The not-so secret to becoming a fantastic family genealogy researcher starts with you.
The more that I pour through records in search of even the tiniest of information related to a long-lost relative, I focus on how much easier it would be if I knew more about their lives. Sadly, for those of us with brown-colored relatives, the historical documents are likely long ago destroyed, never recorded, not ever respected and typically not in the same places as our European and related counterparts.
Here are my tips on how to look ahead to building the type of information that will help future family researchers. After all, one day we will become ancestors to the ages.
What would you like for your descendants to know about you? This is your opportunity to provide the facts and other interesting information about you to preserve records that otherwise may be hard for them to locate.
I recommend the following:
- Record your birth date, location, time, day of the week and any other factoids from your historic arrival on this earth.
- Record all of your legal names, including nicknames. For instance, my “government name” is Ann Lineve. My nickname is “Nieve.”
- List your parents’ and grandparents’ information that includes the aforementioned information. Make sure that your records are accurate. That is, sometimes we ask our parents questions and they may or may not know all of their birth, etc. facts. That’s where your research skills come in. Compare the results you locate with what your parents or grandparents may have for you.
- Follow the same advice that I’ve offered (see above) involving your children, spouses, partners, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, “play Mommas and Dads” and any other close relatives.
- If you or anyone immigrated from other country, and/or lived in other countries, please include that information along with dates and other relevant information.
- Where have you resided? List those places, including college locations and other spots, no matter the length of your stay. It helps to place this in chronological order.
- My daughter is a U.S. Army veteran. It is helpful to list any military records and other related public service with similar dates, times and other publishable information.
- What is your religious affiitation? Has it always been what you are now recording or did you change denominations? All of this information is helpful to the future family researchers.
- Be sure to leave behind your careers and years of service. Why did you choose the careers that define your professional work?
- There’s helpful information about your health. Please include all commentary is included in your documents for family researchers.
- Include as much about your life as possible. I would add that I took courses in comedy and actually performed on the Second City stage — twice!
- Remember to physically describe yourself now and in previous years. Place photographs of yourself in records that are findable.
Thanks to technlogy, all of the offerings that I recommended could be easily filed in this manner. I encourage you to sign up for the free or paid electronic sites to help organize your information. Even with enviornmental challenges, if there is a way to print your information, do so. Place it in a safe place. It is always a great discovery when your descendants find information in your handwriting or outside of technology.