©Copyright 2009 Caroline Pointer.
Now, what else do you have around the house? No, not for a garage sale. I mean genealogy "stuff". You know. Your grandparent's marriage license. Perhaps a family Bible that [Gasp!] has been written in. [That's actually a good thing, and I'll tell you why later. You know. Because I'm the genealogist. That's why. *wink*]
Today's the day you find all those items that pertain to your family. I would say you're house cleaning, but you're not. [Because who would want to do that? *snort*] The fact is you might [if you're lucky] have quite a bit of a mess on you're hands. Or your dining room table. Or wherever you might be piling all this stuff. These clues. These artifacts that will help to reveal your family story.
So get one [or more] of those plastic tubs, or a box, or a laundry basket. Put it on the dining room table. And "go to town". You'll be surprised how one item will lead to 5 items, which will lead to ten items. And before you know it, you'll have a bunch of rabbits [Oops. I mean family artifacts.] on your hands. Then you'll have a bunch of ancestors on your hands. [See, I told you they multiply like rabbits.]
Don't believe me? Try it out for yourself. Below is just a small sampling of family artifacts that you're looking for. In other words, if you find something that you think tells something about your family and it's not on the list , then put it in the tub/basket/box. Simple, right?
©Copyright Caroline Pointer 2009.
Tell me [and everyone else] what you found in comments below. Was there something you didn't know you had? Was there something that you can't identify, but you know it belonged to your Great-Aunt Bernice? Was there something that was just plain odd?
Here. I'll go first.
Here's something I didn't know I had. After my Dad passed away, I found it in his jewelry box that was inside a cardboard box of some of his things. His father's [my grandfather's] World War I Victory Medal. Huh. I never even knew that he'd been in WWI. Then I found a photo of him in his WWI uniform in a plastic tub of my parent's stuff. So then, I hunted down his story. My family story.
So yes, genealogy [and ancestors and family history and family stories] can be found in boxes.
[This is Part 5 of my "Getting Started" Blog Series. The previous parts can be found as follows: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.]Why You Should Prove "You"
My sister used to have this framed poster of an exasperated mother hen surrounded by all her little chicks. And the caption read, "Because I'm the Mommy. That's Why!" I always thought that was funny, but now, as a mother, I get it. When my kids were younger, I would explain the "why" about everything. "You need to do this because..." kinda thing. But now, as they get older, I have resulted to the "Because I said so. That's why" refrain because [O.K., so the "because thing" is a habit] I feel it's time for them to figure out the "why" for themselves. I think doing it this way has made them very curious and also very aware of the fact that they should be asking, "Why?" All the time. Constantly. Non-stop. [Just don't ask me, "Why?" all the time.]
So, what does this have to do with proof & genealogy? Especially proof of you, or anyone else for that matter? Well, there are many reasons why you need to prove you, everyone, and everything in genealogy.
It's academic. I know. You didn't really want to hear the "A" word, but genealogy involves studying [albeit interesting studying]. And proving [citing your sources] is a fundamental, accepted, and expected part of genealogy. It's part of its foundation. It's part of the rules. [Yes, I said the "R" word, too.] But the following is the "why".
Yeah, make them work for the quilt.
But really? Why site your sources? Why prove yourself?
Because I'm the genealogist. That's why.
Next: Part 6 is here.
[This post is part 4 of my Getting Started series. Part 1 is here. And Part 2 is here. And Part 3 is here.]
Yup. It all starts with you. Little, bitty you. No one else, but you.
You do know "you," don't you? If not, grab a mirror and look. "You" meet, well, "you".
There. Now that the introductions are over, let's get down to business, shall we?
Genealogy starts with you. Then you work backwards. Why? Because you know yourself the best. You have witnessed most everything that's happened to you. [Even if you didn't want to do so.] For example, you were there when you were younger and you skinned your knee for the upteenth time while riding your bike down that gravel road. You were there on your first date and you were half-scared out of your mind and half-excited, so much you wanted to throw-up. You were there when you took your driver's test, and you were scared half out of your mind and half-excited, so much that you wanted to throw-up. [Again.] And if you have married, for better or worse, you were there at your wedding, half-scared out of your mind and half-excited, so much you wanted to throw-up.
Get the picture? You. Were. There. [And apparently scared & sick for most of it.] You know yourself the best. In fact, you're an expert on yourself.
Now. What official documents do you have that prove "you"? Birth certificate, marriage certificate, social security card, photos, etc. Locate these types of documents. This is your first genealogy directive.
What do you mean you don't have your birth certificate? Well, O.K., then. Here's your second genealogy directive. Get it. Now. Like, yesterday. Call whomever you need to call in your family who might have it. [If you are still able to do so, call your parents]. Just do whatever you need to do to get a copy of your birth certificate. [No, don't rob a bank. Silly, a bank won't have your birth certificate. Oh, and robbing is bad. In fact, it's against the law. So don't do that.] Depending on the state you were born in, you should be able to find your birth certificate at the city, county, or state level. To obtain your birth certificate by mail, FamilySearch.org has a listing of addresses and other pertinent data located here. You can also Google The Department of Health in the state you were born and follow their online instructions for ordering. Or if you are in a hurry, you can order it online at MyVitalRec.com or at VitalChek.com.
If you need to order your birth certificate, then do it. It really doesn't cost very much. And you really need it. Not just for genealogy.
If you have it now or when you receive it, take a look at it. In fact take a real good look at all of your official documents. Yes, you can take a look at the photos too, but do get back to the documents. [What were you thinking when you decided to wear your hair like that? And on your wedding day, too. Well, I guess what they say is true. Love is blind. *wink*]
Getting back to the documents. Take a real good look at them.
Look at every single detail on them.
So tell me. I'm dying to know. Is there anything incorrect on your official documents? Are you who you thought you were? If not, what's different? What did you not know about "you"? Tell me [and everyone else] in the comments below. NOTE: Don't tell us exact details though. We want to keep "you" as "you". We don't want someone to steal "you". Then "you" wouldn't be "you" anymore. Then where would "you" be? Lost. That's what. And in a real big mess too. Just let me and others know in general about the proof of "you".
Here. I'll go first.
Some time after coming through customs on our way back from our honeymoon in Cancun, I lost my birth certificate. [I know I made it through customs because I'm here. I'm clever like that.] Anywho, before I lost it, I had noticed there was a misspelling of my mother's maiden name. An extra "k" had found its way into her name. So, I sent off for a new one. I was excited to be able to correct the spelling of her name. I received it in the mail and tore open the envelope to find that maybe the state government ought to do a better job at screening their employees. At least give them a spelling test. Or an editing test. Or something. 'Cause they misspelled it. Again. It was a different mistake. But still wrong. They typed a "D" for a "B". Who knew consonants were so much trouble? [Rolling eyes heavenward.] So, how 'bout yours?
Next: Part 5 is here.
[This post is part 3 of my Getting Started series. Part 1 is here. And Part 2 is here.]
By now you're probably thinking, "I have my genealogy and/or family history goal posted in every place that I could think of and then some. I even have post-it notes on my...never mind where I have them. I have a clear idea of why I want to search. Also, I even went on the internet to get a head start and entered the name of a relative and/or ancestor in the Google search box..."
Gotcha! How did I know you did this? Well, because I've done it. Everyone does it at one time or another. How could you not? That search box is just sitting there on your screen empty and all alone with the cursor blinking and blinking at you just daring you to enter something. You've heard that quite a lot of information is available online, so why not try? After all, it always works when looking for the nearest Pizza Hut location that delivers. Right? Well, great! I'm glad you did it. Now that you've done it, are you glad you did it? Did you find anything helpful? Odds are probably not.
Entering in a name of an ancestor into the Google search box and getting information on your particular ancestor would be like driving around looking for the house of the parents of someone you knew in college without an address or any directions whatsoever except for knowing the city, and actually finding them. Probably not going to happen. I say probably because I, indeed, know someone who did actually do this and found the correct house, but it wasn't and isn't very efficient, especially for finding your ancestors. Plus, if you aren't successful in this kind of search, then you're probably more likely to give up because you don't know any other way.
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Well, you're looking for ancestors, not pizzas or houses of college friends. Ancestors who had the same names as others, who moved a lot, married multiple times, were bank robbers, etc., and unless they were Bonnie or Clyde*, a regular Google search isn't the best way to look for them. However, don't take my word for it. If you haven't tried to look for your ancestors this way, go do it right now. Yes, you heard me correctly. Go Google your ancestors. [If they've found my site and have read this far into my post, I'm sure genealogy traditionalists' eyes are rolling in their heads right about now. But that's O.K. Maybe it'll give them a new perspective.] Anywho. When you Google your ancestors, you never know. Your ancestry might "pop-up" for you all nice and tidy with sources [snort], and I promise I won't be jealous. [Yeah right.]
Now, I'm only talking about a standard Google search. Google can be successfully used for genealogical and/or family history research, but I'll go over that later. Now, go Google and; let me know how it works for you. Go ahead. Get it out of your system.
Hey, and don't forget to let me know how it worked for you [or didn't] in the comments below.
*Oh, actually Bonnie and Clyde did not have children. Therefore, you couldn't possibly be direct descendants of them, but they did have siblings who had children. So, it's possible that you could be related to them. I Googled it for ya'. [Bonnie and Clyde Genealogy Records from CensusDiggins.com ]
Next: Part 4 is here.
[Part 2 of my "Getting Started" series. Part 1 is here.]
So, why are you searching for your family story, history, genealogy, and/or ancestry? What's your goal? What do you mean to find? This is an important question to ask yourself because it determines your path in your search, and it gives you something to shoot for, so to speak.
Genealogy [what I like to call the "G" word], simply defined, is the study of family ancestries and histories. Genealogy is the nuts and bolts [sometimes more nuts than bolts] of family history. Typically the end result is a fully-cited pedigree chart that one can show off at dinner parties and family gatherings. It's interesting, [at least to you] that you are the 5th cousin twice removed from the woman who invented the circular saw in 1812, Tabitha Babbit [Now, wouldn't it be ironic if she was an ancestor of John Bobbitt?], but after the intial "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" is anyone really interested? My experience has led me to the conclusion that most of the time very few [if any] care, but you.
Or this spurs one of your dinner companions to tell everyone about how their mom told them that their Great-Aunt Bernice already did their family's ancestry, and it turns out that they are, indeed, direct descendants of the 4th Earl of Ross whose descendancy includes a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, a woman who married another Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a man who had the foresight to marry a woman who would make the first American flag. All of which kind of steals your thunder. [Unless, of course, you can prove that John Bobbitt somehow is related to Tabitha Babbit because, in my opinion, blood and gore trumps a 4th Earl every time.]
But what about a story? A family story that includes horse thievery in Texas in the 19th century with the result of one of your ancestors being beaten to death by the hands of a bloodthirsty lynch mob, and his brothers, having survived the same beating that their brother died from, going to prison? Ah, now you have their attention. [But I don't suggest explaining the details of the beating over dinner. Save it for dessert.] The framework and tools [the genealogy] is an integral part of your search, and yes, the chart that stands 6 feet high is impressive, but what is memorable is the story ~the family story.
Maybe you're not looking to have the pedigree chart whose height rivals the Empire State Building. [I wonder if it's sourced?] Maybe you could care less about the story. [What!?!] Maybe you have loftier goals such as looking for your family's medical history, which is becoming more and more popular. Or maybe you simply [or not so simply] want to know who you are, where you came from, and/or who your people are. In truth, there are as many reasons to look for your ancestry as the day is long.
So, what are you really looking for? Be clear about it. Write it on a piece of paper and put it near your computer, make it your screensaver, put it on your desktop, put it on your refrigerator and/or bathroom mirror. Put it where you'll see it often and be reminded of what exactly it is you are looking for. Now, let me and others know what your overall goal is for the search for your family story in the comments below. It doesn't need to be a detailed description of your goal. Even a one-word comment is fine. Just get it down. Commit to it.
Here, I'll go first.
My goal is the family story. I'm looking for my family story. [What? You're surprised?]
Now it's your turn.
Next: Part 3 is here.
Well, it could've started anywhere, but you're here now. And you're ready to start looking for where "it" all started with your crazy but lovable family. If not, read on maybe I'll interest you.
I decided to start this blog because I'm often asked, "So, how do I go about finding my family story?"
Truth be told though, it's not out of the blue like that usually. Rather it's after I answer the ever-so-popular question, "So what do you do?" And then the next question is always, "Did you see that show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" [*Snort.* Did I see WDYTYA? You mean the only show that was on at the time that has to do with my all-consuming passion? Nah.] The next comment is, "I don't know who my ancestors are, but I loved that show." [Yeah, me too.]
Or they have a Great-Aunt Bernice who already found their lineage all the way back to the Mayflower. Now that last one always makes me laugh. [In my head of course.] [If you haven't caught on by now, my thoughts ~usually sarcastic~ are in brackets.] It would be very surprising to me if all of your lines led back to the Mayflower. Come on. There were ships before the Mayflower and many after. That statement always makes me think, "What about all those who didn't come on the Mayflower? I mean, what were their stories?" And if that's all you know about your ancestors, then you especially need to go huntin' for your kinfolk. I'm just not really impressed with the Mayflower statement. It tells me you don't really know about your ancestry. [Unless you can back it up with proof and stories and that you do realize not all your lines go back to the Mayflower.] Honestly, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard that Mayflower statement, I would be a very rich woman. [Really, how do I get a Great-Aunt Bernice with a purported Mayflower lineage?]
Anyhow, I thought that maybe if I found Great-Aunt Bernice for you, she could probably help you, but, alas, I've "Googled" great-Aunt Bernice and I can't find her and her lineage back to the Mayflower, so I thought that I could probably give you some tips and hints, for what they're worth, to help you search for your family story. After "Googling" Great-Aunt Bernice, I looked around on the internet with the eyes of a "newbie," and one thing became very clear. There are, like, a gazillion places to look, all offering a smorgasbord of things, ranging from free to what's got to be more than what Great-Aunt Bernice paid for her lineage all the way back to the Mayflower.
So, my answer to this problem? How about a site that can deliver some help, guidance, and support in a friendly and light-hearted atmosphere? Maybe a site that can break down the "tough stuff"? Perhaps a site that has daily tips, links to helpful websites, reviews of related-products and services, and the like ~all in an easy-to-understand format with just a dash of humor? [O.K., so maybe a sprinkle of sarcasm too.] A site that eventually will get you to think, "Great-Aunt Bernice who?"
Billy the Kid Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
In addition to helping you get started on finding your ancestry, there will be helpful tips on awesome ways to share your family story, because you don't want to be stingy. That's right. You want to share all about the outlaws in your family, especially over Thanksgiving Dinner, but even more important than that, you can take credit for all of your family discoveries. Yes, that's right. [Again.] You don't need Great-Aunt Bernice.
Yes, I will refer to companies in my posts when it applies because you cannot possibly do all your searching for free. If another site promises you can, just remember what Great-Aunt Bernice always says, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." But don't worry. I'll be giving you plenty of tips and hints on the free stuff 'cause there's plenty out there to get started. Just not everything.
I've added a Google news feed that, like the name suggests, feeds introductions to news stories. I've customized it so that it only includes those stories that contain the following keywords: "genealogy", "family tree", "family history", "Who Do You Think You Are", "ancestry", etc. Now. Most of the stories are relevant. However, there are a few that are not. But they're not inappropriate either. So, if it's not relevant, please ignore it. Another news story will appear shortly. Feel free to click on a story to read it. However, that will take you off this site. So don't click it until you read my post. Please. I'm trusting you. And watching. Just kidding. I'm not watching you. [By the way, I really like your living room furniture. *wink*]
I've also added a Twitter feed that feeds all tweets from Twitter that include the keyword, "#genealogy". You know. Just in case what I've said on any given day is just so compelling that you simply cannot leave my site to go to Twitter. [Snort.] In other words, if you can't [or won't] go to Twitter, I'm bringing a piece of Twitter to you. [No, Twitter is not a mountain. But for some, it's close.]
I will also be reviewing related products and services that are related to genealogy, family trees, family history, and /or history. My reviews will be honest, which if you think about it, is the best way to go for everyone. How else will the products and/or services get any better? I may or may not be compensated for these reviews, but I will let you know either way. They'll be honest reviews ~the good, the bad, and the ugly. If it stinks, it stinks. Even Great-Aunt Bernice would agree with that.
I will eventually be adding E-books that I author, and they'll be available for nominal fees. [That's "nominal" not "phenomenal". If I were independently wealthy, it'd be free. But I'm not, so...] In the near future, I will also be incorporating video posts for genealogy and family history tips as well as for tutorials on ways to share your family story that will also be posted on YouTube. The videos will be free. [My favorite word.]
So whaddya say? Are you ready to look for where you came from? How about looking for who your people are? Are you ready to start searching for your family story?
Even though you're not going to need her,
Maybe you have a Great-Aunt Bernice.
And maybe she's done some of the work for you.
And maybe it's actually sourced.
Which would be nice.
How will you know if you don't look?
Note: This is the very first post of this blog and Part 1 of my "Getting Started" series. Part 2 is here.