Monday, March 2, 2009

Genealogy sources in your home

Putting together a family tree on Geni ( see last post if you are tuning in) , forced me to get my act together concerning sources.
I want to look at some of the sources that exist in my family, to help those who may be starting their family research. Because finding documents for one's family can be an enormous task.But I do believe before everything that one's Genenalogy begins at home.

Just a few examples of home sources that were available to me in my family :

Family Bible

An excellent source of data... depending if your family kept their records inside.My Grandparents had a Bible with handwritten dates of birth,marriage & death for their immediate family.There was a mention of my great-grandparents, but no Genealogy going further back.

Page with some information found in our Bible.

It was with the family Bible where I took my first steps in Genealogy ! Of course, the dates are subject to confirmation until you can send away for certificates.But in my family, they proved to be acurate.If you had a family that kept a lot of meentos, you could find also a few tucked away in your family Bible.

Baby book-

This may sound like an odd source, but baby books can contain some very interesting information. In my family, my Father had one ( done in the 1920's) and my Aunt also had one.This may seem more like a collection of anecdotes; when baby first smiled, when he first said Mama, but there are often names of family members.I have lists of gifts and their givers for my Dad's first Christmas & first & second birthday, including some kin. This photograph comes from my Dad's baby book :

Military records-

At my mother's home, there are some military documents for my Grandfather.Numerous yellowing papers that lie quietly in a file cabinet. I have not had the time to look again through them, and common sense tells me that it will be a rather long operation.

But more interestingly, there are also two very unusual documents at my mother's home that I do not have with me in France ( I honestly think that one day, my brother should inherit them). They are "booklets" that contained each sailor's personal & Navy information.Dates of service,rank,military serial numbers,physical description and the like. Very informative, and they are quite an antique since these are records that were in a leather holder that the sailor could fold up & put in his pocket.

Newspaper clippings,articles and the like- These delicate mementos can bring you fresh information for your family tree. In my own home, my father had none of these. But I discovered during a visit with my cousins in San Diego a large collection that was once our Grandmother's.An example : among the black and white photographs was a faded obit from relating the death of my Grandmother's youngest sister.

I had only a "hint" of her existance through the US Census, but here she was deceased at the tender age of 13. The obit shed new light on Kathryn's existance.

This is just an example of a few sources... of course, it's a good idea to look for any type of documents that might be hiding at your home/ a parent's home, including, birth,marriage or death certificates,baptismal certificates,diplomas,awards, old deeds,wills or other legal documents... etc, etc.
The sky is the limit...

Why not look for your family's own documents and if so inclined, be the person who preserves them for your family? It is so easy for family members to toss out such treasures through ignorance or in haste. Let me tell you by experience that documents are nowdays expensive and (depending on the type) sometimes very hard to copy again so many years down the line.

Since I do not live in North America, I have a hard time obtaining sources. So believe me, each one I do get from family/ obtain from other sources is a real treasure !

Wishing you Happy hunting !

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