Interview as many
family members as possible. Each will have memories and stories that are
different from another’s. Older family members, friends, and long-time
neighbors may have known your parents and grandparents and even your
great-grandparents. They may have information that you need for your pedigree
chart. Ask them what they remember about your family (remember to use pencil on
your chart, memories can be faulty and you may have to erase). Write everything down, there may be clues
in the information that you will recognize later. The following are some
questions that you might ask:
Where was Grandpa Joe born?
What year was he born?
Do you know the names of his parents? Where were they from?
Was Grandpa the oldest or the youngest in the family?
How many brothers and sisters did he have? What were their
Where were Grandma and Grandpa married? When?
Was Grandpa in the war? Which one?
What were Grandma’s parents’ names? And their parents?
Ask about family
traditions. Ask about the location of the old family Bibles, pictures, diaries,
old letters, newspaper clippings, etc. that may contain family information. You
may want to write a letter to relatives in other cities or states. Click here
for a sample letter to a family member.
important rule to remember:
information and filling it in on a pedigree chart, always work from the present
going back in time. This means that you must start your research and fill in the
blanks in the generations closest to you. It is important to collect sufficient
proof of one generation before going on to the next, and you should have at
least one record that links the younger generation to the older before
proceeding on that line. Jumping to conclusions can be devastating—you don’t
want to spend valuable time tracing the wrong people! If you do not have the
death records for your grandparents, try to get them before attempting to locate
their birth records for your great-grandparents. On your grandparents’ death
certificates, you may find the names and places of birth of their parents. Once
you have a death date, you may be able to locate an obituary in the local
newspaper of the town where they died. We will help you locate birth and death records and newspapers where an obituary for your ancestor
might appear and other documents that link one generation to another.
You may want to
record the stories and recollections of your parents and grandparents, aunts and
uncles. Click here for information on how to do an
oral history and what
questions to ask.
Me! I don’t know of any
family members I can write to. Can you put me in touch with cousins or others
researching my line?
Me! Can you interview my uncle and aunt to gather family information?
To ask these or
similar questions, click on Help Me!, fill
out the form that comes up, and submit your questions.
are now on your way!
How many ancestors do you have?