Professional Genealogy Research

Your Family Quest

MORE advanced Family Research techniques

Step 1
Start with what you have

     Look at what documents you have.   Talk to your relatives.  Gather your information together. 

Step 2
Sign up for FamilySearch.org

     FamilySearch.org is free.  It has always been free and it will probably always be free.  It is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but by signing up you are not agreeing to have the missionaries over, they will not solicit you for donations, they will not sell your information, and they will not spam you.  But you need an account with them to have access to thousands of documents.  Some have been indexed, some are just images you'll have to search through.
     FamilySearch is also a world tree.  This means that if you put your family's information out there (living people are only visible to the person who put the names into the tree), anyone in the world can come along and change your work.  That can be incredibly frustrating especially when you have the birth, marriage and death records attached and then someone comes along and changes the wife, or the parents, or whatever.  Which is why you need a place where only you can edit your work.

Caveat:  Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that all people need to be baptized and perform vicarious baptisms for those who have died.  Baptisms for the dead should only be authorized by family members but after 110 years there are plenty of family members.  Being a member of the church, I can see when baptisms for the dead have been performed and I was shocked when someone baptized my great grandmother.  I wasn't doing it because I knew that first, her grandson was alive and I felt I should get his permission to perform the ordinance and second, I knew she didn't like the church when she was alive.  A relative of her second husband ended up doing the baptism. 
   At this point we get into doctrine.  We believe that we perform the baptism vicariously and then the person in the next life gets to accept or reject it.  We are free to choose our paths here on earth and that freedom is not taken away in the next life. 
   You can still use the records at FamilySearch without using the world tree if you are worried about vicarious baptism.

Step 3
Set up a place where only you can edit your work

     This can be a software program.  There are plenty of free ones out there - Roots Magic Essentials, Ancestral Quest Basics, Family Tree Builder, and others.  Or you can use a subscription based site such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com.  Again, there is a lot more out there both paid and free.  The advantage of the subscription based sites is you can see what others have found and receive helpful record hints for your own research.  Personally, I do double entry.  I record my findings at both Ancestry and FamilySearch.  They have different search engines and sometimes find different records.  I also have my Ancestry files for when my FamilySearch entries need to be restored back to the way I had them.

Step 4
Finally, you get to start recording your findings

     While the temptation is to put in everything  (brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews), if you are a beginner it's best to hold off and concentrate on the trunk of your tree - the direct line.  Start by entering yourself. 
     Dates should be written day month year.  The majority of the world writes day month year and writing out the month helps clarify the date for those of us who write it month day year.    I made a mistake with my Italian research when I found a death date in the margin written as 1/10/99 which is 1 October 1999 not January 10, 1999.  So depending on what program you are using (Ancestry wants you to abbreviate the month, Family Search wants you to write it out ), the date should be written 1 Oct 1999 or 1 October 1999.
     The place should be written as it was named at the time of the event.  If someone was born in Colonial Massachusetts, that is how you would record the place even though it would have happened in present day New Hampshire.  As your skills in doing genealogy increase, you will learn the importance of location history and sources but for now, you can add a note explaining that the person was born in Dover, Colonial Massachusetts present day Dover, New Hampshire.
 

Note: Protect yourself and other living people by keeping their information private.  How many times have you been asked your birth date and mother's maiden name as a form of identification?  Don't give it to the identity thieves - the information for living people should be hidden from the public view.  But that does not stop you from recording and sharing information about living people with your living family.  Just remind them that they need to keep it private also.

     So you've recorded your information, now record what you have for the rest of the trunk of your tree - husband, children, parents, two sets of grandparents, four sets of great grandparents, eight sets of great great grandparents, 16 sets of great great great grandparents, and if you've moved to the next generation you are either not a beginner or your family has already been well documented.

Step 5
 Prove it - but be careful with living individuals

     Family History is like a science experiment, you publish your findings and others are able to repeat the experiment and get the same results.  For living people, I do not upload copies of documents or photos I don't want the whole world to see.  I am also guilty of not citing sources for living people on Ancestry and Family Search. 
     "Information, including photos, entered about living people is not publicly available in order to protect their privacy. If a story [photo or document] has information about both living and deceased people and the deceased person is tagged, the story and photos can be publicly seen attached to the deceased person." - Family Search  Note: Square brackets in genealogy research indicates the genealogist is adding some information that is not in the original document.

Step 1
Start with what you have

     Look at what documents you have.   Talk to your relatives.  Gather your information together. 

Step 2
Sign up for FamilySearch.org

     FamilySearch.org is free.  It has always been free and it will probably always be free.  It is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but by signing up you are not agreeing to have the missionaries over, they will not solicit you for donations, they will not sell your information, and they will not spam you.  But you need an account with them to have access to thousands of documents.  Some have been indexed, some are just images you'll have to search through.
     FamilySearch is also a world tree.  This means that if you put your family's information out there (living people are only visible to the person who put the names into the tree), anyone in the world can come along and change your work.  That can be incredibly frustrating especially when you have the birth, marriage and death records attached and then someone comes along and changes the wife, or the parents, or whatever.  Which is why you need a place where only you can edit your work.

Caveat:  Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that all people need to be baptized and perform vicarious baptisms for those who have died.  Baptisms for the dead should only be authorized by family members but after 110 years there are plenty of family members.  Being a member of the church, I can see when baptisms for the dead have been performed and I was shocked when someone baptized my great grandmother.  I wasn't doing it because I knew that first, her grandson was alive and I felt I should get his permission to perform the ordinance and second, I knew she didn't like the church when she was alive.  A relative of her second husband ended up doing the baptism. 
   At this point we get into doctrine.  We believe that we perform the baptism vicariously and then the person in the next life gets to accept or reject it.  We are free to choose our paths here on earth and that freedom is not taken away in the next life. 
   You can still use the records at FamilySearch without using the world tree if you are worried about vicarious baptism.

Step 3
Set up a place where only you can edit your work

     This can be a software program.  There are plenty of free ones out there - Roots Magic Essentials, Ancestral Quest Basics, Family Tree Builder, and others.  Or you can use a subscription based site such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com.  Again, there is a lot more out there both paid and free.  The advantage of the subscription based sites is you can see what others have found and receive helpful record hints for your own research.  Personally, I do double entry.  I record my findings at both Ancestry and FamilySearch.  They have different search engines and sometimes find different records.  I also have my Ancestry files for when my FamilySearch entries need to be restored back to the way I had them.

Step 4
Finally, you get to start recording your findings

     While the temptation is to put in everything  (brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews), if you are a beginner it's best to hold off and concentrate on the trunk of your tree - the direct line.  Start by entering yourself. 
     Dates should be written day month year.  The majority of the world writes day month year and writing out the month helps clarify the date for those of us who write it month day year.    I made a mistake with my Italian research when I found a death date in the margin written as 1/10/99 which is 1 October 1999 not January 10, 1999.  So depending on what program you are using (Ancestry wants you to abbreviate the month, Family Search wants you to write it out ), the date should be written 1 Oct 1999 or 1 October 1999.
     The place should be written as it was named at the time of the event.  If someone was born in Colonial Massachusetts, that is how you would record the place even though it would have happened in present day New Hampshire.  As your skills in doing genealogy increase, you will learn the importance of location history and sources but for now, you can add a note explaining that the person was born in Dover, Colonial Massachusetts present day Dover, New Hampshire.
 

Note: Protect yourself and other living people by keeping their information private.  How many times have you been asked your birth date and mother's maiden name as a form of identification?  Don't give it to the identity thieves - the information for living people should be hidden from the public view.  But that does not stop you from recording and sharing information about living people with your living family.  Just remind them that they need to keep it private also.

     So you've recorded your information, now record what you have for the rest of the trunk of your tree - husband, children, parents, two sets of grandparents, four sets of great grandparents, eight sets of great great grandparents, 16 sets of great great great grandparents, and if you've moved to the next generation you are either not a beginner or your family has already been well documented.

Step 5
 Prove it - but be careful with living individuals

     Family History is like a science experiment, you publish your findings and others are able to repeat the experiment and get the same results.  For living people, I do not upload copies of documents or photos I don't want the whole world to see.  I am also guilty of not citing sources for living people on Ancestry and Family Search. 
     "Information, including photos, entered about living people is not publicly available in order to protect their privacy. If a story [photo or document] has information about both living and deceased people and the deceased person is tagged, the story and photos can be publicly seen attached to the deceased person." - Family Search  Note: Square brackets in genealogy research indicates the genealogist is adding some information that is not in the original document.

Click on a title below to view videos to help you fix problems on FamilySearch.

Child Returned to Her Loving Parents - This video is a simple fix where someone has detached a child from her parents and attached her to strangers. It is a simple fix but a good introduction to the techniques you'll need to understand for more complicated fixes.

Antonio Panico Did Not Have Six Parents - How to fix an individual with multiple sets of parents on FamilySearch. It involves evaluating the sources, examining the change log, detaching individuals and merging individuals.

 

Pasquale Manna and Achille Pasquale Manna are not the same person - Pasquale Mann has two sets of parents. The fix involves unmerging individuals, adding an existing person as a wife, adding an existing person as a child, removing a wife, removing parents, deleting a source, and reviewing attachments of a source. Correcting the source attachments involved changing the focus person.

 

Maria Maddalena Panico has too many husbands - The problem was Maria Maddalena was married to two men named Cuono Aiardo and a Giacomo Sabbatelli. The fix involved replacing a father and detaching a child.