Genealogy Help

Help from the Gene Poole

Tips from an expert

I feel that I have experienced it all in genealogy. Errors in transcriptions, misidentification, and misleading family stories.

As a result, I have compiled a list of some tips and tricks that should help you in your research.

Thom's Tips

There is no particular order in these tips:

  • Start your research with people you know.
  • Interview as many living relatives as possible. Neighbours of recently deceased relatives can also help at times.
  • Use your computer to record your findings (it doesn't have to be a genealogy programme, but they are very helpful).
  • Find out where your local records office is (if applicable).
  • Take stock of your work occasionally - don't just keep ploughing on.
  • Share your work with relatives - they may uncover mistakes, misspellings or omissions.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help - the staff at most records offices, and those at Kew (UK example) are very helpful. If you visit Family History groups or shows, ask the experts there.
  • Keep accurate records - note all your references.
  • Use modern maps to find out where towns are - neighbouring towns and villages may be recorded in relation to your ancestors.
  • If you have problems reading the handwriting of Victorian enumerators, try practising on famous people's listings, where you can double check the information you are reading.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Start Your Research

Step 1: How to start collecting information

  • Collecting family memories.
  • Finding information at home.
  • Recording oral histories.
  • Finding previously-completed research (but double-check everything).

Step 2: How to organize the information you've collected

  • Staying organised
  • Organising the next step in your research
  • Documenting your sources

Step 3: How to find missing pieces of family information

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The Questions to Ask

The first thing you need to do in getting started searching your family tree is to talk to your family. Ask your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, anyone who is willing to share with you. The genealogy questions you will want to ask are:

  1. when they were born and where?
  2. where did they grow up?
  3. when and where they were married?
  4. what were their parent's names?
  5. when did their parents marry and where?
  6. where are their parents buried and when did they pass away (name of cemetery, city, state)?
  7. are there any other family members buried there or close by?
  8. who were their Aunts and Uncles?
  9. do they know when/where they were born, married, lived, buried?
  10. ask them who their oldest living relative is?
  11. make plans to visit this person as soon as possible!

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