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Beginning Genealogy


Tracing your family tree and its history can be as simple as wanting to know more about where you came from, or trying to locate living relatives to reconnect to, or learning about any past or current medical problems -- just to give yourself peace of mind. Many processes can be used, from looking at various sites online and digging around in city records wherever you were born, interviewing older-than-you relatives, to joining up with a site that's a specific place to gather information and where members can conduct research,

This type of research can get quite complex and may even involve DNA analysis. Original records or eyewitness statements can be used when available, as well as delving into history books and looking through old family photos. Professional genealogists start their research by gathering together family stories and documents. Usually, the starting point is the present then everything traces back from there. Family sheets (showing groups) and "pedigrees" are used. Software is available to help those who want to work up the family tree themselves.

Here are some of the places you can start your search:

Death, birth and marriage and divorce records.
Adoption and census records.
Biographies such as those found in Who's Who type of books.
Family bibles that have been passed down through the generations.
Christening, baptism and conformation records at a church.
Marriage, funeral, church membership, and bar or bat mitzvah records. 
Coroner's reports and civil or criminal records.
Telephone and city directories.
Family diaries and letters -- check any attics and basements.
Naturalization, immigration, or emigration records.
Lineage or hereditary organizations, such as the D.A.R.
Deeds and land records and military records.
Medical and conscription or military records.
Obituaries and newspaper articles.
Oral histories and occupational records.
Old photos and passports.
In the "old" days -- poorhouse, almshouses, asylum or workhouse records.
Passenger liner lists and alumni or school associations.
Pension and tax records plus social security records in the U.S. 
Wills, probate records, funeral home, cemetery and tombstone records.
Voter registration records.
Library records as well as city hall records.

Put on your detective hat and you'll probably find that starting the family tree is great fun, and it can be educational as well. 

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