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Ten Steps to Genealogical Research Success September 17, 2013 Bryan L. Mulcahy Reference Librarian Fort Myers-Regional Library 2450 First Street Fort Myers,

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Presentation on theme: "Ten Steps to Genealogical Research Success September 17, 2013 Bryan L. Mulcahy Reference Librarian Fort Myers-Regional Library 2450 First Street Fort Myers,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ten Steps to Genealogical Research Success September 17, 2013 Bryan L. Mulcahy Reference Librarian Fort Myers-Regional Library 2450 First Street Fort Myers, FL 33901 Tel: 239-533-4626 Fax: 239-485-1160 E-Mail:

2 Step One: 6 Questions To Consider 1.What do you currently know? 2.What would you like to find out? 3.How can I locate more information? 4.Are there living family members with first hand knowledge? 5.Are there surviving children, relatives, neighbors, or estranged family members? 6.What resources will I need to proceed with further research?

3 Step Two: Read a Beginner’s Level Book 1.Describe sources of information, record types with illustrations a. Family Group Sheets b. Ancestral/Pedigree Charts c. Individual Summary Sheets c. Courthouse Records d. Vital Records 2.Tips/strategies for research plans 3.Describe how and where to locate information in home/family sources, primary, and secondary sources.

4 Step Two: Reading a Beginner’s Level Book on Genealogical Research 4. How to interview people (Oral Histories). 5. Learn techniques to deal with stonewallers, Alzheimer's cases, etc. 6. Deal with roadblocks/inconsistencies. 7. Citing sources. 8. Organize your data. 9. Pay multiple long-term timesaving dividends.

5 Family Group Sheet


7 Ancestral/Pedigree Chart

8 Individual Summary Sheet

9 Courthouse Record-Deed



12 Courthouse Record-Will

13 Courthouse Record-Probate Packet- Index

14 Step Three: Join a Local Genealogical Society 1.Provides networking opportunities. 2.Join societies in all locations of research. 3.Most provide members with a variety of research-related services. 4.Often discover a lost/unknown relatives doing research on the same line or neighbors familiar with the family or ancestor.

15 Step Four: Inform Family Members 1. Important for the following reasons: a. Being polite. b. Head off potential conflict. c. More likely to obtain cooperation from family, neighbors, and other relevant parties. d. Identify candidates for Oral History interviews (in person or via correspondence). f. May lead to unexpected sources and research opportunities.

16 Step Four: Inform Family Members 2. Identify family members, friends, and neighbors who have kept family artifacts and memorabilia: a. Photo Albums b. Family Bibles c. Diaries/Personal Correspondence d. Legal Documents and Certificates 3. Determine how to get access to making copies. 4. Offer to share information in exchange for assistance.

17 Step Five: Compile a List of Living Relatives or Neighbors 1.Include those who express interest. 2.Include current contact information. 3.Concentrate on those with direct knowledge of individuals and/or major events. 4.List should be prioritized by: a. Age and health of each individual. b. Those in the poorest health and/or the most advanced age should be first. c. Those who have the reputation for telling the best stories or tend to recall the most about family traditions and events. 5.Keep a backup list of those who don’t express interest, but qualify. Why?

18 Step Six: Planning Your Questioning Strategy 1. Oral Histories - Best Option a. Getting names and dates are important because they help you identify and organize your ancestors. b. Finding out about their personalities makes the names come alive. c. Often shows how their decisions have impacted you and your family today! d. Learn facts that were never previously discussed.

19 Step Six: Planning Your Questioning Strategy 2. Two most common methods: a. Long distance by correspondence or e-mail. b. In person meeting and interview at residence. 3. Regardless of method, advance planning is essential: a. Reading a history of the locality. b. Many self help books have chapters on oral histories including sample questions and suggested strategies. c. Printed histories ethnic groups may shed light on events that impacted life decisions. d. Compile clear/concise open ended questions.

20 Step Six: Planning Your Questioning Strategy 4. Open Ended Questions: Goal is to prevent interviewee from simple yes or no answers. 5. Don’t discount someone because of alzheimers! 6. If you choose the correspondence route, enclose a SASE. 7. If you ask for a photograph or document, provide an adequate sized box or envelope for transport. 8. Be prepared for the possibility of having to pick up the item if the family member insists.

21 Step Seven: Investigate Home Sources 1.Ancestors were issued copies of documents and certificates: a. Vital Records: (1) Birth (2) Marriage (3) Death b. Sacramental Records (1) Baptism (2) Confirmation (3) First Communion. c. Certificates of Naturalization. d. Awards issued by employers, civil groups, churches, etc. e. School diplomas and report cards.

22 Birth Certificate-1919

23 Marriage Record-1866-Freed Slaves

24 Marriage Certificate-Sangamon County, Illinois October 4, 1911

25 Death Certificate-1884

26 Baptismal Certificate-Indiana-1908

27 First Communion Certificate-Maryland 1885

28 Confirmation Certificate-1922-

29 Step Seven: Investigate Home Sources 2. Other prominent examples: 1. Family Bibles5. Albums 2. Correspondence6. Newspapers 3. Journals/Diaries7. Scrapbooks 4. Photographs

30 Step Eight: Recording and Organizing Information 1.Most important step for long-term success. 2.Numerous print and software options that assist researchers in organizing their research. 3.If you invest in the growing options for software, DO NOT dispose of original documents and other paperwork. 4.Completely cite all sources!!!

31 Step Eight: Recording and Organizing Information 5. The more data gathered and sources used for compilation purposes, the more important this becomes. 6. The four most popular formats in organizing information: a. Pedigree/Ancestor Charts b. Family Group Sheets c. Research and Correspondence Logs

32 Step Eight: Recording and Organizing Information 7. Important guidelines to follow: a. Use pencil for preliminary work. b. If you do not have exact dates, pencil in approximate dates. c. Always use letters to indicate month (spell the entire month out). d. Write surnames in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. e. Use full names of parents, children, and relatives. f. Use the maiden name for female ancestors.

33 Step Eight: Recording and Organizing Information g. Underline unusual spellings of names to denote you copied the records correctly. h. If sex of an ancestor is different than normal usage of the name implies underline the sex and name to show both are correct. i. Recorded entries should be typed or entered in a word processor. j. If you must write, make sure your writing is legible and use BLOCK LETTERS k. Use separate sheets to write down family tales, legends, and myths. l. Cite your sources completely

34 Step Nine - Using Libraries 1. Most libraries have websites that allow patrons to: a. Search library holdings. b. Describe how library collections are organized. c. Services provided and fees. d. List hours of operation. e. Describe specific collections within the library. f. Provide contact information for departments or staff. 2. All libraries have unique aspects to their collections or facilities. 3. Visiting library websites in advance of your visit.

35 Step Nine - Using Libraries 4. Research Logs: a. Avoid wasted duplication of research. b. Keep track of your sources, regardless of where you perform research or whether you do it in person or by mail. 5. Include the following information: a. Date of your search. b. Name, address, telephone number, city, and state of the institution where source was found. c. Name of staff member who assisted you if applicable. d. Author of book or periodical. e. Title of book or periodical article. f. Library call number of book or periodical. g. Exact page number (and volume number if applicable).

36 Step Nine - Using Libraries 7. Correspondence Logs: Maintain a record of all genealogical correspondence sent via mail, e-mail, telephone, or fax. 8. Include the following information: a. Date of telephone call and telephone number, fax number, Internet website address, or date when letter was mailed b. Name of the institution contacted c. Brief description of information requested d. Format and date of reply e. Name of person who answered letter f. Note whether the reply answered the query g. Reference to any follow-up needed

37 Step Ten: Utilization of Public and Private Records 1.Public institutions on the city, county, state, and federal levels 2.Most public records located at courthouses or state vital records archives (also known as primary sources) 3. Primary records were generally created at the actual time the event occurred, or in close proximity to when the event occurred. A family member or person with direct knowledge of the event usually supplied the information. 4.Libraries with genealogy collections (often contain collections of secondary materials) 5.Churches 6. Professional associations 7. Schools

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