Investigating a family history is a little different from doing a genealogy search on names and births. For your family history you’ll include information such as what country, state or county your family tree begins in. You will need to include events and adventures recorded through history that involve members of your family. It is the story of your families beginning and their continuing life today. It is your part in their history and how you record it will help further generations add their own histories to the memories you leave behind.
1. There are several sites you can go to such as Cyndi list.com to begin your search. On this site you will find a list of several sites that deal with ethnic and location backgrounds. You’ll want to start with the first of the names you can find on your family.
2. Talk to family members and get all the information you can from their childhood and memories of relatives and family friends. Find out as much as you can about a beginning location as far back as they can remember and start there.
3. Once you have names and locations investigate the national or international history at the time. You can look for local news stories in the area by going online to the library located nearest to your beginning site and pulling up news stories day by day. Look for family names or events your family name was involved with.
4. Check out church records for the area and get any information you can about baptisms, marriages, divorces or church works and banishments.
5. Family gossip! This is where some of the best stories and information come from. You can find out about children born but never brought home. You can discover criminal activities, prison time, affairs, law breakers and makers. Who likes who and divorce reasons. Get all the information you can and check it out as much as possible.
6. School records from grade school through college years. You can check on achieves for colleges attended and search for all activities they were involved with. What historical events happened in the world and on campus at the time they attended and if they left before graduating find out why.
7. Interview everyone about their childhood and collect stories. They can be stories of survival, illnesses, family hoax’s and jokes, criminal acts, deaths, murders and overwhelming love. Their stories will bring a much more human quality to their lives for you to read about and you’ll be able to compare your own childhood with theirs.
8. Write about lifestyles of family members and how they lived, how they believed at the time and how they have changed to what they are today. Were they the 50’s James Dean bad boy type? Was she the Sandra Dee girl next door? How about those that lived as hippies or in communes? Were any of your family members war survivors, or migrant workers from the dust bowl era of Oklahoma? You learn why certain people live as they do now by what they learned from a lifestyle in their early years as adults or children.
9. The famous and infamous. This is a great section. Being famous or infamous can be world wide fame, local city fame or even just family fame. Everything from a well known writer of children’s books to Olympic athletes to the family clown or criminal. Were you related to Jessie James or Sitting Bull? Was there a child in the family remembered for raising the best 4-H cows in the county?
10. Last is pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. List names, dates and events the pictures were taken for. You can also list ages and how related to the rest of the family. Never forget to include family friends and enemies because they are a part of your families history too.
You now have a great start on how to do a research for your family history. Your history will be a record of why you exist the way you do and the effects of the last generation. You will record what you are going to contribute to the next generations to come and all those who will read your account. This history can be just for you, your own small family or your extended family to be handed out at the next family reunion. Remember to include an interview with each adult family member alive now and what they are doing. Good luck and have fun. You’ll be surprised by what you learn.