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Family Records

Family records are a rich treasure trove for the genealogist. Be creative in your definition of what constitutes a "record." Many clues will be found in unusual places. These records are frequently one-of-a-kind and ephemeral in nature. Your first priority is preservation of these irreplaceable records.

First, contact all your relatives. Visits are the most productive, especially during holidays and other family get-togethers. Bring your digital camera and tripod for family photographs - with you in the picture! Bring a scanner to copy old photographs and records. Bring a digital recorder and record family stories. You should also arrange for separate interviews with older family members at a quieter time. All interviews should be transcribed and the transcriptions verified with the interviewee. It's also a good idea to obtain a signed release form.

As convenient as digital records are, they are also subject to loss through computer crashes, file garbling, and technological obsolescence.

Expand your search to more distant relatives via letter. When writing this letter, keep it short and ask specific questions. You can ask more questions later when you send your Thank You letter. Always enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope when requesting information from all but the closest relatives.

Post requests for specific family information on surname message boards. Ebay may also help you find family information. Use keywords such as "family bible", "family letters" or "family photographs" to see a listing of current offerings.

The following is an abbreviated list of records found within the family setting or created by a family member. Examples of some of these will be analyzed in class.


Record Type Location Citation Basics
Family Bibles, Record Books Home, Manuscript Collection Who is the family?
What is description of Bible?
When was Bible published?
Where is the Bible now?
Photographs Home, Manuscript Collection Who is pictured?
Who is photographer?
What is size, color of photograph?
When was it taken?
What is written on the photo?
Where is the photo now?
Letters Home, Manuscript Collection Who is author?
Who is recipient?
When was letter written?
From where to where?
Where is letter now?
Memories (Interviews) Home Who is interviewed?
Who is interviewer?
When did it occur?
Where did it occur?
Where is tape/transcription?
Certificates Home What is the document?
Who created the record?
When was it created?
Who does it concern?
What information does it contain?
Where is it now?
Scrapbooks Home, Manuscript Collection Who created the scrapbook?
What does it contain?
What is its description?
When was it created?
Where is the scrapbook now?
School Records Home, Library, School What is the record?
Who created it?
When was it created?
Who does it concern?
Where is it now?
Jewelry Home What is its description?
Who owned it?
What inscription is on it?
Where is it now?
Memorabilia Home What is it?
Who owned it?
When was it created?
Where was it created?
Where is it now?

A few websites for additonal sources or information




Please mail comments and suggestions to Susan Johnston at Email me

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