|In my book, the character
Acie Luney McBride is a professional genealogist. Genealogy is
the study of ancestry and family history. If you are interested
in your family's genealogy you can hire a professional like Acie or you
can tackle the job of putting together your family tree yourself.
Genealogy can be a daunting passtime, especially for a beginner, but there are a lot of resources available to help you. Check out the links to the right for useful advice and free downloadable forms that can help you assemble and keep track of the information and documents you'll acquire during the course of your research.
If you are just beginning your family history, start with what you already know. Write down your name, date and place of birth and date and place of marriage. Below that write down your parents' names, dates and places of birth, date and place of marriage and, if applicable, dates and places of death. Below that fill in their parents' information. Go back as far as you can. If there are blanks in the record that's okay -- filling those blanks is what genealogy is all about.
When you've written down all the information you know there are two things you need to do. One is to get documentation for all the information you've assembled. This could be marriage licenses, death certificates, obituary notices, birth certificates, birth announcements, copies of information from family Bibles or any number of different kinds of records.
Not only do these records document the information you've assembled, they can help you to fill in the blanks in your family tree, which is the second thing you need to do. Also, as you expand your family tree you'll begin to include information on siblings of all the people on your primary ancestor chart, and on descendants of all of these people.
Other sources for information include census records, deeds, wills probated, tax records and passenger lists for sailing ships coming to America.
Does it sound intimidating? Don't worry. Start slow and before you know it you'll be charting your family tree like an expert.
Your best first stop, if you're just beginning a family tree, is Family Tree Magazine. At their website you can download several different free forms, in text or PDF format, to help organize your search. They even have a nifty Soundex Code generator! Soundex is the method used to organize the US Census records phonetically, and you'll need to know the codes for all the surnames on your list before you can hope to find them on the census.
If you'd rather not use the code generator, you can find instructions to convert your names to their proper codes manually here.
Ross, incidentally, comes up as R-200. Quackenbozo (it's a real name! I swear!) is Q-250.
Before you subscribe to anything or give anyone your bank account or credit card information, go read this web page about scams in genealogy!
In addition to Family Tree Magazine (see links above) there are a lot of websites that offer information and advice for beginning genealogists. For starters, check out this page at about.com.
This is Ralph Waldo Emerson's grave.
The "Father of Transcendentalism" was my great-great-grandfather's cousin (give or take a "great" or two).
Detroit Publishing Company. Ca. 1900-1920
Company Photograph Collection
Library of Congress catalog number LC-D4-72358
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