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Making Family History Simple and Fun
Family Histoy can sometimes seem overwhelming. There so much to do and so much information to gather. One way to overcome this sense of being overwhelmed is to organize your family history so that you focus on only one person at a time. You can work on that person, see what information you need for him or her, and then where you can get it. For most people you don't need that much information to identify them, just a name, birthdate and place. For some, you will need information about their death. And you might try and find out when and where they were married. Each piece of information will require some research, but if you break it down, family history can become just a to-do list, and one take it one task a time. Like eating an elephant—one bite at a time. Family history then becomes something fairly simple to do—write an email or visit a cemetery.
Of course, the more you know about a person, you more you recognize that he or she as a real person. Especially if you start collecting stories about them. They aren't just a collection of facts, but were real people with fears and aspirations, and challenges and victories in their lives. As you get to know them as real people, like with all people, you will begin to develop a personal interest in them. This is the fun of family history, you make friends of the people you are researching.
That is what the difference is between genealogical research and family history work. Family history work includes the research for names, dates, and places of genealogy, but family history is so much more. Family history is getting to know the people to whom those facts belong. Their lives, and their stories. Building an eternal friendship. When you cultivate a friendship, you get to know as much about your new friend as you can. And you provide service to them, maybe something they can't do for themselves, like the temple ordinances. Family history is all about people, you and your ancestors.
The way, then, to make family history simple and fun is to organize yourself so that you focus on one person at at time and really get to know them. It is people who do this that develop a passion for family history. And who couldn't use another friend?
The Research Journal
One way to focus on one person at a time is to create and maintain a Research Journal. To create a journal, take an ordinary notebook. The notebook can be spiral, bound, or most any size that is comfortable for you. On each page, your write the name of one person, starting with your father. The next page is for your mother, and then your brothers and sisters. After that, put in pages for your grandparents and your aunts and uncles. Then, work you way back generation by generation.
Each page in the journal should look like this:
Code (from FamilySearch)
Fill in all the information you know about the person. Where you need to do research is where the information is blank.
Underneaath the information you create a table:
|Date||Source||Source Description||Information Received|
The date is when you made the contact or received the information
The source is where you got the information.
The source description is any indentification that will help some else access the source, such aa library call number or file number.
The information received is what you found out.
Here is an example page:
Florin Marcu LBDT-9LS
born: abt 1894
married: abt 1916
Children: Stefan (m), Maria (f), Ion (m), Dumitru (m), Ecaterina (f) + 3 other children
|| Source Description
|| Information Received|
| 1 Oct 2013
|| Telephone Call
|| Didn't know her grandfather|
| 28 Oct 2013
|| File #R218544
|| Death date, names of wife and children|
What do you then need for Florin Marcu? A birth certificate, marriage certificate, and death certificate.
The Research Report and Work Order
You keep track of the research you need to do on a Research Report that looks like this(it does not necessarily need to be in a table, the table is so that it will appear better on the webpage)::
|Florin Marcu||Birth Certificate||National Archive, Craiova|
|Florin Marcu||Marriage Certificate||Amaratii de Jos city offices|
|Florin Marcu||Death Certificate||Craiova city offices|
|Maria Marcu||Headstone||Craiova cemetery|
The Reseach Report becomes a to-do list. Don't worry about how long it is, just start at the top and work you way down, one task at a time. This way, family history work becomes less overwhelming. Writing one email or a letter is not so hard to do. But, be sure as you do the tasks, put them in the table on the person's page. If nothing else, it will keep you from doing the same thing twice.
If you notice that one source have information on several people, you can prepare a Work Order. For example, if several of your ancestors are buried in the same cemetary, just take one trip and get all the information from their headstones:
Florin Marcu 1962
Maria Marcu 1960
Adrian Ghinescu 1921
Alin Bobescu 1919