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Moxie

How to start looking into geneology??

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I’ve been bitten by a history bug and would like to start looking into geneology. Help!

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Ancestry.com is a good place to start, in that it can give you a lot of ideas. Of course, you need to verify sources and such (and there's plenty of conflicting information there too, especially if you are looking at random people's family trees.) But it's super interesting.

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Also you might start with the Mormon Church web site in Salt Lake City.  A (very) distant cousin has been working on this, on my Fathers side of the family, for many years. I learned some interesting things, reading that.  Enjoy!

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Ancestry.com, check to see if your library has a membership before buying one.

 

Also, talk to any living relatives like grandparents, aunts, uncles to see if anyone has already done some legwork.

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If you have a good local library, they often have classes and resources. Mine has a subscription to sites like Ancestry and others that any library card holder can use.

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I've done genealogy off and on for years, and I've recently started up again. My by-far favorite site is familysearch.org. This is the Mormon site Lanny mentioned. If you want to look at ancestry, go to the library and use it for free.

 

Start there, and if you have any questions with more personal info, feel free to PM me. It may take me a few days to respond!

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Also you might start with the Mormon Church web site in Salt Lake City.  A (very) distant cousin has been working on this, on my Fathers side of the family, for many years. I learned some interesting things, reading that.  Enjoy!

 

Also, the LDS (Mormon) church maintains Family History Centers (search for one here: https://www.familysearch.org/locations/). I think they usually have volunteers/staff who are supposed to help people get started with family history.  HTH!

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My mom got into all this before all the websites and DNA tests and stuff.

 

She started, really, by taking to family.  All the family she could get in touch with that would talk.  Even so......we still don't have much info about her dad's mom.  Something about the situation he wasn't willing to talk about, and we still don't know.

 

Anyway, from talking to family, she was able to start researching things like birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates and so on. Sometimes we (she and I because I find it interesting) would drive around the midwest, visiting different libraries and such.

 

After the websites began to come online she was able to connect with other genealogists around the country looking for the same thing.  After that contact, she and other folks were able to piece together an AMAZING genealogy tree.  I can trace everything back to 4 brothers from Germany, on my dad's side, from 1600s. 

 

She has tried to get somewhere with her own parents, but her dad won't talk about much.  I have no idea who his parents were.  I have a pic that includes 5 generations...my oldest, myself, my mom, my mom's mom, and then mom's, mom's mom.  But I have no idea who my grandpa's mom is, I have never met her, never heard a story, never even actually heard her name.  Grandpa won't say a thing.  My mom is pretty sure her first name is Esther....but even that we can't be sure of, and Grandpa straight up refuses. 

 

It's difficult for her to get anywhere with so littler information. 

 

 

 

So, I recommend starting with family and get as much info as you can from them first.  That makes it easier to figure out which physical places to look in and which online information sources might provide better, more accurate info. 

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I've been doing genealogy for 30+ years.

I do not want to overwhelm or discourage you.  remember - even just a few generations back, there are likely other people also working on those lines.

document document document

other people's trees are a starting point - you still need to document that information.

 

ancestry is a good basic get-you-started site. pay site.  depends where your ancestors come from for how useful it will be, though generally for european descent is good.

 

family search.  free site.  the lds church has family history libraries all over, staffed with librarians who will help.  free access to several paid subscription services. (I think they have ancestry again.) also access to many records on microfilm or microfiche - you can order records for a modest fee (covers their costs) to look at records that haven't been digitized yet, and look at them at the local family history library.

 

there are also yearly family history conferences in many areas.  lots of workshops, etc on how to do stuff. free.

 

basic info to start (It will be easier)  your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents :

name - legal and commonly used names

birthplace

birthdate

death date

death place

places they lived.

 

that info will give you your basic intorductory family tree.

then take each set of parents - add their children (with same info) on a family group sheet.

 

check your local public library, they may have access to subscription services.

 

cyndi's list. is a conglomeration site for where to look for specific things by location, era, military, language, state, wills/probate, etc.

free - but many linked sites are pay.

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My mom got into all this before all the websites and DNA tests and stuff.

 

She started, really, by taking to family.  All the family she could get in touch with that would talk.  Even so......we still don't have much info about her dad's mom.  Something about the situation he wasn't willing to talk about, and we still don't know.

 

Anyway, from talking to family, she was able to start researching things like birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates and so on. Sometimes we (she and I because I find it interesting) would drive around the midwest, visiting different libraries and such.

 

After the websites began to come online she was able to connect with other genealogists around the country looking for the same thing.  After that contact, she and other folks were able to piece together an AMAZING genealogy tree.  I can trace everything back to 4 brothers from Germany, on my dad's side, from 1600s. 

 

She has tried to get somewhere with her own parents, but her dad won't talk about much.  I have no idea who his parents were.  I have a pic that includes 5 generations...my oldest, myself, my mom, my mom's mom, and then mom's, mom's mom.  But I have no idea who my grandpa's mom is, I have never met her, never heard a story, never even actually heard her name.  Grandpa won't say a thing.  My mom is pretty sure her first name is Esther....but even that we can't be sure of, and Grandpa straight up refuses. 

 

It's difficult for her to get anywhere with so littler information. 

 

 

 

So, I recommend starting with family and get as much info as you can from them first.  That makes it easier to figure out which physical places to look in and which online information sources might provide better, more accurate info. 

 

 

can she get her father's birth certificate?  a census record?  1940's are now online.   state census records?

does she know where he was born?

 

I'd love this sort of puzzle if you'd like to pm me what you have.   his name and age - and birthplace/where he grew up, if she has it.  

some states have their own archives - which can be goldmines - and other's are a huge frustration.

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can she get her father's birth certificate?  a census record?  1940's are now online.   state census records?

does she know where he was born?

 

I'd love this sort of puzzle if you'd like to pm me what you have.   his name and age - and birthplace/where he grew up, if she has it.  

some states have their own archives - which can be goldmines - and other's are a huge frustration.

 

She has the information at her house.  I am actually going up to to Chicago to visit my grandparents in February but this isn't something we will have the opportunity to check on.

 

The biggest problem is that actually.....even with what little she has.....there's no record that she has been able to find.  Her dad does not have a copy of his BC (I have no idea how he was able to get a college degree, a job at a major national research lab as an electrical engineer, etc etc without this.)  She knows approx. when her dad's parents were married, and her dad has given the name Esther, but beyond that....it's as if Esther appeared out of thin air.  That might not even be her real name.  Mom can't find a BC, a DC, a census, nothing.  She's been through Illinois and Indiana. 

 

He's turned 90 last December.  So that makes him born in 1927.  Beyond that I will send a PM, but I am not sure if there's anything else to find. 

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about the pming -

avid genealogists are generally very happy to help each other out.   a different puzzle to solve, can be a great break from our own roadblocks-  and sometimes it just takes a fresh pair of eyes.

 

and one roadblock - can sometimes be the only thing between you and a few dozen new people.  just finding that one person can be like opening the floodgates.

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She has the information at her house.  I am actually going up to to Chicago to visit my grandparents in February but this isn't something we will have the opportunity to check on.

 

The biggest problem is that actually.....even with what little she has.....there's no record that she has been able to find.  Her dad does not have a copy of his BC (I have no idea how he was able to get a college degree, a job at a major national research lab as an electrical engineer, etc etc without this.)  She knows approx. when her dad's parents were married, and her dad has given the name Esther, but beyond that....it's as if Esther appeared out of thin air.  That might not even be her real name.  Mom can't find a BC, a DC, a census, nothing.  She's been through Illinois and Indiana. 

 

He's turned 90 last December.  So that makes him born in 1927.  Beyond that I will send a PM, but I am not sure if there's anything else to find. 

 

depends when he was born - it didn't used to be a big deal.    and if they were born at home - it was uncommon, unless they were still attended by a dr, or born in the city.

 

he had to have registered for SS  - she might have to wait until he dies to get that file.  but it could have more information on it.  or in a state database. 

 

sometimes it's just getting devious and looking at things from a different view.   I have my own annoying people . . . but I also believe they want to be found, even if those in this side are unhelpful.

 

hopefully he'll be able to share something while you're there.  dropping questions when he's not paying attention.

 

any siblings? favorite aunt?  any names that he has ever mentioned?  sometimes - it's easier to find one of them and that can open a door.

farm, city, his father's/mother's employment?

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Me too, me too! I have been involved in genealogy for more than 25 years and had great interest as a little kid too. 

I got it from my mom. It has been fun to dig into the in-laws families, ex-in-laws, late ex-laws, etc. There is so much research and connecting to be done.

So Moxie, feel free to pm me also. In the past 20 years there have been a lot more records entered into the databases. 

The "Mormons" won't try to convert you if you use the family history centers. Some are open on Wednesday nights for up to 90 minutes, some are open once a month on Saturdays, some are open other times of the week if they are in a busy area/city. 

Occasionally there are family history conferences at ward or stake buildings of the LDS church too that are for the general public. 

Knowing what I know now, I would start an account with ancestry at the same time as family search and keep the same information on both. You can store records on both sites that you find while researching within each site, so that is helpful also. 

One of my second cousin's children contacted through ancestry recently, that was unexpected! She knew information about our mutual great grandmother that I didn't know, and I knew stuff she didn't know. It really is interesting.

Good luck!

 

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Oh, and I want to add that FamilySearch now has terrific FREE genealogy software. I was looking at buying it for Christmas, but their free version has more than everything I need, and should I want to upgrade at any time in the future, I can. It's won several awards, and the free version (unlike most other free versions) has an unlimited number of people in your tree. There are a lot of (also free) tutorials, plus, you can click a button and match your tree info with what is on the familysearch website and merge info easily.

 

(I had over 3000 entries on my familytreemaker years ago, and at some point, I'll have to see if I can pull it off of an ancient harddrive. I haven't done it yet, because I'll be so upset if it's all lost. When we began homeschooling 15+ years ago, I stopped doing family history, so it's been a long time.)

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Last year, I traced the two main sides of my family back to the countries they emigrated from and one I was able to go back to the 1500s.  I agree with everything everyone posted: Family Search website is great, Ancestry.com is expensive - but helped, look for official documentation on them (I always looked at census records, baptismal records, church records, etc)...

 

If you make it back to Britain by any chance, they have great church records.  That helped me out a lot.

 

I generally won't record someone's info unless I absolutely knew that information was it.  I always cross-check census records, for example, instead of going off someone else's tree.  You would be surprised at documentation out there.  My great-great-great grandfather died at one of the internment camps during the civil war and I was able to find the US Army's documentation on him: what battle he fought in, where he was captured, what kind of wounds he had, what day he died, his cause of death, etc.  Another great-great...grandfather - I was able to find his tax records from the 1700s listing his property on his estate when he died.  Another great-great...grandfather actually had a book written about him by a university professor, so that REALLY helped.  I actually know a ton about those people just because of that.

 

And when I first started, I always had older relatives give me specific names and dates to start off and I would verify as I was researching.  

 

One thing that really struck me was that a lot of our family stories were incorrect.  Like very, very incorrect.  For example, my mom's family is German and everyone kinda assumed they came over somewhere during the big immigration waves of the 1800s.  Nope.  They were Hessians who came over together in a group to fight in the American Revolution.   :svengo:  Apparently, they liked it here and decided to stay.   :glare:  And, of course, because they were so isolated, everyone was marrying cousins.  *gasp!*

 

I have a handful of shocking stories, but just saying...be prepared to be shocked.  Lol!

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This won’t really help you find relatives, but if you know you have a family member who came through Ellis Island, you can look them up. You can find their name on the ship manifest, see a picture of the manifest, and maybe find a picture of the boat.

 

My husband’s great-great grandmother came through there, it was neat learning just a little more about her. https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger

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Last year, I traced the two main sides of my family back to the countries they emigrated from and one I was able to go back to the 1500s.  I agree with everything everyone posted: Family Search website is great, Ancestry.com is expensive - but helped, look for official documentation on them (I always looked at census records, baptismal records, church records, etc)...

 

 

And when I first started, I always had older relatives give me specific names and dates to start off and I would verify as I was researching.  

 

One thing that really struck me was that a lot of our family stories were incorrect.  Like very, very incorrect.  For example, my mom's family is German and everyone kinda assumed they came over somewhere during the big immigration waves of the 1800s.  Nope.  They were Hessians who came over together in a group to fight in the American Revolution.   :svengo:  Apparently, they liked it here and decided to stay.   :glare:  And, of course, because they were so isolated, everyone was marrying cousins.  *gasp!*

 

I have a handful of shocking stories, but just saying...be prepared to be shocked.  Lol!

 

this on documentation. (I'm big on documenting) documentation varies in quality.

census records are still self-reporting, but can be useful.  1910?  asks for how many children a woman has - and how many are living.  very helpful in letting you know how many other children are out there - and how many will be harder to find because they died as a child.

 

however, my experience with census records - people lie. (yeah - lie.)  the neighbor gives the information when the taker comes around because they're not home.   people get confused, and put down the wrong information. whomever is writing down the info - is lazy and only gives an initial.  hears the name wrong - so writes it down wrong.  or it lists the step-mo as the bio mom . .. I also found a divorced woman with one child who listed herself as a widow - however - elsewhere, her husband was alive and well and had custody of all of the other children.  or the man who was on the same census with his mistress - as well as his wife and kids.  two different addresses.

then there's the census taker (or parish priest) with lousy handwriting . . . . . . combine that with only a first initial, or a nickname, and someone can't read the surname to digitize the record  . .

but they can still be very helpful.

in some areas - it was common for multiple family members to live near each other - so look at the whole census doc, for who are the neighbors.  you might find grandma and grandpa, or uncles/brother//etc.  usually tells what their profession is, how long they've been married, age at first marriage, etc.   before 1850 they're trickier to get info from - but there are ways to extract useful information.

I still prefer multiple census records for following a family - and take one as merely a starting point.

 

death certificates may or may not have the parents name and birthplace. (which they do ask for)   they might have the decedents birthdate/place - or they might not.

draft cards..

 

scandinavia is a goldmine - as the church records were the government records.  not only did they have the typical info - they said where a person was moving TO, as well as what parish/etc from which they came. 

there are databases specifically for scandinavian records - and you do have ot learn how to read them.

 

family stories are a start.  family bibles used to be big on recording marriage, births, and deaths - and were generally considered reliable.   but still - consider family stories as a start.  unless it's documented - it's just a story.

 

 

 

This won’t really help you find relatives, but if you know you have a family member who came through Ellis Island, you can look them up. You can find their name on the ship manifest, see a picture of the manifest, and maybe find a picture of the boat.

 

My husband’s great-great grandmother came through there, it was neat learning just a little more about her. https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger

 

look at the ship's manifest - many came as groups from the same place, or extended family.

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Also, you can use ancestry at the LDS church and it is without charge.

I think sometimes when I have needed a microfiche or microfilm from another location (SLC), I had to pay to get it to the location I was using, just some nominal fee, a few dollars. I don't think you are charged for paper copies, as long as you're not printing out lots of pages. 

I've been struggling with records in Aberdeen, Scotland. 

 

I have a question: a distant relative who is about 100 years old, has tons of records and wanted someone to step up and take care of the keeping of the records and writing a newsletter with way too much historical information and stories. She is deaf, reads lips, can't speak well but last I knew, was still mentally with it. I didn't think she'd agree to my taking the records so I never volunteered.

What would you do if she were your relative? 

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Also, you can use ancestry at the LDS church and it is without charge.

I think sometimes when I have needed a microfiche or microfilm from another location (SLC), I had to pay to get it to the location I was using, just some nominal fee, a few dollars. I don't think you are charged for paper copies, as long as you're not printing out lots of pages.

I've been struggling with records in Aberdeen, Scotland.

 

I have a question: a distant relative who is about 100 years old, has tons of records and wanted someone to step up and take care of the keeping of the records and writing a newsletter with way too much historical information and stories. She is deaf, reads lips, can't speak well but last I knew, was still mentally with it. I didn't think she'd agree to my taking the records so I never volunteered.

What would you do if she were your relative?

Take the records. I'd be afraid no one would want them, or consider them valuable, and they'd be trashed.

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Ancestry! Just be careful about only using records at first. Those leafs can get addictive and before you know it, you've added incorrect info from other people's trees. Ask me how I know. :( I had to start a fresh tree just to be sure I got it right. 

 

If you are really lucky and make it to founding townships, you might find a booklet about the founders scanned into Google Books. There were some amazing stories in there! 

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I have a question: a distant relative who is about 100 years old, has tons of records and wanted someone to step up and take care of the keeping of the records and writing a newsletter with way too much historical information and stories. She is deaf, reads lips, can't speak well but last I knew, was still mentally with it. I didn't think she'd agree to my taking the records so I never volunteered.

What would you do if she were your relative? 

 

If she's looking for someone to take them and no one else is interested, she may as well give them to you. Could you assure her that you will keep the information to share with others, and would that be enough to satisfy her desire for a newsletter?

 

I've mentioned that I did a lot of family history before homeschooling and have recently picked it up again now that my kids are in college. I'm known as the family historian and have been the blessed recipient of some amazing things. Both an aunt and an uncle sent me small boxes of things that they'd amassed from their own parents/aunts/uncles, including old photographs, cards, letters, official documents and more.

 

And through some of the things I've amassed, I became FB friends with a cousin of my mom's (families were not close) and had the pleasure of meeting her for dinner when she was in town last year. Not only do I love the history of genealogy, I love the ties to people that I otherwise would never know, never have any connections with--whether that connection is personal or just on paper.

 

One last comment about a great find--from some of my searches for information years and years ago, a second cousin reached out to me on the internet. She was a few years older, was homeschooling her four children. Her comments unintentionally put the bug in my ear about homeschooling--and the rest is history! It was a year or so after that that we pulled my oldest from 1st grade and began homeschooling. Even this morning, we spent 1/2 hour IMing and updating, as we've remained close all this time. Just proof that genealogy will take you places you can't imagine! ;)

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Take the records. I'd be afraid no one would want them, or consider them valuable, and they'd be trashed.

Well...she is well-known where she lives, is an author and an artist, and I think her local historical society would be inclined to snatch up the records. She still belongs to organizations, is active in her church, is aware of what's going on in them, and has been honored with parties and recognition. I just don't think the records would be trashed. There are at least 3 other people who could take the records but haven't, and I don't know if it's because she hasn't approved them or what.

Her newsletters are always full of well-researched historical information including ancestral connections and how various family lines fit into it. I don't know of anyone who would be able to pull it together like her (mainly because nobody has that kind of time).

 

The biggest problem: her home is FULL of boxes of records in 3 bedrooms. I've seen it. Where would I store it all?

 

I will get busy this week and see what's going on with it.

Thanks for the suggestions. 

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