Working your way back in time
When embarking on genealogical research for purposes of establishing a Family Tree, it would make the most sense to work your way backwards along your subject's familial history. This process would involve gathering information about a known ancestor and researching their own ancestors in turn. Approaching this task from the other way around by working forward or seeking out descendants of a supposed relative in the hopes of establishing a familial connection to your own family is rarely a productive method of going about your research. Many clans will often have family legends, which claim direct lineage to some historic figure or famous personality and most are eager to accept these claims as fact. But basing your genealogical research on such legends may involve many frustrating twists and turns and there is no guarantee that you will be able to establish a direct connection. It would then be in your best interest to pursue readily verifiable claims with more concrete supporting evidence.
In your research, you have a lot of resources available to you that will help clear up tangled bloodlines and vague connections. Many towns will have fairly comprehensive civil registry records and these can prove to be an invaluable resource in your research efforts. Of course depending on how far back in time you are conducting your research, some town's civil registry records may be incomplete or even missing entirely particularly if the town in question has experienced some form of man made calamity or natural disaster such as fire or flood in its history.
In fact for many areas that have experienced some form of disaster, the loss of many valuable documents has been a common problem, making it difficult or even impossible for genealogical researchers to peruse their historical records. In the event that you are able to trace such documents, they may be in an advanced state of deterioration and may be impossible to read. In any case, ask the local town hall in the area of your subject's family's residence if they are able to provide you with the documents that you need; there is nothing to lose in pursuing this line of investigation and you may be pleasantly surprised by the amount of relevant information that you can encounter.
Another potentially valuable source of information is your relatives. You would be surprised at how much information you can gather from merely talking to an older cousin or little known aunt or uncle. Older people are a surprising wealth of information and you can often learn a lot from them. However a sad fact of life is that time stands still for no one and unfortunately these relatives may not have very many years left to live. It would be wise to contact these older relatives as soon as possible before the knowledge that they possess is lost forever. You can take comfort though in the fact that their knowledge will go a long way in establishing a comprehensive Family Tree that will be a source of pride and enjoyment for the generations to come.
Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: N
Updated On: 05/02/2007