Many people who become involved in family history research look at what other people have already completed on their common lines and then begin research where the first blank appears. There is a reason that Grandma or Aunt Clara stopped where they did. It was hard research!
As you prepare yourself to do hard research get yourself trained to do it right from the beginning. First things first.
Compile and document your 1st Generation first. Your story, your personal information is your first generation. You will want to include information on your birth date and place, schools you attended, church records that document your life, clubs or groups you may have belonged to. Here is a simple list of items to collect:
1. Birth certificate, where is it archived. Obtain a copy if you don’t already have one.
2. Newspapers, if your parents lived in a rural community when you were born check the newspapers to see if there is a birth announcement for your arrival into the family. Check for other articles that may include mention of you such as sporting or scholastic achievements.
3. Write the basics of your life story. You can use workbooks developed to assist you with telling your own story such as those offered by Celebrating Family History.
4. Interview others who remember your birth and childhood. Ask them what memories they have of you that can be preserved for posterity.
5. If you are married get a copy of your marriage license from the county where you purchased your license. Your marriage license is different than the marriage certificate given at the time of the marriage. There will be different information on the license and the certificate.
6. Make a timeline of life events and see what types of documents you may be listed in such as a christening or baptism records, US Census, US Military, fraternal organizations or other groups.
As you begin to collect documents and stories that tell about your life you will be surprised at things you learn about yourself, things you had forgotten, or may never have known. Compiling your first generation includes the birth of your children and other life changing events that make you special. Have fun with your first generation. I’d love to hear about adventures you have in your research.
Holly T. Hansen is the owner of Family History Expos and Celebrating Family History. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.