Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Genealogy 101, Part 2

[I guess the rush to comment about this masterpiece is waiting for the second installment!]

Next find the LDS Family History Center near you and begin ordering census films to view there - or other films on which you can also find b/m/d indexes, transcriptions of church vestry and civic records, cemetery records, family books, etc. Keep a database about these orders, too. Further, you can check out their data online, but don't be too literal about it. (One thing that bothers me about their database is that collecting/inputting people is considered religious kudos for the contributing member, so it is kind of haphazard. Another thing that bothers me is that we each have a reference number in their system as we're added. Yup, you most likely appear in the Mormon database and you can then be baptised after death and "sealed" to living members. Gives this nonreligious person the willies.) (Mitt scares me.)(Yes, I still walk whenever I can with Mormon Norma, but she doesn't try to pour religion down my throat. I do have a hard time getting my brain around her religious quirks, though.)

I have done a considerable amount of census work. The 1930 census was released a few years ago; it's one I have not seen. Starting in 1850, people's names were listed in the family, so that is very handy. The 1890 was lost in a flood caused by water used to put out a fire in the building. A lot of census data is available online, too, or on cds, but it is more dry than using a microfilm, where you can also see the families/relations living nearby. Use special census forms specific for the census year as the required information changed over the years.

See if there is a genealogy society near you and join it. Many offer very useful classes and mine has a rather substantial library. Also, look into membership into the National Genealogical Society. They have excellent training and you can borrow from their vast holdings.

Post, post, post on places like Rootsweb and Genforum. Posts on Genforum in a foreign country section netted me two not-very-distant cousins who gave me great Old Country information. Rootsweb has lists you can join or search (and Genforum has message boards) for surnames, counties, states, countries, wars, ethnic groups, and almost any situation you could imagine. Respond to your own posts to keep them up to date with your current information.

Some time in researching, you'll need to choose a software. I used Family Tree Maker and am happy with it. There are many others, some free even to download. One thing they do is make a gedcom, a generic output of data that can be read by other programs. If you prefer to do things by hand, here's a family group sheet and a pedigree.

Cyndi's List exists to compile then categorize like genealogy websites. You'll always learn something going through there. And she is thorough. I have a few genealogy websites and they're listed without me trying. Here are a few books she suggests for newbies.

Another avenue, literally, I found very helpful have been city directories, phone books before the phone. People are listed alphabetically, so you can find same surnamed relatives, plus they list the spouse, occupation, address, and rent or own status. They are at some libraries and are available on microfilm. When you put together a surname study of what you've found, be sure to share it in posts at Rootsweb and Genforum.

After you get started, make sure you use an email that won't change or make sure to follow up some of your posts with the change. There's nothing worse than composing a grand email for a message that bounces. I use a permanent forward from Bigfoot, although it does mean more junk mail from them.

Be generous with your data and folks will return the favor. Send polite, thorough, specific messages requesting information and always respond with a thanks. Genealogical etiquette is very important to the hobby.

Reinforcing that, respect the living. Never post genealogical data of the living. I have gone to many sites and asked that they take down information that was too close to home.

Males should consider doing yDNA studies, as it links directly to a family. I am having a little trouble with the big pictureness of it (it breaks my rule of only going backward and it makes grand leaps), as I am still in the trenches with the details, but it casts a new light. And amazingly proves proper paternity of ex for the ages.

Don't take anything too literally and be open to alternative views. My grandfather appeared in the 1920 census as a girl; karma worked its magic on the misogynist in training! There's a lot of humor in genealogy, too.

Hope you enjoyed this foray into genealogical research and that this opus excited you instead of scaring you away!


Shinny said...

I have always wanted to do a search on both sides of my family. My mom put together a nice history a few years ago, all without the help of the internet. I have no idea how she did that. But there are lots of holes in the story. Maybe when I am on leave for 3 months I will be bugging you to get me started.

Cricket said...

If you have the time (yeah, right!), I'll be your motivation.

Anonymous said...

Woot! Still a lot of info to take in but thank you so much for forms and other places to start!

I have my maternal grandpa's immigration papers somewhere, but my grandmother, who came from Poland, came to the US via Canada, where she'd already been married. As for the paternals, well, my father was the product of a rape, but years ago my grandmother told me that two of her cousins had traced relatives back to Dan'l Boone's slaves as well as a grandmother (great x3 for me, I think) who was Blackfoot Souix. But ya know about black people and Native Americans, so who knows.

I know I've got relatives in Sicily, and probably Poland as well, but again with the illegitamacy...there's a slim possibility of there being a record with my maternal grandma, as family lore says a village doctor frequently came to the house to drop off parcels of food. Turn of the century and all that, there's a very slim chance of a church or medical record - I'm hoping!

Mr Oro's side would seem to be much clearer, being Scottish from the time his clan arrived (said to be one of the oldest in Scotland) with some French in there somewhere. Go back at least 1000 years and there's Irish, Viking, and whoever else was around then, Picts and the other dwellers who terrfied the Romans.

Some days the task seems overwhelming, but I'm so darned curious! Are there reputable sources for doing mitochondrial DNA out there?

Cricket said...

I had mine done through Oxford Ancestors. Sykes is the one who wrote the book. They also have message boards for hooking up with like mtDNA. I don't, however, know how his outfit measures up against others, whether they do more markers, etc.

Cricket said...

PS - A lot of what I've done has been Canadian - folks from Scotland and Irelend there for a few years before moving to the US. I've found the Canadian Rootsweb lists to be very helpful.

Wish I knew more about other immigration. The Ellis Island website has tons of stuff. That said, mine came through there in 1906 and 1911 and I cannot find them.

If there's ever a mystery ancestor, some Native American stuff will come up. People love to claim them. It is also quite fashionable to have slave ancestors, too - mine are proved :)
I do think, tho, that even run-of-the-mill white folks have a lot they don't know under the surface.

Anonymous said...

"I guess the rush to comment about this masterpiece is waiting for the second installment!"

Yup! How'd you know? ;-)

this is a GREAT series of posts and some hugely valuable information. It makes my fingers itch to get started. I only hold back knowing that I have plenty on my plate just now.

but I've bookmarked them!

Cricket said...

It's a great winter activity when you're stuck inside after the holidays are over.

dawn224 said...

I have awesome luck with my ancestry subscription - I can look at census records from the comfort of my own bed.... uh.. home...

Cricket said...

You are exactly right. Subscriptions are great for some kinds of information. You also have access to better searches that cut down on what you have to wade through. I like how you can access to things like passenger lists which you'd otherwise have to purchase the cd to see.

Great reminder.