The first step to take when beginning your family history is to collect all possible sources of documentation around your home. But what sources of information can you find at home?
Well, you have a number of resources that are available to you in rooms, cupboards, wardrobes and draws and it is important to know what you have got and where they all are.
Gathering all of these will help you in a number of ways:
1. Recording your information – You will see what you have in your possession and what you will need to get to further your research. A good record of what you have and what you need is a good idea.
2. Wasted time and money – By not performing this action you may unnecessarily purchase documents that you may have already got. They may otherwise be in the possession of your relatives so it is worth checking with them also. Not gathering your sources will mean that you have misused your money and time in the process.
3. Central workplace – Keeping your documents in one place will help you while you are conducting your research. If you have to keep moving from one room to another then this will obviously slow you down. It is a waste of your time and it will also distract your concentration.
Above all else take your time!
One excellent tip I discovered comes from Gena Philibert-Ortega that I read from here Genealogy 101: #7 Home Sources post. She suggests that you should take your time when evaluating a source of information.
It is too easy for us to quickly dismiss something and turn our attention to the next item in front of us. Failure to double-check anything may result in a missed opportunity.
For example, Gena mentions in her post that she inherited a china bowl from her great grandparents. If she had not checked the dates listed at the back then she may not have been able to discover when they were married.
So please take your time when viewing your sources. Yes it may mean that you will go a little slower, but it will be worth it in the long run.
What Are The Sources of Information?
Not only do you have records concerning yourself but also other family members, such as parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. In this article I have tried to include as many sources of information that may be of use to you and that you may actually own.
Nonetheless all of these will be useful for your genealogy research.
So, you maybe asking yourself what sources of information at home do I have?
Please continue reading as I will cover all types of valuable genealogy information that you may have at home.
Birth, Marriage and Death Records
Certificates contain a great deal of information. They can include names, ages, occupations and places. All of these can help build a picture of your relatives life story. They can also provide keys, or rather hints, that can further your research.
For example, marriage certificates can show the bride’s maiden name and also her father’s name. Using this information you can then go further back in your family tree.
Baby books can record a child’s birth as well as interesting information. Also, adoption records can obviously show a child’s birth mother and father.
Wedding invitations or announcements can give full names of the bride and groom, as well as the wedding date and venue. A wedding book can also show who attended the wedding. It is also interesting to read the well wishes that were written in the book. As well as wedding memorabilia there may sadly be divorce records in your possession.
Obituary notices and memorial cards are useful as not only do they give the date of death but also the person’s birth. This may be an actual birth date or brith year. Either of these though may help you backtrack through your family tree. Also, similar to wedding books, funeral books can also show who attended the funeral.
Family Life and Memorabilia
Photographs showing individuals as well as a family group are particularly interesting. These can help you put a face to the person that you are researching. You can also include these photographs into your family history book when you decide to write one.
Family members may have kept journals or diaries which can give an insight into their lives. The same can be said about letters that you may have in your possession. Your relatives may have kept newspaper clippings or scrapbooks that can contain useful information and can also give you clues.
If your ancestors were religious then they may have possibly kept a family bible. In this there will be records of births, marriages and deaths. They will show when they happened and also where they took place. As well as the family bible there are baptismal, christening and confirmation records that can be vital to further your genealogy.
Is there any previous family genealogy research?
Previous family history research may have already been started by a family member. If you do own such records, or you know of someone who does, then this will give you a good head start with your own research.
This source can give you information that may have otherwise taken you ages to have found out. Be aware though that you will need to verify the information that this such records contains.
Your ancestors may possibly have had a pastime or hobby. They may have been the creative type and done knitting, painting, sculpting, or anything else for that matter. All of these forms of creativeness though can add character to your ancestors’ story.
School, Employment and Licenses
Any records of achievement such as school awards and certificates will add interest to your family history. Report cards can show their progress through school and yearbooks can also be particularly useful. These types of information can show you your ancestor’s early life.
There are several types of employment evidence that you may have, such as apprenticeship, union and income tax records. These can obviously show you what profession they were employed in and when. Other useful forms of data can include severance or retirement records.
Your ancestor may have held an occupational license connected with their employment. From these you can see what line of work that they were in, as well as when.
If your ancestors lived in the time of motor cars then you may have their motor vehicle and driving licenses. These can show you what vehicles they owned as well as what types of license and when they were held.
House and Land
In your possession you may have deeds, mortgages and leases. These documents can show you where your ancestors lived and whether they either owned their property or if they rented.
This type of information will also show you the value of the property. So from this you maybe able to tell how wealthy your ancestor was.
Later, and if you are able to, you can visit the places that your ancestor lived at. You can photograph the area and if the house is still standing you may wish to photograph it. Permission must be sought though from the current owner.
Local history books can give you a glimpse into the area at the time when your ancestor lived.
When writing your book you could include your photographs and what you have found out about the area. These can enrich your understanding of your ancestors lives.
One thing that maybe overlooked when checking sources of information is the health of your ancestor. Your ancestor’s health may have actually affected what kind of work that they did. Or conversely their health may have suffered due to the employment that they were in.
If you are able to find any information regarding the health of your ancestor then this can obviously tell part of their story.
Death certificates may indicate to you either of these two circumstances. Other useful sources of information with regard to health include medical and hospital records, and also any information regarding immunization and vaccination.
If your ancestor or ancestors were in the military then you may own some interesting heirlooms. These can include medals, ribbons or insignias. With these you can find out what wars or battles they were in, and also when these took place.
You may also have your ancestor’s uniform, firearm or sword. These can indicate not only what war they were involved in but also which regiment they were in and what rank that they held.
Documents such as discharge papers or citations are also particularly useful. These papers can show you where they traveled and when. Using these you may then be able to find out the history of these places when your ancestor was actually there.
With all of your ancestor’s memorabilia you can build up a picture of their army life. They can then help you tell an interesting time in their life. You may also wish to take photos of these heirlooms which you can then put into either a photo book or a family history book.
If your ancestors were born in another country then you may have their naturalization papers. You may also have their alien registration and deportment papers. From these you maybe able to obtain passenger lists giving the ship that your ancestor was on. These types of records can help you tell their story of emigrating.
If you have any dates then you maybe able to find the reason for their relocation. Checking history books and newspaper archives of where they originally lived can give you an insight into their story.
If your ancestors liked to travel then you may have their passport and visas. These can show where they travelled and when. You may have supporting records such as letters and postcards.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
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