How to start research of your family?
These days, interest in genealogy is actively growing and, accordingly, there are more and more people who want to research their family. Often, at the beginning of the search, we are faced with the problem of how to start with our research as efficiently as possible.
We suggest you consider a few of our tips that may make the journey easier for the beginner:
- Interview your relatives, as it is desirable to collect as much information as possible. Particular attention should be paid to conversations with older family members. But do not immediately assume that all the information you receive is the absolute truth. Be aware that this may be a family legend / rumor / assumption that may not be confirmed in the process of working with the documents. For more productive communication, you can develop a questionnaire or simply make a list of basic questions. You can also capture stories using video and/or a voice recorder.
- Look through all the documents that you and your relatives keep at home: documentary evidences, certificates, party membership cards, work record books, graduation certificates, autobiographies, diplomas, and the like. It is advisable to make high quality scanned copies, especially if we are talking about old documents and those that already have a poor physical condition. A similar procedure should be done with photographs – make digital copies, and for originals – develop a home storage system that will ensure their maximum duration of “life” (e.g., envelopes made of acid-free paper).
- Think over and develop a system for storing data about your family. It should be understood that in the process of genealogical research, information will become more and more, and you will spend a lot of time and effort to accumulate it. So you need to take care of the safe and reliable storage of this data. Now, there is software that can help with this. This means, in particular, about the MyHeritage platform, where you can create your family website by adding biographical data, photos, notes, etc. As programs for building and printing the scheme of the family tree we can offer MyHeritageFamilyTreeBuilder and Tree of Life 5. They are easy enough to use and also allow you to come up with a design for printing your tree diagram, choose fonts and backgrounds.
- Once you have gathered information about your ancestors, outline for yourself the gaps you would like to fill. It’s best to start by looking for the basic documents you would like to get, namely about marriage / birth / divorce / death of ancestors. Documents of this kind, among other things, may be needed in the process of applying to the civil registration office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Migration Service, etc., because there, according to the law, you will be required to provide a complete “chain” of documents confirming your relationship with an ancestor. In the absence of one of them, the state structure will refuse to receive other requested certificates / copies.
- Analyze the main categories of genealogical sources, after which you will be able to understand what information in which types of documents you can search. This may seem complicated at first, so it certainly makes sense to consult with experienced genealogists. In particular, there are profile communities on Facebook, whose members will provide useful advice and help guide your search efforts:
- UA Genealogy – archive search in Ukraine;
- Genealogy and family history – research in the archives of Russia;
- Jewish genealogy Mitzvatemet.com – research in Jewish roots in various regions.
- Find out the level of preservation of sources for the localities that you want to research. A lot of information is contained on the archives themselves (guides, digitized documents, card indexes, etc.) The Internet provides directories of metric registers for all archives that hold this type of source. You can use the directory to find out if a metric register with records about your ancestor survived. This, in turn, will help you understand whether it makes sense to make a request to an archive or to make a personal visit to an archival institution.