|Where to start!|
Write down what you already know. you may already have a vast amount of information names and important dates for
Look at the data you have collected and see firstly what dates and names are missing. You will already be able to form a few valuable questions which will be invaluable later on.
Speak to existing family members meet with up with them and ask questions, If any family photos exist ask for copies, I usually ask them to get the photo chest out before I get there. It's great talking about old times and hearing stories about the old times and once the photos come out there is no stopping those stories, REMEMBER get them talking about growing up (you listen and write) only interrupt to confirm spelling or facts.
Relatives talk to each other and before long they will all Know about your ancestry research and make statements like but mummy/grandpa would have told you that!!! Surely you knew!! when a relative says anything like that ""STOP"" ALWAYS sound surprised and say NO I have never heard that and get them to tell you their own account.
Many times in my family chats I got the same story form two relatives but with different facts or information I always WRITE IT ALL DOWN It may become important later on. If possible get a cheap tape recorder and ask permission to record the sessions (don't forget to confirm spellings)
My mum was convinced my Great Grandfather Hyman Bernstein married a Bernstein but it turned out it was an uncle Bernstein who had married a Bernstein!!!
Look at the data you have collected again then form add as many questions that fill in the gaps.
After your first couple of get together's you will need to download some genealogy software to organise your valuable family data remember this is a fast track so you will need to get some help.
We tried several different products and eventually stuck with Ancestry Family Tree as it creates a website of your data and allows you to add photos and all types of vital data. Most subscription based products have an American bias but I find this one to have vast UK data stores to explore.
Create a family website.
This website is an example of what is possible when trying to expand your research. If someone else is researching the same names as you sometimes they may have come across your ancestors in their travels. By putting a website online you are publishing your research lines and someone may contact you asking questions.
Even if you don't have the skills to create your own website just a simple word document saved as a webpage can be a very useful help. But follow some basic rules.
1, Don't put names and dates of living family members.
2, Ask permission to include data you have collected from others.
3, Credit other family members for the help they have provided.
Grave Visits.Lots of useful can be gathered visiting burial grounds here we have collated a few tips
|Filling in the gaps|
Many vital data records are available online. reference numbers to help locate Date of birth, marriage and death certificates can be located online here are two sites to use in the UK FreeBMD as the title suggests the site is free and is very slow the other 1837online charges an access fee but has the full index. This site UK BDM Exchange is for genealogists to share Vital certificates. Have you a Birth, Marriage or Death certificate that where not from your family? Well why not donate them to an online resource for others to use.
We all have ancestors around the world so finding an online database is a real time saver most countries are transcribing these vital document archives and making them available online although many are still stored in the original paper archives yet to be digitised.
In Poland records older than 100 years are held at the various branches of the Polish State Archives but for Jewish genealogists there is the Jewishgen website which has been concentration transcribing records older than that is JRI-Poland. where you can order ancestors vital documents online in English amongst other European languages.
There are new databased BMD index's becoming available online regularly, keep looking.
Search engine does it?
If you are an experienced user of the search engines it's possible you have used some of these technique before, if not then here are some tips that will be invaluable. .......... clever search "ford prefect" hitch hiker "ford prefect"+custom
often a search of an online telephone directory can bring results.
Is anyone else doing research?
Once you have collected all the data from relatives you know its time to start getting creative.
Ask aroundYou will have collected lots of family groups. Older people remember their brothers, Sisters and close relative but become more vague as the offspring of these relatives expand and you will have answers like well they had two boys. Such answers should always be added to both your family data and your list of questions. When you meet another family member you can ask away.
News Groups - SIGS
I have been working in IT for a long time and have always sold newsgroups to my colleagues as a huge technical archive but with such a huge subject like genealogy it can be a vital resource to creating shortcuts in your family research.
OK so it works like this, have you noticed that on nearly every page of this website is a list of names and places well as this site matures and all the new tips attracts users the names will be added to the search engine as more visit and add my pages to their lists of useful WebPages (I can still dream!)
I also use it when I email into any of the public newsgroups or write to any other researcher.
The shortcut is that it helps other genealogist or family researcher find you easier.
SIG's (Special Interest Groups) are another useful place to find researchers with a similar interest and by adding a tag line to your emails they are aware of any interests you have in common
To be continued.......