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Re: a young sinclair is amazed
Hi P and welcome to the forum.
Copied from RootsWeb Forum
Here is a National Genealogical Conference BBS message that I copied
which has a good description of how to get started in genealogy.
From: Dorothy Sminkey
To: Gary Mcnickle Msg #313, 01-Nov-91 09:09
Subject: Getting Started
I was in your present situation several years ago when I first
decided to try to find out where I came from. During the ensuing
years, I bumbled and stumbled in my various quests to find
information that would permit me to "grow" a family tree. Now that
I am well into the search, with fairly successful results, I have
opinions, based on my experience, as to a course of action that
should get you off and running in this most facinating avocation
First off, you will have to trace back from both your father
and your mother in order to do the job right. So, you work on both
sides of your parentage.
I strongly recommend that you contact a genealogy society or
"club" that exists in your area, and, when found, join it. Phone
books, libraries, historical societies, welcome centers, etc. would
all be places that might provide leads as to where "your" society
resides. If you find such an organization, your troubles are over
as they will lead you by the hand and get you moving in the right
directions and give you help along the way.
In many communities, there are genealogy bookstores that cater
to people researching their ancestry. The stores carry books and
forms that assist genealogists in their work. Would advise going to
one and picking up, at least, one book that explains the basics of
genealogy research. There are many such publications on the market.
Many colleges teach genealogy. A visit to one that does would
produce information that you could use...and, maybe a book or two,
too. Who knows, you might even be able to attend their genealogy
course. Some courses are given at night and during the summer
recess period (Adult Education).
You appear to be into computers. If so, you should acquire a
genealogy software program, load it in, and input all applicable
acquired data. Starting right off with computer assistance is a lot
more easier than playing catch-up ball later on. If you are reading
this echo, then you are learning what various genealogists think
about various genealogy software programs. Read, talk to users,
evaluate, then, make your selection.
-> Now, to the nuts and bolts of it all.
Contact all living relatives and pump them for all genealogy
knowledge they possess. Write to them. Tell them what you are
doing...and why. Include in your correspondence to them self-
addressed stamped envelopes (SSAE) to enhance replies from them.
Besides what information they may provide, ask for copies of all
birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates, etc. that
you can obtain. A wealth of information comes from those documents.
Also ask your living relatives where any of your ancestors are
buried. Later reading of tombstone inscriptions could provide
information of use...or, get your relatives to do it.
See if anyone possesses a family history. Many times, when
family reunions are held, someone brings a family history and passes
copies out. And, if you are real lucky, you could come across a
family history book where someone preceeded you in researching the
You should end up with some family data after executing some
of the above described recommended initial actions. Now you're
ready to begin "Phase Two."
Write to postmasters in towns where your ancestors once lived.
Ask for address of the local historical or/and genealogical society.
Most will answer. If such organizations exist, contact them, and
ask your questions. This route has proven to be very productive for
me and has resulted in me joining several of those organizations.
Most publish a newsletter. Again, queries to them sometimes
produces needed information. Occasionally, an unknown relative is
discovered, correspondence commences, and much new information
And then comes the research: Looking through telephone books
in the larger libraries of areas where your relatives live or
lived...hoping to come across a name and address of possible
interest. Hits are followed up with a letter to the possible family
member. I've found several this way.
Write to applicable courthouses for copies of wills.
Write to city and/or state vital statistic offices for copies
of birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates,
etc. If the parties of concern are deceased and you are a relative,
you can usually obtain copies in this manner. Leads come from the
information contained in these documents.
Then there is the research through census records. Some cities
have branches of the National Archives of the United States of
America. These branches can provide you with census records that
can be viewed via a reader. You look in areas during the period of
time you know or think your ancestors resided there. A hit produces
names of husbands, wives, and children...with ages and occupations.
And, from this, more leads are generated.
And, on and on and on it goes. You search through newspaper
files, archives of applicable counties and states, through hall of
record files, in state law libraries, in historical sections of
libraries. You place queries on BBS' (like this one), in genealogy
publications and society newsletters, etc., etc., etc.
Once the bug bites you, there's no turning back...especially
when you find out you are related to a famous person...or nobility
back in the old country...or relations who fought with George
Washington, or were in the Civil War, etc. Yes, it's mighty
interesting stuff...and loads of fun, too.
These procedures worked for me and led me into the more
sophisticated data gathering methods I now try to use. Fortunately,
I live near Washington, D.C., and Annapolis, Maryland...both loaded
with researching facilities aplenty. So, am still finding new "things."
These ramblings should give you an idea of what is required to
get rolling into serious family background research. If you want to
grow a full, blossoming tree, you are going to have to give it lots
of nutrients, attention and care.
Good luck; and welcome aboard.
In addition to Dorothy's recommendation,
try to find a local Mormon Family History
Library. They can be found in many Mormon (LDS) churches. They will have
indexes that you can order microfilms
or fiche from the Salt Lake City Library
to further you research.
Buy a book about genealogy to get some
basic ideas how to proceed. Find a local club in your area and join... then
participate and ask questions.
Clifford Sayre in Silver Spring, MD
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