By TCGS Member, Connie Estep
John Covey taught the May genealogy class which covered selecting records for your search. The first step is choosing a category of sources. The two main types are original sources (examples: birth certificates, city indexes, census) and compiled sources (examples: published family histories, periodicals). John provided a four page handout with many examples of original and compiled records. Click here to download a copy of the handout.
The next decision is to select the type of record. The handout has a list of different kinds of information with the types of records to search. From these select specific records, as you review them, make your notes on a research log.
Reference to research logs has come up in several of these classes. You can find a sample log at www.byub.org/ancestors/charts/pdf/researchlog.pdf. This one may be printed and filled in. There are several plusses to keeping a log. Most importantly, the log documents the source of the information. If you do not find the information you searched for in a source it’s a good idea to record that on your log also. By referring to your research log you can save valuable time in selecting records you have not looked at before.
Documents have different kinds of data. Usually a document will give the location of the event it is documenting. Depending on the event other information may also be on the document. My birth certificate gives my parents’ names, occupations, birthplaces, how many children my mother had before me and a reference to how many previous children of hers had died.
When beginning my family history search I started with Yakima city directories because a number of my relatives arrived in Yakima in the early 1900s. This let me gather the easiest information first. I didn’t keep a log, just made a list of my “hits”. Later I had to go through them again as I didn’t remember which names I had searched for unsuccessfully. The second time I took photos of each page with hits, and made notes of people I searched for unsuccessfully for each directory.
For me this provided a great overview, including where family members lived, their jobs (and often employers), the names of their spouses, and sometimes if they paid county taxes. Since the directories often included county listings as well, I could see the ones farming in nearby communities.
The last section of this class was reference tools; this is a great section to review. Political boundaries can change. A person born in our area in 1888 would have been an Oregon Territory resident, since Washington State wasn’t established until the next year. County boundaries can change as population fills in; Benton County was made from pieces of Yakima and Klickitat Counties in 1905. Gazetteers can help you find such changes. There are many other types of references listed as well.
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 third class was attended by 32 people and continues with a well thought out research plan.