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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beginner's tips when using Ancestry.com

The databases available on Ancestry.com are an excellent way to begin your search.  When you begin your tree start with yourself then add your parents with their dates of birth/death and your great grandparents information.  You will begin to get hints, so as you get them read the record carefully to be sure it is your ancestor.  The further back you go you will have discrepancies in birth dates etc.  If you get another member's tree as a hint, look at it, but do not use it as a source!  Only use verified information you have obtained from a record or other source.  Many people just start building their trees and copy other trees' information without verifying that information.  When people do that they end up with a tree that is not credible, probably has numerous duplicates and is confusing and is not a true pedigree.  You want as accurate a tree as possible, right?

Talking with your living relatives is an excellent source of information, don't wait until it is too late!  The family bible is always a good source.  My mother had recorded her great grandparents names in her bible.  They were born & died in Italy.  Unfortunately that is all I have on them but, knowing their names helped me track my great grandparents when they came to the US. Some of the ships manifests asked for parents names so having their names enabled me to verify this was my ancestor.  I scanned the pages in her bible and added it as media to each person named on the bible page noting whose bible it came from.  I have talked to my aunt about old pictures I have found and noted the information provided by her with the picture when I upload it to my tree.  For example:  Minnie Archer Clouse Fegley Chipchase in Des Moines Iowa Circa 1940 possibly Capital Avenue per her granddaughter Sandra Oneth.

I have found ancestors' pictures on other trees but I send a message to the member and ask them if they would mind sharing information about how the pictures were identified.  One member told me he had sat down with his grandmother and went through the photo album together so I felt his pictures were more than likely correctly identified, and I credited the member and his grandmother with providing the picture and information.  If the member does not know how the identification was made, I do not use it.  If you find a picture with information on the back, scan the back or note: the information written on the back of the photo is (name) circa (year) in (location).

Always source your information, even the pictures!  If you don't, there will come a day when you won't be able to remember!  More tips to come.




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