Conducting a genealogy search is more than just a hobby or a business to people. There are those who actually derive personal satisfaction in knowing their past and learning more about their ancestors. For some reason, it gives people a sense of belonging and continuity. A genealogy search can also allow someone to keep a record of family activity throughout the years that would be a valuable source of information for future generations.
If you’re thinking of doing a genealogy search to find out more about your family tree, here are a few tips how:
Start your genealogy search with the nearest source.
That’s your family. Ask your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Start with what is current and then work backwards. Look at family Bibles, birth, death and marriage certificates, diaries, letters, military certificates and scrapbooks. Don’t ignore the family photo album. Useful bits of information can be gathered from the back of photographs.
Check if there is someone in your family who is currently building your family tree. Perhaps you can combine efforts to make your genealogy search easier.
You might also want to write letters or visit family members who might know about your genealogy. If they don’t have the information you need, ask for referrals. You might also want to get in touch with neighbors or people who have worked with older family members.
Check your locality.
Go to your local or state schools, courthouses and churches for records about your family. Civil records like wills, deeds, land or property transfers are kept at courthouses. You can also ask for copies of certificates from the Bureau of Vital Statistics. And don’t forget your local library.
Get in touch with organizations that conduct genealogical research and historical societies. There are also private institutions you can get in touch with. If you have an ancestor who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, then you’re in luck. The Mormon Church has one of the most comprehensive genealogical records in the world.
It’s also a good idea to get as many references as you can, since you can use these documents for cross referencing.
Common problems you might encounter
Adoption. You might have a little difficulty, unless you can communicate with your biological parents. If not, you will need to get legal advice to know the proper procedures since adoption agencies don’t normally reveal records of biological parents to anyone.
No marriage records
This usually is the case when children are born out of wedlock. Other than that, most early marriages don’t have hard documents to support them, or records may have been destroyed, lost and yes, even misfiled. You can try to get around this by looking at other documents such as church records or newspaper announcements and bulletins.
Disappearances from records
There are other reasons that people’s names disappear from a record other than death. They could have moved to another county, state or even to another country. They could also have gotten married. Another possible cause of sudden disappearances may be attributed to geographical and political boundaries, which might have changed during the time your ancestor lived.
When all else fails…
Conducting your genealogy search to trace your family history can be exciting work. It can also be very exhausting. If you don’t want to do your own genealogy search, hire someone who can do it for you. The Board of Certification of Genealogists in Washington, D.C. and the Association of Professional Genealogists in Denver, Colorado have a pool of researchers that can do the job for a fee.