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Family History Basics

Ancestry Library

Tips for Success

A.  Start with people you know (parents, grandparents) and work backwards – don’t start with Daniel Boone or Benjamin Franklin no matter how well-connected you think you might be.

B.  For each person, do a reasonably exhaustive search in a wide range of high quality resources. This means using the census, marriage records, death records, cemetery records, etc.

C.  Document, document, document. You want to show the extent of your search and the quality of the sources you used. You also want to be able to re-trace your steps!

D.  Figure out a record keeping system that works for you. Several paid services are out there but you can also just use pen and paper!

E.  Records don’t always agree. You need to work to resolve conflicting evidence, or at least document what you’ve been able to do so someone can pick it up and carry it further as more materials become available. 

F.  Write down your conclusions – show how the evidence led you there so when you come back to a record after a period of time you (and others) know what you did.

Resources for St. Olaf Alumni