Sunday, January 22, 2012

The First Step

If you plan to hire a professional genealogist or conduct genealogical research by yourself this is the first step you have to complete.
This small secret will save you many hours of research. Before jumping to the documents or purchasing a family tree software you need to pick-up the phone.

Contacting the elders in the family should be always the first step and you should try to get from them as much information as you can. While you talk to them it will be important that you write down names and dates (never trust your memory).

While they tell you the stories, for every person mentioned during the conversation you should try to obtain this information:

Full Name
Maiden surname of female
Birth date and place
Baptism date and place
Marriage date and place
Death, date and place
Biographical information (places where they worked, university, high school, etc.)
Religious affiliation
Social and economic status
Military service
Participation in community, organization, social, and historical events

This first step in the genealogy work is may be the most beautiful one. Most of the time we deal with old papers and genealogical records, but talking to elders in the family these data become the real experience of the ancestors.  This builds a strong link with the grandparents, as they usually love talking about their youth and telling the family history. If your grandparents are still alive do not waste this opportunity. Even if you are not planning on starting a genealogical project any time soon, go and talk to them. This conversation will be a family memory to treasure more than a pretty and well documented family tree.