What is genealogy? What is Family History? Is there a difference? The hobby of genealogy can be approached from two different view points. Many genealogist research a person's pedigree or blood line record. This becomes a record of dates, places, and names. To do pedigree research, you only need to obtain the facts. A person's name, when and where they were born. Their parents name, when, and where were they married? The easiest way to collect this information is to fill out a "Family Group Sheet", FGS. By recording this information on Family Group Sheet for each generation your Genealogy pedigree will begin to take shape.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is; "Where do I get information about my family?" Beginners want to jump right to a long lost famous great great grandfather. Researching genealogy really begins with you. Use a FGS and fill out as must information as you can about yourself. Then fill out a FGS on parents. Now fill out a FGS for both of your grand parents, not just your father's parents. Researching genealogy includes researching both sides of family lines, mother & father. By this time you may have many un-answered questions. So where do we get this information. First, start with interviewing other members of the family. Ask mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grand parents.
Sounds like an easy task, Interviewing. Just ask family members when and where they were born. When and where were they married. What was their parents name. Well don't be surprised if some family members aren't forth coming with this information. Many times family members don't want to give out this information. To them it might be embarrassing. Maybe a mother wasn't married at the time a child was born or they got married under legal age. For example, my wife's grand mother told everyone for years she was born in March of 1900. While researching, we found information that she was really born in March of 1901. Several times we asked grandma about her birth certificate. Each time she told us about a court house fire that destroyed all records. Well, we did locate her birth certificate and she was born in 1901. Thus she was 17 years old on her wedding day not 18 years old as she had told her husband. Grandmother died at age 92 and never told anyone that she was married at age 17. Remember, not everything you hear may be true.
So where else can we get information, Censuses. Every ten years the US Government conducts a door to door inventory of people living in United States. Some of the first censuses are not to help full, just the name of the head of household and how many lived in the house. Starting about 1880 the information got much better. Providing names, birth date and locations, & Parent's birth location. If you can identify the State where a person lived in 1920, 1910, 1900, & 1880 you can use these censuses to help you find information about your family. Again remember sometimes census takers didn't get truthful answers to their questions. Another source is the Internet. Everyday more and more public and private records are added to the Internet via HTML pages. Use search engines, Family Search, webrings and various other genealogy links to find family information. However, one must be careful when obtaining information from a private source. Some information is incorrect or incomplete.
Ok, by now you probably have an understanding of Genealogy Information, but what about "Family History". Gathering information like ages and where your family came from is exciting. But the real interest is hearing stories about lives or how their lives influenced history. This is when that great great grandfather becomes a real person. Some one you can identify with, almost know by first name, not just a name with a bunch of dates and places. Family History is just that the history or a small story about a family. Maybe how they migrated from the east to the west. Did they come by wagon train, by ship, or did they board a Boeing jet and fly to their new homes. A grandmother or aunt becomes a real person, when you read how she died in child birth and how they buried her with a set of twins cradled in her arms. Take the time to talk with parents and grandparents. Ask about their way life and how it was or why thing happened, And then write them down. Compose a journal of their life and your life. Pretty soon you will come to know your family, those here on earth and those beyond the grave.
Copyright © 1999 Dante G. Hebert, all rights reserved.