Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society, Inc.
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01 Beginning Genealogist Start here

by Robert O. Pulse

Determine What you know - start with yourself, your parents and children

Organize it on a pedigree Chart
Free Pedigree charts: Link
My favorites
Family Tree magazine
Fan Chart

Establish a reference numbering system for individuals

Every family I have worked on to date tend to reuse names from generation to generation, In my case I have 35 George Pulse's in my tree currently. The simplest way to distinguish them is by reference number.In addition the number provides a storage location for information for individuals that have not been identified by name yet. The classic example is "Grandma" did such and such, but no one knows what Grandma's maiden name is and in many cases her given name. I t took my wife 10 years to determine the given and maiden name of her great grand mother. In the mean time we collected a good deal of data concerning her, and filed it.
Number form
My first inclination was to use a key date such as birth, but this information is seldom available when you first identify information related to an individual, so that will not work.My second trial was was to use a maximum number too small. I thought it would be a very long time before I consumed 10,000 individuals, that turned out to be in error. In ten years of research I had over 20,000 individuals identified. I am now busy converting all my records to 100,000 maximum.If at any time you plan to use a computer system to track your data it is a good deal easier to always zero fill the front of the number e.g.., The number 1 is written 000001
Numbering System
Genealogical numbering systems: Numbering
I choose a very simple system: I started by numbering myself #1 and added 1 for each subsequent individual added. I use Family Tree Maker software and version 16 supports the system.
Now that you have a numbering system you can identify an individual whether you have their name birth, just their relationship. Put the numbers on your pedigree chart as an index. You are ready to start a filing system.

Filing system

It does not matter whether you use filing cabinets, notebooks or computer files, you now have a number to label on the tabs and folders for a filing system. The form I use is computer files. I scan everything and place them on Data DVD's for back-up.
I have found that if a document contains references to a number of individuals to make a copy and place a copy in each individuals file.
Originals are too valuable to put at risk of being lost or damaged in research, so plan a filing system for originals (almost always a fire proof filing cabinet) and a duplicate system for carrying to a library for research e.g., notebooks/Data DVD
Always plan to take a complete set of records to a research library. One never knows what will be found in a repository. In fact on almost every occurrence, I have found data on a family line I was not planning to research that day in a vertical file or on a shelf.

Collect family records

Papers, documents, photographs, back of photographs, newspaper articles, family heirlooms, bible, letters and postcards.
Copy and file as necessary. This is the time to start an unknown file. Use this file for names that come up in the research, which you have not identified on the family tree at this time. Collect the data for future use.

Interview Family members to collect data

Process for interviewing family members to collect genealogical data: genealogy.about

Identify what you don't know

Develop a time line for each individual of interest on the above pedigree chart
Time line elements:
Form Date, Age of the individual, Description of the event (birth, death, marriage, births of child migration), location of event (City/Township/County/State/Country)
If I have the birth date, I populate every census date from the birth date forward and fill in the estimated age. I have found this very valuable in researching individuals.
Family group sheet
As an alternative to the Time Line, most genealogist use the family group sheet.
Form: familygroup.pdf
Instructions: genealogy.about
Make a list of information that you are missing on your pedigree charts, Time lines or family group sheets.
Prioritize the Data holes.

Develop a genealogical research plan for the 5 top information holes in your data

How to:



Family Search

Find records that will give that information. A few suggestions:
Family Histories -Has anyone already written about your family? Check PERSI, in Heritage Quest both are available at many public libraries.
Note: PERSI contract has been given to FindMyPast so all updates after mid-2009 are on FindMyPast - Ancestry has dropped PERSI and Heritage Quest is expected to do so soon.
Vital Records
Find vital records (birth, marriage, death) for each member of the family. These will provide names of parents, dates of events, siblings, etc.
City Directories and Telephone BooksList addresses, family members and occupations for a specific date.
Do a full census check on your family. This source can give you an abundance of information by itself. The United States took a census every 10 years and the census records currently available to the public are those taken from 1790 to 1940. Several states did census in-between federal years. Indians did their own census and census like surveys i.e.., Dawes, Miller
Planning a trip to a Repository/Archive/Library: Use our library as a guide for developing a repository plan.
Notes from Crista Cowan with Ancestry
What do you know; How do you know ti; and what do you want to do next?
Keep track of what you've discovered:
Always record women with their maiden names
Dates are recorded dd mmm yyyy
Places are recorded smallest to largest jurisdiction
Use standard Abbreviations to indicate when you are not sure of a date: abt, bef, aft
Always enter a birth date - if unknown, estimate i.e., 20 years after birth of youngest parent, or 20 years before oldest child - needed for database to narrow searches and online trees to determine if living - Living people are private in Ancestry Trees as long as birth dates are within the last 100 years and there is nothing in the death date field.
Formula for a good research plan: 1. What do you want to know; 2. What do you already know and how do you know it; 3. Where could you find what you are looking for?
If you are like me, You prefer to read a Book to looking up a process than on the computer, My current favorite overall beginning genealogy book is "Who's Your Daddy?" by Carolyn B. Leonard click Here to see a preview.

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Last Update: November 29, 2016 10:47 AM
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113 East Carl Albert Parkway; McAlester, Oklahoma 74501-5039; Phone: 918-426-0388