Monday, July 11, 2011

Starting The Search

The one thing I have been asked the most over the past twenty or so years is, "Where do I start?" Strange when you think about it, but one of the simplest steps in your family history research project, to some, might also be one of the hardest...You will notice alot of sites tell you to "talk to family members" when starting your research and this is good advice, no doubt, but for me it didn't work. What I mean by that is my parents didn't know a great deal about their ancestry. I, of course, knew my grandparents and I had known one of my great-grandmothers, but that was it. I knew nothing more than that and my parents were only able to supply me with the names of my great grandparents (except for the rare name here or there that no one actually knew too much about or even how they were connected to the family)...So I, like many of you, began my search at the local library (which contains a wealth of information, "IF" you know where to look). I spent hours, weeks, months and years perusing the shelves until I felt I had exhausted all possible resources. (I'm sure I hadn't, I was probably just looking in the wrong places). It was somewhat disheartening, however, to find that after all that work I really hadn't gotten very far...Then I discovered the Internet! Okay, okay, okay, I know what you're thinking. "The Internet, huh, no one can get 'reliable' information from the Internet." Well, if that is what you're thinking then let me stop you right there and just say, "Your wrong." Sorry but you have been misinformed. There is a wealth of "reliable" information on the Internet these days. (Some of which you can check out by clicking on the helpful links at the top of this page).Yes, you may have to dig through the other stuff to get to it, but after spending years behind those mounds of books in the library...I don't really mind...I started my online journey at the most obvious places, search engines, city and state websites, genealogy websites and family history sites, but didn't find out a great deal until I learned not only where to look for the information, but "how" to look for the information. Once I learned "how" to look, I was on a roll. I began finding ancestors that I never knew existed and with that my tree grew from an 8X10 sheet of paper to a poster board then to the largest binder I could find and today that is certainly not sufficient. I absolutely loved what I was doing (even though it kept me up until the wee hours of the morning many nights). I began to feel a connection with the past that I never knew I could, a respect for my ancestors (their hard work and their accomplishments). I began connecting with family members half a world away and then others began asking for my help...

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