During my nine years of blogging, I've told stories of using all sorts of everyday records and artifacts to identify ancestors, understand relationships, locate cousins, and fill out my family tree with more than just names and dates.
Here's a checklist to use as a starting point for thinking creatively about resources you or your family may have on hand. It's not for BINGO. When I was a beginner, I thought the goal was to check off as many items as possible. Nope. The real goal is to identify detail-rich sources that might help our research.
Not all of these sources are available in every family. Not all will have valuable clues that can add to our knowledge of ancestors. But you may get lucky! And if the items are already in your family's possession, they're free.
Here are only a few examples of using some of the everyday resources on this checklist to advance genealogy research. I wish you luck in your research!
- "Address books" -- within the past week, I used Mom's address book to tear down the brick wall that has long surrounded my paternal grandfather's siblings.
- "Baby books" -- my husband's baby book enabled me to fine-tune death dates of some older relatives and learn more about relationships by seeing who gave what baby gift and when.
- "Diaries" -- my late dad-in-law's diaries are sometimes more accurate in pinpointing birth and death dates than gravestones. His entries also helped me identify elusive cousins.
- "Letters and postcards" -- hubby's family's postcards showed where and when his grandparents and father lived during the early 1900s, and the signatures told me who was in touch with which relatives (and when). Also, letters written to/from my paternal aunt helped me crack the case on my grandfather Isaac's sister.
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