Tracing your ancestors back a few generations and uncovering your family’s history can offer great pleasure and satisfaction on the journey of self-discovery. Building your own family tree that records each member of the family across the centuries can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. Whether you are interested in learning more about your ancestors and how they were back in the old days or you have medical-related reasons to look into your family’s medical history, genealogy can give you surprising answers.
Here are 6 great tips on how to uncover your family’s past and discover the wonders of genealogy.
Hire a Professional Genealogist
Tracing back to ancestors and distant relatives can be a thrilling journey that requires a lot of dedication and time investment. As people are paying more attention to their family history, there are more and more genealogical works conducted by amateur genealogists. However, the quality of amateur genealogy work can vary greatly. Professional genealogists are ideal for both reviewing the quality of amateurs’ work as well as solving difficult problems. Many people worry “What is the cost of hiring a genealogist near me?” but there are affordable local genealogists readily available everywhere. Genealogical searches can often hit brick walls and throw up some extremely hard to solve problems. Professional genealogists can obtain records and information that are difficult to access while discovering connections that amateur genealogists cannot do.
Find Out Available Information First Before Conducting Research
Before you can construct a detailed and extensive family tree, you will need to gather information about your family based on family records and documents including old photos, birth certificates, diaries, and letters along with information from stories exchanged between family members. Discovering families’ belongings and interviewing relatives are two of the most effective ways that you can find out foundational information about your family before conducting any research on databases and libraries.
Identify Information via Written Documentation and Records
Before conducting online searches on genealogy databases, find out as much information as you can about your family’s past to save time and narrow down areas that need to be researched. Places where you can often find written information are elderly relatives’ basements, drawers, and attics where they have been stored and then forgotten. Make sure that you involve your relatives and respect their preferences on how they would like discovered items to be handled. When searching, pay extra attention to family documents such as military records, letters, or diplomas with written dates and personal information which can assist you tremendously in building a detailed family tree.
Gather Useful Information through Interviews
Aside from written documents, information acquired through interviews with relatives often provides valuable discoveries on genealogical searches. Simply starting conversations with your elderly relatives can generate useful insights into distant relatives and family histories. Even though interviews with relatives often include unclear remarks about exact dates and details, interviewing is still an effective information mining tool for uncovering your family’s past. This is extremely helpful when you need the information to narrow down searches on unknown relatives while conducting online research since estimated ages and approximate locations can greatly filter out irrelevant search results. Family members that can provide useful information range from grandparents to parents, aunts, and even cousins with major age differences.
Make the Most Out of Interviews
In order to effectively gather information from relatives through interviews, you should bring a recorder to save conversations and analyze them later on. More importantly, you should plan ahead on what types of questions are relevant to your research that you can ask each relative as your great-grandparents might know things that your uncles and aunts don’t. Cross-checking, using genealogical software to make reports, or creating a multi-generational chart are all proven to be useful methods. When conducting interviews, focus on detailed information such as full names, birthplaces, birthdates, marital statuses and education records as these will come in handy later on.
Sort Collected Information Methodically
Organizing data effectively is a skill that every family history hunter must have as genealogical materials and information can often be overwhelming. It is important that you save and organize all of your research logically to retrieve and analyze it later. There are several tools and standard forms that you can use to record genealogical information from your studies such as family trees, multi-generational charts, family group sheets and research logs. Remember to keep track of your progress including both research that you have already conducted as well as on-going research to avoid time-consuming duplicates or loss of information.
Understanding and learning more about your family history can yield great benefits for everyone, whether you are interested in genealogy for personal purposes or medical reasons. Uncovering a family past is no easy feat, however it is worth the time and energy to find out some fascinating things. Follow our 6 easy tips and you can uncover your family’s past and begin your journey into your family’s past.