Welcome To My Family Tree Pages Tip Page

I have been researching my family history for about 3 years now. The interest started when I realized that I only had one grandparent left and she was turning eighty that year (she has since passed away). I thought that if I didn't find out all of the information known about my family that I might not have another chance.  Seems I waited a little too late because her memory wasn't what it used to be but I gathered as much information as I could - a hint to all of you would-be genealogists, gather all of the information you can now from all of your grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, and great-grandparents if you're lucky.

Reload often - I am always seeking perfection yet rarely ever finding it! Last update 10/17/98. ©1998 KjunKutie

How To Begin

What You'll Need

Where To Start Looking

Research Techniques

What To Do About Broken Branches

To Compute Or Not To Compute

What Do They Mean By That?

New Ways To Use A Genealogy Program

Climbing Over Brick Walls

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of you are interested in the nuts on my family tree since 10/97.

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Nothing is so difficult but that it may be found out by seeking. - Terence (B.C. 185-159)
If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance. - George Bernard Shaw

How In The World Do I Begin?

First of all, write down all the information that you know about everyone in your family, including little stories and anecdotes.  Start a notebook or file on every new surname you come across.  Then contact all your siblings, your parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, etc.  Write down all their information, even if it differs from your  own - just remember to note who gave you what information. Try to get copies of all birth, death, marriage, etc. certificates and any other paperwork (including pictures) you can find and put them into top loading page protectors.

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What You'll Need Before You Get Started

Patience, first and foremost! And then a sense of humor.  You'll also need the usual office-type supplies like both pens and pencils, legal pads or spiral notebooks for notes, computer paper if you use a computer (3 hole punched for insertion into 3 ring binders), filing cabinet, manilla files, hanging file folders, 3 ring binders (soft or hard, whichever you prefer), top loading page protectors, Family Group Sheets, and Ancestral Charts.

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I've Done As Much As I Can, Now What?

Now the real fun begins.  If you're lucky like me you'll have a genealogical library located in or near the place you live.  These libraries usually have old census records and family histories already published. If you don't have a library near you, you're in for some leg work. Plan a vacation around your new found hobby. See if you can locate family Bibles, they can be of immense help.  Also walking through cemetaries where your ancestors were buried can give you some real leads since families usually were grouped together.  Some city and county/parish libraries also have genealogical sections or they may have old newspapers and birth/death/marriage, etc. announcements on file.  You also need to write the State offices where you're ancestor was born or died because they all have forms for you to fill out to obtain information. Make copies, take pictures, write down everything you find on the name you're researching because even if you don't see a connection now, you might find one further on down the line. I went for a long time thinking one of my lines was correct until I did further research and found that the line I thought was mine was actually my ancestor's cousin!  (They had the same middle name!)  And that's another thing - watch for similarities in names especially if you're using census records.  The person you're looking for may be listed under a shortened/nickname or under his/her middle name!  And I know from researching acadian/cajun/french names that what we go by today is not necessarily what the census records say.  For example - Jean Pierre Suire was listed as Peter Swire, probably because the person taking the census records was not of French descent.  And Tivodo became Thibodeau became Thibodeaux and/or Tibedo depending on when, where and who was doing the record keeping! (France, Acadia, Louisiana).  And forget trying to keep Welsh genealogy straight - its ap this and ap that because they all go by their names ap their fathers name ap infinity!  Have I scared you senseless yet?!?  Actually it's lots of fun, especially when you figure out a line you've been blocked on for awhile.   Maybe it's time to join a local/area Genealogical Society or Club! 

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More Research Tips & Techniques

Links to Related Pages

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Uh Oh! These People Haven't Spoken For Years!

What do you do if you have branches of your family tree that have been estranged for years?!?  I had two such branches and I can tell you - get in touch with them.  If you're lucky whoever was angry in the first place has forgotten or it was so long ago there is no one left alive to even remember and they may not even know about you!  I now correspond by e-mail with an aunt and a cousin from my grandfather's second marriage that I've never even met - it's great.  Or if you don't really know then find a phone book from the area where your family originated and go through and get phone numbers to call or addresses to send letters asking for information.  I also did a search through AOL by using member searches and putting in the surname I was researching in the information areas.  Use as many search engines as you can find to contact people with webpages that have one of the names you are researching - you might be surprised at just who and what you can find if you really look for them!

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I've Got All This Information, Now What Do I Do With It?

Buy a computer and a good genealogy computer program, but also keep good, old-fashioned paper records as well.  I'm currently trying to find an easier way to keep my records - I have a 5" 3 ring binder for my Dad's side and a 4" 3 ring binder for my Mom's and another 3" 3 ring binder with misc. information.  None of which travel well!  

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Say What?!?

Sometimes I'm so smart I scare myself.  My parents and their friends think I'm a computer whiz and I have to admit that I let them think that way.  But then one day their next door neighbor wants me to write a program (the thump you heard was me hitting the floor fainting) to help them track the cattle they raise and breed.  Think fast I thought!  Well now, come on, you have to admit it does make sense.  Cows mate with bulls (marriage, sort of) and they have offspring (children) and you could track a line back to the originator - especially useful since they have several champion bulls they either own or mate with (their cows I mean).  (I've actually seen genealogical researchers snort drinks from their noses when I tell them about this.)  But hey, if it works and I can keep my parents and their friends thinking I'm a genius?!

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Definitions and Explanations for Some Genealogical Terms (As I Think About Them)

Surname = last name (maiden name of females)

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