Getting starting in genealogy research is a very exciting “journey” that you will take in getting to know your family from years past! When I research, I am “getting to know my family members” that I did not have the opportunity to know in years past. To me, it is way more than just looking up names and dates, but an opportunity to learn the characteristics of that person. What kind of person was this person? Was she kind? Did he/she love her family? What were her passions, and interests? It is through research that you learn so much about your family members. My favorite source of information is the federal census. When I look a family up in the census, not only do I see who was living with the family at the time of the census date, but who their neighbors were in the geographical location that they lived in. Some of the information on the Federal Census will tell you what they did for a living, if they owned their home , how much money they had in personal and real property, how long they were married, how many children had been born and survived, etc. So much information is listed on that one family line. Could they read and write? How many years of school did they have?
One thing that I learned early on in my research was that back in “olden days” the illiteracy rate was very high. Last names were often spelled the way the Census worker “heard it pronounced”. That is one reason why you will see surnames change spelling from generation to generation. My surname Bowling started as De Boulogne , to De Bolling, to Bolling, to Bowling, Bowlin, Boulen, Bohlen, and on and on…. This is critical in researching your family name, be open and aware of misspelling of names, it will happen!
Sourcing your information is important! You will often need to reference back to where you originally found the information. Make sure that you write where you found the information and most importantly if you “borrow” someone else’s research material, make sure you reference the author and where you found the material.
Organization is crucial in research, it is imperative to be able to keep all your information in one area. There are many great genealogy software out on the market. I found out very early, gone were the days of handwriting your information, it became way too confusing when generations of people intermixed!