Getting Started in Genealogy

starting genealogy studies

Getting started with genealogy

By Terri Paajanen

You’re getting interested in finding out more about your family tree, your ancestors and all things genealogical? That’s great. So now where do you begin?

The very first step for getting started in genealogy is record what you already know. That makes your foundation. Take notes with printed pedigree sheets or start using a software program. Fill in all the names and dates that you already know. Even if you don’t immediately know the years of your relatives births, at least record the month and day if you know it. Basically, everything and anything. (more…)

11 Feb 2013

Elvis Presley Family Tree

Family tree and ancestors of Elvis Presley

Family tree and ancestors of Elvis Presley

The anniversary of his death is coming up in August, and I thought I would pay tribute to one of the greatest musicians in American history: Elvis Presley.

He was born, along with his still-born twin brother Jesse, on January 8th in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. His life began without much fanfare as his family was not particularly wealthy. Even so, he followed his passion in music and recorded his first single, Heartbreak Hotel, in 1954. Everything after that is history. To date, he has sold more than a billion records world-wide.

His full and colourful life is more than can be quickly summarized here. A more complete biography of Elvis can be found online, but I have his immediate family tree and ancestors here. (more…)

12 Jun 2013

California Vital Records

California vital records date back to at least 1905 with some counties having records farther back to 1824 (particularly Monterey County). Getting copies of these records is easier than in most other states. (more…)

24 May 2013

The Life of Annie Moore

If the name doesn’t ring any bells with you, she was the first person to immigrate to the United States through the famous port at Ellis Island.

history of Annie Moore and Ellis Island

Annie Moore was the first person to come to the USA through Ellis Island.

More than 12 million people arrived in America at Ellis Island between the years 1892 and 1954, coming from all parts of the world to live in the United States. But on the first day, it was 15-year old Annie Moore who was first. She was coming from County Cork in Ireland with her 2 younger brothers (Anthony and Phillip). Their parents were already in New York having travelled previously to get established. Annie and her siblings had spent 12 days on a ship, in the steerage compartment.

To commemorate her arrival, she got a $10 gold coin and there is now a statue of her on the island. Seven hundred other people were processed that day after Annie. (more…)

14 May 2013

How to Become a Certified Genealogist

Have you been thinking about turning your love of genealogy into a possible career option? Being paid to take on genealogy research for other people might sound like a dream come true, but how do you get going on such a path? Technically, you just have to offer your services and hope someone trusts your skills enough to hire you. If you are serious about doing this, your best first step would be to get certified. It’s the best way to present yourself as a professional, and it adds credibility to your claims of being a skilled genealogist. (more…)

10 May 2013

Mitt Romney Family Tree

mitt romney's family tree and polygamous history

Mitt Romney’s Family Tree

It’s probably a little late in the game to focus on Mitt Romney now that the election is long over, but I was always drawn to his unusual Mormon background. The news often focused on the polygamy in his past, so I finally got around to looking into it a little bit more. But since multiple marriages don’t really show up in someone’s ancestry chart, you won’t see too much of that in this ahnentafel chart of Mitt Romney’s ancestors. I did mark the men who had multiple wives though, just for interest’s sake. (more…)

08 May 2013

Interfamily Marriage in Your Family Tree

Have you come to any points in your family tree where the branches start to cross? That is, where relatives have actually married one another. I’m sure you have, and if not, you will eventually. Almost all family trees have a few cousin-marriages in them. Marrying close relatives is not as socially acceptable as it once was, though that depends on the culture and time frame that you’re researching. The term “consanguinity” is the official way to describe marriage between close relations.

Through history, there have been many periods where marrying your own cousin (even a first cousin) was acceptable and even considered a good idea. This would keep assets and estates within the family, and was thought to strengthen the bloodlines. And of course, travel was pretty limited in the past and it was hard to get away from your family even if you wanted to. (more…)

06 May 2013

The Best Genealogy Software

genealogy software programs

A screenshot of Rootsmagic for my own family tree. Click to enlarge for more detail.

I know that some people prefer the traditional paper format to keep track of their genealogy research, but the practice of using software has become a little more the norm. But if you are new to the field or are looking to make a change, how do you know which programs are worth looking into?

I’m not going to do full reviews on all of these, but there is a quick intro into the main genealogy software programs that are popular right now. Just remember that they all basically offer the same fundamental features and are going to have a lot in common. But it can be the style of interface or certain extras that makes one better for you than another. Take advantage of any free trials to get the idea of what each program offers before you take the plunge. (more…)

01 May 2013

Genealogy Timelines

making a genealogy timeline

A simple genealogy timeline, made with Genelines

We are all pretty familiar with the standard trees, charts and tables that come with genealogy research. Have you considered using a timeline to help further organize your ancestors and their lives?

This time of linear chart can give you a great new visual perspective on your family tree. Creating a line of events in chronological order, you can see the underlying flow to your family’s history. Vital events like births, marriages and deaths can be charted as well as changes in residences and immigrations. Add in other significant events of local or international history, and you can really see how your family fits in with things. (more…)

26 Apr 2013

Old Job Titles

old job titles in genealogy

Are you familiar with the jobs and occupations of old?

When you come across various types of occupations, such as on tax records, census pages or even on some death certificates, it can be confusing because so many terms and trades are no longer commonly known.

Jobs that are outright obsolete or just go by different names now are hard to understand and won’t do you any good if you don’t know what they mean.

Actually knowing the proper occupation can be important and it can lead you to further records or documents for that individual. Even just simple curiosity can be enough to want to know what the heck a “daunsel” is. Also, people often took surnames based on their occupations so there can be further information in someone’s job for that. (more…)

23 Apr 2013

Arkansas Vital Records

Some counties will have their own Arkansas vital records from 1881 (particularly Fort Smith and Little Rock), but otherwise the state collection starts in 1914. If you need to get copies for genealogy, this is how you go about it.

Restrictions on Arkansas Vital Records
There are tighter restrictions on birth records than on death records, but if you are looking for recent documents in either case you will have to be a family member. Birth records become open to the public after 100 years, and death records do so after only 50. Anything newer will only be released to a relative, though they do not require that you be an immediate relative, which can be helpful for genealogy purposes. You will need to supply proof, such as a copy of your own ID. (more…)

23 Apr 2013