14 May 2011

Genealogy: Let's Get Started!

Several posts ago, I mentioned the idea of a regular genealogy feature. Some weeks maybe it will be a long post, other weeks just a quick tip or prompt. I am open to suggestions so, please, do not hesitate to share with me what you would like to see here.

The best place to start with genealogy work is with what you know, then branch out towards the things that remain secrets for us to uncover.

You can use a pen and paper or a computer program of some sort (your choice) to help you keep up with the information that you will collect along the way. I use both, to varying degrees.

If you want to be able to store everything in your computer, a scanner would be a good investment at this point. Otherwise, file folders and large envelopes will come in handy for keeping up with vital records and photographs collected along the way.

Even with saving things digitally, it is always a good idea to have a hold-in-your-hand, hard-copy backup.

You may want to invest in a small recorder to carry with you as you visit older relatives especially. It is easier to record their stories rather than trying to keep notes as they talk. If they will allow a video recorder, that is even better! Prepare your questions in advance and then adjust as necessary as they tell their stories. Oftentimes, what they want to share is more interesting and more telling than what you went there seeking to find out.

Color-coding and numbering systems will make organization a little easier, too, but we will talk more in depth about these later.

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