Getting Started With Genealogy
by Andrea Holycross Burke
The word genealogy brings to mind a Bible page, mementos or an
obituary, especially when a close relative passes away. A
dictionary definition reads: A record of the ancestry and
descent of a person.
Today, it's family history, instead of just genealogy. Family
history is about people who lived, worshipped, and toiled to
make our world better than theirs.
These things are what make up a "Family History", a complete
accounting of their lives, their times and their ways; things
which make each of us unique, and individual. Taken together,
they create the 'glue' which holds us together in family ties.
So they are no longer "just" the donors of our unique DNA, or
the building blocks of our biology, they are part of us in a way
that no other small group of people could be- even adopted
children become a real part of our family by taking on family
Begin now to write your own unique history, including you, your
parents and grandparents. Ask questions, find names in Bibles,
legal papers or journals; keep dated news clips and certificates
A local Family History Library can help you get started with a
free computer program; this will help you by grouping fathers,
mothers and children together. It will have a place for notes,
sources, and other important information, like maiden names.
Generally the next step is to search census records as they list
every member in each household. Keeping notes and filing is
important, especially when you get large amounts of information.
A good way is to use a small tape recorder and record
conversations with grandparents and older family members; it can
be transcribed later and printed. Military records are online
and are great sources of information, and it's all free at your
local Family History Library (just look in the telephone book).
Next, write your history. It's a good idea to present the family
information in story form, following the generations as they
move from place to place. Your computer will store information
and pictures of family members along with the written history
and charts. The genealogy programs available today have places
for pictures of each individual. Or you can print, copy or have
them professionally published.
However you decide to do it, your history will be cherished by
your children and grandchildren; they'll know who they are,
they'll develop pride and self-confidence as they read about the
accomplishments of their own predecessors.
article re-published 1 November 2006