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Genealogy -- How To Track Down Your Family History

By: Kent Sayre

Knowing who we are and where we came from can greatly enrich our lives today. Our ancestry is more than just names on a pedigree chart; it is the blood line that flows through us today and future generations. This knowledge must be what is leading millions of people to search each day for their own roots.

Beginning your family history or genealogy can be an overwhelming task if you don’t know where to begin. Expert genealogists all agree that the place to start is with your own personal information. After all, it is the family history of your children and grandchildren. Why not start it for them? Once you have written down your full name, using the maiden name for a married woman, you need to fill in what is called your vital statistics. This is your birth date and place and the date and location of your marriage, if married. You may also want to write the date and location of a baptism or christening.

Next, write down everything you know about your parents. If you are the “trunk” these are the next “branches” on your family tree. Again fill in all of the vital statistics you know about these close relatives. From there you can work your way up the tree to grandparents and great grandparents, including death dates and burial places for those who have passed on. Be sure to ask living family members all they remember about their parents and grandparents. These are excellent leads to finding verification of the spoken information you obtain.

Verification of family history is important. Memories fade and facts can get confounded. The city and town courthouses will contain records, as well as national census databases. Birth, marriage, and death certificates contain usually, but not always, the most accurate information for verification. Many of these records are available online through subscription services and the volunteer efforts of many genealogical societies.

This is the beginning of a legacy you can leave your children. You can help them know all about their ancestors and understand just where they came from. There are many skills associated with the research such as note taking, verifying, record finding, using the U.S. Census and Archives. The detailed procedures that will help you find those long lost ancestors are contained in the pages of the electronic manual.