Highlighted Main Ancestral Lines

Highlighted Main Ancestral Lines
How many Ancestors Can you Find?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

     A few weeks have gone by since my last post so I do apologize to Genedocs followers.  However, I have found a suitable source of material to share more frequently - practically no one has read the Genedocs E-Magazine Articles from 2009  - 2011 so this will be a great platform to share and obtain feedback from readers!  Time to cut and paste a few good articles:

2009 January Issue Articles:

The first Genedocs featured form is a simple outline of you and your ancestors allowing you to easily track where you are at in your research individual by individual.  The convenient completed block on the left also allows you uncomplicated tracking of which Generations you have finished working on so when you return to your research from your job, dinner, a vacation, etc. you can pick up right where you left off.

How to Maximize the Impact Photos Have on Your Family Tree:

            The common expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” still holds true.  Carefully using the family photos you collect through the years can tell novels about your family without the help of a single written word.  However you’ll definitely want to elaborate on the details and lives surrounding each of those precious moments captured in time.  For instance what timeframe was the photo taken, who are the people pictured, and what occasion was important enough to capture on film (or memory card)?  Take time to note these and other important details especially since, with time, everyone’s memory fades.  To honor family each of us should spend some time daily preserving and recording such priceless heirlooms.  One day perhaps we’ll thank our descendants for doing the same for us.

How Siblings can Help You Crash Through Your Brick Walls:

            Some sibling rivalry can result in a tussle and maybe even a few damaged walls if not controlled, but that is not how brothers and sisters in your family tree can help you solve the most stubborn family mysteries that researchers commonly refer to as “brick walls”.  A good bit of research back through generations can be completed by merely searching for the parents of an individual and, if you’re lucky, one child leads you straight to their parents’ information.   But, in many cases if that child doesn’t have a direct record linking them to their parents due to a fire, adoption, etc., then your research stalls to a stop.  You might even end up so frustrated or distracted at that point that you put your research on hold for precious years.  To prevent such a costly delay one proven technique is to take a step to the side of that child to each of his or her siblings’ records and more often than not, BAM!  You find their parents and are right back on track.  Persistence pays off many times in genealogy so remember not to give up too easily.  Also be creative and who knows – you may be the next Sherlock Holmes in your family tree.

Researching vs. Preserving Your Family’s Legacy

            One of the founding principles of Genedocs is to vicariously overlap family researchers’ goals with the overall goal of preserving their family’s legacy.  Many genealogists find out very late on their quest for ancestors that they have a duty to also preserve the essence of their family history and even more don’t even realize their full role in maintaining their family’s legacy through protecting their own family and assets before they themselves depart this world.  Only you and you alone can ensure that you preserve more than monetary assets for generations to come.  Of course it is highly recommended that you seek counsel with your most trusted family and professional advisors – only those who have consistently demonstrated the responsibility, maturity, caring, and respect worthy of contributing to your family’s legacy.  Be wary of the black sheep in your family especially one whose actions have been clearly only self centered, wasteful, and/or inconsiderate.  Trusting a financially irresponsible family member to honor their word can quickly reveal a sheep in wolf’s clothing waiting to plunge a knife in your legacy’s back - solely for their own gain.  Just remember that you can spend decades creating, building, and preserving a priceless legacy for your loved ones, but all it takes is one foolish moment to have it all washed away forever.  Now that you know what is at stake let’s get back to research.

Setting and Sticking to Your Research Goals

            Before researching it is best to have an idea of why you’re starting and what you hope to learn on the journey.  Whether you are a seasoned researcher or just beginning your quest grab a pen and paper (or open a new document on your computer) and take a few minutes to annotate exactly what it is that has inspired you to start your family research and some of the main things you want to try and discover the answers to in your family.
Some of your questions might be...

Are you related to someone famous or royalty?

Are you conducting medical research for a genetic family illness?

Do you have a unique last name you want to find the origins of?

Why are there 5 people named Henry in the near branches of your tree?

Why did grandpa serve in the military during a war?

How did my parents or grandparents meet and fall in love?

Where exactly is that family farm I hear cousins talking about?

Why is grandma’s grave missing a headstone?

            Believe it or not many of these same questions were right where some of the best researchers started their quest to know more about family.  These questions and yours help establish the starting goals of any research into family.   I say starting goals because research is very dynamic and, as you answer one question/reach one goal, another pops up right in its place or even two or three.  This is part of the reason that genealogy is considered addictive because it turns you into the family bloodhound tracking down one mystery after another - perhaps hot on the trail of a the answer to a brick wall that no one else has been able to topple for over 200 years.  Family research at first may seem dull, plain, and like someone else or someone older will do it – but actually it is usually up to people just like you with the energy, excitement, and inquisitive nature to begin it all.  Now that you have some goals established remember to keep your list handy to remind you what you are after, what you have achieved, and what is next.

Using Computer Programs to Your Advantage

            A benefit of living now in this new millennium is that nearly everyone has a personal computer available for use in their home or at least available at the library or a friend’s home.  The majority use Bill Gate’s Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel, Outlook, Power Point, Paint, etc.  There are free similar versions at Google.com’s documents section with a simple sign up.  I refer to Microsoft programs simply because they are the tools I used to create many if not all of the forms in the Genedocs series.  I highly recommend taking a class or two or just tinkering on your own with these programs to create some templates, presentations, charts, graphs, stories or whatever you enjoy.  The resulting benefits are twofold:  first you develop a new skill and second you learn some creativity while working on your hobbies – hopefully most often genealogy.  Strive to learn more and before you know it you will be an intermediate or master user of these and other useful programs on a PC or laptop.


Staying Organized and Keeping Creative Flare

            One essential part of research to implement early is organization.  You will likely be gathering paperwork, copies, notes, photos, heirlooms, and anything family tree related so it is essential that you have a method of organization especially for records, notes, and irreplaceable photos/heirlooms.

q       First buy a box of file folders just for genealogy – manila with 1/3 cut tabs is fine to start but as your collection grows you’ll start seeing the advantage of more pricey expandable folders with several section dividers and two metal prongs per section to keep everything in place. 
q       Second buy at least one records storage box 10” x12” x 16” with side handles and a lid or dedicate a locking file cabinet (possibly fireproof if you can afford it now) to place files in.
q       Buy lined paper, printer paper, and a box of reliable pens – multicolored if you are the more creative type.  A highlighter set is a really good idea too for some added color flare.
q       Each file folder is labeled with one ancestor’s name, but starts the first file with you, before working to your parents, grandparents, etc.  To start I recommend 31 files to cover five generations including you.  Every bit of information you gather on each individual will be placed in their individual file.  Keep the contents organized by priority:  Birth, Death, Marriage info. first, then follow with education, employment, military service, photos, etc., whatever you need.

How you chose to display all of your findings is entirely up to your own unique creativity so brainstorm whatever you like and write your ideas down so you can come back to them when you get pulled away.  Use colors to distinguish events (green for birth, red for death, blue for marriage for instance) to keep the visual impact of your records, files, and creations.  Collect less documented research data - family house blueprints, recipes, garden arrangements, household inventories are only but a few examples.

Outlining Your Life Story Made Easy:
     Here is a commonly used content outline for many life stories:

            Early Childhood                                   
            School Years                                       
            College                 (if applicable)           
            Employment         (if applicable)           
            Military Service (if applicable)
            Marriage              (if applicable)           
            Parenthood           (if applicable)           
            Memorable Vacations
            Significant People in My Life
            Significant Personal Events
            Significant Lessons Learned
            Thoughts About Me
            My Legacy
            My Ancestry (back at least 5 Generations)
Using this format I completed my own Personal Hist

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