New Haven (WTNH) - Dan Lynch, genealogist and author of the book "Google YourFamily Tree," joined us this morning with some tips on how you canuse resources like Google to research your family history.
The following information was written by Dan Lynch:
With the upcoming Easter and Passover holidays approaching, nowis the perfect time to begin – or to continue working on yourfamily tree. It doesn’t matter which branch your leafhangs on, we all comprise just one small part of an overall picturefor our extended family tree. By starting the process ofrecording what you know, then exchanging this information withothers in your family, you will preserve the traditions of yourheritage for generations to follow.
For those living in Connecticut or others outside the regionwith ties to the Nutmeg State, you’ll be pleased to know thatConnecticut has some of the best genealogical resources availableanywhere in the United States. Our unique history ofdiversity greatly increases your chances of connecting with otherswho share common ties. Let’s get started!
Getting started is easy, just be sure you have a few sheetsof paper or a notebook, as well as a pencil or pen (pencil witheraser may be more useful). A few folders may also come inhandy, but we’ll get to that later. Start with a cleansheet of paper and write your name on top, but be sure to writeyour full name as it was given to you at birth. If you havenick names and other names, you can also list those beneath yourbirth name. You can also use a special form called a pedigreechart that can help you organize this information visually.
In general, you will always be trying to answer threequestions for each person – Who, When, and Where? Thisshouldn’t be too difficult for yourself, but it will get morechallenging as you step back through time. After you haverecorded your name, list your date and place of birth. Whenrecording a place name, be as precise as possible. Don’t simply write “St. Mary’s Hospital”– but instead write “St. Mary’s Hospital,Waterbury (New Haven County) Connecticut.” If you areuncertain about a fact you are recording, place a question markalong side (?) so you will know to check back and verify this atsome future point.
When recording dates, be as precise as possible – ifyou know an exact date, list it as 20 Jan 1930, for example. If you are unsure of an exact date, simply note “About1930” or “After 1930” or “Before1930,” for example. This will come in handy later asyou begin your research in available sources, both online andoffline.
Once you have recorded basic information about your own birthand, if applicable, marriage, you will step back one generation andcomplete this same task for you parents. If possible, alsorecord the names and birth order for any brothers and sisters ofyour parents – your uncles and aunts. You may findyourself reaching for the telephone to record some of these details– there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. After you have recorded all you can for your parents, step back onemore generation and try to document these same facts for yourgrandparents. This is where many people begin to experiencetheir first “brick wall.” It is quite common fora grandmother’s maiden name to be a challenge for those juststarting out. Even more so for maiden names of greatgrandparents. If you are using a pedigree chart to recordyour information, it will hold basic information for fourgenerations and fifteen people. It is rare that someone juststarting out will be able to complete a four-generation chart– including information on all eight great grandparents– without some assistance from others or a littleresearch. Genealogy isn’t just about collecting namesand dates, but rather is learning a little about your family andyourself during the process. Enjoy where the journey takesyou.
Using Google and the Internet
The Internet has helped family historians in more ways thatcan possibly be shared in this article. By providinground-the-clock access to archives throughout the world, theInternet has delivered on the promise of “information at yourfingertips.”
In just ten years, Google has grown to dominate the Internetlandscape by providing dozens of innovative and powerful tools toconnect us with information online. And most of theseservices are available free of charge!
Google now processes more than 60% of all online queries inthe United States and has services available in more than 160countries throughout the world. It even offers foreignlanguage translation features so you can read pages in English thatmay have originally been published in Italian, French, Hebrew,Russian or dozens of other languages. This is especiallyuseful for those of us conducting family history research.
To explore a range of tips and techniques about using Googlefor family history research, you can visit www.GoogleYourFamilyTree.com– the Web site for a book published in October 2008 byFamilyLink.com, Inc. and written by Connecticut native DanLynch. Google Your Family Tree details more than one hundredtips, techniques, and commands for using Google as a tool forgenealogy research. The book also includes a 20-page appendixwith step-by-step details for those just beginning to trace theirfamily tree.
With your newfound skills at using Google, you should have noproblem using the Internet to location information for any of thehundreds of great genealogy and local history resources throughoutthe state. Following are just a few highlights you may findespecially useful:
Connecticut State Library – The ConnecticutState Library is located in downtown Hartford and has an excellentHistory and Genealogy Unit. The building at 231 CapitolAvenue is also home to the Museum of Connecticut History. Ifyou have never been to this library, it is well worth a day-trip,but call ahead just to verify hours (860-757-6580) and the latesttips on parking.
Connecticut Society of Genealogists –Founded in 1968, this nonprofit organization based in East Hartfordis the largest genealogy society in the state with nearly 4,000members. They host a variety of seminars and workshopsthroughout the year and maintain a genealogy library open to thepublic. For more information, visit www.ctfamilyhistory.com.
iConn.org – A service of the ConnecticutState Library in partnership with the Department of HigherEducation, this Web site puts many useful sources at yourfingertips, any time day or night! If you don’t have acurrent library card, you now have a reason to visit your locallibrary and get one! After signing in, be sure to visitthe link to HeritageQuest, a collection of resources forgenealogists including U.S. Federal Census images and indexes from1790 to 1930, published family and local histories, and otheruseful content. Visit www.iconn.org.
New England Regional Genealogical Conference –In 2007, this conference drew more than one thousand attendees tothe new Convention Center in Hartford. Held every other yearin different locations throughout New England, this year’sevent is scheduled for April 22 – 26 in Manchester, NewHampshire. Presentation topics will cover Internet researchtechniques, preservation of family photos, advances in DNAresearch, and dozens of other topics. Dan Lynch will be onhand to present a “Getting Started with Family History”workshop, as well as a presentation about “Google Your FamilyTree,” and he will also be on hand for several booksignings. For more information on the conference later thismonth, visit their website at www.nergc.org.
Enjoy Your Journey
As you embark on your journey of discovery, remember the tripitself is just as important as the destination. While thereare guidelines and recommendations for how to approach yourresearch, it’s fine to learn as you go. The importantthing is that you get started.
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