Research Your Family Tree
One of the most fun and potentially rewarding projects a family can work together on is in researching their family tree. This is something that can be done whenever you have free time, both online and offline. It also brings your immediate family closer together as you have a common goal that you are all working towards. It would also make a really great gift for your partner, or loved one.
Where to start:
- Start With Your Immediate Family
Start first by writing down the details of your immediate family, i.e. youself, your partner, your parents, children and siblings. After that, write down the names and details of every living relative you can think of.
Interview your family members, or send them a questionnaire to gather the following information:
- Their full names including any nicknames they have or may have had in their past.
- Their birth date, marriage date and locations of each.
- Their parents' names and their grandparents' names. Also ask about any nicknames they may have had in the past.
- Their parents' jobs, careers or places of work.
- Their birth, marriage dates and locations of each.
- Where they grew up (get specific addresses if at all possible)
- Dates and places of where they lived.
- Where their parents came from and when they came to the place your family member grew up.
You might also want to ask them to tell you things things like:
- Their favorite memory growing up.
- Family folklore, or rumors that they have heard.
- Any interesting stories they have about your family.
- What it was like growing up in that time period.
- Anything they would like to say to future generations reading your family tree.
Remember they are the best source for information so get as much as you can. Be sure to follow all leads from everyone to make sure you get as much information as possible.
Once you have exhausted all your living relatives, it is time to delve into some further research. You could start by searching for public records, such as property deeds, marriage certificates and a host of other information at your local library or Courthouse/County Court Clerk You may even be able to find old wills, which would provide a whole list of other relatives to research.
One of the fastest growing uses for the web right now is family genealogy research. As a result, there are a whole host of resources for finding information.
- Search Engines
A great place to start looking online are search engines, such as Yahoo, InfoSeek and Alta Vista. Simply type in your last name in the search box. You might be shocked as to what comes up!
Yahoo also has an entire section devoted to Lineages and Surnames. You may find that a whole web community has already been built up around your last name.
- Social Security Index
One fantastic resource for finding information is the Social Security Death Certificate Index. Enter the person's name into the search box, and it will provide a list of all the matching deaths in every US state. Not only that, but it will also give you the person's date of birth, state and social security number. It will also draft a letter for you to mail to the social security administrator for a photocopy of their social security card application.
- Birth Certificates
Once you have the above information, you can login to VitalCheck and order copies of the person's birth, marriage and death certificates. Obviously from these you will have more names etc. to research.
- Other Online Resources
National Archives and Records Administration
This site provides many of the searching aids, guides and research tools.
Web-based databases and search tools for researching family history online.
Find expert advice, how to articles and much more.
The Internet's oldest and largest free genealogy Site. A little confusing, but contains a lot of information and user homepages.
Build A Web Page
Once you have enough information, build a family web site and register it with the search engines. Now anyone else that is researching your family name can find all the information you have gathered. For basic information on coding a web site and search engine registration, click here.
This has been an introduction to what can turn out to be a very rewarding project. As you go along, you will find numerous resources that will help you on your way. Treat it as an adventure into your own history. Who knows what you will find!