Family Trees and Family History

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Ancestor Hunting: As a beginner you need to keep it simple.

Embarking on an ancestor hunt can be as exciting as looking for buried treasure. For the hunter the early enthusiasm can, however, quickly drain away if early successes are few, and a clear route is not apparent to finding that nugget of information about an ancestor. The sheer enormity of the task may then seem overwhelming.

So, as a beginner, keep it simple, and go for the lowest hanging fruit first. A family tree chart should start with you, then branch along to any siblings you have - names, and dates of birth. Then you can consider the connections to your parents, and any brothers and sisters of theirs. This should be easy work, and quickly you will have some solid foundational information on which to move further up the tree to the next generation within the family, and so on.

One temptation is to move too fast, and become entangled in the cross branches where there maybe many cousins, including first and second cousins, etc. Confusion can reign here, but as you progress and you carefully note where you have researched and the resources you have used - a notebook is the first essential tool in your hunter's kit - you will be able to refer back and retrace your steps as necessary, also avoiding going over old ground which did not take you further in your quest.

There is a daunting array of information out there to search. Doing some simple preparatory work at minimal cost will better place you to spend wisely when you need to subscribe to one of the leading online family search websites. Contacting living distant relatives for their recollections of family members may also save you a great deal of time and money.

Another tip as you set out on your journey to look for ancestors, and to build your family tree,is to start compiling a life event checklist for your ancestor subjects. Though obviously not everyone shares the same cycle of life events, common ones can provide a pointer,if the information you have on someone is otherwise rather thin:

* Birth -Most people will have a record of their birth ( and,of course, often death);

* Baptism-they may also have been a baptised;

* School - attendance at a school, and perhaps university;

* Professions and crafts -membership of a professional organization, or a craftsmen's guild;

* Military Service - such has not been a stranger for countless numbers of men, and women.

* Property ownership - An ancestor maybe known to have owned a piece of property, or real estate,

for which there are often deeds or rent books to access in public offices;

* Wills - availability of wills and probate documents can help open up a whole family tree.

This list is not exhaustive, but will help you kick start your researches in the fascinating world of genealogy.

In all these areas of life, there will be records, for example birth certificates and school registers, often accessible free, which can extend the knowledge and add valuable links for the diligent hunter on the trail of an ancestor. I hope this short introduction has whetted your appetite for starting to look for those family members who would otherwise be lost to memory in the mists of time.