A Beginner's Guide to Genealogy
Everyone starts researching their family history for various reasons. However, no matter how you start out there are several guildelines that you should heed before researching in earnest. Below is a short list of suggestions. This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will prevent future headaches as you proceed.
- Begin by filling out a pedigree chart. This will help you to sort out : what you know, what you need to verify, and where to start your research. When filling out the chart use the maiden name of your female relatives. Also focus your efforts on one line of ancestors rather than working on several at once. Be sure to organize and cite the information you have gathered for this line.
- After filling out the pedigree chart is is now time to begin your research. Begin with interviewing family members, and record what they recall about their families. Investigate family bibles, records, scrapbooks or diaries. While conducting this preliminary research be sure to organize and cite your resources.
- When you have done all you can with the dates and names provided from step two, then it is time to move on to the library or archive. Identify libraries, archives, or county agencies in the area(s) where your ancestors lived. Look for sources, especially primary sources, which can assist you in discovering more information about your ancestors.
- Keep in mind that counties have divided, combined, and dissolved since the time of your ancestors. For instance, Pickens County was originally part of the Ninety-Six District, then the Washington District, and later on became the Pendleton District. This was later divided into the Pickens District, and finally formed into the present day Pickens County. Therefore, some of your family's records could be in the counties of Anderson, Pickens, and Oconee.
- When visiting a library of archive remember the following: have a designated notebook to place your information in along with paper and pencils. Bring a list of questions you want to answer, and a works cited page of the information you have. Take notes on all of your leads. Record the author, title, volume, page number, or call number of any resource you find.
- Cite and organize all of your sources. Taking time to cite your sources at the beginning will prevent heartache and frustration later on.