Use the Information
Step 5: Use the information.
After you have searched records you are ready to use the information you found.
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.
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.
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 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)