Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Getting Started with Genealogy Part 2: Cleaning up your Records and Start your Research

Now that you have explored FamilySearch.org, and have added the information that you have, it is time to start cleaning up the records and begin your research.  Like every other part of Family History, I am sure that there are many ways to do all of this, but I am just going to show you what I do, it makes sense to me, hopefully it will help you!

I always start my research one pedigree chart at a time.  if you are looking at your whole tree, you most certainly will get completely overwhelmed and miss a lot!  So first, print out your first pedigree chart (starting with YOU as #1).  FamilySearch makes this sooo easy.  Just go to your "person" page and on the right hand side, toward the top there is a link labeled "Pedigree" click that and it should generate your pedigree chart. 

What you are going to do now, is go through each name on the pedigree chart, open them on the "Person" page on FamilySearch and check for Duplicates (if they are a LIVING person, you can't do this, because living records are only for your use and are not searchable... so skip this part if it is a living person).  Always do this FIRST!  Why?  Because more often then not, there are many multiple records for the same person and usually there will be more information (dates, etc.) on one copy then on others.  Also, you NEVER want to reserve temple work for someone until you have checked this, because their work may have already been done.

Merging can be COMPLICATED.  This is how I do it...

First, when you are in a person's page, on the bottom right hand column, click on the link labeled "Possible Duplicates".

It will take you to a page that looks similar to this (if you have duplicates that need to be looked at... If not, you are lucky and don't need to!)...

As you can see, this particular relative of mine has 12 possible duplicates.  So what you need to do is click on one of the blue "Review Merge" buttons and review the information.

Now this type of page will come up...

Now, if you can determine (for sure!) that these two people are in fact the same person, then you will merge them.  This is very IMPORTANT!  Any information that is left on the right-hand side as you merge names together, will DELETE.  So if the information is not already on the left-hand side, make sure that you ADD it.  Also, if the information on the right-hand side is more complete or more accurate than the information on the left, then you click on the "Replace" button and it will replace the information on the left-hand side.

If I am not sure about a name being the same or not, I don't click "Not a Match", I just leave it alone for the time being (because as you research the name later, you may be able to better tell if they are the same name or not.  But, if it is clearly not a match, then go ahead and click "Not a Match".

After you are done with the merging process, we are going to work on make edits and changes if anything is incorrect or not complete.  Do your best to get all the dates complete, I am a little OCD and like to make all the dates correctly formatted so that everything looks really uniform.  The nice thing is that when you go through all the names and dates, and update them in FamilySearch, then you can easily go back and reprint your charts and they will be updated too.

So how do you find missing dates and clean up the information?

1.  Search Records!  This is by far my favorite thing about FamilySearch, there are not millions, but BILLIONS of searchable names in their record database!!  The easiest way to start this, is to go to the Person page of the person that you want to research and on the right hand side, there is a link under the Research Help section that says "Search Records".  If you click on that, it will automatically put in some information on that person and give you a basic search.  Play with it and you will find that you can adjust your search on the left and look at different "Collections" of records (which is helpful when you are searching for something really specific).  

2.  Google!  If you have no luck on "Search Records", try google, you would be surprised what you might find.

3.  Make a Phone Call or Two.  Personally this is my least favorite (I just hate making phone calls for some weird reason), but it WORKS, grandparents and others are a wealth of knowledge and you will be surprised by all the things that they know that aren't written down.

4.  Go to a Family History Center (you probably have a local one that you didn't know you had).  Chances are, there will be someone there that can help you LOTS.

After you have gone through all of the names on the Pedigree Chart, for every male (husband) on your Pedigree Chart, you will then want to print out a Family Group Record.  To print that, you do the same as the Pedigree Chart, except click on the "Family" or "Family with Sources", either works.  With the family group charts, you go through the same process as the Pedigree Charts:  Go over all of the names, one at a time, updating dates, finding dates, etc.

As you go through this process one pedigree chart at a time, you will either start finding names, or have a good idea of where to start finding names, based on what and how much research has already been done!

I thought you might like to see what my binders look like and how I keep track of my records, so here it is:

This is my box full of binders...

Each binder has ONE Pedigree Chart and all of the Family Group Records from that Pedigree Chart.  There is a divider for each Family Group Record that contains every thing that I have that goes with any member of that family (ex: Copys of Birth Certificates, Blessing Certificates, Stories, Pictures, Wedding Announcements, anything really...).

Continue Reading: Part 3

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