When Researching your Kin...

It seems like every time I sit down to uncover some ancestors I get so caught up in the adventure that I forget the basics. But with a little luck and a lot of patience, asking yourself these 5 questions should lead you to treasures every time.

1.What do I want to find out?

It is best to be very specific when beginning a search. This keeps you from getting side tracked and to narrow down where to begin looking.

some possible answers are:

*I know my grandmother was born in California around 1910. What year was she born?

*My great grandfather died in Nevada. What year did he die?

*Who were my great-grandfather's parents?
2.What do I already know?
It is important to be really specific here as well. If you know the town your grandmother lived in, don't simply write the state or country. Write down everything you know about that person.This could help you find clues as you go along.

3. How do I know it?

This question goes along with question #2. Next to each fact you know about your ancestor - write down where you learned that fact. Maybe it was from a family member who told you. Or maybe you have a death certificate of that person or a census record. Write down the type of record and where it came from. 

4. Where could I go next to find what I want to know?

This is where a little knowledge about record types could come in handy. Different types of records contain different types of information. For example, if you want to know someone's birthplace, the most common places to find that fact is in a birth record, death record or a census record or a marriage record. (I will be posting more on this question soon)

5. Do the records exist? If so, where? 

This question goes well with #4 obviously. There are many different places where the records you want can be found. The easiest way to narrow it down is .... google. Just type in the record type and the location (ex: birth records for Sacramento, CA) and there may be several options that pop up. If that doesn't work try familysearch.org or ancestry.com. These are the two biggest search sites and their collections of records are growing every day. 

If there is still no luck - don't give up hope. There are many more options. Head over to the Family Search learning page and type in your location (Search both the specific and the general ex: sacramento, CA or California) It will bring up several guides to your location and can give you some great pointers on where to go next. 


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