How & Where to Begin your Genealogy Research

This page has been put together to give you some ideas on how to conduct research into your roots. The suggestions contained here are simple ideas that have worked for me–some of them may not be helpful for you, as all of us develop our preferences for the way we work. Use those you find helpful.

Get Organized

Determine how you’re going to record the result of you research. In most cases, this is a matter of deciding which software to use, and again, this is a matter of preference. I used Family Tree Maker for while and I also have been using Lagacy I like both of them. I find it useful to use a word processor–but of course I am a perfectionist, such as WordPerfect or Word, to make additional notes, such as a listing of records to search for next time I visit the Library or any of my “Foot” research (which I will talk about later). Many times you will find yourself gathering information that doesn’t relate to a particular person, but rather fills in background information for a geographic area or a group of people-this sort of information is easiest tracked in a word processor. If it is easier for you to use a pad of paper then use that. I sometimes use legal-paper when I do “Foot” research. I then use this format: First, the keyword; such as a surname, place, etc. Second, the Source; e-mail address, reference citation, etc. Third, the Note; the data itself. I can’t say it enough…MAKE SURE YOU SOURCE EVERYTHING!

Start With What You Know

Enter, either into your genealogy program or by hand, all of the information that you have from personal knowledge of your family history. Wherever possible, make not of where events took place, as geographical data plays a very large part in tracking down ancestral information. Document your sources thoroughly, even if your data comes from your personal knowledge! When you’ve exhausted your own knowledge, move onto you family members. A Tape recorder is often a useful tool, particularly when “interviewing” the older family members–*small note, some older family members do not like to be taped. Try not to make your question too vague, a more specific question (i.e.: “Do you remember Uncle George and his wife Aunt Bertha?”, etc.) usually returns a better answer with more information. Keep in mind that some of what you hear from your family members may be more along the line of ‘Family Legend’ rather than actual fact, but even such legends may provide clues to further avenues of research. Do not discard, out of hand, ANY information you gather.

Family Heirlooms

Family Bibles are usually the most informative of heirlooms, there are others which may provide a wealth of information as well. Old history books, particularly local histories, may include notes in the margins indicating a relationship to a family member. photo albums are often invaluable, especially if names are included. One of my own treasures is a stack of papers found in my great-great grandmother’s bible. One of the papers was an obituary of her brothers, giving me an additional family member to add to my research.

Library Resources

Probably the best available for resources exists in your local Library. They have extensive collections of microfilm and microfiche copies of historical and genealogical data from all over your area and around the United States. Local libraries have census records, local newspapers, pre-compiled genealogies and other compiled genealogy related material. Most local libraries have a “GENEALOGY” section, where they might have a surname index, or genealogies already compiled with researchers name and address or phone number. You will come to a point in your research that you don’t know what to do next, you might want to check out your State’s State Library. Each State has a Library that covers the whole state. Research that can be found there are: Pre-compiled genealogies, census records, newspapers, ships index, birth, marriage, and death indexes and much more genealogy related material. The only differences between the local and State library is that the State covers the whole state.

“Foot” Research

OK, you’ve put together everything you know so far. Now What? Now it is time for my favorite part of the research “FOOT” Research. The “foot” research includes: Funeral Homes, County Courthouses, Churches, and Cemeteries (and sometimes the occasional Family Reunion).

Funeral Homes provide material such as Death Certificates and much more. I have recently gotten my grandmother’s sister’s death certificate from the local funeral home, it gave me her birth, death, what she died of, who her parents were, when her funeral was, where she was buried and that her middle name was “Arla” NOT “Arlene.”
County Courthouses sometimes limit the use of there material so call ahead. I couldn’t find my great grandfather’s death in the index, I had an obituary, but couldn’t find it anywhere in the death index. I went to the courthouse and look through the year, and guess what?…There it was!!

Churches, most churches keep thorough records.

My favorite “foot” research is the Cemetery. Some cemeteries have put together indexes in the form of books, (most libraries have them), some people have put together an on-line index of the cemetery; however, if you can’t find it talk to the Saxon of the cemetery you are looking for.

Happy Hunting!

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Summer’s almost over

A new photo of me

Hello all… I know I have posted in almost a week… but I’ve been really busy organizing & with the kids’ activities… the week just flys by!!  Nothing new in genealogy research. 😦  I’ve been cleaning and organizing for a yard sale… thinking about having it in early September.  August is such a busy month for us!!  Kids are ready for school!!  When did they grow up?!?! & how can I stop the process?? 🙂

I went to my first Drive-in movie!! It was soooo cool!! I didn’t know they still existed!! We had fun, the movie was Total Recall and it was eh ok, wish we would have seen Avengers or some great movie like that! LOL!!

The cleaning calendar is going GREAT! I even took two days off of doing somethings and the house looks awesome!! The whole family is into keeping it clean!! Which makes it better!!

I also heard of news of a dear former Pastor & friend pass away.  Pastor Rick Floyd was an amazing man & a wonderful spiritual father.  He will be sadly missed.  But, I know he is in Heaven rejocing at the Father’s feet with the Angels. ❤

Wild Wednesday…

Photo from Pinterest.com

Whew!  This day has already gotten wild!!  It’s 4 PM and it seems like NOTHING is getting done!  I have my daily stuff done, but not my weekly chore or my goals and I might not have time.  I wish I could go out to this swing with a good book & some ice-cold tea (with lemon!) and relax!  I’m in tremendous pain today!  I have been diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, it is very similar to Fibro & Lupus.  It’s basically like my body is allergic to itself. 😦 Some days are worse than others, but there are days that I just want to lay in bed & cry… today is one of those days!  Kids aren’t making it easy at all, they keep bickering with each other & finding things to fight about.  Yep that swing is looking mighty wonderful at the moment!! But I am a mommy… I have to be strong, I have to make dinner, I have to be the ref to the many fights that happen during the day, I have to get the house cleaned and I have to do it with a good attitude!!  Attitude is very important!  My attitude sets the tone for the whole house & for the whole day!  Lord help me with my attitude!!

Cleaning Calendar Challenge

Hello all! I wanted to share how I was doing on my Cleaning Calendar.  It’s been a week since I started doing the cleaning calendar (Organization) & I’m doing pretty good!! I still have areas I need to work on, but I’m doing better!!  I feel good about how my house looks, and I wouldn’t be completely freaked out if someone popped over for a visit.

RESULTS!!

After a week my kitchen, my living room, hallway & bathroom are all still cleaned.  We don’t have the cash to re-do our kitchen countertops, so we went & purchased some contact paper and covered the old, and it looks amazing!!  I told you I am not a good house keeper!!  Never really have been, but with this calendar I feel like a good house keeper!  I modified the calendar to fit my family’s needs & what I think is important.  I do DAILY eight chores.  In the morning I make beds, wipe bathroom counters/sinks (this means clearing the clutter from them also), empty dishwasher, do one load of  Laundry, & the chore of the day.  Since I have back pain, this has been good for me, because I can do them all at once or I can space them out with breaks in between.  At night I load dishwasher (& run it), clean the kitchen counters/sink (clearing clutter that has piled up during the day), & sweep the kitchen floor.  Just doing this alone has helped keep my house clean, but I’ve also been making daily & weekly goals for myself, little projects that I want done; like today I’m going to clean all the ceiling fans in the house & de-clutter my computer desk.  I’ve found that if I’m doing my “chores” my children don’t complain about their chores.  If I have a good attitude about my chores, my children have a good attitude about their chores!!

Here’s what my chore of the day –

Monday   Catch-up day/Coupons (cut coupons & organize them)
Tuesday   Clean oven, microwave & fridge
Wednesday   Dust & Vacuum
Thursday   Mop Floors
Friday   Swing Day (see list below)
Saturday   Family Time

SWING DAY

  • 1st week – Wipe down furniture & cabinets
  • 2nd week – Clean Mirrors & windows
  • 3rd week – Wipe down walls & doors
  • 4th week – Change Sheets/Project

I found a book at a yard sale that is helping me organize bigger “projects” it’s called The One-Minute Organizer by Donna Smallin.  She has loads of ideas & tips to help you get organized!  She says to “start with today’s mess. Do whatever it takes to keep up with daily mail, dishes, and laundry. Then set aside time to catch up.”  That goes right along with my calendar so I added a project day to my swing day just to work on bigger projects.  She also says to “Be realistic about you can and can’t do.”  Your house isn’t going to get clean & organized in one day! Just tackle one thing at a time, eventually your whole house will be cleaned.  I’ve heard this saying before at church or somewhere, “If you do what you’ve always done, then don’t expect different results.  If you want different results, do something different.”  That’s what I’m doing… doing something different!  I’ve tried to be the housekeeper my grandmother was, it doen’t work for me!  I’m not her!  But what does work for me is the cleaning calendar.

So here’s my challenge to you, try the cleaning calendar for one month.  See if it works for you, if it doesn’t find something different – just DON’T QUIT!  Keep trying until you find something that works!

Organization

Here I sit with my coffee cup and my laptop contemplating the days tasks that need to get done, & things I want to get done.  I woke up late today. It’s summer so I normally sleep until 9 ish, but today I woke up at 11:49 – WOW my kids let me sleep that long!  They are 11 & 8 so they are pretty self-sufficient.  They played their DS’s & did their chores!! Guess it’s “Amaze Momma” day 🙂

Confession time! I am a horrible housekeeper!  My grandmother would be so at me everyday!  How on earth did my grandma do everything she did in a day with her job, working the family farm, raising 6 kids & have a spotless house!!!  Even when I lived with her, she was taking care of me, babysitting 3-6 extra kids a day, managing her my dad’s & my grandfather’s medicines (we had a pharmacy in our kitchen!), doing the bills, grocery shopping, preparing meals & a slew of other things she took care of for her ladies church organization… and she was RETIRED!

The month of June flew on by & July isn’t looking much better either!  With my son is Baseball & my husband in our church softball we’ve been running around like chicken’s with our heads cut off!  We had seven days that we didn’t have anything going in the whole of 30 days of the month of June, & most days we had 2 or 3 things going on in one day.  The house cleaning I admit got shoved to the bottom of the list of important things to do in my day, and I didn’t think about it until I actually sat down at the end of the day or on one of those 7 days & then I just tried to ignore as much as I could.  Now to be fair, the house wasn’t dirty, I mean there aren’t bugs or mice crawling around it’s just clutter. But oh how it piles up!  And how can I expect the kids to complete their chores if I’m not doing any of my jobs?  A friend told me that there is a law, it’s a natural law, it’s called THE LAW OF FLAT SURFACES – it means if there is a flat surface, things will pile up on it!  At my house we embrace that law! Everyone here (my husband, kids & yes even myself) throws everything on the counter! After a week the counters look horrible, almost like we are hoarders!  Then with all the clutter everywhere I feel guilty about the dirty house, if I spend time with the kids I feel guilty, if I clean I feel guilty, if I don’t do anything but relax I feel guilty.  Guilt, to be honest SUCKS!

I have found that my own self inflicted guilt is worse than any guilt others may try & force upon me.  So I am setting FIVE goals to help me erase guilt.  I am addicted to Pinterest and found this Cleaning Schedule/Calendar for busy mom’s.  I know that it’s for mom’s that have a full-time job, but hey why can’t a busy stay at home mom us it too!?  That is my goal #1 is to follow the Cleaning Calendar, to make it work!  The calendar came from a Tips & Pix blog by Pixingo I have seen other’s on Pinterest also but this is the one I printed out.  I have switched things around, added things & taken things off it to fit my needs & the needs of my family.  But the basic principle is the same. Goal #2 is to set weekly goals to complete.  These goals will be tackling big projects in the house that gets ignored, such as cleaning closets, clean/organize scrapbook table, collect unused things for yard sale or Goodwill, spend family time together etc.. Goal #3 Use my planner more!  I love my planner, I just don’t like the pages, and they don’t seem to help me with the things that I need to do!  Goal #4 Spend less time on Facebook, Pinterest & online!  This is going to be hard for me, I do most of my genealogy research online & I spend a lot of time on Facebook!  But really what am I doing?  I’m wasting time, I’m shutting my brain off & I’m getting lost in the world wide web!  Goal #5 Do something once a month just for me!  If that’s doing some genealogy or getting my nails done, I need time for me!

Ok so that’s the end of my goals & this post for the day! Off to do my morning chores & cut coupons! (Awe who am I kidding, I’m off to check my Facebook!! 🙂 then do my chores & cut coupons)