Recording the entirety of your family's history is a daunting prospect, if you don't know where to start.
Fortunately, the Internet is rife with resources for budding genealogists and experienced ancestry experts alike. We've already taken a look at 5 strategies for starting a family tree, so let's dive right in to 5 more strategies for building a family history from your bed:
- Search the cemetery. No, I'm not suggesting a morbid undertaking like wandering through graveyards to scan headstones for information about your deceased relatives (although Halloween is approaching, so maybe that's in keeping with the spirit of the season) – instead, search for death records in online cemetery transcriptions. Volunteers from across the globe have already done the dirty work for you, posting names, dates, and sometimes photos, from cemeteries around the world to cemetery search databases. Some cemeteries even post their own index to burials online.
- Dig through databases. There's an online database for pretty much everything you could ever want to search for in the quest to construct a family tree. Countless genealogy databases and digitized records can be found on the Web, as well as more targeted sources of information like land grants, marriage records, passenger lists, and military records. Some are provided by sites that require a subscription, but many resources are free.
- Get your geography on. It's possible that your family has remained in the same town for generations, but it's highly unlikely. Odds are, your ancestors migrated at some point, perhaps even settling in a different country. Look up old maps to pinpoint exactly where your family used to live, and research the changing political and geographical boundaries of the town's history.
- Brush up on your history. Learn more about how and where your ancestors lived by browsing online newspapers and studying information on historical sites and events. Find out where your family lived and read up on the local culture and customs. It's the specific details – like disease outbreaks and the political climate at the time – that really give you insight into your ancestors' lives.
- Search the census. Census records are an incomparable source of information on your family and the times in which they lived. In many countries, like the U.S. and U.K., census records are available online, oftentimes for free.
As your search continues, remember to keep an up-to-date record of the places you've searched and the information you've found in each – if you lose track of the work you've already completed, you may have to waste valuable time starting over again.