Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gathering Records and Photos on Hand

In our first post, we discussed how we could find valuable information by interviewing the oldest living relatives. As we meet with these relatives to find out information about our ancestors, we should also determine if they have in their possession any photographs, obituaries, birth or death certificates.

In this process, we will go through various types of records that might exist and how they can be used in to aid research. At this point, you can pretend you are on a scavenger hunt for documents. Remember your digital camera, especially so you do not have to return photos or documents. This format is easy to store and preserve. You want to be careful in handling old photos and the like. Also, be sure to get help in identifying any names or faces you do not recognize.

Here is a really great list of records which you might come across:
Family and Home Information Sources Checklist

This is just one of several resources available at "Ancestors," a companion website to the PBS
television series.

The oral history interview is the greatest source for researching your family history, and this checklist of secondary sources are the next best thing. Remember to be sure to show courtesy to the family member granting you the interview and sharing information. Be sure to take plenty photographs of the interviewee and his or her home. You just might be surprised where the clues they give you will lead. Successful interviews have become success stories for me. I have transcribed and published interviews and included photos and documents provided.

I have several cherished recorded interviews with loved ones who have passed on. I have found great comfort in the fact I was able to extract and preserve their memories before they were lost to us in this life.

We will address next what you should do with all this information you are gathering.