Get your notebook out, and start by documenting everything you know about your family. Your parents (even step-parents). You siblings. Your marriage and your children. Record all the things you have in that family book we all tend to keep. Start a page for parents, and a separate page for siblings (unless you have many, then put about three to a page.) Go through each one and record birth date, and place. Marriage dates, divorce dates if applicable. Also if deceased add the death date and place of interment.
Next you will want to see what documents are readily available. Collect copies of each birth certificate, death certificate, divorce decree, and marriage certificate. Don't also forget to look for and collect pictures of each person if possible. Current one if possible. Several of the better Genealogy Programs allow you to attach pictures to each record. This is good for our current generations. Many times you can or have pictures of your uncles and aunts and grandparents. Get them and save them. Be sure to try to date the pictures. (When taken, or approximate age when taken). Another good area to document is military service. IE: my Dad was a WWII veteran, who served in the Pacific Theatre, at Iwo Jima. 1943. Military records always show the major wartime campaigns and Medals awarded. IE: Bronze Star, Iwo Jima, 1943. This is great for our future generations, because what you document completely now, will serve as a heritage collection for your children, your grandchildren and beyond. The more complete the record, the more valuable it becomes.
Sign up for the free membership here, and I will provide sample group sheets you can download with places to record all of this data. Most of all, enjoy this hobby, but as you will find over time as you uncover more information it will rapidly become a passion. Turning over a stone, or removing what we call a “roadblock”, gives immense personal satisfaction. Let me tell you a bit about that. I had searched for a Great Uncle for almost 10 years. The only information I had was that my great grandfathers obituary read: “ All his children and their families made the procession to his tomb, except his son “Riley”, who was in the west. (this was about 1896). After many years of searching, and the opening of genealogy data on the internet, I had posted family data on a number of sites, including two of my own, and a Genealogy Society (HGS), I chartered on the old "Free Home Page" Provider "GeoCities". One day out of the clear blue I received an email from a lady in Nevada. She had a death certificate for her great grandfather, and it listed his father as being a “James” (Last name withheld) from Illinois. Well the Grandfather she had a death certificate of, whose name was "Riley", also listed his birth place and date. Which coincided with the dates I had of the missing great uncle whose father was named “James”. So I connected the Lost Great Uncle. Gladly I wrote her back, stating if she would be so kind to send me her grandfathers history, children and grand children, I would send her the tie in to my 38 generations all the way back to the origin of our name, in Medieval France, year 1088 AD.
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