Where to Start
Welcome to the wonderful world of genealogy! It is a very rewarding "hobby" which lets you put in as much or as little time as you want or can spare. The best thing about genealogy is the experience and thrill of discovering one's family history. There are so many things we don't know about our ancestors and their lives. By recording your family history, you are saving it for your descendants and other researchers. They will thank you for all of your hard work and taking the time to research and record your family history.
Here are some questions and answers to help you get started.
How can you find out which Family Group you belong to?
1. Check the past issues of Pennington Pedigrees. If you do not have the past issues, you can order back issues by going to the PRA’s Publication web page. Once you have identified some information which is part of your genealogy research, contact the person/s who contributed the information. If you do not wish to purchase any of the previous issues, contact your local library and ask them if they participate in the national library lending program. If they do, you can ask them to order copies for you from the PRA Archives/Library which is located at Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana. Click here to learn more about the PRA Archives/Library.
2. Post a query on the Pennington Research Association’s mail list. Click here to learn how to post to the PRA mail list. You can also use Archived e-mail interactive search on Rootsweb.com. This process is simple and covers the mail posted since 1996.
3. Participate in the PRA’s DNA Study. Click here to learn more.
Where can I find a list of the known Pennington Family Groups?
1. Click here for a detailed list of the PRA Family Groups which includes each Group Leader’s name and links to individual Group web pages.
How do I get started researching my family history?
1. Many researchers have achieved outstanding results by interviewing the older generations of their family and recording or writing what they know. Even though their recall may not be l00% accurate, there is usually a grain of truth in what they say. This may also reveal some unknown parts of your family history which can add real adventure to your search and bring your family history to life.
2. The National Genealogical Society makes some great suggestions to family history beginners. You can read their article by downloading an Adobe Reader file (pdf). Click here to download their file.
3. Suzane Smith has written an article entitled “100 Genealogy Resources to Discover Your Ancestry.” Dick Eastman suggests “… a list like this should be given to every genealogy novice. This list does look good.” I agree! What a great tool to help you with your research whether you’re a beginner or an experienced researcher. You can find lists like in many places but this one is current and offers a great explanation of each website. Plus it has a direct link to each website.
4. Mark Tucker, ThinkGenealogy.com Blog, has a FREE download to help you understand the entire genealogy research process because it is in visual form which makes it easy to understand and follow. This is a great tool! His Genealogy Research Process Map is a free download . Click here to visit his blog and to download the most recent file. Or, you can download Version 2.0 of the file by clicking here (note this is a large file).
5. Create an indexing and filing system to keep track of your genealogy records, photos, documents and letters. Click here to download an Adobe Reader file (pdf) with an organizational outline for creating an indexing and filing system.
6. Visit the PRA FAQ (frequently asked questions) web page.
7. Visit the PRA Resources web page.
8. Visit the PRA Research Tips web page.
9. Use search websites like Google or Yahoo. Learn how to use the search paramiters of these search engines. For example, go to Google's Advanced Search web page to learn how to search for specific words, topics, people or thousands of other combinations. Try this for starters. Go to Google and in the search box type your surname and then enter ":" and then type "genealogy". Stand back and be amazed at the results.
10. Use the great resources at www.Rootsweb.com. You’ll find many helpful articles, links and resources. Look for the link that says “Getting Started at Rootsweb” to get help.
11. Use the great resources at www.cyndislist.com. Look on the left side about ½ way the page for the link titled “New to genealogy and/or the Internet” (www.cyndislist.com/faq/newbies.htm). Cyndi needs our help. Click here to learn why Cyndi needs our help with her website project so she can keep this outstanding website working!
12. Sharon Tate Moody has written an excellent article that perhaps should be required reading for all beginning genealogists: "People new to genealogy often are surprised to learn they can't "do their family history" on the Internet in a weekend. In fact, those of us who have been working on our families for 30 or 40 years know it might take more than one lifetime to get it all done."
Click here to Sharon's entire article or use this TinyURL --> http://tinyurl.com/r2zeep.
13. Use the Research Guides at WeRelate. The research guides section of WeRelate continues to grow. It includes general information like how to get started in genealogy research and useful research sources. There’s a huge selection of location pages and outside sources such as the USGenWeb and the FamilySearch Wiki. And there are a growing list of topical guides ranging from the Cemetery Research Guide (one of my favorites) to DNA Research and Genealogy.
If you have any research resources from an area or topic you are researching, you are encouraged to add them to those research pages. Every little bit adds value to everyone’s research efforts. There is also a section at the bottom of many research pages encouraging users who are researching that location or topic to include a link to their WeRelate user page. What a great idea!
14. Purchase a computer software program for recording and disseminating your research information. It will help you collect and save the information and to produce reports, web pages and gedcom files.