Compiling your first and second generations assists you in building skills and understanding the tools and document types that are helpful in building a correct family history.
Using your personal family history software on your desktop is important. As you have learned, there are many online trees and global trees that have been shared by numerous people. Not everyone has taken the time to learn the skills and take classes that assist in analyzing research. You are on your way and keeping track of your work is easier when you have a clean copy on your personal computer. Do it right then share it with the world one family at a time. I use Celebrating My Family Tree genealogy software for Windows.
Compile and document your third generation after you have completed your first and second generations.
The story of your grandparents and their children, your parent’s siblings, comprises your third generation. Depending on your age, your grandparents may or may not still be living. If your grandparents are still living, you will use the same techniques we use for first and second generation research. If you grandparents have passed away, there are some additional resources to be aware of.
Beginning with your third generation, take the information you have obtained while documenting your parents and begin a new family group on your grandparents. Be sure you list their full names. Be sure to remember we always list women with their maiden surname. No matter how many times a woman may have married, she should be recorded in family history by her maiden surname. Be sure to include information on birth dates and places for your grandparents and each of their children. Record information on schools and churches they may have attended. This will help you locate more records as you research and document their lives.
Be sure to list the spouse for each child of your grandparents. If they never married, record that too. The more people you can connect to your family, the larger the list of contacts you can come up with to ask questions if records are difficult to find. Researching and documenting whole families is critical to the success of each generation as you move back in time.
Here is a list of documents you will want to collect on your grandparents’ generation:
1. Birth certificate, where is it archived. Since we live in a time of personal privacy, it may be hard to obtain birth records for individuals born less than 100 years ago. And if your grandparents were born more than 100 years ago, it is possible there is no birth certificate since they were not required by law at that time. If there is no original birth certificate, record what you know. And then search for alternate types of records that may give clues to birth information.
2. Church records often have christening or baptism dates that include birth information.
3. Family bibles are great sources of information for birth, death and marriage information. Be sure to interview your aunts and uncles to locate any important information they may have inherited.
4. Acquire a copy of your grandparent’s marriage license and remember marriage licenses are public documents. The marriage must be recorded as it is a legal document. You should be able to locate it in the county where they acquired the license. Look in the bride’s home county first. Often this is the place the marriage took place, too. If you can’t find it in the bride or groom’s home county, you may be looking for a romantic destination often called “Gretna Greens.” These are places where people went to get married for personal or romantic reasons (including eloping). I have an aunt and uncle who purchased their license in Morgan County, so a notice wouldn’t be published in the local paper in Weber County. She and her husband never lived in Morgan County and at that time, no one in our family lived there either. They wanted a quiet marriage and didn’t want anyone to know about it.
Acquire a marriage license for each of your grandparents’ children; there will be interesting items to note on each license. You will be surprised by some of the information you will learn by being as complete as possible.
5. Check online census records. The U.S. Census is available from 1790 to 1940. You can search them online at FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and other websites. I encourage you to take a class on census research. This is the beginning of many record types you will search. There are many clues in the census to lead you to additional resources. There are census records for other countries available to search as well.
6. Check military records. The military keeps record and requires proof of relationships. Many of these records are available online through sites like Fold3.com. Others are microfilmed and available from FamilySearch.org. Originals of US Military records are available through the National Archives. Depending on the record, they may be held at different repositories within the archives system. Go to http://www.archives.gov/ for more details.
7. Some of your grandparents may be immigrants to the United States. Acquire copies of the records that document their experience such as passenger lists, immigration papers and naturalization documents. There are online classes to assist you with this type of research on FamilySearch.org.
8. Newspapers are always a great place to check for data relating to your family. Weekly gossip columns hold more than birth announcements, engagements, marriages, death announcements and obituaries. Always check the newspapers!
As you collect the documents and stories that reveal the life of your family members, you will begin to feel such gratitude for your life. Maybe your father is your hero, or maybe you will find that great exemplar in your family tree a few generations back! Take the time to learn about your family and you will know more about what makes you happy, sad and grateful.
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.