Well, start fresh and know you can find out things about your relatives you never dreamed of. You do have to have patience.
Begin by gathering what you had collected earlier. If you hadn’t started, see if anyone else in the family had done some research. If you are starting with a blank sheet, the following are some thing to begin gathering.
You need any family records which include Bible records, Wills, deeds, diaries, letters, postcards, military records, birth-marriage-death certificates, documents from employment or memberships in societies. Ask other family members for what they have, either the original or a good copy. Remember you just can’t say give me everything you have on the family. Be specific, name certain relatives, such as grandparents on your mother’s side.
Once you can review the basic information and create a family chart with names, dates and locations for your parents and their parents (as much as possible) see if a Family History Center operated by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints is near where you live. Excellent resources in each Center, even if you family hometown was hundreds of miles from where you and the Center are located.
Another very important area is the family hometown. Here you check with the town’s civic department or a county’s courthouse for birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Seek out the tax rolls on property, the local school board for school records, the cemeteries for the records and check out the gravestones. Most counties have the town’s newspapers either in digital format or at least on microfilm and held in the county’s library.
Most counties also have their own genealogical society. Excellent place to contract what is available on your family that lived there. Along with that society are any local museums in the hometown. Such museums do tend to gather and preserve files on the communities’ citizens, the businesses and homes in the area. This is a very overlook resource.
Now just doing the work and the time needed for all the above places will take effort but you will get results. If you can accomplish as much of the above items and do a complete search, then you can move onto investigating the state level of archives. By that point you will know what is still missing and can better narrow down your requests.
Then proceed to the national level by seeing what is held by the National Archives either at a regional branch near you or by contacting the archives in Washington, D. C.
Research is ongoing, there is always something new to learn about any ancestor. After all, you are covering numerous people who lived for decades. There is a good deal of ground to cover, but one that does give great satisfaction to helping keep that ancestor’s memory alive. Plus their life eventually helped shape your life.
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