Tips & Articles

Following are some basic but useful Guidelines for Starting A Family History.

Start With What You Know!

This may sound simplistic, but by recording what you already know about your parents, grandparents, siblings and others, you can quickly determine where your gaps of knowledge begin. Record names, birth dates, places of birth, marriage and death dates, places of burial, names of siblings, etc. for as many people as you can.

If You Don’t Know, Don’t Guess!

If you find yourself thinking: “I think Grandma was born in 1922,” record it as “about 1922” until you are sure. Likewise, if you recall, but not with certainty, that Grandpa was born in Iowa, again write down something like “possibly born Iowa.” Believe us, a lot of time can be lost if you write down uncertain information as if it is certain. You may find yourself spending time combing the 1930 Iowa census when in fact Grandpa was in Illinois.

Organize your research, preferably by using computer software

We can’t emphasize this strongly enough! In the days before computers, it was all too easy to have shoeboxes full of unorganized information. Today, family history software makes it remarkably easy to record and organize your family history research. Ancestry Helper utilizes Family Tree Maker® software because of its user-friendly format. For a very modest investment (less than $35), you can purchase Family Tree Maker or similar software.

Document the sources of your information

This can seem tedious at the time you are entering data, but can be a huge time saver in the long run. For example, say your Aunt Myrtle tells you that her Uncle Roy Perkins was born in 1888 but you don’t record that as the source. Later you see a World War I draft card for a Roy Perkins born in 1891 but skim past it because the date “doesn’t fit.” Had you documented that the first date was based strictly on someone’s memory, you would likely look closer at the record.

Be prepared for this to become an addiction!

Family History Testimonials

“Deb did a family history that I gave my parents as a Christmas gift in 2009. They loved it and still trot it out at every family gathering.” Blair Bowman President, Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi, MI

“Deb went above and beyond to research my family, including having a contact in Italy do additional research. She was a true pleasure to work with.” Andrea, Troy, MI

“Exceptional work and thoroughness. We would highly recommend Deb to anyone looking for a exemplary professional.” Steve and Linda, Mesa, AZ