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Genealogy Fever: Do you have it? Here are
5 sure ways to treat genealogy fever

There is no cure for genealogy fever. You can only hope to treat the symptoms. And really the only way to treat those symptoms is to search out your own genealogy. Not sure you have genealogy fever? A simple test will tell you if you have gone from curiosity to complete fanatic.

If you can answer yes to any of the questions below, then you most assuredly have been infected. You may not have a full blown fever yet, but it will only be a matter of time.

  • Do you have even a little interest in what life was like when your grandparents were young?
  • Do you wonder about what country your ancestry is from and how they got here?
  • Have you found an old black and white photograph of an ancestor and been curious about how they relate to you?
  • Have you even once browsed the Internet to find out what information there is about your genealogy?
  • Have you seen the movie "Roots" in the last few years?

Even if you answered "no" to number 5, you still may be in need of help treating this craze that has captured the world, a craze I am calling genealogy fever.

You may recognize the symptoms of genealogy fever. It is sort of a feeling that is a cross between an ache to know all about your ancestors and an adrenaline rush you get by playing detective and uncovering some mysterious clue that gives you information about your genealogy.

The feelings go back and forth from ache to thrill and with each repetition a gate is opened, a gate to a pathway that leads to generations past.

So now that you are sure you have this incurable ache to find out about your own genealogy, just how do you get started and treat your fever? There are five steps to starting, and starting any genealogy begins with you.

1. Write down what you already know: To write your full name, date and place of birth and all the relevant statistics on your own life shouldn't be too hard. Where to write it to keep it organized is where on-line genealogy tools come into play. You will find what is called a pedigree chart where you start with yourself to trace your lineage or family tree.

2. Ask living relatives what they know: You can fill in a great deal of information about your genealogy by having a conversation with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Pretty much anyone older than you by 20 or more years can offer some good information.

3. Look for a paper trail: This is where the really good spy stuff comes into play that lets you act like a detective piecing clues together. There are paper trails on most people living now or in the past, so eventually you will be able to uncover something about your own genealogy that is on paper.

Papers on people will be certificates such as birth, marriage and death certificates (vital records), as well as voter registrations, census records and the like.

4. Take good notes: Genealogy fever can make you a little delirious so you may go off on a note taking frenzy without noting the source of the facts you have found on your genealogy. It's a huge waste of time to retrace your steps in researching and you will want to know where you found the information so you can verify it later on if need be.

5. Set time aside just for genealogy: Finding just a little piece of information brings on that constant ache to know more. With that feeling you may find genealogy starts to consume your life. You will go to bed all blurry-eyed from staring at the computer screen only to realize it is 3 a.m. and you sat down at 9 p.m. to look for just one more thing. Give yourself a few guilt-free hours each week, maybe a Sunday afternoon, just for genealogy.

There is a definite trend and attraction to genealogy. Once you have felt it, it is just better to let it run it's course right through your system and find out all you can about your own genealogy.

The one good part of genealogy fever is that it has reached epidemic proportions and that means we're all in this together. We all want to find and share information about our genealogy with anyone else out there looking for the same information. And all of that just makes genealogy fever that much easier to live with.

Copyright 1995-2007 by Robert Ragan - All Rights Reserved.