People often ponder their families history, but they don’t know where to start looking or how to document the information they collect.
Tami Quiring, president of the Alder Grove Heritage Society, said the easiest thing is to start with what you know.
“Ask your parents for birthdates of grandparents or great grandparents, and where they were born. There’s lots of free resources out there that can be used to start searching your family history. And a huge warning. It is addictive. I’ve been doing it for over 30 years,” she shared.
There are also many websites people can use to find information about their history such as, Ancestry, Family Search, Heritage Quest, and many more. Websites can be used as a starting point, where people can find information they or other family members don’t already know.
“People think that they have to join subscription sites like Ancestry and American Ancestors. But there is a lot of free stuff out there, especially from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. They have a huge website with available documents,” Quiring offered.
Finding documents that can tell people where they came from, or where their family came from, can seem difficult. But, Langley genealogist Brenda Smith said it doesn’t have to be.
“One usually starts with everything one already knows, just your own familiarity with whatever parts of your story you have. Extract that and try to figure out the details. You need to think perhaps about stories, about where you went to school, who your parents are, who lives around you, who your siblings are, what you’ve all done,” she explained.
Once a person starts digging around and finding the answers and documents they’ve been looking for, keeping track and documenting everything is equally important.
There are online tools a person can use to document what they find such as, a family tree or family sheet information. But, Smith said, the best way to document the information someone finds, is writing it out by hand or typing it up on a computer and printing out.
“Start a document that is a citation, write the source information for what that document you have is going to say, what you know about it, who wrote it, when you think it was written, and how you acquired it. Then start to attach all the documents you have together in folders.”
Having the documents organized into specific folders can make it easier for a person to go back and remember a detail or date they found. This way, when more questions arise, finding the answers can be easier and faster.
The society is starting a family history group at the museum, Quiring noted.
“We’re just starting out. It’s meant to be a group for people who are interested in searching their family history. We also have projects at the museum that involve researching other people’s family history as we are building a community family tree, starting from the earliest settlers in the area and branching out from there,” she noted.
The family history group is starting this month, as October is family history month.