know your grandparents on both your maternal and paternal sides start there.
The people with the most information may be your oldest living relatives. I suggest sitting down with them and just have a conversation about what they remember. Let them know why you’re interested in genealogy and what you hope to accomplish. Talk to as many older relatives as you can, even if only by telephone. They each will have their own stories and memories to share. Take notes, making sure to write down names of people, where they were born, when they were born, and any dates they can remember such as births, marriages, and deaths of family members. Note the places they lived, and any other interesting facts they can remember. What did their parents do for a living? Ask them if they have any photographs, charts or documents they might be able to share with you. If they are not willing to let you take any documents with you, you can take pictures with your cell phone that can be printed later.
Other questions you might consider asking might include whether they remember any historical events such as wars, military service, natural disasters (fire, earthquakes, etc.), and presidents in office during their lifetime. If they immigrated from another country how did they get here? Where did they arrive? Why did they immigrate? From where did they leave? You may also want to ask about their religious beliefs. Many religious records can be helpful in genealogy research. Ask if they have any information about your family’s medical history? These are just a few suggestions that might help get the conversation started.
Try to get as much information as possible on each person including:
- Full Name: LAST (MAIDEN for females), First, Middle, and any Nickname
- Date of Birth: Month, Day, Year
- Place of Birth: City, County, State, Country
- Date of Marriage: Month, Day, Year
- Location of Marriage: County, State, Country
- Full Name of Spouse: LAST (MAIDEN for females), First, Middle
- Date of Death: Month, Day, Year
- Place of Death: County, State, Country
- Full Names of Children
Tip: Try keeping the format for all information the same, it will help you stay organized when you start compiling all the information onto charts.