GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 1999-02 > 0919230787
Subject: [FAQ] Advice For New Users
Date: 17 Feb 1999 05:53:07 GMT
Posting-Frequency: 15th of the month
This regular posting contains a list of pointers and suggestions to help
somebody who is approaching the subject of Genealogy for the first time.
It should be read by anyone who wishes to post to the soc.genealogy.*
This document is part of a regular series of postings which are sent to
all appropriate groups and mailing lists. This particular document is
posted on the 15th of every month.
The latest version of this document is available from the following
* Via the WWW at the URL
* Via email by sending the following message:
Subject: <Leave Blank>
If you have any comments or changes, or any suggestions for new topics
to be included, or you would like to write a note for inclusion in the
archive, then please contact John Woodgate, ()
William Mills, Wes Plouff, Jeff Thompson, Cynthia Van Ness, Doni
Changes For This Version (1.7 - 1997/04/21)
Minor changes to some of the text
Copyright and Disclaimer
Copyright (c) 1996,1997 by John Woodgate. All rights reserved.
This document may be freely redistributed in its entirety without
modification provided that this copyright notice is not removed. It may
not be sold for profit or incorporated in commercial documents without
the prior written permission of the copyright holder. Permission is
expressly granted for this document to be made available for file
transfer from installations offering unrestricted anonymous file
transfer on the Internet.
This document is provided AS IS without any express or implied warranty.
The author may be contacted at 50 Great Meadow Road, Bradley Stoke,
Bristol, BS12 8DA, England.
I am new to Genealogy and would like some help.
For those just starting to research their family history, these short
notes might help:
* Visit your local library and read a basic book or two on genealogy.
This should give you some basic guidance on the methods to use, and
where the information is held. There are many useful introductory
books on Genealogy and family history, which will provide you with
more complete and coherent guidance as how to get started than you
could expect to get merely by posting a series of questions to the
newsgroup or mailing list. In many cases specific questions can be
answered by library reference materials.
* Develop a plan. Think about which lines to follow. You have two
parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on.
You have to draw the line somewhere. You can use your time better
if you develop a plan to guide you. Start with talking with and
writing to all your kinsfolk with your questions, (while they are
still alive), and do it soon.
* Start by talking with, and writing to all your kinsfolk with your
questions, (while they are still alive), and do it soon. Overly
general questions such as "What do you know about the family's
history?" may overwelm your relatives. Asking specific questions
(when did you get married? Who were your parents? grandparents?
brothers and sisters? Where did you aunts and uncles live?) may get
you more information. Use photographs and old family possessions to
help get the conversation started. Remember to start this before
the last of that generation passes on and takes all that valuable
information with them.
* Visit your nearest Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS
or Mormon) Family History Center. You can find them in the phone
directory. The family History Library catalog, on CD-ROM and
microfiche, is your key to accessing millions of original records
and published genealogical works kept by the Family History Library
in Salt Lake City. Microfilms can be rented for research in the
local Family History Center for a nominal fee. The local centers
have two excellent indexes on CD-ROM: the Ancestral File and the
International Genealogical Index (IGI). Neither of these are
available via the internet.
* Document. You may need to review your sources again, someone may
want to verify your research, your work may imply something to
someone who will need to access the same records, or someone may
need to pick up where you left off. Too many people underestimate,
or never consider, the importance of documentation. If you have
found information in a reference book, make sure you keep enough
reference material to enable you to walk back into the same place
five years later, locate the book and find the reference again.
* Keep a careful record of what searches you have done so far, even
if you found nothing. It may well save you from searching the same
record or source again in the future.
* Don't sell your project short. You might start this with the idea
of just finding a handful of people just for your own interest,
only to find it blossom into a lifelong study. If you begin with
some planning, some learning, and good documentation, then nothing
is lost if it stays a small project, but you will reap great
dividends if your little project turns into a big one. Remember
that it is not uncommon to drop the project for 5 or 10 years and
then go back to it again.
* Be prepared to step back and catch your breath. When you look at
the ambitions for your project and think about the effort involved,
or when you are faced with dozens of trails that you want to
follow, it may seem like trying to move a mountain with a teaspoon.
When that happens, take some time to remind yourself that this is
supposed to be fun, then do some more planning to get back on
* Watch for all the FAQs which are posted to the various newsgroups
and mailing lists. These Frequently Asked Questions (and their
answers) should answer most of your initial problems. A good place
to start is the Meta-FAQ. This lists all the FAQs and other regular
postings and you can get the latest version from the following
+ Via the WWW at the URL
+ Via email by sending the following message:
Subject: <Leave Blank>
* Don't expect too much from online resources. Usenet, mailing lists
and other online discussion forums work best when someone needs to
overcome a stumbling block or an arcane problem. other online
resources include name matching and query services, software and
files describing topics in genealogy from the very general, to the
very specific. However, they offer scattered coverage and are often
unfocused. A good rule of thumb is that newsgroups, etc., only
become useful after you start having difficultly finding your
ancestors by conventional means.
* Many people learn of a certain index or book that may be useful to
their research and immediately jump on the Net and plead for
someone to do a look-up for them. These same folks are often
unaware that their friendly neighbourhood public or academic
librarian can issue a formal interlibrary loan request for the
Since librarians have access to OCLC, the International
Bibliographic Database, and the average researcher does not, they
can quickly identify another owning library and send out the
request over their networks. It's standard, everyday stuff for the
new_user / V1.7 - 1997/04/21 /