Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Family History: Getting Started

This is a subject that has always interested me and it has become very dear to my heart. My family has always talked about how important Family History is, but to be perfectly honest, not much has been written down. She had a kick of genealogy many years ago and found a great deal, but I have never even seen most of it (she doesn't remember where she put it). Anyway, since this is a subject I have some knowledge on, I have decided to make a tutorial to (hopefully) help others who may not know where to start. So, here we go...

How To Begin
The first step with anything having to do with family history is to write down what you know. I find that this step is easiest when you have a good pedigree chart.
Start by writing down your name, birthday, birthplace, etc, then move onto your parents, and their parents. Just write down everything you know for everyone you can think of. If you aren't sure, call your parents. Usually people can remember their parents' birthdays even if they don't know the year or the place.

Write Down Your Stories
This is a step best accomplished over time, but it's never too late to start. In the case of family history, I would say it is easiest to write down the memories and stories of those who went before you. Is there a hobby your grandpa was known for? Was your grandma a member of any clubs? Did she play bridge? Did you grandpa serve in any wars? These are simple things that are passed down little by little to the following generations and it should be simple to write down at least a few things about those on your pedigree chart you just filled out. As I have gotten several years of genealogy under my belt now, I have come to find out that it's the stories that you find to be the best treasures.

Keep Everything Together
Start yourself a folder that is devoted to your family history. To begin with, put your pedigree chart and any stories you wrote in it. With the digital age, most everyone has a scanner - scan everything you have and keep it in a specific folder on your computer. Even better, burn it to a disc so it's backed up even more. The more places you can have the information, the better. That way if something happens to your computer, you still have all the work you've done, and so on. Make scan any important photos you may have and label them with the names of anyone in them and the date they were taken (if you know it). Keep these in many places as well, but no matter if it's the physical copies or the digital copies keep everything in one folder together.

Hopefully this is a simple way for you to get things in motion. The hardest part is getting started - once you have done a few simple things you will be amazed at how far you can go with it. I hope this has inspired you to give it a try. Keep in mind that when you are doing this, you are not the only one who will appreciate it. It will be cherished for generations to come :)

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