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Surname spelling was not standardized until well into the 20th century. Your surname often may be found spelled in many ways.
Genealogy is the search for our ancestors. Family history is the study of the lives they led. A true picture of the family is the result.
There is no greater legacy for your children and grandchildren than teaching them about the history and lives of their ancestors
Tracing the family's medical history helps your children and grandchildren to take preventative measures with their own health.
Because each generation doubles the number of ancestors, developing a plan of how you will proceed in your research is absolutely necessary
When you begin your research, focus on one or two families so you do not become overwhelmed.
Search from the known to the unknown. Don't jump back several generations and try to come forward. It simply will not work well and you might spend years chasing the wrong family line.
A generation generally averages to be about 25 years but may be skewed in larger families.
Organize...organize...organize. You should be able to find information quickly. Find a good filing and recording system that makes sense to you and stick with it.
Use only accepted genealogical abbreviations. Check a genealogy "how-to" book or the internet to find lists of such abbreviations.
Learn and understand the basic genealogical and historical terminology.
The Pedigree Chart is your road map. Begin with yourself and follow with all direct ancestors.
Always use maiden names for women when filling in genealogical charts.
The Family Group Sheet identifies a couple and their children. Most families have two family group sheets, one as a child with parents and one as a parent with children.
A Timeline begins with your ancestor's birth. Fill it in with various life events as you discover them. Include major historical events. Eventually you will have a picture of your ancestor's life. Use timelines to find holes in your research.
An ancestor is a person from whom you are descended.
A descendant is a person who is descended from an ancestor.
A common ancestor is the mutual ancestor of two or more persons.
A collateral relative is someone with whom you share a common ancestor but who is not in your direct line.
Record your sources of information. This is called documentation, or citing your sources. From this, you will be able to find the source again, if you need to do so. Genealogical information without documentation is just a nice story (mythology).
When researching in obituaries you may find relatives listed as survivors, pallbearers, or as pre-deceased.
Newspapers are wonderful sources. In addition to looking for obituaries, look for articles about special events such as births, baptisms, wedding and prenuptial events, birthdays and anniversaries.
Civil records are created by and for a governmental agency. Frequently the same information may be found in both civil and church records from the area.
The use of the terms "Junior' and "Senior" did not always mean the "son" or the "father" of. Sometimes it identified the younger and elder of two persons with the same name living in the same locality. It might also refer to "uncle" and "nephew."
Daughter-in-Law: in early American History, a daughter-in-law could be a step-daughter or the wife of a son.
In early American History, the term son-in-law referred to a person's stepson or the husband of a person's daughter
The word "Sic" used in a transcription indicates that the word has been transcribed exactly as in the original spelling, but that the word itself is not correct in some way.
Joining a genealogy society in the location you are researching is a good idea. They not only provide research guidance but also your dues help them fulfill the mission of gathering and preserving local records for the future.
When doing field research never use water-based pens. A few drops of rain can be lethal to your notes.
When doing field research, posted "No Trespassing" signs do not mean "Except for Genealogists." Ask permission to enter private land containing old cemeteries or other historical sites.
When searching in old cemeteries, always check outside the fence. Many criminals, sinners and those of mixed races were buried outside of the cemetery proper.
Evaluate the information that you find soon after your research session. The rule of thumb is to spend twice as long analyzing your data than you spent finding it.
"Genealogy of Place" is vital to your research. Determine where the town/county/state is located and how boundaries have changed over time.
When researching your family history, keep an open mind. Family stories are just that - stories. Your research and documentation will prove or disprove the family legend.
Take the time to read a genealogy how-to book.
If you are visiting a genealogical library for the first time, ask for a tour of their holdings.
Child bearing years for women in the 17th through early 20th centuries ranged from age 13 to 48.
Since most early families had a child approximately every two years, large age gaps between children can indicate other children not identified, divorce or early death.
In some families you will find children named after older brothers/sisters who died.
Make photocopies of original documents for research use. Store original documents in a safe deposit or fireproof box.
When transcribing a document, copy it exactly as found, even if the words are not spelled as they are today.
Some families record the most important events in their lives in a Family Bible or similar book. The printing age (or copyright) of the Bible/book must correspond to the age of the married couple whose family is recorded in it for the source to be declared as primary.
There is no central depository for Colonial Records. They are scattered among the 13 original colonies. Most are found in Town Records.
Given and surname records can have many variations in spelling.
Strive to obtain primary sources for each genealogical event.
Write your family history for future generations. Put a copy in every local library where your ancestors lived.
Check original records whenever possible. Transcriptions, abstracts and indexes may contain errors.
Network with other researchers by joining genealogical and family organizations.
Sometimes it is not the people who move, but the land boundaries.
Take advantage of genealogical classes, workshops, seminars and conferences.