Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Genealogy Research Begins at Home

Or at least it should! Often newbies to genealogy research will jump right in with both feet and start searching for grandma and grandpa or worse, great-grandma and great-grandpa. Don't do it! Start with what you know - - You!

Some may think that sounds silly or obvious or a waste of time but in 100 years when your great grandchild or great-great niece comes across your records his or her first question will likely be, "Who left me this?" Tell them. Put them on the right path. Include in your family document collection a note about yourself, how and why you started this research, where you've looked, what you found, and oooh, a copy of your birth certificate; maybe a diploma, your marriage license...something about you!

And then link back through documentation one generation at a time. Once you have your birth certificate, add your parent's marriage license to your collection, then their birth certificates, then each of their parent's marriage license. Create your family's paper trail. Let no date go undocumented. 

Many years ago I was shown an old family bible. Like many old family bibles there were handwritten notes regarding dates of birth and death for various family members. There was one very descriptive note about the death of Lydia Ann Losee (nee Smith). But who wrote the entry, I have no idea. I suspect it may have been Lydia's youngest daughter Sarah Elizabeth Losee but I'll never be sure. Well, I suppose if I found some known handwriting samples and could compare the entry to them, maybe, maybe then i could know with some certainty; but the likelihood of that is slim to none.

On the facing page is a notation that reads "Rote By J. Losee, Mother." Lydia Losee's mother was not J. Losee though. Lydia's mother was Elizabeth Raynor-Smith who per-deceased Lydia. That "Rote By J. Losee, Mother" refers to the following pages which list dates of birth for the children of Jane and Leonard Losee.

I believe in my heart of hearts that Jane Losee, my 5th great grandmother, born in about 1776 and who died in 1856, wanted me to know that she too cared about the history and records of our family. Additionally, I trust the dates of birth she wrote for her children more than any other document I may discover. 

And that family bible was not in an archive, I didn't see it online in some database; that family bible was in a relatives home. The Memorial Cards I wrote about in earlier entries; those cards were in my family bible at home and given to me by my grandmother from her home. HOME...that is where you should start your genealogical research! What do you or your close family members already own that reveals facts and dates about your family?

In short, start your family research with yourself at home.

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