Basic Ideas When Doing Family History

doing researchThere are some key ideas and concepts anyone doing family history research should keep in mind. Each could save you time and frustration.

1. Never believe as the truth 100% of the family legends, tall tales or stories. There might be some truth, but most of the time the stories are just that, fiction stories, which got changed and made-up over the years.

2. If there were any ‘black sheep’ or despicable relatives on the tree, look them up also, they are still part of the family and there just could be a fascinating true story. ┬áThese can be fun!

3. Use as a beginning point any research (family trees, books, journals) done years earlier by a relative. Many can be found in a Google Book search. Everything stills needs to be verified, but it can be a good place to begin.

4. Begin your research with yourself then work to your parents and each of their parents — always do those three generations first.

5. Keep in mind there can be relatives you are looking for and someone else had that same name and even similar birth date and place. I was looking for William Henry Harrison Smith (1840s to 1900) and thought that should be easy, no one else would have that full name. Sure enough, many male babies were named for the former US President William Henry Harrison after his death in office. Add with that the common surnames like Smith or Johnson or Wilson or Jones and there will be many with that name. Check hometown, their spouse’s name, children’s names, occupation, military service and B-M-D dates to make sure you have the correct relative for your family tree.

6. Doing family history research can take time. Do what you can when you can, but don’t expect to it totally completed in a few weeks. The journey is the best part.

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