Imagine that you really DID have an eccentric rich old uncle that offered you a million U.S. dollars (or an equal value in your country’s currency) to do your own personal family history research. Hey, stranger things have happened in this world. Please think about it for a minute before you read on.
You would hire someone to do it… is that what you are thinking?
No, that’s the one of the catches to the deal says your uncle, "YOU have to do the research without hiring someone to do it for you. And, you have to keep it quiet so that other family members or friends don’t have any motive to help you any more excitedly than they normally would."
Boy - that uncle drives a hard bargain. But he IS good for the money.
So… what are the steps you would take? Where do you go from here?
Use your imagination and be honest with yourself… It would be a safe bet to say that you would become known as "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Genealogy" very quickly. You would probably be motivated enough to develop a bounty hunter’s attitude towards your research.
- You would become known on a first name basis at your local libraries and Family History Center. But despite your insistence, they will not allow you to set up a cot to sleep overnight in the building.
- You and your spouse have a slight falling out when you move the new giant microfilm reader into your bedroom and shout out a loud "Whoo-Hoo" every time you find an ancestor at 3:00 a.m. in the morning.
- Your extended family members are delighted by your enthusiasm for family history and have become more helpful than ever. However, they drew the line when you had the copy machine delivered to their home, had half the boxes from their attic on the kitchen table, and put up the "Shhh - Genealogy Researcher at Work" sign.
But seriously, my question for you is this: What would you do differently than you are doing now? Because your approach to genealogy research would certainly change.The most important change would be in your mind. A change of attitude, along with a firmer resolve to just go out and do it (take action).
Depending on who you ask, your family history is worth much MORE than a million dollars. In reality, it is priceless. If you are reading this article, you are one of the few in your family that has a real love and interest in your family’s history and genealogy research.
Good for you! Because of your research efforts, your name will be revered over the years in your family. What you do now will spark the interests and touch the hearts of future generations (if you preserve your work within your family).
Sure, there are things to learn, frustrations, and brick walls. But it is not impossible and can be lots of fun - and a very satisfying endeavor.
I encourage you to take the time from your busy life to become a "history student." A student of the places where your ancestors came from. What country, state, township did they come from? What was happening in those areas during the known span of time that they dwelt there?
I also encourage you to take the time and look at the "Research Outlines" from the Family History Library (that I have mentioned time and time again in the Treasure Maps Genealogy newsletter) about your states or countries of interest. There you will find many facts, dates, and shortcuts that will help you put it all together.
And finally, inquire as much as you possibly can with other family members. The clock is ticking and valuable word of mouth history and clues to your research are fading away. Make the call, write the letter - and doors will start to open for you.
Remember, the more you know, and the more clues that you have - the more valuable the Internet will become to your personal research.