Friday, October 12, 2012

Getting Started ...

source: flickr, JakeandLindsay Sherbert's photostream
For many there comes a time when it becomes really important to us to learn and document more about our family, its history, its characters, maybe even some of its secrets.  For me, it came as I was helping my mother move into an assisted living apartment and spending time with her sorting through years of stuff at home.  For others, it might come with the passing of a loved one and the stories that had been shared.  Still others feel the urge to know once personal responsibilities change and time is available for exploring or a desire to learn more about something you overheard at the family Christmas dinner.  Regardless of your reason, you've now joined those who want to strengthen our connections with the past and share them with others.

But, gulp, how do you start?  A common sense approach is to start with what you know.  Dig out that blank journal you received years ago, pick up an extra notebook at the store, or open up a word processing document; the format isn't as important as the intent right now.

Once you have something in front of you to record data, start a page on yourself, where you were born, when, important dates and places in your life.  Next start a page for each of your parents, listing the same types of information, then try to add pages for your grandparents.  Now, add some questions to which you would love to have answers and maybe some ideas about where to find those answers.  You're actually on your way.  You have family lineage information (names, dates, places), a research plan (questions you want answered), and the beginning of a research log (where you look for answers to your questions).  Once you find an answer and record information and where you found it, you will be citing sources.  The first time you mention to a family member what you're up to, you've started to share with others.  If you've gotten this far, you're probably hooked!

I'll love reading what prompted you to start researching your family.  See, you'll be sharing already.

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