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Principles of Documenting |
Principles of Family History Research
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How to Do Family History Research
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Genealogy - This word comes from two Greek words, Genea meaning "race" or "Family" and logia meaning "theory" or "science." Therefore, genealogy is the science of tracing our ancestry. Family history stories can help you research your genealogy, and your genealogy proves your family's history. The word pedigree comes from two Latin words: pes meaning "foot," and grus meaning "crane." The standard pedigree chart that has been used for years when tracing one's genealogy resembles a crane's foot. This form has become a well-known symbol and is synonymous with genealogy. A pedigree chart is like a family tree tipped on its side starting with you in the far left position.
The Principles of Family History Research
1. Golden Rule. Go from the known to the unknown. Start with yourself and document data as you go from step to step. Decide what you know and what you want to learn about. The more specific the goal, the more likely of achieving it.
2. Identify each individual by using names, dates, places, and relationships. Most genealogy computer software provides fields which can be used to identify an individual: General, Birth, Christening, Death, Burial, Marriage and Divorce. Other fields can usually be added. Notes can be used to record biographical and other information.
3. Organize. Use appropriate forms to record information. These include pedigree charts, family group records, personal and family history notes and research logs. Computer software programs can be used to record and store information.
4. Be reliable. Here is how:
- Write down and organize source citations as you gather research data. Record the Family History Library call number if available. Most researchers use "Research Logs".
- Seek original records, or copied images of them as the basis for conclusions. Original records created near the time of an event are more reliable than biographies, indexes and abstracts. Keep original documents in acid-free folders.
- Identify other records because of their value as guides to locating original records.
- Cite the source you actually use. If you used an abstract or index, cite it and do not claim it was the actual record. Abstracts and indexes may contain errors.
- Avoid misleading other researchers by carelessly producing inaccurate information.
- Acknowledge all use of other researchers' work.
- Report conflicting information and cite where it comes from. Record your own impressions about the conflicts but don't distort what you find.
- Be open to new evidence and sharing results with others.
HELPS: Many people feel intimidated by computers and the newer computer software. For most of us, practice makes us more efficient. If you are a person that feels most comfortable using pen and paper, then for your posterity's sake, use that. PLEASE: Share your knowledge with your family. Let them feel an identity with their roots and know of the decisions that have been made by their ancestors.
Click here to review several personal software programs that synchronize with the on-line FamilySearch - Family Tree database. To develop a proficiency in the use of any personal software, use the "Help" topic in the software. A more extensive list of this kind of software is available on Cyndi's list by clicking here . Personal Ancestral File (PAF5) is no longer distributed by the LDS Family History department but you may download the installation file for it by clicking here.
There is an excellent reference booklet produced by Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group titled Family History Documentation Guidelines that costs $13.50.
Here are some useful Web sites:
LDS FamilySearch ;
Allen County Library, IN ;
Cyndi's List ;
Genealogy Online ;
National Genealogical Society - Home Page ;
ROOTS-L Home Page ;
Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group Home Page ;
Utah Valley PAF Users Group - Home Page ;
Canada - National Archives - Genealogy Research ;
LDS Family History Research Guidelines ;
My Family site ;
Genealogical Research at the National Archives ;
New England Historical Genealogy Society ;
Genealogy Links - US Genweb ;
U.K. Society of Genealogists ;
U.K. & Ireland
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