Shaking Your Family Tree: Inspired by Buzzy’s Book Bash and the Truckee Friends of the Library
TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; Start with yourself. Write down everything you already know and can verify about your family history. Interview yourself and your siblings (who may know different family stories andamp;#8212; or different versions of them andamp;#8212; than you do) then work back.Interview as many living relatives as possible. Whether by phone or in person, talk to your relatives, especially the oldest ones, about the family history. Ask to see family mementos such as family Bibles, old photographs, and journals, even quilts that might contain data on your ancestors andamp;#8212; these are not only useful in their own right but they may also stimulate memories and stories.Collect as many relevant records as possible. Vital records are key; these are records of birth, death, and marriage. Other useful records include those concerning military service, employment, census information, city directory information, etc. Depending on the record, you’ll find these online, in local courthouses or libraries, and in archives andamp;#8211; as well as in your relatives’ dusty attics.Google it. Can you simply Google your family tree? Unfortunately, no. But now that you have a list of names, dates, and locations relevant to your ancestors’ lives, you can start plugging this data into Google to see what comes up. You may be surprised how much research has already been done on your ancestors andamp;#8211; by your distant cousins! A word of warning: Not all information online is accurate. Use it as a starting point for your research and make sure to verify that birth date with reliable vital records.Use the World Wide Web wisely. The web can be a genealogist’s best friend, but not all web resources are equally reliable. There are millions of homemade family trees posted online and some of them may include your ancestors, but not all of them reflect quality research. These are a few of the best online genealogy resources to help get you started:Ancestry.com: Cost. The preeminent genealogy research site and worth every penny. Cyndislist.com: Free. The mother of all genealogy links.FamilySearch.org: Free. A vast repository of free genealogical data compiled by the LDS ChurchFindAGrave.com: Free. Looking for an ancestor’s grave? It may be here.Rootsweb.com: Free. Lots of searchable family trees hosted here, as well as general information.Footnote: Free. Working with the National Archives, Footnote makes available a huge amount of high quality data.EllisIsland.org: Free. Did your ancestors arrive in New York by ship? Their names may be on one of Ellis Island’s passenger lists, searchable here.Ask for help. You don’t have to hire a professional genealogist, though it’s an option. You can also get great advice from librarians and members of the historical organizations where your family lived. But by simply joining a local genealogical society (believe me, there’s one near you), you’ll end up meeting a lot of other people with similar interests and helpful strategies. One of the hallmarks of genealogy is the sense of mutual support. Genealogists live to share information andamp;#8211; and they may need your help, too!Go deeper. Once you really get rolling, you can consider other research methods, including DNA testing and visiting the actual locations where your ancestors lived. Many hardcore genealogists plan all their vacations around family history research. It’s a great excuse for an international trip!And, the most important step of all: stay organized. Be methodical in your research; write everything down to avoid doing the same searches twice. Keep notes about what you’ve looked at and what’s left to do. Find an organizational system that works for you and stick to it. These days, most genealogists use computer programs to help them keep track of their family tree and their research trail. Invest in one.andamp;#8212; Submitted via firstname.lastname@example.org
What: Free Book Party with family tree games, ice cream, book reading and signing. A percentage of book sales benefits Friends of the Truckee LibraryWho: Book lovers, family tree shakers of all agesWhen: Sunday, July 25, 4-6 p.m.Where: Community Arts Center, 10046 Church St., TruckeeInfo: 587-7499 or email@example.com
Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental GenealogistBy Buzzy JacksonTouchstone, an imprint of Simon andamp; Schuster$14.99/paperbackOn sale now, ISBN 978-1-4391-1299-1For more information visit http://www.buzzyjackson.com.
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