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Genealogy is the study of your ancestors. It's more than just names and dates, although that is an important part. It's asking questions about how they lived and why they did certain things in their lives.

Researching  your genealogy means you have to want to know who you are, where your families came from. What exciting places in the world did your ancestors live? Were they participants in significant historical time periods?  What were the daily challenges they faced?

If you really want to know more about your genealogy the following seven steps are a great way to begin.

  1. Record what you know
  2. Research what you want to know
  3. Publish what you know
  4. Continue your original research with a professional genealogist, DeAnne Shelley as your guide in Step 2.
  5. View PowerPoint Presentations from presentations I've made to genealogy organizations & conferences.  Also click on the Mesa Regional Family History Center PowerPoint Training Presentations for excellent assistance.
  6. View Research Forms to assist you in your own research.  This is a must to be organized.
  7. Research the history, philosophy & time period of your ancestors lives to better understand why they lived, moved and died for the events around them.
Record What You Know
How well do you know your ancestors? Do you know the maiden name of your mother and grandmothers? What were the occupations of your grandfathers? All of this is information you should begin recording.

One very common tool used to record your lineage is a pedigree chart. The purpose of a pedigree chart is to graphically represent how you are related to your ancestors.

Another common tool is a family group record. This sheet records important information, including names, dates and places, about a husband, wife and their children. It lets you record this information in one document.

You can download a family group sheet or pedigree chart
by clicking
here and begin recording what you know.

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Research What You Want To Know

Once you have recorded what you know the next step is to research missing information that you want to know. Once you have filled out your pedigree chart, you may notice that you are missing your great-great grandfathers name, date of birth, or other information.

Maybe you have living relatives who could help you gather this missing information. Contact the oldest members of your family first and ask them for help. Most of the time they can look through a family photo album and tell you more about your family than hours of individual research. Begin to record this type of information in a research log.

A good research log includes the following pieces of information:

  • Who are you researching
  • Objective of the research
  • Where are you conducting the research
  • The date of the research
  • Documents used in your research and their corresponding numbers if applicable
  • A place for comments on your research

A research log will allow you to go back and see what you found, when and where.

An excellent place to start your research is in your own home. Look around your home and see what you can find to tell you more about your ancestors. Look for old photographs. See if names and dates are written on the backside. Look for documents such as deeds, wills or family bibles. Do you have any old letters, furniture, clothing or heirlooms that were made by your grandparents? Do you have any military things like metals earned in battle, rifles, swords, hats or newspaper articles of events in which they took part.

Remember to handle the things you find with care because of it's age. Most things of a fragile nature can easily break and may not be able to be repaired or replaced. Using gloves and archival quality storage materials will help preserve your families "treasures".

Libraries and cemeteries are other good places to search for ancestors. Check for books in your local libraries that mention their names. Check to see if they have a Newspaper Collection of old issues of the town's paper. Also, by walking through a cemetery you may find some key information about relatives.

A personal journal or diary is one of the most rewarding items that you many find. If you do find a journal or diary that they wrote, you will be able to "hear" how they felt about their lives and their loved ones.

You will find it a very exciting activity to learn about your ancestors and the legacy they have left behind. Eventually, you will be able to record the stories and wisdom they have passed down to you and their descendents. From such a legacy of faith and courage you will gain a love for them and appreciate the challenges they faced in their times of need.


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Publish What You Know
When you are ready, you can publish what you know. Don't wait too long. No one feels they have everything they want completed. They hesitate to print until they know it all.... that day seldom comes. You know your family better because you have taken the efforts to research them. It is up to you to share what you know with your family.  Most of all there are people just as interested in your ancestors as you are and they have on there top shelf, under the bed in a box the genealogies, stories & histories you dearly want to receive.  By sharing what you know then you will receive...

There are many different ways you can publish the results of your genealogy research. Compiling all of your pedigree charts and family group records into a single binder is an easy way to begin publishing. You may also want to publish a collection of stories that personalize your family's legacy.

If you record your genealogy into a computer genealogy program, you can publish your GEDCOM files on the Internet. You can now share your genealogy with millions of others. In turn they may discover they are related to you and save hours of research.  You can also update your Internet published GEDCOM file easily and your relatives can always find the most up to date copy on your website.

As you have conducted your research you may have discovered some "family treasures"? You might consider placing them in a file drawer, cabinet, or other secure location to share with other family members similarly to your publications. Remember to consider proper storage techniques for preserving your old documents. Many times you will find that your relatives used "scotch tape" or "glue" to attach items to scrapbooks.  Locate a local scrapbook store to assist you in making a family scrap book of photos, certificates and stories using the latest safety archival binders, papers and inks.

Or they may have placed them in "plastic sheet protectors". All of these things cause these precious documents to "die" sooner and in many cases become destroyed beyond use. Contact genealogists anywhere to learn where to obtain archival papers, binders and enclosures that will protect these documents for later generations.

You are encouraged to continue your research and publishing
your lineage and legacy as this is the #1 hobby in America.

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