Bend Genealogical Society, Deschutes County, Oregon
Bend Genealogical Society
Deschutes County, Oregon
Welcome to Genealogy!
Since our ancestors weren’t born with drop-down menus
and online help, we want to share with you some of our best tips
for starting your family tree research.
The BGS free forms are PDF documents that you open in the free Adobe Reader. You type information in the forms and save as many different ones as you need on your computer. Each form has an instructions page.
If you do not have the free
Adobe Reader on your computer, you can download it at:
Talk to your relatives. Ask them about the ancestors they remember. Certainly ask about what they believe are facts and dates, but don’t stop there. Ask about memories and the stories of their childhood. A family tree is more than a bunch of dates; it is a growing patchwork of lives, which is rich with history.
Gather together all you can find in your home about your family. Scour the attic, basement and closets (and those of relatives), and collect family records, old photos, letters, diaries, etc., etc. If you are lucky, you have an ancestor who was a pack rat and relative who saved it all.
Organize your information on paper using genealogical forms and/or a computer software program. Scraps of paper in piles here and there can be lost. The standard forms that genealogists have been using for years really do help you see what you have and what you are missing.
The two basic forms are:
• The Pedigree Chart - This chart gives you a visual outline of your family.
• The Family Group Sheet - This sheet is where the details are recorded about each family unit on the Pedigree Chart. You will have several Family Group Sheet pages.
Focus your research and give it a go using the internet, library and other resources.
By focus, we mean don’t jump around trying to fill in the blanks in your family
tree all at once. Choose a particular branch and
immerse yourself in discovering its history.
The most important tip of all is to document where you found the information that you put on your forms! The Family Group Sheet has an area to document sources. You are on a quest for truth, not myth. You must have clear source documentation to support adding individuals to your family tree.
Test every bit of data that you gather against rules for credible evidence. Aunt Tillie may not have remembered Great Grandpa’s birth date correctly. Review the National Genealogical Society’s Standards for Sound Genealogic Research (click to view).
Recognize that everything you find on the internet (or in books) is not always true, even though it may be presented that way. Especially on the internet, there is an enormous amount of misinformation. Look at everything you find with a critical eye.
Do not expect to find information to fill in ALL the blanks in your family tree by only doing online searches. The amount of genealogical information on the internet is barely the tip of the iceberg of what exists for family researchers. Just because you can’t find someone in an internet search, doesn’t mean that information about them doesn’t exist.
There are many, many more repositories of family information to explore than the internet. Check out genealogical libraries, churches, newspapers, county court-houses, cemeteries, historical societies, circuit courts, military service organiza-tions, prisons, land offices...... The list of possible sources for genealogical information is nearly endless!
And lastly, have fun!