Bend Genealogical Society, Deschutes County, Oregon
Bend Genealogical Society
Deschutes County, Oregon
Welcome to Genealogy!
Since our ancestors weren’t born with drop-down menus and online help, we want to
share with you some of our best tips for starting your family tree research.
DOWNLOAD FREE FORMS
The BGS free forms are PDF documents that you open in the free Adobe Reader. You
type information in the forms and save as many different ones as you need on your
computer. Each form has an instructions page.
Talk to your relatives. Ask them about the ancestors they remember. Certainly ask
about what they believe are facts and dates, but don’t stop there. Ask about memories
and the stories of their childhood. A family tree is more than a bunch of dates;
it is a growing patchwork of lives, which is rich with history.
Gather together all you can find in your home about your family. Scour the attic,
basement and closets (and those of relatives), and collect family records, old photos,
letters, diaries, etc., etc. If you are lucky, you have an ancestor who was a pack
rat and relative who saved it all.
Organize your information on paper using genealogical forms and/or a computer software
program. Scraps of paper in piles here and there can be lost. The standard forms
that genealogists have been using for years really do help you see what you have
and what you are missing.
The two basic forms are:
• The Pedigree Chart - This chart gives you a visual outline of your family.
• The Family Group Sheet - This sheet is where the details are recorded about each
family unit on the Pedigree Chart. You will have several Family Group Sheet pages.
Focus your research and give it a go using the internet, library and other resources.
By focus, we mean don’t jump around trying to fill in the blanks in your family tree
all at once. Choose a particular branch and immerse yourself in discovering its history.
The most important tip of all is to document where you found the information that
you put on your forms! The Family Group Sheet has an area to document sources. You
are on a quest for truth, not myth. You must have clear source documentation to support
adding individuals to your family tree.
Recognize that everything you find on the internet (or in books) is not always true,
even though it may be presented that way. Especially on the internet, there is an
enormous amount of misinformation. Look at everything you find with a critical eye.
Do not expect to find information to fill in ALL the blanks in your family tree by
only doing online searches. The amount of genealogical information on the internet
is barely the tip of the iceberg of what exists for family researchers. Just because
you can’t find someone in an internet search, doesn’t mean that information about
them doesn’t exist.
There are many, many more repositories of family information to explore than the
internet. Check out genealogical libraries, churches, newspapers, county court-houses,
cemeteries, historical societies, circuit courts, military service organiza-tions,
prisons, land offices...... The list of possible sources for genealogical information
is nearly endless!