Is it time to research your family history?
Has something come into the fore in recent times that’s made you decide the moment has come to embark on one of life’s biggest projects that will mean so much – are you about to tackle researching your family history? If so, we have gathered 7 tips to help you on your researching way – it’s certainly going to be a journey of highs and lows, breakthroughs and lulls, but this is a commitment that will enable you to understand who you and your family really are.
1. Write it all down and begin to build your family tree
Start by writing information closest to you, all the things that you know straight away without having to research. It might be an idea to buy a long roll of paper and set it up somewhere in the house to start visually building a diagram of what your family tree already.
2. Collate information
Information such as dates, places of marriage, births and deaths, will be a great place to start and geography will play an important part in your future research too. List these findings in an order somewhat similar to below;
• Full name including women’s maiden names
• Date and place of birth
• Date and place of marriages and divorces
• Date and place of death and burial
• List of siblings and children
Another tip when collating information is to gather sentimental objects from your family’s past – documents such as birth certificates, wills and military service papers can start to fill in early stage gaps.
Photographs are also incredibly important as they can provide links to people that may bridge that all important gap. If you’re sourcing all the mentioned above from a relative, remember you must tread carefully to respect their privacy, this could be difficult and sensitive for some.
3. Read ‘how to’ books
Read a collection of ‘how to’ do Genealogy, you don’t need to read the entire book, just gather facts and advice that will help you make progress, and inevitably, make you feel in control. The more you know the more confident you will be. Especially when it gets to the stage when when you’ll be speaking to professionals (if you choose to go down this route).
4. Collect family stories
Speak to everyone in the family by gathering personal stories and anecdotes. You can spend your time reminiscing, which should bring lots of relevant and interesting facts into the search. Family members can be a wealth of knowledge, remember to start with parents, aunts and uncles, and then work back a generation if you can. Speaking to your grandparents can open up a whole new world of information too, as they are the passage-way to finding out about the unknown generations.
5. Help and guidance
There are some pretty good websites, blogs and networking options for you online, to find these out start by searching on social media via some genealogist’s pages. There are whole communities on the web and you can utilise these to help guide you through this researching frenzy. Another option is to find a local genealogical society or family history event in your area. Attending classes about family tree research, family history records, and how to avoid brick walls is an important step to finding answers for all levels.
6. Organisation and formatting
Keep everything in folders and adopt an order of information that works for you – remember it needs to be one you can maintain with ease. Remember to check new findings and triple check to ensure you’re logging information that is valid. It’s always a good idea to check names and dates against official records.
7. Getting started
Using all these tips, each project will be performed in their very own way – with different influences and paths taken. Consider working with us at Story Terrace to write your family memoirs – an option that allows you to create a book of your family history with one of our professional ghostwriters. Get in touch today to share your story.
About us: Story Terrace helps customers to capture personal stories in beautiful books alongside a professional writer. Our writers have a range of backgrounds and interests, sharing one passion: Portraying individuals through carefully crafted anecdotes and lively stories.