29 April 2009

Get Started! ...part 3

Clean Up Your Files and Database and prepare your data for submission to TempleReady, new FamilySearch or any of the various web sites that host family trees.

Cleaning up your data is vital.
Many pedigrees have been created over the years that contain many, many mistakes. Unless you do the research and source your data, you are only perpetuating the errors. Family stories handed down can be just that...a story! Memories fade and people can misinterpret names, locations, and dates. Sometimes analysis is based on only one source that was found many years ago. Today there is so much more information available to us that we can research a variety of sources and better determine the correct pedigree.

Eliminate the mess!
Is everything you have "just too messy"? Well that's okay. Just get started. You can gather all your materials and sort them into plastic boxes, create and utilize a filing system that works for you, make lists of what you have and begin the process.

And most of all, remember to back up your electronic files! I just hate to hear stories of people who have worked on their family history for many years and then one day they wake up and find their hard drive on their computer had died! At that point all you can do is START OVER FROM SCRATCH! Not a comforting thought!

Eliminate duplicate records.
If you are like me, you may find that you have duplicates of books, pedigree charts, internet bookmarks/favorites, photographs, or even genealogy program files. Just make a list and get started by sorting, weeding and documenting what you have. It will make the whole process so much simpler and your data will become much more accurate.

Get Started! ...part 2

Research Your Data...continued

2. Utilize Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet. Cyndi’s List contains, literally, over 264,000 links to genealogy websites that are indexed by subject, location or keywords. These are free and subscription-based web sites that contain transcribed data, published family pedigrees and histories, training materials, historical data, photographs, reference and finding aids, and, just about anything you can possibly imagine having to do with family history. Cyndi’s List is your “table of contents”, your “index” to the Internet for genealogy.

3. The Internet has many message boards, blogs and mailing lists available to help you communicate with others around the world who have similar interests in research and training on family history and genealogy.

4. Utilize a Family History Center.

a. FH Centers are staffed with people from who have been called to serve as Family History Consultants or by local genealogy enthusiasts.

b. The FH Center has free access to a number of subscription websites. Currently those include:
Ancestry.com Library Edition
Godfrey Memorial Library (contains the Newspaper Archives)
Heritage Quest
Kindred Konnections
World Vital Records

c. The FH Center has all of the published Pedigree Resource Files on CD that contain much more information than what is online at FamilySearch.

5. Utilize the Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake.

a. You can search the library catalog online FamilySearch.org from your home so that you are prepared before going to the library. The library contains millions of records published on microfilm, microfiche, books and CD’s. Searching the catalog will provide you with information on what is available, film numbers, book references, etc. to save you time, narrow your search, and identify availability of applicable records.

b. Training classes are also provided for free at the library. A schedule is listed here.

Get Started!

Follow the four easy steps outlined on the form “How Do I Start My Family History?” available here. The first few are covered below. I'll cover the others later.

Identify What You Have
1. Do you have a computerized database of your genealogy and family history?

2. Do you have the information in paper form?

3. If you have neither, do you have a relative that does? If so, contact that relative(s) and ask for a “gedcom” copy of what they have computerized, a photocopy of their material, or take a digital camera and take pictures of what they have.

Don’t reinvent the wheel! Beg and borrow the work that everyone else has already done! This will give you the framework, but, not the finished work. Often, during the course of identifying the sources of the data you have gathered, you will find that mistakes have been made. There really were four sons named “William” in one family. Or, there were two James Millers living in the same town and both of them had sons named George.

Computerize Your Data
Obtain a software program on which to enter your data. Any software package will do. You can download PAF (Personal Ancestral File) from FamilySearch.org for free. Most people who do so, purchase add-on packages from various vendors to streamline the process, create additional reports and charts, search the IGI automatically and search for other records faster. Many other purchased software packages have these same abilities, and more, combined into one package.

Other software packages include: RootsMagic, Legacy, The Master Genealogist, FamilyTreeMaker, and Ancestral Quest, to name a few. If you already have access to new FamilySearch or you want to be ready for the release in Utah/Idaho you will find it much easier and faster to work with if you have either RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest, or the PAF add-on program, Family Insight. My personal preference is most definitely RootsMagic V4.

Research Your Data

Once you have gathered your records turn to the Internet for more information. There are literally tens of thousands of websites that contain data – both good and bad. Remember to gather ALL you can and then determine what is correct by gathering sources to confirm the accuracy of the data.

1. First, go to FamilySearch (or new FamilySearch if you have access.) FamilySearch contains the following databases and are searchable online for free.

Ancestral File- contains information from four-generation pedigree charts that were submitted by individuals to FamilySearch in paper form many years ago.

Pedigree Resource File – contains data submitted by individuals electronically. More data is included on the CD version of these files, located in the FH Center or FH Library, than is displayed on the Internet.

IGI (International Genealogical Index) – for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints it contains dates and temple codes for all ordinance work completed in any temple. It DOES NOT include records for the living, only for those who are deceased. It is updated daily. For others the IGI includes everything except temple ordinance information.

Census Index – contains transcriptions of the 1880 US Federal Census, the 1881 British Census and the 1881 Canadian census.

The US Social Security Death Index –includes many of the millions of people in the US who were issued a Social Security Number and their death was reported to the Social Security Administration. Birth years range from 1875 to the present.

Vital Records -- are transcribed vital records from Mexico and Scandinavia. Other vital records on CD's are located in the FH Center.

28 April 2009

Starting This Blog!

Hi everyone!

Let me begin by saying that I am NOT a creative writer by any means – but – what I AM is an avid genealogist who loves to share the joy of family history and genealogy by teaching others. That’s what I do! I teach at our local Tri-Stake Family History Center and periodically at the UVPAFUG, as well as a lot of friends.

I, like everyone else, am pressed for time. Currently, we only teach one class a month at the FHC and it’s difficult to get everyone there – staff, consultants and Priesthood leaders. We never seem to have time to teach the patrons unless they happen to come to the center. So that is why I started this blog – to give the staff, consultants, Priesthood leaders AND patrons a chance to learn more on their own – even at midnight in their PJ’s!

You can email me below and I’ll get to your questions as quickly as possible. I won’t know all the answers, but I’ll do my best to try to find the answers and hopefully not make a lot of mistakes along the way. You have great ideas and great answers, too, so we’ll share our knowledge as best we can. Give me your ideas, too.

So here we go! I’ll start with some of the basics and work up from there. I know there are millions of web pages out there with great info and I’ll link to them a lot. I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, but, I want to provide a place where you can go that starts from the beginning – building on each others knowledge – one rock-solid, Granite block at a time!

I want the wonderful staff at the FH center to be able to easily show patrons how to get started – and how to continue their research. And I want the patrons, and others, to feel like this is an extension of the center – a place they feel comfortable to ask questions and can easily go to find help, especially when the center isn’t open. If it’s not simple to you then I’ll start over.

So, let’s get started!