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Each JULY... FREE ANNUAL GENEALOGY WORKSHOP
Staunton Public Library, Staunton, VA
4 Sessions in July on Wednesday, 6:30-8:30
For Beginners or Intermediate

A folder of materials or a CD is provided for participants. For more than 10 years, Janie Sherman, Professional Genealogist, has led this free workshop and lectures showing examples of old vital records, census samples, naming patterns, old handwriting, military records, church and area history, as well as,
"Tips from Genealogists."

Contact the Library to sign up: 540 332-3902. Class limited.

How to Begin Your Genealogical Search ~ How to Organize Your Genealogy Files
Know Your Genealogical Resources ~ Fun Famous Quotes

How to Begin Your Genealogical Search
  • Begin with yourself, then work backwards in time.
  • Build the foundation of your genealogy with people you know. Fill in direct family on an Ancestral Tree or Pedigree Chart.
  • Oral Traditions. Talk to your family. Exchange information with all of your relatives. Call the oldest member of the family let him/her reminisce. Ask leading questions, like: "What did you wear on your wedding day? Who was there? Who wasn't there?"
  • Gather old documents and photographs.
  • Order copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, wills, etc. for each Direct Ancestor in your Pedigree Chart.
  • Research census records for each family beginning with the 1940 census, and follow the family backwards in time.
  • Document everyone. Verify each Name, Birth Date and Place, Marriage Date and Place, and Death Date and Place. REMEMBER--"If you don't have documentation, then it's only a rumor!
  • Search newspapers for Obituaries and Cemeteries for family data, and obtain a photo of the tombstone-proof. Then check city directories, tax lists, land records, probate records, church records, etc. (See Resource List below.)
  • Site your sources. "Go from large to small" meaning, record your citation naming the repository where you found the data, the room, book, page, column, and date you found it. Ultimately, learn to use standard source citation formats, but most importantly, provide enough information that a stranger could find your document again.
  • Use forms as aids: family group sheets (FGS), pedigree charts, time lines, correspondence logs, and research logs.
  • Use the local courthouse/townhall for original documents and the library for published sources. Some famous genealogical libraries:
    • Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library, Washington, D.C.
    • Family History Library (FHL) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons)
    • The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
    • Janie Sherman's Home Library for Augusta County, VA resources.
  • Surf the Internet for clues: FamilySearch.org, Rootsweb, GenWeb, library sites, Ancestor.com, and remember, "It is not a FACT without a document of proof."
  • Know Historical Events. Know dates of the Rev War (1775-1783), the Civil War (1861-1865), the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, the Cholera Epidemic of 1873 in MO, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Settlements of Jamestowne, VA (1607) and Plymouth, MA (1620).
  • Read County Histories where your ancestor resided to learn more about the sociological and societal significance of the period.
  • Publish your data. Chart your genealogy and give a copy to your local library, publish a book on your family, and/or join a hereditary society where your line will be documented for others. Put your family tree on Ancestry.com or other internet genie sites.

How to Organize Your Genealogy Files

  • Hang your 9-Generation Ancestral Chart on door/wall for an overall view of your ancestors. Hint: Write names in CAPITALS in ink or colored pencil, but use Pencil for other data, as it may change as you discover more.
  • Notebook-- Family Group Sheet--labeled, placed alphabetically by surname using an A-Z index or by Surname Tags, then alphabetically. May have several notebooks, e.g., A-K and L-Z for mother's side; for father's side.
  • Notebook-- Ancestral Charts--sorted by Chart Numbers with Numerical Index if want to keep in order, or by Surname.
  • Original Document File--Keep all originals together in one box or file. These are original records for which you have ordered and paid. Label File Folders: Birth Records (and Baptismal), Death Records, Marriage Records, Wills, Deeds, Military Records, Naturalization, and sort by surname alphabetically. {Grab in a fire!}
  • File Cabinet--Divide drawers into Mother's side of family, and Father's side. Sort by the following files.
  • Couples File--Put in order: To Do List: Blank sheet of paper for thoughts and quick notes; Family Group Sheet; copies of Original Documents (b, d, m, will, deeds); Notes and other documents; Checklist to keep up with what has been obtained; Timeline to see what historical events might be checked.
  • Resource File--Organize by Area, for example: INDIANA Folder, then add within files with names of counties, such as: FLOYD CO, IN, HARRISON CO, IN; then cities, if necessary. You might color code: States Orange label; Counties Blue label; and Cities Green label, or colored sticker dots. Then add files, for example: Cemeteries, and file under county or city as more data is collected.
  • Society Applications--Join hereditary societies to document your lines when you discover you have, for instance, a Civil War, Revolutionary War, Jamestowne ancestor.
NOTE: There are different ways to organize your research: by file folders or by notebooks, but I use a combination of both. The above is what works for me. Janie

Family Sources

  • Address books
  • Adoption records
  • Baby announcements
  • Baby books
  • Baptismal certificates
  • Birth announcements
  • Birth certificates
  • Certificates and awards
  • Church certificates
  • Citizenship papers
  • Confirmation records
  • Credit statements
  • Death annoucements
  • Death certificates
  • Diaries or other ancestral writings
  • Diplomas
  • Discharge papers
  • Divorce papers
  • Draft cards
  • Driver's licenses
  • Emigration (Departure) records
  • Employment records
  • Family Bibles
  • Family business papers
  • Family correspondence
  • Family heirlooms, artifacts, etc.
  • Family histories
  • Family interviews
  • Family letters
  • Family needlepoint/samplers
  • Family pictures
  • Fire insurance papers
  • First papers of citizenship
  • Funeral books and cards
  • Funeral programs
  • Graduation record
  • Gravestones
  • Health insurance cards
  • Heirlooms
  • Income tax forms
  • Land deeds and records
  • Legal documents
  • Letters, diaries and journals
  • Life insurance papers
  • Living relatives
  • Marriage announcements
  • Marriage certificates
  • Military awards
  • Military documents
  • Miscellaneous family records
  • Motor vehicle registration
  • Naturalization papers
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Notes from previous family searches
  • Obituaries
  • Oral histories
  • Passenger arrival records
  • Passports
  • Pension applications
  • Personal items and papers
  • Photographs and photo albums
  • Probate/estate records
  • Property tax receipts
  • Receipts
  • Report cards
  • Religious papers
  • Samplers and quilts
  • School records
  • Scrapbooks
  • Ship manifests
  • Social Security applications
  • Union cards
  • Wedding announcements
  • Wedding guest books
  • Wedding gifts
  • Wedding invitations
  • Wills and administrations
Published Sources
  • Church histories
  • Church membership lists and minutes
  • City directories
  • City/town histories
  • Databases
  • Fraternal organization publications
  • Genealogical periodicals
  • Histories of settlers in area
  • Indexes, abstracts, and transcriptions
  • Library catalogs
  • Local histories
  • Newspapers
  • Organization directories
  • Prepared ahnentafels
  • Prepared descendancies
  • Prepared pedigrees
  • State/local genealogy society
  • State library
  • Telephone directories
  • Trade and industry publications
Vital Records
  • Birth records
  • Court papers
  • Death records
  • Marriage records
  • Probate Records
  • Wills
Other Records for Genealogical Research
  • Cemetery records
  • Census records
  • Church records
  • City directories
  • Court records
  • Draft registration
  • Emigration records
  • Family name associations
  • Fellow immigrant records
  • Fraternal organizations
  • Funeral/mortuary records
  • Genealogy/historical societies
  • Hobbyists
  • Hospital records
  • Land/property records
  • Local genealogists
  • Maps and geographic tools
  • Military records
  • Naturalization records
  • Neighbors and friends
  • Newspapers
  • Occupational/trade organizations
  • Passenger arrival records
  • Passports
  • Probate records
  • Queries to genealogy publications and web sites
  • Schools
  • Social Security records
  • Society applications
  • Surname and obituary cards in public libraries
  • Tax lists
  • Tombstone inscriptions
  • Veterans organizations
  • Voters' Registration
  • Witnesses to marriages, births, etc.
  • World War I draft registrations

Famous Quotes:

  • "In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness." - Alex Haley, Roots

  • "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten; Either write things worthy of reading, or do things worthy of writing." - Benjamin Franklin, May 1738

  • "There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children - one is roots, and the other, wings." - Hodding S. Carter

  • "When a society or a civilization perishes, one condition can always be found. They forgot where they came from." - Carl Sandburg

  • "Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you." - Mark Twain

  • You live as long as you are remembered. - Russian proverb

  • "Those who forget their past are destined to repeat it." - Robert A. Heinlein

  • "We are the children of many sires, and every drop of blood in us in its turn ... betrays its ancestor." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • "People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors." - Edmund Burke

  • "Everyone has ancestors and it is only a question of going back far enough to find a good one." - Howard Kenneth Nixon

  • "It is a desirable thing to be well-descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors." - Plutarch

  • "People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors." - Edmund Burke

  • "Everyone has ancestors and it is only a question of going back far enough to find a good one." - Howard Kenneth Nixon

  • "It is a desirable thing to be well-descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors." - Plutarch

  • "He who has no fools, knaves, or beggars in his family was begot by a flash of lightning." - Old English proverb

  • "If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance." - George Bernard Shaw

  • "There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his." - Helen Keller

  • "Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future." - Gail Lumet Buckley

  • "Genealogy --Tracing yourself back to people better than you are." - John Garland Pollard

  • "I don't have to look up my family tree because I know that I'm the sap."
    - Fred Allen

  • "We've uncovered some embarrassing ancestors in the not-too-distant past. Some horse thieves, and some people killed on Saturday nights. One of my relatives, unfortunately, was even in the newspaper business." - Jimmy Carter

  • "Southerners are so devoted to genealogy that we see a family tree under every bush." - Florence King

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