Digging Up your roots
Before you begin there are a few supplies you will need.
Ancestor Chart - Use the ancestor chart to record the line from which you directly descend. At a glance it will show what progress you have made and what remains to be done.
Family Group Sheet - Use a family group sheet to enter data on one family, which will include parents and their children.
Notebook - This will be used for making notes and storing all of the information you have gathered. A 3-ring binder works best.
Step #1 - Where to begin?
The first step begins with you. Using your Ancestor Chart, fill in the information on yourself under #1, then for your father #2 and mother #3. Continue to fill in as many names as possible and include as much information as you can. Your fathers parents (paternal) will be numbered 4(grandfather), 5(grandmother); your mothers parents (maternal) will be numbered 6(grandfather), 7(grandmother). Each number will go in sequence, doubling with each generation. Example: #8's father will be #16 See pedigree numbering example
Step #2 - Family Group Sheets
Next begin your first Family Group Sheet. Number your first group sheet #1. On this sheet fill in the information for your father, mother, yourself and any siblings. Your second family group sheet will be for your paternal grandparents (father's parents). This sheet will be numbered the same as your paternal grandfather on your ancestor chart. Your 3rd family group sheet will be for your maternal grandparents (mother's parents) . Following the same numbering system, this sheet will be numbered the same as your maternal grandfather #6.
With these basic steps done, it is now time to move on to the next level.
Now that you have gotten the basics down it's time to roll up your sleeves and begin the big hunt! To do this you will need to begin interviewing your family members and tracking down those all important documents.
Interviews: Read Snail Mail and Genealogy
The following is a list of questions to help get you started. After going over the basic questions you may want to ask about any family stories they might know. You can also take this time to ask about traditions their family had and any other information they may be willing to share.
When and where were you born?
What is your parents names?
When and where were they born?
When and where did they get married?
What ware your grandparents names?
When and where were they born?
For the questions you haven't been able to locate answers for, it's time to go on a scavenger hunt! Many of these answers are hiding in places like family Bibles, journals, diaries, baby books, old photo's, old documents, letters and the like. Ask your parents and other relatives if they have any of these. As you find the missing pieces be sure and make a note on where the information came from. You will need this for future reference.
This is also a good time to begin your research log. You will need to start a page in your notebook for this. Each entry should be recorded separately. When reviewing your log you will know at a glance what you have done. Each time you conduct an interview, make an entry in your log showing the details. This should include:
Who You Interviewed
Subject of the Interview
Any comments worth noting
Your Research Log will also be the place to enter information for any records you have researched.
Type of Record
Name of Person or Institution you Contacted
Subject of the Record
Results of the Search
A record of all correspondence will need to be recorded as well. This should include:
Date Reply Received
Name/Address/Phone Number of Person or Institution you Corresponded with
Type of Correspondence - Letter/Email/Telephone
In this section you will learn about a few of the sources that are available to continue your research and where to locate them. Also, the most important thing you do while researching - documenting your sources.
Records to Research
A sampling of just a few of the many records available!
Census: One of the most used tools in genealogy
What are census? Census are population schedules that the government has been taking every ten years since 1790, to they can learn about families and individuals that live in the United States. Prior to 1850, the census listed the name of the head of household and the number of males and females that lived in each house and their age range. Beginning in 1850 this changed and began to include the names, ages, sex and state of birth of all members of the household. In 1880 the census started listing what the relationship each person in the home was to the head of household. To learn more about the census visit U. S. Census Bureau Kids Corner.
Vitals: Registration of Births and Deaths
Vital Statistics: In Kentucky, the registering of vital statistics did not become mandatory on the statewide level until 1911. You can order both death and birth certificates at Kentucky.gov
Vital Returns: Periodically in the 1850's, 1860's and 1870's, births and deaths were registered at the county level.
The amount of information contained in marriage records varies. Mainly the name of the bride and groom and date of marriage. Other information that may be included is ages, residence, place of birth, name of parents, where married and who were their witnesses.
During the late 1890's many of the public schools did a census listing the names of children, age, sex and name of parent/guardian.
Many people left a Will showing how their estate was to be divided after their death among their heirs.
Court Cases - Civil and Criminal Cases:
Court cases can be extremely interesting by giving you some insight of your ancestors. Civil suits can sometimes be a great source for finding heirs of a particular ancestor.
Deeds not only show purchases and sales of land and other personal property, but often include land divisions among heirs.
Where to locate Records!!
Public Libraries: Many public libraries now have a genealogy section. Most, also have internet service for their patrons which includes access to Heritage Quest Online, which offers access to the U. S. Census. Many libraries also offer some of the other widely sites such as Ancestry.com. Some libraries, like the Lexington Public Library, have Kentucky Death Certificates 1911-1953 on microfilm, from which you can obtain copies. Check with your local library to see what services they have available.
Courthouses: If you are fortunate and live in or near the courthouse in the county where your ancestors lived, a wealth of information is undoubtedly awaiting you. There you will find, marriages, estate records, deeds and much more. If you are unable to visit the courthouse in the county of your interest, you can contact the clerk's office and ask what the procedure is for making request for copies of records.
If you are unable to make a trip to the courthouse, or if you are interested in records from more than one county, a good place to visit is the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. See below for more detailed information.
Kentucky State Agency Resources
Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives: The majority of records held at the county level are also housed at the KY Dept. for Libraries and Archives on microfilm, along with numerous other records. Visit the KDLA website for more information on what they have available.
Kentucky Historical Society: Home to a large collection of maps, books, oral histories, manuscripts and records on microfilm, such as the U. S. census and death certificates.
Kentucky Land Office: Land Warrants and Bounty Land Grants; searchable database and ordering information.
The KYGenWeb is a group of volunteers who coordinate county websites and special projects which supply
free genealogy resources.
Rootsweb.com offers free genealogy resources. These consist of user submitted data, family websites, message boards
and more. The message boards are a great place to get help from other genealogist. There are message boards for
specific counties, states, surnames and special interest.
Documenting your Sources
The proof of it all!
Sources are the records where you found your information. Citing these sources is extremely important. Sources are the verification needed for each fact that has been added to your family history. They are valuable to both you and others, who you may share your work with. Even if you do not have any intentions to share your family history, it is still important to cite your sources. For you, it is a way you can see what sources you have already used. You never know when you may need to review a source for a hidden clue or additional information. By citing your source, the information on where the information was located is readily available. For others, it gives them confidence in the work you have done by supplying the evidence that verifies it.
How to Cite your Sources!
Citing your sources can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. The main goal is to provide enough information so you, or anyone else, would be able to find it. Different types of records will need to be recorded differently, so you will need to alter each citation for the type of record it pertains to. The following are a few examples of some basic citations that you might use. For a more detailed look at how to cite your sources see "How to Cite Sources" at Genealogy.com
The KYGenWeb consist of a group of volunteers that work together to provide free genealogical help and information for each county in Kentucky. Each county has it's own website, archives of contributed data, message board and mailing list.
Free access to the 1880 U. S. Census.
Searchable deaths from 1911 - 2000 (Free)
Searchable marriages from 1973 - 2000 (Free)