Any time you get into a hobby, there’s always something that you wish you had been told or knew either earlier or before you got into it. It happens all the time. You’re in luck if you find a post like this… or like those my fellow Ancestry Aces have written. So here are a few things I’ve picked up doing family genealogy.
1. It’s easier if you live in the town or state you’re family is from… but that doesn’t make it impossible. Yes, it’s easier to have the books on your family/ area in your local library. Yes, it’s easier if you can make a quick trip to the city or county or state archives to look stuff up. BUT… what I’ve learned is that you can find a lot online, and I do mean actual documentation. Some (many?) states have virtual archives like Georgia does where you can look up a lot of state-type documents. I’ve found death certificates for family in the state’s virtual vault. Ancestry.com is also a link to lots of documents online. Namely, census records… and you wouldn’t believe what you can find on those!! TONS!! There are records from all 50 states and MANY foreign countries.
2. Save your documentation and double check documents against each other. It’s not always possible to find multiple ways to verify information, but do what you can. But do remember that you can double check or verify one document’s information with information from others. Family trees that you find online or elsewhere can be verified by not only census records for births, names, and deaths, but then you’ve got birth and death certificates, and then you’ve even potentially got announcements in the newspaper. Same kind of thing goes for marriages. And you don’t want to “let go” of records that you find online, you want to save them somehow/ somewhere. You can save copies of images to an Ancestry tree, as a file on a hard drive or flash drive, or bookmark the site you find it on.
3. Follow up on any and every lead… and look at every piece of information on a document! This goes a bit with the previous one, but don’t stop at finding one piece to verify information. Do what you can to find even more documents or ways to confirm it for you. “Leave no stone unturned” as well… search any ancestor in whatever database or list they might actual fit the qualifications for. (I’m not going to look for my father in the Civil War records because he’s not going to be there… neither of us are *THAT* old! 🙂 But I can look for my 3g grandfathers.) Sometimes you need to use what you’ve found in order to be able to confirm it’s your relative. For instance, I think I’ve found my 3g grandfather from my dad’s direct line in the Civil War records. But in order to even remotely come close to finding him, I had to use the process of elimination. I searched for his name, eliminated ones not from Georgia or with a middle initial, and that brought me down to one soldier. Now all I have left is finding the piece to actually confirm my “process of elimination”.
4. ASK ASK ASK!! If you’re having trouble or don’t know or are just curious, find someone to ask. Ask relatives. Ask librarians. Ask on message boards… Facebook, Ancestry, others. Ask at the Archives. Truly, the only “stupid question” is the one never asked.
Anything you wish someone had told you before? Any questions about genealogy you wanna ask now?