Difference between revisions of "Use the Information"
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Computerized pedigrees and family group records should be contributed to the [[Submitting to the Pedigree Resource File|''Pedigree Resource File'']].
Computerized pedigrees and family group records should be contributed to the [[Submitting to the Pedigree Resource File|''Pedigree Resource File'']].
= Restart the Research Cycle =
= Restart the Research Cycle =
Revision as of 16:05, 7 July 2009
Principles of Family History Research > Use the Information
Step 5: Use the information.
After you have searched records you are ready to use the information you found.
To make best use of the information—
- Evaluate what you found.
- Transfer needed information to the appropriate forms.
- Organize the new records.
- Share your findings.
When you have completed this step, you will have new information organized on family group record and/or pedigree charts. You may also have recorded the information in personal or family history notes.
When you have learned all you wish to learn about a family, share your information with others by contributing it to Internet databases like New FamilySearch, or by preparing and publishing a book, or article, or putting up an Internet site.
You will also be ready to start the process again and return to Step 1 to research another objective or individual.
- 1 Evaluate the Evidence
- 2 Transfer the Information
- 3 Organize New Records
- 4 Share the Information
- 5 Prepare Names for Temple Ordinances
- 6 Restart the Research Cycle
- 7 For Further Reading
Evaluate the Evidence
Having found one or more records about a person, it is time to evaluate what you found and determine how helpful and reliable it is. For example, a birth date from a birth record is probably more accurate than a birth date derived from a census record.
Evaluating the evidence takes place in several phases. It starts as soon as you find a document which must be evaluated to see if it is relevant to the family you are researching. It continues as you transfer the information from the source to your genealogical records and compose a source footnote. In that phase you are evaluating in two ways: (1) a preliminary evaluation of the reliability of the source, and (2) you quickly compare and contrast data on the source with what you already know about the family to see if it corroborates or contradicts other sources. Later, after research on the family is mostly completed, carefully make a final, well-reasoned re-evaluation of all the sources compared to each other to help you reach a reasonable conclusion and write a proof statement subject to the Genealogical Proof Standard.
The records you have found provide evidence relative to your objective. Evidence is information or facts about an event or a situation. The researcher must evaluate if the evidence is valid for meeting the research objective and therefore producing some level of proof. You will want to consider all relevant evidence, but remember that all evidence is not equal.
The process of genealogical research seeks information (facts about events) to answer questions (research objectives) about people. The records we search are the source of the information we seek; therefore you must evaluate both the information you found and the record(s) you found it in. When considering the record, evaluate its—
When considering the information, compare it with what you have found in other sources and evaluate the—
- origin of the information
- facts given in the records
- events described
- directness of the evidence
Evaluating all of these elements together will help you determine what level of proof you have found, and if more research is needed. The Genealogical Proof Standard shows how to evaluate and use all the evidence to create a credible proof statement.
Relevance of the Record
The first evaluation to make is whether the record pertains to the person or family being searched. For example, the christening record of a person with the right name about the right time may not be the person you are seeking. Be especially careful when dealing with common names in densely populated areas. Review other records of the locality to determine how common the name may have been in that place.
Category of the Record
Each category of records has to be evaluated differently. Some tend to be more accurate than others.
- Original records tend to be more accurate than compiled records. They were written close in time to the events they record. However, on occasion the recorder may have made a mistake. Infrequently an original record is deliberately falsified, such as "back dating" a marriage to account for the early birth of the first child. Even a source recorded close to the time of the event may have errors.
- Compiled records tend to be easier to use and contain more information. However, they represent a gathering and interpretation of information from one or more other sources. The author may not have had enough information to adequately interpret the other sources. On the other hand, the compiler may have known of errors in the other sources and corrected or explained them in the compilation.
- Finding aids sometimes contain mistakes which can mislead the researcher, such as wrong page numbers in an index.
- Background information is sometimes misinterpreted or applied incorrectly to individual cases. For example, just because most immigrants joined friends or relatives in their new country does not mean your ancestor had relatives when he arrived in his new country.
Even a source recorded close to the time of the event may have errors.
Format of the Record
Photographic copies, including microfilm, microfiche, digital, and photocopies are virtually as good as the actual document, although they may sometimes be hard to read. Be on watch for deliberate alterations. Any errors would be the fault of the person who made the record.
Copy error may be introduced in the document was transcribed, extracted, or abstracted. If such copies are printed or published, the researcher must also consider possible typographical errors. Generally the further removed the copy is from the actual document, the more errors are likely to have accumulated. See "Formats of Records."
Nature of the Information
A key to interpreting information is determining how close in time it was recorded to the event it describes. Information is the statement(s) of fact(s) in a record, not the record itself. It is either primary or secondary.
Primary Information was recorded at or near the time of the event by someone closely associated with it. It is usually found in original records. However, not all information in an original record is "primary." For example, a death record usually contains primary information about the death, but secondary information about the person's birth. If the information does not come from a primary account of the event, consider it suspect. If you cannot determine where the information originated from, it is undocumented, and therefore less reliable information.
|Prefer primary information.|
Secondary Information was recorded much later than the event or recorded by a person who was not associated with the event. Thus a census taker, who records an adult's age, is recording secondary birth information. The further removed the record is from the event or situation it is reporting, the more secondary it is. Most compiled records and many printed records (except directories and newspapers) contain secondary information, but not all printed information is secondary.
Accuracy. Secondary information is not necessarily less correct. In any record, a recorder can make a mistake or may deliberately mislead. With secondary information, the chance for error is increased because the recorder is not familiar with the events and may have to interpret information from several sources. In printed information, (either primary or secondary) errors may be made in the publishing process.
Sources of Information. Ask who recorded the information and how did the recorder know what happened? This will help you determine if the information is primary or secondary.
Insufficient Information. Often information is missing from a record you expect should include it. For example, you may only have the year for a marriage or the province, not the town, of an event. Sometimes the clerk did not know or could not remember the specific information. If such information is all you have, consider the following:
- Trustworthiness. Was the informant or recorder trustworthy? Did he have a reputation of careful accuracy or does he tend to exaggerate? Did she have the necessary knowledge to have recorded the information? Was the recorder disinterested, with no motivation to falsify the facts?
- Necessity. If no other record is available, it may be necessary to accept unverified evidence, as long as it does not conflict with any proven record.
- Origin. Determine where the information originated. Was the information recorded before you began your search, before any controversy, or before it could be influenced by other information you have found?
Directness of the Evidence
The information in a record is contained in a statement that provides either direct or indirect evidence regarding your research objective.
Direct statements give a straightforward fact. For example, a baptismal record may state the birth date of the child being baptized. Whenever possible, try to find records which directly state specific facts as proof of a genealogical event or relationship.
|Prefer direct evidence.|
Indirect statements support a fact by reasonable inference. For example, if a census record lists a person's age as 45 in 1851, it infers a birth in or near 1806. Often you may need to gather more substantial information. For example, a marriage record is evidence a couple was born, but unless it gives the age of the bride or groom, you can only guess at their birth dates. The couple may have been born 16 or 60 years earlier. Indirect (often called circumstantial) evidence usually requires additional evidence to prove a fact.
Consistency and Clarity of the Facts
As you evaluate the information in the records you found, you must determine how well the facts were recorded. Learn, by comparing the information with other information you have, if the facts are consistent with other facts. Also evaluate if they were clearly recorded. Leaving no ambiguity of meaning and if they suggest other sources to search.
Consistent Facts. Are any facts inconsistent with other facts? For example, is the birth date of a child one year after the death date of the child's mother? When facts conflict, you must determine which facts if either, are accurate, so that information fits into a consistent pattern.
Corroborating or Conflicting Sources. Do independent sources created without reference to each other agree on the facts? Does the information you found contradict other sources? For example, is a person's birth date on the death certificate different from the birth date on the marriage license? When information conflicts, consider which information, if any, is primary. It may be necessary to seek more evidence.
Does the record suggest other records you may search? For example, does an obituary refer to an undertaker, a cemetery, or church which may have records? Does a record indicate how many children a mother gave birth to, and does that match the information you already had? If not, you may want to search other records for additional children.
Look specifically at the names, dates, places and relationships given in the record. Ask some of the following questions:
Names. Are they clearly recorded? Are acceptable spelling variations used? Do the names match those presently known for the family? If you discovered new names, such as a mother's maiden name, verify that name in other records, such as the birth records of other children. Were naming patterns used in this culture, and did the family follow those patterns.
Dates. Are the dates written in an understandable style? The date of 12/8/1853 may mean December 8th or August 12th, depending on the style of the recorder. Which calendar did the recorder use?
- Most countries changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar between 1582 (in Europe) and 1752 (Great Britain and her colonies). Prior to the change, the months were numbered differently in many countries (for example, October was the eighth month) and the year began on a different date (usually on 25 March.)
- Areas under French control used a different calendar from 1797 to 1805.
For more information see—
Smith, Kenneth L. Genealogical Dates: A User-Friendly Guide. Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1994. (FHL book 529.3 Sm61g.)
Places. Are the places named and clearly identified? Do place names match those given in other information about the family? Places of origin or foreign names may not have been recorded accurately. Names of cities may also be the names of states or counties, such as Hannover or York. Can you determine the jurisdictions for the places given?
Relationships. Does the document state relationships directly, or only suggest them? For example, some census records give the relationship of persons to the head of the household, while others only list all persons living in the home. Relationships may be inferred, but this leaves room for false assumptions. Relationship terms in past years often had different meanings from today, for example, in the 1800s, the father-in-law also meant step-father.
Likelihood of Events
Even if the events were clearly recorded, you must also determine if the events described in the records really could have happened. Some events, such as joining the military at the age of ten or twelve, being born on the father's birthday, have a probable inventory show a considerably larger estate for a person than recent tax lists or census records indicated, are less credible than others. Such events are possible, but unlikely.
If the records present an unlikely situation, you may have stumbled across records of two unrelated people with similar names. Evaluate the chronology of the situation: could this event have happened as the record says it did? If a man's will was proven on 28 November 1754 and his death record gives a death date of 15 December of the same year, on of the records is wrong, or dies not pertain to the same person.
Each record and each piece of evidence in a record can be evaluated individually, but proof is the accumulation of acceptable evidence. Absolute proof is seldom possible, but a sufficient degree of "genealogical proof" should be the goal of each researcher. To genealogically prove a fact, you must find decisive evidence that confirms one view and excludes other reasonable possibilities. You are responsible for determining if the accumulated evidence provides "clear and convincing" proof of a genealogical fact.
If the records you find are relevant to your objective, consider the categories and formats of the records, the origin of the information, credibility of the alleged facts, likelihood of events and whether the evidence is direct or indirect. Each of these aspects must be evaluated differently to judge the reliability of family history information.
Usually you will want to accept an original record with primary information that provides direct evidence. However, when such a source is not available, or cannot be believed (lacks credibility) because it contradicts other known facts, seek other sources and evaluate them for accuracy.
Clear and convincing evidence
Clear and convincing evidence means that the accumulated evidence in favor of a point is so strong that any reasonable person would also make the same conclusions. Sometimes it is not possible to find acceptable records that provide direct evidence. Sometimes the records needed to directly prove a point were not kept or preserved. In such cases, researchers try to accumulate enough evidence from other sources that they can make a statement that is "clear and convincing." Any contradictions should be resolved before connections based on that evidence are accepted.
In most cases, evidence in an original record created closest to the event is most likely to be correct. However, if several credible records (original or compiled) of a later date suggest different information, the evidence that the first record is incorrect may be clear and convincing. Sometimes this is called the preponderance of the evidence.
|Proof is the accumulation of acceptable evidence.|
If the information you need to meet your objective is insufficient (see Insufficient Information) then you may want to—
- Look for more records of the same kind.
- Look for more records from the same record type group.
- Look for more records in a different jurisdiction.
- Look for more records in different repositories.
- Reevaluate the objective.
For further suggestions about evaluating evidence see—
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2007. (FHL book 929.1 M625ee)
Genealogical Proof Standard
Use the five elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard as a guide to help improve the quality of your research, evaluation of the evidence, and reasoning:
- A reasonably exhaustive search has been conducted.
- Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation.
- The evidence is reliable, and has been skillfully correlated and interpreted.
- Any contradictory evidence has been resolved.
- The conclusion has been soundly reasoned.
Near the end of research on especially controversial connections, or significant families, compose a "proof statement" that explains how you reached your conclusions. Using the Genealogical Proof Standard will significantly increase the likelihood that your genealogical conclusions reflect what really happened.
Any proof statement is subject to re-evaluation when new evidence arises.
Transfer the Information
When you find a new source, add the details of what you learn to the family group record. Update the names, dates, places, relationships, and source footnote information. There should be at least one source-footnote for every event on the family group record. In the source-footnote comment field add a brief preliminary evaluation of each source.
More than one footnote per event. Your family group record should show EVERY source you have found for an event. There may be more than one source that has information about the same event—cite each. If you find discrepancies between the sources, use the footnote comment field to explain what you think accounts for the differences.
More than one event per source. Some sources give information about several events. For example, many death certificates list information about the birth of the deceased. Add a separate footnote to the family group record for each event mentioned on a source. For example, cite the death certificate as the source for both birth and death information. The Personal Ancestral File’s Memorize Citation button makes it easy to copy a citation from one event to another.
Add custom events to the family group record. Family group records can and should list more than birth, marriage, and death events only. The more events and sources that are listed, the more clues you have to help guide your research to further records. For example, each census, military service, immigration, joining a religion, and having a will proved, all make excellent entries on a family group record. Be sure to cite the source of each.
The new information may correct earlier information, answer questions, or pose new questions. Where new information conflicts with what is already on the forms, try to determine which is correct. Use the principles from Evaluate the Evidence to help. You may want to record both pieces of information until you can determine which, if either, is correct.
Cite Your Sources
Every time you add new information to your forms or database, cite the source of that information. You may record sources on the bottom or back of most family group record forms or on an attached sheet. If you are using a computer program, there is usually a field for recording source notes.
Citing your sources will—
- Help you and other researchers avoid duplicate searches later.
- Give other family researchers confidence in your research.
- Enable other family researchers to check you sources for additional information.
| Provide enough information so anyone|
could easily find the source later.
Without documenting sources, your information is unproven. As you cite a source, be sure anyone could (1) readily locate or identify the source later and (2) evaluate the validity of the source. You should usually include—
- Author’s Name or provider of information.
- Title of the record or book.
- Place of the original information (such as a county courthouse, or a book’s city and publisher.)
- Date of information (if a book or manuscript, year of production.)
- Page or entry number, telling where the information is in the record.
- Location of the copy you examined (a call number for library materials, or the person who has possession of the record.)
- Preliminary evaluation of the source in the source footnote comment field.
Only cite the sources you have seen. If you received information second-hand from others, identify the person who provided the information, such as “Lakeshore Cemetery as researched by John Leland.”
Examples of recorded sources:
- From personal knowledge: “Thelma Winter, daughter of George and Grace Winter, statement made at Los Angeles, 24 June 1976. She was present at the funeral of her sister, Margaret.”
- From family sources: “Maude Family Bible; p. 614, copy owned by David Merrik, American Fork, Utah. Births of the children appear to have been recorded on the date they occurred.”
“Letter from John Schmitt, Boston, MA, to Sally Hansen n Chicago, IL dated 4 June 1883; photocopy in possession of Aaron Jones, Santa Clara, CA.”
“Family group record of Aaron Pierce in possession of Albert Fairfield, 1318 Wilmont Drive, Medford, Oregon. Original source unknown.”
- From a published book: “Mary Coffin Johnson, The Higleys and Their Ancestry, 1630-1892. New York: D. Appleton, 1896; pp 9-15; (Sutro C571 H639 1896).”
- From a manuscript document or certificate: “Probate packet for Lawrence Mitchell; County Clerk; Sullivan Co. NH, Will dated 3 August 1838, probate settled 6 June 1846; photocopy in possession of Aaron Jones, Santa Clara, CA.”
“Birth Cert of Harriet Meyerink; 1918; Dept of Vital Statistics, Sacramento CA, Cert #342890; in possession of Aaron Jones, Santa Clara, CA.”
“Census: 1850 Lincoln Co. NE; E.D. 47; p. 271; FHL film 973025.”
For records from a library or archives, include the repository name and call numbers (a film or book number) or document numbers. For example, for a record from the Famiy History Library, add the following to your description:
“FHL film 906828 item 3”
“FHL book 974.9 H2ne”
As you document your findings—
- Be consistent in the format you use.
- Avoid unfamiliar abbreviations.
- List all the sources used to support your findings.
- Identify any conflicting or missing information.
- Indicate if additional research is needed.
For more information on recording sources and footnote style guides see Cite Your Sources (Source Footnotes).
Organize New Records
File your newly acquired records and extracts (see Organize Your Records). Keep the materials organized so that anyone can find them later. You may want to keep copies of important extracts and documents with your working papers (pedigree charts, family group records, and research logs) in a loose-leaf notebook.
Using a Computer for Genealogy
| You do not have to have a personal computer to keep genealogy records, but it helps! Computer note keeping offers an important advantage. After typing the information once, you can use it repeatedly in many different ways. The same information can be used in pedigrees, family group records and descendancy charts, and is easily shared for other people to use. This flexibility saves time. Reports and charts are easily updated without extensive retyping. A computer program can help you analyze some information by preparing special reports, such as possible errors (for example, children born before parents’ births). However, computers may be expensive and are not as portable as a pencil and paper.
Specially designed computer programs are available to help genealogists more easily compile—
When selecting computer programs to help with genealogical note keeping, consider these factors:
Two helpful reviews of dozens of genealogy programs are on the Internet at:
Researchers benefit greatly from the work of earlier researchers. Often several researchers are interested in the same ancestors. Because researchers rely so heavily on the findings of others, sharing information is the way to return the favor.
Sharing is also a great way to find ancestors. Sharing leads to collaboration between researchers. Cousins will begin to contact you asking for more information. Sometimes the questions they ask will result in work that leads to new information. Once in awhile they will donate the new information directly to you.
|Sharing is a good way to FIND ancestors.|
In genealogical research, it may never be possible to "verify" all information, but we can have high confidence in research that is thorough and reasonable. Such efforts produce quality sources and benefit the genealogical community. Sharing is a way to vet your research. It gives your fellow researchers an opportunity to offer suggestions and add new information.
If you are using a computer program for your genealogical record keeping, be sure it supports GEDCOM (see Using a Computer for Genealogy) so that you can share your information with others.
Share your newly discovered information with family members who provided information and with others who may be interested. A family reunion or family newsletter can be an excellent way to share information and help locate others who are interested in your family history.
Online Databases Like New FamilySearch
Another important way to share your findings is with large online genealogical databases. Some charge, others are free. For example:
New FamilySearch. You can also help improve the information displayed in New FamilySearch. This huge Internet database is a combination of the International Genealogical Index, Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and several other large genealogical databases. There are several ways to help—
- Clean up the files already on display. This includes merging varying data entries for the same person, and getting the best data out front. At the moment, the LDS temple ordinance data is especially in need of careful merging and tender loving care.
- Add source documentation. Now is not the best time, but eventually there will be a better way to add source footnotes to the data.
- Contribute new information. Again, now is not the best time, but the day will come when new data will be easier to submit.
Put Up a Genealogy Web Page
Sharing genealogy on your own Internet website is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to publish your findings. Genealogical record keeping software like Personal Ancestral File can help you generate the material for your genealogy Internet site. Then all you have to do is find a web server host. For suggestions on these and other details see Create a Genealogy Web Page.
|An Internet website is an inexpensive way to share your findings.|
Write a Family History
Your family's history can be a source of enjoyment and education for your family. Writing your family history can be an effective way to evaluate, analyze, and organize your findings.
There are many helpful guides on how to write a family history, such as—
Gouldrup, Lawrence P. Writing the Family Narrative. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1987. (FHL book 929.1 G738w)
Other books about writing a family history are listed in the For Further Reading section of this outline and in the Subject Search of the Family History Library Catalog under—
GENEALOGY – METHODOLOGY
Books. With the growing popularity of “desk top publishing,” it is becoming very easy to publish a book about your family. You can use genealogical computer programs to produce various forms, charts and text. Small-press-run publishers that specialize in family history can be found at genealogy conferences. They will help you learn about providing camera-ready copy, and help you determine how many copies you can afford to print.
The Internet can help you find publishers like Lulu.com which offers "free publishing" to you, but charges your readers for each copy they order. Services like editing and cover design cost you extra.
Many family members will want copies, and will usually be willing to help pay some of the production costs.
If you compile a book, or manuscript, be sure to donate copies to key libraries that may be interested in your family, such as—
- Your local public library and the library where the family's ancestors lived.
- The local historical society where the family lived.
- The local genealogical society if that is separate from the historical society.
- The state genealogical society where the family lived.
- Major research libraries in the region where the family lived.
- The Family History Library. See Gifts and Donations. From that page be sure to read the donation policy titled "Donations to the Family History Library," and get the "authorized gift form" granting permission for the Library to digitize or microfilm your book.
Periodical Article. If you don’t have enough information or funding to write a book, you may want to write a short article for a genealogical periodical. This is especially useful if you have solved a long standing genealogical problem that may interest other researchers, such as the birth of an ancestor in the 1700s who may have many descendants. Perhaps your solution and sources are unique and others could learn from your experience.
A helpful guide for organizing a book or article is—
Barnes, Donald R. and Richard S. Lackey. Write It Right: A Manual for Writing Family Histories and Genealogy. Ocala, Fla.: Lyon Press, 1983. (FHL book 929.1 B261b)
Participate in a Family or Surname Association
Others may be searching for the same families you are researching or may have found information they wish to share. A family or surname association can be an excellent way to communicate with interested persons. Family associations often focus on the descendants of a specific person or couple while surname organizations are interested in all those sharing a specific surname. Such associations can also provide funding and support for further research. They often hold reunions or publish newsletters where information is readily shared.
Hundreds of such associations are listed in—
Bentley, Elizabeth Petty, and Deborah Ann Carl. Directory of Family Associations. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2001. (FHL book 973 D24benb)
Family Associations and Organizations and Surname Organizations in FamilySearch.org at http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/WebSites/frameset_websites.asp?PAGE=browsesurnameandfamilyorg.asp [accessed 27 May 2008]. Organized by state or nation.
Directory of Family Associations [Internet site] at http://www.family-association.com/ [accessed 27 May 2008]. You can register a family organizations online at this site.
To begin such an association, you can advertise in a major genealogical magazine such as The Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine or in the newsletter of the local genealogical society where your family settled. For a list of local genealogical societies see Historical and Genealogical Societies of the United States.
Contact other interested family members and seek others with the surname of interest in computerized phone directories.
Donate Your Files
On occasion it may not be possible to publish your findings. If you have a significant amount of printed or manuscript material about a family, an archive or historical society may be interested in your files. Be sure they are well organized so others can find information in the collection. If possible, index your materials.
The Family History Library is willing to microfilm (or digitize for the Internet) organized collections of material. For details see the Library's Gifts and Donations page, and read the policy link titled "Donations to the Family History Library."
Computerized pedigrees and family group records should be contributed to the Pedigree Resource File.
Prepare Names for Temple Ordinances
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to submit information about their deceased family members in order to provide temple ordinances for them. For an explanation of this belief see Temples and Family History.
If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, your ward family history consultant or a staff member at a family history center can assist you. A computer program called TempleReadyTM is available at many meetinghouses and family history centers. It greatly simplifies the process of submitting names to the temple. You can enter names into the computer and then take the records on diskette with you to the temple.
When the temple ordinances are completed for your ancestor, that information will be added to the International Genealogical Index (but not to Ancestral File or Pedigree Resource File). This central file of completed temple ordinances helps limit duplication of research and ordinances and allows researchers to know what work has already been done. It is an excellent way to share the results of your research.
For instructions on how to submit names for temple work, see A Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work (94697), available from your ward family history consultant or family history center. To see this guide on the Internet, click here.
Restart the Research Cycle
Ongoing genealogical research is the process of repeating, cycle after cycle, the fivesteps of the research discussed in this article. With each cycle you should have succeeded in meeting one or more research objectives, but to fulfill your goals, and ultimately your quest, you will want to go back through the cycle numerous times. Returning to Step 1, you can further evaluate what you now have and if family members can provide any more information. Then you can move right into a new research objective in Step 2.
Genealogical and family history research has proved to be a rewarding pastime for hundreds of thousands of persons throughout the world. Reviewing and following these principles should help make your research more efficient and easier.
For Further Reading
Sharpen the Saw. Don't neglect your genealogical education. Take and teach classes, read and write articles in wikis, periodicals, and books, and visit ancestral stomping grounds. Strive to understand the culture, the community, and the families you are researching. Continue to look for new and better ways to find ancestors.
|Take time to sharpen the saw.|
Education Resources. There are many Internet sites and books about how to search records of a country or how to research a topic such as adoption or Quakers. Such sites and books are not included here. See Family History Library research outlines about the nation or topic to identify some of the best books and sources to consult.
The following sites and books discuss research in general, as well as some methods and principles of family history research. Although most deal with research in the United States, the principles they teach usually apply for research in most nations. Your local research or public library should have some of these books.
Genealogical Research Methods
Balhuizen, Anne Ross. Searching on Location: Planning a Research Trip. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992. (FHL book 929.1 B198s)
Cerny, Johni and Arlene Eakle. Ancestry's Guide to Research: Case Studies in American Genealogy. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1985. (FHL book 973 D27dj)
Clifford, Karen. Genealogy and Computers for the Complete Beginner. Rev. ed. Baltimore: Clearfield Publishing, 1995. (FHL 929.1 C612g)
Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. 3rd ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2000. (FHL book D27g)
Jacobus, Donald Lines. Genealogy as Pastime and Profession. 2nd rev. ed.; 1968 reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. (FHL book 919.1 J159g)
Jones, Vincent L., Arlene Eakle, and Mildred H. Christensen. Family History for Fun and Profit. Rev. ed. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Institute, 1972. (FHL book 929.1 J727jo)
Meyerink, Kory L. and Robert Hales. Doing Genealogy: Foundations for Successful Research. Provo, Utah: Family History Unlimited, 1993.
Parker, J. Carlyle. Going to Salt Lake city to Do Family History Research. 3rd ed. Turlock, Calif.: Marietta Publishing, 1996. (FHL book 979.2258 J5p)
Rubincam, Milton. Pitfalls in Genealogical Research. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1987. (FHL book 929.1 R824p)
Stratton, Eugene Aubrey. Applied Genealogy. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. (FHL book 929.1 St82a)
Whitaker, Beverly DeLong. Beyond Pedigrees: Organizing and Enhancing Your Work. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993 (FHL book 929.1 W58b)
Library Research Methods
Horowitz, Lois. Knowing Where to Look: The Ultimate Guide to Research. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest, 1984.
Mann, Thomas. A Guide to Library Research Methods. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Todd, Alden, and Cari Loder. Finding Facts Fast. 5th ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990.
General Research Procedures
Barzun, Jacques and Henry F. Graff. The Modern Researcher. 4th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985. (FHL book 907.2 B289m)
Baum, Willa K. Transcribing and Editing Oral History. Nashville, Tenn.: American Association for4 State and Local History, 1977. (FHL book 907.2 B327t)
Fischer, David Hackett. Historian’s Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. (FHL 907.2 F522h)
Writing a Family History
Ames, Stanley Richard. How to Write and Publish Your Family History Using WordPerfect DOS Versions 5.1 and 6.0. Interlaken, NY: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1994. (FHL book 929.1 Am36h)
Banks, Keith E. How to Write Your Personal & Family History: A Resource Manual. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1989. (FHL book 929.2 B226h)
Boyer, Carl 3rd. How to Publish and Market Your Family History". 3rd ed. Newhall, Calif.: Carl Boyer, 1987. (FHL book 929.1 B695h)
Carson, Dina C. The Genealogy and Local History Researcher's Self-Publishing Guide: How to Organize, Write, Print and Sell Your Family or Local History Book. 2nd ed. Niwot, Colo.: Iron Gate Publishing, 1992.
Curran, Joan Ferris. Numbering Your Genealogy: Sound and Simple Systems. Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 1992. (FHL book 929.101 C936)
Ross, Nola Mae Wittler. How to Write the Story of Your Family. Lake Charles, La.: N.M.W. Ross, 1991. (FHL book 929.1 R733h; film 1698001 item 15)
Smith, Lorna Duane. Genealogy Is More than Charts. Ellicott City, Md: LifeTimes, 1991. (FHL 929.1 Sm62g)
Alessi, Jean. Once Upon a Memory: Your Family Tales and Treasures. White Hall, Va.: Betterway Books, 1987. (FHL book 929.1 AL25)
Arthur, Stephen and Julia. Your Life and Times: How to Put a Life Story on Tape. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1987, 1990. (FHL book 929.1 Au81y)
Epstein, Ellen Robinson and Rona Mendelsohn. Record and Remember: Tracing Your Roots Through Oral History. New York: Monarch, 1978. (FHL book 929.1 Ep85r)