Monday, October 13, 2014

Family History in ICGS Archives - Come to Visit

October is Family History Month. It's a big deal!
Iroquois County Genealogical Society

Family History - that seems important. It is. And some would say, difficult. It doesn't have to be.

It doesn't have to be difficult, but it does take some effort. Like most tasks, the sooner you start, the easier the task. What does that mean?

It means you should get started today! Get a piece of paper and a writing tool. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Spend as much or as little time as you wish. You'll be coming back for more.

Start filling in your family tree.

To get started, you can use the standard forms posted at this link. This site is from the Brigham Young University Television 1997 series called Ancestry. Although this series was televised several years ago, these forms and research steps are still valid today. We also have these forms at the ICGS Archives.

The Pedigree Chart starts with you and works backward through your direct line ancestors, your parents, grandparents, and so on. (This is also called an Ancestral Chart.) Write down as much information as you can. If you have documents that support these facts, collect them in one place, make copies for your files. You'll thank yourself later when you start to ask how you know these facts. This chart shows your direct lines back in history, no siblings, no cousins.

The Family Group Record collects a husband, his wife and all their children, along with the dates and places of marriages, births and deaths. Start a sheet with yourself, your spouse and children, then complete a sheet with your parents and siblings, then to your grandparents and so on. Only one family on each sheet.

Need help with data? We have over 71,000 obituaries that may help you with dates and names. We have newspaper microfilms. We have marriage indexes. We have cemetery inventories. We have helpers who can answer questions. Stop in to see us.

But remember, it's not all just names and dates. Stories are important, too, so here is another suggestion.

Write a letter or reflect on a photo.

These are good activities to do with a youngster or on your own.

August 2014
Connect with a relative: cousin, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, maybe even a neighbor or friend of a parent or grandparent. It's important to talk to living relatives. Write a letter, make a phone call or record a conversation. Tell them who you are and how you are connected to them. Share a story about yourself or your shared ancestor. Ask them what they know about the family. If the answer is "I don't know anything," just share what you know or what you've heard. Tell a story about when you were younger. Sometimes this gets the memories going. You are looking for that "Oh, I remember when..." sentence.

About 1940

Find a photo, even if it is just one of a younger you or a house or a business. Write a short story about that photo, or tell a young person in your family about that photo and have them write your story. Maybe you can even record the conversation. It should get him or her thinking about questions to ask about your past. How old were you? What was happening in local or national history at the time of the photo? How did that influence the family? What did you do for fun at the time of the photo? Try to share how his or her life is the same or different than yours.

Write down your own history.

Don't forget, you are in your family tree. Write a timeline of things about you. It doesn't have to be a full biography, but write down what you can remember. Where have you lived, and when did you live there? Were you going to school or working at a job? What are those things that you wish you knew about your ancestors or siblings? Include those. What do you do for fun or family activities? Include information about your living family members and things you remember about those in your family who are gone. Include what makes you who you are. Think how much this will help those researching you in years to come.

Read a genealogy blog or listen to a podcast or watch a video.

If you are someone who spends time online, it's a good idea to read or listen to some of the experts in the field. (You are reading this blog, but I don't think of myself as an expert, just someone who loves to keep learning.) When I'm traveling, sometimes hours at a time, I listen to podcasts from my smartphone or iPad or tablet. At home, I listen to them from my computer.

Here are some blogs I can recommend. These are free to access.

Genealogy Gems Blog - by Lisa Louise Cooke, an author and presenter who shares tips and ideas on how to get the most out of your genealogy time.
Genealogy Insider - by Dianne Haddad and the Family Tree Magazine staff let you know the current news in genealogy.
FamilySearch Blog - by FamilySearch, a nonprofit family history organization with free access to online records.

Here are some podcasts I can recommend. These are free to access.

Genealogy Gems Podcasts - by Lisa Louise Cooke, includes research strategies and interviews with experts in genealogy.
Family History Genealogy Made Easy - by Lisa Louise Cooke, offering step-by-step help for beginners. (45 episodes)
Family Tree Magazine Podcasts - genealogy tools and tips.

Here are some YouTube channels I can recommend. These are free to access.

Genealogy Gems on YouTube - by Lisa Louise Cooke, more research strategies and training. on YouTube - Crista Cowan, the Barefoot Genealogist explains much about records on and using Family Tree Maker software, but she also gives information on genealogy research.
FamilySearch on YouTube - great resources from to help you get started.

What's not to like about all of this? If you need help or encouragement, stop in to see us in the Iroquois County Genealogy Society Archives in the Old Courthouse Museum.

Happy Family History Month!

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