Sunday, August 10, 2014

How To Start A Family History Book

For the past year or so, I have been researching my family history. It has now become a hobby that I enjoy with each new discovery. Here's 7 ways for you to start your own family history book.
Start by writing down what you already know. A simple family tree diagram with your parents, grandparents and great grandparents names. Next time you visit, or call a family member slightly older than you, ask what they may know about your family history and write notes.
Keep all your notes in a binder, or a simple manila file folder so they are all in one place. Print out blank diagrams, free from this site to help you organize the research you have so far.
Start scanning in any old photos your family members may have. Sometimes you may have to dig in old draws or attic spaces, but pictures do help evoke memories. Keep a backup on a thumb drive, or an external hard drive.
On a personal note, don't take scanning in photos for granted. I am grateful I borrowed all my dad's photo albums and scanned in all my childhood memories before he passed away. His girlfriend inherited the house, and had no interest in returning 'family items' back to our family. Best thing I ever did, otherwise I would have lost 500 pictures of my childhood.
My dad and his Uncle Winifred
Find an online site like family search, or ancestry to help you get further in your research. Personally, I like ancestry even if I do have to pay. Start putting in what you already know, and if you can go as far back as 1911 then you should be able to find your family in that census. With that information you should be able to work backwards until you see hints appear from other users who are distantly related to you.
Until you do deep research, such as a birth records, baptism records, a census every 10 years and death records, don't take all the details others provide as facts.
Some examples I've done include this, this, this and this. Now these are all from my maternal, maternal, maternal bloodline. I have done detailed research to the early Victorian period, watched videos from that time and even pinned wedding dresses my ancestors would have worn from the same time period. Doing this brings your ancestors alive.
When you find out locations your ancestors were born, lived in or died at, google map it so you can get a worldly perspective of your families migration. Personally, I have found a lot of images of the churches, and even the homes some of my past ancestors lived in.
Parish of Bedworth
If you need help with your research try finding groups online. I am apart of a genealogy group on Facebook that helps me decipher everything from censuses to headstones. Also, most people in the group have a similar interest and similarly share what they've successfully found.
Record your findings to create your own family history book. I blog my findings while there fresh in my mind and it helps me to put everything into chronological order, otherwise I'd be muddled up with names and dates. Another suggestion I heard is to make a video, so you can share your findings with family members.
I might someday, but for now I've been watercoloring my own story in a keepsake book, so that will keep me pre-occupied for the next year or so.
Best of luck on your research! Remember, even if someone in your family has done a lot for you, find ways to expand, and learn more from your ancestors.
You can find extra resources I've pinned here, and see my family photos here.
Any other tips or advice? Please do share...

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