By TCGS Member, Connie Estep
Now that we have recorded all the family information we know, it’s time to begin the research process. With the wealth of information on the internet it is very easy to get sidetracked. That’s why we need a plan before we start. Instructor Margie Beldin provided a detailed outline for making that plan in her handouts available at the TCGS website (click here to go to the Education page).
Her advice is to work on one family at a time and include all family members, their friends, associates, and neighbors (the F.A.N. Club). Margie included a worksheet template for recording our research plans. Besides working on one family at a time, Margie says we should limit the research to one individual in the family and one specific question at a time. Here again this will keep our research from getting sidetracked on rabbit trails. She suggests we pick off the easiest objectives first.
A little time spent planning where to search can help this process. Margie provided a copy of the U.S. Record Selection Table with sources for life events. She brought a copy of the book The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Third Edition (the latest version) by Szucs & Luebking containing just under 1000 pages of resources. Both Richland and Kennewick Family History Centers have copies of this. Kennewick may have the latest version but Richland does not. Ancestry.com Family History Wiki has the latest version available to anyone.
It also helps to learn about records in the places your family members lived. The Ancestry.com Family History Wiki also has the Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. Red Book is organized by state and is very easy to use. It led me quickly to my mother’s California birth record (I knew the date and town) and the information that birth records were not kept in Kentucky when my father was born. The Kennewick F.H.C. also has the Red Book.
The research plan template in our handout is a place to record the family and person we will research and what we want to know about them. (Remember, one question at a time!) Adding the sources we want to check will make it easier to focus our research. I’ve found this especially helpful when I’m going to the Family History Center or to Yakima for research.
The Beginning Genealogy classes are scheduled through December (except July and August) before monthly TCGS general meetings from 6:15-6:45 p.m. This second class was attended by 26 people and gave me great ideas for my research. The 3rd session of Beginning Genealogy will be on Recording and Sourcing. Don’t miss it!