by Ruby Coleman
The top ten genealogy questions could easily double and triple and go to greater lengths. However, there are ten popular questions that seem to be on the minds of people, particularly beginning genealogists.
Some family trees have been published or left in manuscript form. Information on the work of others, either published or in manuscript form can be found in library catalogs. A large holding of family genealogies can be found at the Family History Library (LDS) in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can search their catalog by surname on-line at FamilySearch.org. It is still a good idea to do your own research and start your own family tree.
Using a search engine, search on the word "genealogy" and then search on another combination, such as "genealogical research Ohio." Note the differences in what is returned. Which are manageable? Try putting in a surname that you are researching followed by "genealogy." In time you will have favorite search engines that are easy to use and seem to come up with possibilities for browsing the Internet. Don't limit your searching as new search engines are being developed continually. The Internet is impossible without them!
Direct ancestors are placed on pedigree or ancestral charts. The family group sheets are prepared for family units which can and should includes the aunts, uncles and cousins. If you are compiling a genealogy, it is up to you as to how much collateral ancestor information to include. It seems the more your include, the more you document, the more you will eventually retrieve from others in the sharing process. Sometimes clues to your direct ancestry can be gained only through research of collateral ancestors.
Genealogists can use genealogical software to create web pages for personal web pages on Internet. Some genealogists prefer to just share their genealogy or family tree as they communicate with other researchers or relatives. Family reunions are a great place to share a family tree. Create is the key word ... be creative. There are many possibilities available from your personal needs to those of publishing, designing and developing an interesting family tree.
There are other genealogical areas on Internet that are free. In fact, most areas are free. Using them requires persistence on the part of the researcher to prove the information correct. Information has been typed into a format for the web page, and before that transcribed. Unless it is a digital image, you are working with potential errors.
Beginning research should include visiting with members of your family, even cousins, aunts and uncles, to learn more about your family background and ultimately the family heritage. Locating a family heritage begins within family records and progresses into other types of records. Every family has the stories, customs and traditions that all play an interesting part in the family history. Some of these can lead you down the path of locating foreign ancestry. Ask questions and look for clues within your own family and relativs.
There are volunteers who list their services on Internet. These services range from checking census to books or vital records. A good place to start checking for volunteers is on the many state and county web pages available through the USGenWeb, http://www.usgenweb.org. Two other popular areas where people are available for help are the Genealogy Helplist at http://helplist.org/ and Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) at http://raogk.rootsweb.com.
Each message board has a query box to search that specific board. This can be done by a surname, full name or location. Another search area is the Genealogy Message Searcher at http://images.gencircles.com/message/searcher. When a query interests you, respond to it.
There are several excellent applications available for the genealogist. Most of them have demos that can be downloaded on-line. Ask genealogy friends what they use for software. Some of the more popular applications are the Personal Ancestral File (PAF), Family Tree Maker (FTM), The Master Genealogist and Reunion (for Macintosh). The PAF program for Windows (LDS) is available free for downloading at http://www.familysearch.org/what_new.asp. When shopping for software, check out Genealogical Software Report Card at http://www.mumford.ab.ca/.
If you are writing a book or booklet pertaining to your family tree, there are specific formats that can be used for easier understanding of the lineages. They are known as numbering systems and some are available in genealogical software. Many researchers prefer to create their own book or booklet by using a word processing application, plus a good numbering system. Richard A. Pense presents information on Numbering Systems in Genealogy at http://www.saintclair.org/numbers/. Whatever system or format you use, make certain it meets your personal needs.
Genealogy is personal ... it is you and your family and ancestors. Personalizing it adds a creative touch and makes it interesting for you and your family. Genealogical research is scholarly but should also be enjoyable.