That was one of my first thoughts when I heard our library would be closed for a while. Followed almost immediately by “OK, Where do I start?” For me, after over 50 years of researching my family tree, it’s a question of organization of what questions I want to find answers to next.
Today, however, I’m going to address HOW TO GET STARTED for people who have been thinking about this project but weren’t sure where to start.
My recommendations are as follows:
- Write down everything you know – use an ancestor chart to note direct descent as far back as you know it; use a family group sheet to record information about family units (father, mother, children)
This site allows you to select and print out these forms: https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Free-Charts-and-Forms
- Talk to anyone you can in your family to get more details and information – especially the older relatives.
- Organize this information – maybe fill out new sheets with your additional information and decide which questions you want to find answers to first.
This is a project that can engulf you quickly. Some people enjoy meandering through all sorts of sites and records, others will want to get answers as quickly as possible and construct their family tree as far back as possible without getting sidetracked by interesting but not strictly relevant information. There is no “right” way to do this – do your search in whatever way is fun for you. There are many online databases and resources to help with a genealogy search – and more being added every day. If you find a source that doesn’t yield the information you’re looking for, check back after a couple of weeks or months. Sometimes the work of transcribing and digitizing documents is ongoing.
The free part of the Ancestry.com site I gave the link for above actually has a lot of information you can access without a subscription, and a few of the U.S. census records are accessible, along with lessons on getting started in your search. https://www.ancestry.com/search/categories/usfedcen/ This link will take you to the U.S. Federal Census page, scroll down to see that the 1880 & 1940 censuses are free to search. You will be asked to create a free account when you fill out the information on the person you want to search for and click on “search” (probably so they can send you emails trying to entice you to subscribe)
FREE LIBRARY VERSION ANCESTRY.COM
Just as I was about to send this article to be posted, I received this wonderful news:
ProQuest has made Ancestry Library Edition available for remote access!
It is set up on owwl.org on the Local History Resources page:
You will need your library card number (ID) and your PIN number to log in to Ancestry.com library version at home. If you do not remember them or need to reset your PIN, please follow this procedure:
If it does not work, please contact our director, Stacey Wicksall, at: email@example.com
No internet access at home? If you have a device (laptop, tablet or even most smartphones) you can drive to the library parking lot, park near the building, connect to the library’s wifi (OWWL — no password) go to www.macedonpubliclibrary.org
click on Helpful Resources
scroll down & click on Ancestry.com Link: LIBRARY USE ONLY
Now you can search as you would when using this inside the library. Information you want to save can be sent to your email address, saved to your device, or saved on a flashdrive to be printed out at home.
Another source with free forms and a lot of helpful guides is the Family Tree magazine site: https://www.familytreemagazine.com/freeforms/# Again, you may have to create a free account, but I have found this site very helpful.
I hope this information helps you get started if you’ve just been thinking of finding your ancestors, or further your search if you have already made a start. I will post more tips for searching next week. Happy hunting!