Click to view:  The preliminary steps of research

                         The story of the family

                        Research by correspondence

                        Research through old newspapers                           

                       Pedigree Charts and Numbering


  1. Make Personal Contacts With Your Relatives.
    1. Ordinarily the oldest living person will give helpful information.
    2. Inquire among relatives for old records, etc.
  2. Family Bibles
    1. This type of record is most valuable for direct or bloodline ancestors.
    2. Note the date the Bible was printed and the dates of the information entered.  This will help you to check the authenticity of the entries and determine whether they are original entries or copied entries.
  3. Family Records
    1. Make inquiries about such records from those who you think might have reason to be interested in a family record.
  4. Membership Certificates
    1. This type of record is helpful in securing the full name of individuals, their place of birth, etc. from church membership records, lodges, clubs, associations, societies, etc.
  5. Marriage, Birth and Death Records
    1. This type of record is good for complete names, parents and localities.
  6. Letters, Photographs, Scrapbooks, Announcements
    1. Don’t underestimate the value of information as found in such sources.
    2. Old letters, etc., are difficult to read, make sure of your transcripts.
  7. Journals, Diaries, Biographies, etc.
    1. Check for the possible existence of such records, especially among pioneer ancestors, immigrants, prominent personalities, civic leaders, etc.
  8. Military Service Documents
    1. Genealogical information is often found in old war records.  Pensions from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, War of 1812, etc.
  9. You may want to send a pedigree chart or family group sheet to a relative requesting information, etc.

           The above records, and all other sources of genealogical information, should be able to stand up      under verification and rechecking.  Remember that is sis always better to use more than one source of information in building a record.  In compiling your won record, note in detail the name of the record, volume, page, etc.  A word of caution might be given in regards to such things as “family tradition” and other information strictly from memory.  Whenever possible, verify all such information from original sources of information.

     In general, the procedure in research is to go from the known to the unknown.  Or, use the facts you have in your possession to secure additional information.  Direct your inquiries to “surnames” or “localities” as follows:

     10.    Surname research

              In making what would seem to be a natural approach to your research problem, check first through the surname of your ancestor.  Be sure to check under various spellings of the surname.  As a general rule remember that in America, over a hundred years ago, surnames were written in records the way they sounded to the person who did the writing.   In live and in a genealogical record no person is ever alone.  A child has its mother and father, his brothers and sisters, aunts uncles, etc.;  the wife and husband have each other; and the pioneer will surely have descendents through more than one of his children.   We should not then be surprised if our ancestors mentioned each other or gave identifying information about each other during their lives.  Therefore check through an index for any surname on your family group pertinent to your locality.

     11.    Locality  research                             

               In seeking out original records from the town you may expect to find church records, cemetery inscriptions, etc.; under a county locality for wills, seeds, marriages, etc.; under the country or federal records, look for census, military and court records.  Be on the lookout for local and locality histories.  

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                           The Story of a Family

               Each family, or family organization, should write its own family history.  The history of a family is the lives of its individual members in a story or narrative form.

                             The Complete Family Record 

                As with the individual genealogy, the place to begin is in the homes of the members of the family.  It is here that you will find a storehouse of unwritten memories and the souvenirs of generations past.. It is the story of these souvenirs and memories and the individuals who knew of them, together with the genealogical record, that makes the complete family record.

The Sources

      A wide variety of sources contribute information about a family.  Journals, newspaper clippings, old letters, scrapbooks, family Bibles, diaries, together with the old heirloom documents, all freely contribute to the storehouse of memories.

           Interviewing the old folks will give interesting and essential information.  Let them tell their own story in their own way.  Make direct quotations from them.  To delay a visit to some of your oldest living ancestors may deny you of their life’s story.  They cannot always be with us.  

Correspond Among Relatives

               Correspond freely among your relatives.  Offer to exchange information.  Let them share in the project at hand.

                                    Let Them Live Again

               Give your people a chance to live again through the pages of a family history and they will always live in the memories of the members of the family yet to come.  

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                                  RESEARCH BY CORRESPONDENCE

  1. Materials Used, Appearance, Etc.
    1. Your attitude towards your research problem an easily be determined by the arrangement and appearance of your letter.
    2. A typewritten letter is best, or, a nearly handwritten letter in ink.
  2. Writing to Relatives
    1. Be friendly, tactful and diplomatic in your approach.
    2. Do make demands for copies of family records.
    3. Make a reply easier to the older folks by writing your questions and providing a space to write in the answer.  In most cases, send the short form of the family group sheet and explain its use and purpose.
  3. Writing to Non-Relatives
    1. Make your needs seem important to them.
    2. Let them know of your appreciation for their assistance.
    3. If the information sought is not likely to be known by your correspondent, suggest that it be handed to someone who might know and then request that person’s name and address.
  4. Writing to Public Record Offices
    1. Use brevity and clearness in stating your inquiry.  Offer to pay fees, etc.
    2. As a rule, public record offices cannot, or do not want, to analyze your research problem, not can they assume the work of a professional researcher.
    3. Usually, libraries do not do research on inquiries.  They will, however, assist you in making information available to you, or quote sources, but the compiling of the record is up to you.
    4. The librarian of hour local library will assist you in securing the name of a newspaper in the event you wish to advertise your problem before the public.
    5. The librarian will also assist you in securing the names and addresses of historical societies for the localities where your ancestors lived.
    6. In writing to county clerks or recorders, you do not need to know their names.  Just address the inquiry to the Clerk or Recorder of the county seat, give the name of the city and state.  Ask for an “abstract” of a will, deed, etc., as this will give the genealogical information of the document without the expense of a complete copy of the document which might be pages in length.  In requesting such information, be sure to give the essential information, for their search by identifying each individual mentioned in the inquiry by giving birth dates, death dates, etc.
    7. All states now have vital statistic departments, usually connected with the state board of health.  A number of the states give very helpful information in their marriage, birth and death certificates.  Send the amount required by money order.  Identify by complete name and complete dates the individuals for whom inquiry is made, or, identify with the best information available.
    8. Inquiries for military service in the United States should be addressed to the National Archives, Washington, D.C.  A professional researcher will be needed to assist you for inquiries by mail.  You must be able to identify the individual concerned and the military unit to which he belonged, or date and place of enlistment, etc.
  5. General Rules
    1. At the beginning of your correspondence, make your letters short, and easy to answer.  Make them say something.
    2.  Be friendly; unless you appeal to their interests in a natural friendly way, they will probably not be interested in your inquiry.
    3. Make a duplicate copy of you letters.
    4. Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope when necessary.
    5. Make sure that your correspondent understands your inquiry.

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Research  Through Old Newspapers

               The popular and useful “Union List of Newspapers” as found in the average American library, is a most helpful guide to the location of old newspaper files.

               Not only does this book give a complete list of the newspapers, published in any one locality, but it also includes the years of publication and where the existing copies of these newspapers may be found.

               The Use of this book is quite simple.  The sates of the United States are listed alphabetically.  Under the cities of the various states are listed the newspapers as published in the past.  As each  newspaper is listed a code in letters is given regarding the present location of the files.  In the front and back of the book as explanation is given for the coded letters which indicates their present location.

                                                               * * * * * * * * * * *      

A book entitled “Historical Societies of U.S. and Canada” is available in most libraries or it may be purchased from the American Association for State and Local Histories, 230 Broadway, Newark, New Jersey.

              Here is an invaluable aid to research by correspondence.  Most Historical Societies have a corresponding secretary and will assist you if they are able to do so.

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                A pedigree chart is a way of listing all of your ancestors on one form.  You can see your family tree as it goes back and see the branching.  The pedigree chart lets you see at a glance how far you have gone in your research.

                There are many kinds of pedigree charts.  Some are made to look like trees with branches.  Some are shaped like fans.  Some pedigree charts just give you room to list names.  Others list dates for the first few generations.  Pedigree charts are easy to use and they help keep your family group sheets in order.  To make it easier, put the last names in capital letters so you’ll always know which is which.


                On the pedigree chart you will be No. 1 and your father is No.2 and your mother in No.3.  All the male lines have even numbers and wives of each family group have odd numbers.  The wife’s number is always after her husband’s number.  For example, since your paternal grandfather is No. 4, your paternal grandmother is No.5.

                Family group sheets are always written with the husband’s name first.  That’s why they all have even numbers.   All your family group sheets will have even numbers so you can keep them in numerical order.

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