Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Apple Doesn't Fall Too Far from the Tree

Genealogy:  of course it starts with you.  It's all about you.  Who are you?  Who makes you what you are?  What are your roots?  Then there is the desire.  The drive.  The passion. 
However, I want to emphasize the term "Family History" versus genealogy.   Perhaps genealogy is just finding the facts.  I'm more concerned about the "story" in "history".  I want to find the stories already played out in my families history and re-play them for my children.  That's where this site starts.  I'm passionate about Family History, and want to share what I learn with those with the same desire.  I'm not a professional genealogist, though I know some (you know who you are) whose brains I have picked and will continue to do so.  As I learn, I will strive to share.  But this is not your grandma's genealogy.  There are vast researchers and databases at our fingertips...while still in our pajamas.  Mind you, we'll still have to get down and dirty in the trenches, doing original research.  I'm there, I'm anxious, I'm ready...but where do I start?

You have to start with you.  With what you know.  Also known as "low-hanging fruit."  Why climb to the top of the tree to get the apples when there are already apples at your fingertips?  I know, because its a lot of fun and more adventurous to climb the tree.  But you've got to get the apples on the lower branches first.  Believe me, I know it's hard to concentrate here.  I think I inherited a little ADD from my grandfather.  I see something more fun and want to stop what I'm working on and try it instead, just ask my wife how many projects I've started, stopped, and wanted to start again.

So let's concentrate and start with what we know.  About me.  What is my name?  My full name?  What is my birthday?  Where was I born?  What is my Dad's name?  Mom?  Do I know their birthdays and where they were born?  If married, my spouse's name, birthday?  When was I married?  Kids?  Who?  When?  Where?  

Let's get it out of our heads, on paper maybe?  Sure, but let's not keep it just on paper.  Remember, this isn't grandma's genealogy.  We're going to get in on the computer.  This really isn't as intimidating as grandma might think, after all, this is supposed to be easy for everyone.
We need a program to start imputing this information.  I'm familiar with more than one and will talk later about others, but for simplicity, I'll use Personal Ancestral File (PAF for short)  provided free by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  You can download it here.  

Even today, there are online services that will let you do most of the same things in cyberspace...we'll get there.

For now, if you want to join along, write down what you know.  We'll get it on the computer next.  To make things easier, print this blank report.  It's a Family Group Record.  In layman's terms, it's what you know about your family in an organized, easy to read format.