Genealogy. Where to begin

Want to compose your family tree? To do this is much easier than to grow the present and by the way, much more useful. Indeed, in the process you will learn a lot of interesting things about different countries, people and customs, and above all, about your own family.

Such a history occupation will not be tedious, because you will not deal with abstract “historical characters”, but with specific people who lived and survived in a variety of circumstances, moved from place to place, changed professions, made difficult decisions. It will be easy for you to put yourself in their place and everything that you learn about historical events, geography, biographies of various people, will cease to be just “data” for you, will acquire a lively, concrete, tangible meaning. Moreover, for this you do not have to dig into the piles of dusty papers and sit in the archives for days on end. So where do you start?

To get started, just ask your relatives about what they know and remember about your family’s history. Women (grandmothers, aunts) are best suited for this purpose. Women are traditionally more interested in family history than men, and they rarely forget things that seem to men to be “immaterial.” You just have to maneuver in the flow of information and fish out everything related to genealogy. All questions you are interested in are better prepared in advance, and in writing. Stick to this list as much as possible, otherwise genealogical research will not work – it will turn into cute family gatherings.

Remembering everything will be simply impossible, so record it, best of all – on the recorder. The more your conversation with relatives will be like an interview, the more pleasant it will be for them and more useful for you.

What a study without old photographs! Moreover, when looking at them, events related to the photo are easier to recall, especially if something is written on the back of the card. So start the preparation of material from them: from scan, process on a computer, make portraits of family members.

When you gather enough information, you can start building a tree. The construction principle is simple: a couple of parents gives birth to a certain number of children, each of which, in turn, becomes a member of the next couple and so on. Elementary!

How your tree will grow, deep or wide, will depend on what you want more: learn more about your ancestors or get an overall picture of family relationships. Each method has its advantages.

If you prefer to “dig deep”, do not expect much at once. You will have to plunge into the era when documents were stored worse than today, families were huge and Jews preferred to give children generic names from a permanent (and rather limited) set. So it will be quite difficult to distinguish people from each other and find out which of them has gone. But any result will be fanned by the romance of a turbulent past and will make you feel like a real explorer. Do not be afraid of working with archives and databases: it is not so complicated, especially in electronic format.

Start “digging in breadth” – there will be more results, because you will deal with people who live today. If you explore not only the main “trunk” of the family, but also the families of those who joined it, becoming the husband and wife of one of the members, you will find the most diverse and interesting discoveries. Do not be surprised if you find an unknown relative in the house opposite or in Australia – such is life! The funny thing about this study is that you may find strange coincidences in the fate, character and habits of your family members, no matter how far they live from each other and in whatever different circumstances. You can’t deceive genetics!

Here, of course, you have to tinker: rummage through the directories, call strangers. Cast aside laziness and shyness, you are doing a holy thing and believe me, most of those with whom you get in touch will be happy to help you.

So, let’s draw up an action plan

First, as already mentioned – a survey. Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles – talk with everyone who is alive and within reach. The data you need is: the names of all relatives, the dates of their birth and death, the names of their places of residence (if they emigrated, it would be nice to know when and where). In determining the date of birth, information about the dates of starting school, conscription, and marriage can be very helpful. Learn the profession or occupation of each person: this in itself is interesting and will help determine in which database to look for information about him.

Be sure to find out the religious and political views of a person, this can explain a lot in his behavior and fate.

If possible, try to find official documents and familiarize yourself with the content. Everything will come in handy: a birth certificate (there you will find the time and place of birth, first and middle names of the parents, their last names before marriage), a marriage certificate (where the time and place of marriage, the maiden name of the wife and the date of birth of the spouses are recorded), a certificate of dissolution marriage (it contains the names of the spouses after the dissolution of the marriage), a death certificate (which indicates the date, place and cause of death).

It is best, of course, to look at an identity card or passport, where all the information is collected together: the owner’s place of residence, information about his spouse, children, a photograph, and sometimes information about the blood type.

The work book tells about education, places of work, about what post a person held.

If you manage to look into the identity card of a conscript (which is important not only for men, but also for some women), you can, in addition to the data listed above, find out something about the appearance of a person: his height, weight, size of his head and shoes.

Oddly enough, sometimes even such a simple search method works as a set of the desired last name and first name in search engines.

That’s probably all you need to know at the initial stage. So, do not delay, get to work!

Good luck in finding.