Basic instructions on how to begin your family tree

Basic instructions on how to begin your
family tree research
by Stephanie Reynolds
American Indian / Alaskan Native Patient Relations
Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley
May 2014
Lets start this family project
Where to start?
Learn how to research
your family history
Start by picking up that pen and paper
You can also record or video tape your stories
and pictures …
So let’s get started
Let’s get together as a family and put your
stories and pictures to good use by beginning
your research.
Your journey into the past will be a fascinating
find, You will become the family historian or a
great story teller.
Time to journey in the past; Lets find out about
your history.
Ancestor charts provide an overview of the family and
enable you to track your research project.
Ancestor charts ask these questions
Name: First and Last (Maiden Name)
B: Birth Date: 12/16/1964
P: Place Location: Rosebud, SD
M: Married 06/15/2005
P: Place Santa Cruz, CA
D: Death Add Date
P: Place Add Location
Add a picture if you can
A memo or note; who this person is and how they
are related to you.
(Auntie) (2nd Cousin)
(Great – Great - Grandmother)
(Who did they married?)
Start with your own family
Family History is More Than Dates
Your family history includes more than names and
dates. Ask about life stories.
•Do they remember relatives and friends?
•When you where 20 or 30 years old where did you live?
•What places have you seen?
You should ask if you can record the interview.
Remember to write down notes.
Questions that may help your interview are:
Choose a question of your own to begin your research project;
Decide what you want to learn…
Example: Who is Native American in my family?
Choose questions focused on your project:
1. When and where they were born?
2. Where did they live?
3. Did they marry someone?
4. When and where were they married?
5. Who did they marry?
6. Did they have children?
7. When and where did they die?
8. Where are they buried?
Look for Home Sources
After you have filled in the
ancestor chart as completely as
you can, look at home records
that may give additional
Look for items such as:
Allotment Certificates
Newspapers obituaries
Memorial cards from funerals
Family Bibles
Church records
School Records
Medical Records
Military Records
Documents such as birth, marriage, and
death certificates
These can all provide more names, places and specific dates –
important clues for the next steps in your research.
Next, time to travel and seek outside help…
Some librarians specialize in family history research. They are available to help.
A completed ancestor chart will help them to better assist you. (Make it as complete as you can .)
Visit a Genealogy Library –
In person or Online
Our local one is Central Park Library
2635 Homestead Road Santa Clara, CA 95051
Phone: 1-408-615-2930
Search sources, such as: Census, vital records,
directories, newspapers, microfilms, computers, and
local histories
All of these together act as tools in your research.
The National Archives holds information about American Indians who maintained their ties to
Federally-recognized Tribes (1830-1970). Most records are arranged by tribe.
National Archives in Washington, DC
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408
Telephone: 202-357-5000
Customer Service Center Telephone: 1-866-325-7208
Share your research and have fun!
Compile your work in a book or on a CD to share
with your family, and give copies to libraries. Offer
your work to its collection.
Doing family history research can be a rewarding, lifelong
pastime, taking you to new places, introducing you to new
family members, and giving you a deeper appreciation of your
unique heritage. Find out about your past, share it with
current family members, and record it for future generations.
It all starts when you take a look behind you!
To all my relations
Stephanie Reynolds, CEC
AI/AN Patient Relations
1333 Meridian Ave., Bldg - C
San Jose, CA 95125
Phone: (408) 445-3400 ext:287
[email protected]
The End

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