Tonight, I had the opportunity to teach a class through the Poulsbo Parks and Recreation on using a variety of sources in genealogical research, what can be learned from them and how they can help us determine our next research steps. The members of my class are interested and interesting. They share their own research experiences and ask pointed questions. They give me a good stretch!
We went through a case study from my own family history research, highlighting several different types of resources, all secondary. However, these sources are extremely valuable and useful. They add interest to the family story and lead, in many cases, to finding the primary sources we all hope are out there.
- Personal knowledge
- Extracted information from family resources, like bibles
- Information obtained from relatives, both living and deceased
- Letters, in the family memorabilia or in response to a query (could be e-mail)
- Census information
- Compiled histories, as in county or family histories
Using these resources, as well as many others, researchers can find bits and pieces of information about their families. Besides filling in specific data gaps, it can increase their knowledge of their family's activities and, possibly, migration. Asking questions about the information will lead to more questions and the desire to learn where the answers might be found. In this way, genealogy gets us hooked! Just kidding.
Repeating the process of setting a goal, finding and searching the record or source, recording the information, evaluating (questioning) that information and setting another goal helps us to not only fill in the blanks in our forms, but also in our histories.