Preserving your heritage can be done by recording your family stories by following
the outlined steps below.
Step 1: Start with What you Know
Start at home and look for clues to your family's heritage and follow all leads.
Go through those old photo albums. Check family books and documents for notations
of marriages, births and deaths. Talk to your grandparents or other relatives. Sift
through a trunk that is filled with heirlooms that belonged to your relatives.
Step 2: Record your Ancestor's Information
Organize your project. Chart everything that you already know about your relatives
(names, residences, professions, dates of birth, marriage, and death). Work from
the present back to the past. Part of the recording process is finding documents
that validate your heritage.
Step 3: Interview your Relatives to add Family Tree Heritage
We highly recommend that you conduct written or recorded interviews with your
living relatives to give your tree some heritage data that can only be achieved
through interviews. Questions should be geared around: who, what, when, where, and
why. To help record your heritage, below are some questions you may want to ask.
We have only touched the surface; you need to dig deep to get the details.
Do you know the heritage of your mother and father?
What are your fondest memories?
Did your family have traditions? If so, do you still honor them? Did you have gatherings
that relatives attended? What do you remember about the people who would come?
Can you recall any family stories?
Did you know your grandparents? What were they like?
Do you know where any of our relatives are buried?
Where and when were you born?
Where have you lived?
If married, when and where were you married?
What kind of wedding did you have?
If you had a reception, where was it and what do you remember about it?
If you had a honeymoon where was it?
If you have siblings, what can you tell me about them?
Who was/is your favorite relative and why?
What was your best vacation?
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite beverage?
What food do you not like?
What is your favorite movie?
What is your favorite book?
Who taught you how to drive?
Do you like to sing?
Have you traveled overseas?
Were you in the military? If so, when, what branch, and did you travel anywhere?
What religion are you?
Do you practice your religion?
Are you artistic?
Have you ever planted a garden?
Have you ever volunteered, is so where?
Did you go to college, If so where?
What has been your best job?
What do you want people most to know about you?
What do you want people most to remember about you?
Do you have any words of wisdom you would like to share?
Have you had any surgeries or illnesses?
Do you have any fears?
What sports do you like?
Are you allergic to anything?
Do you have any information about other relatives?
Do you have photographs, letters, legal documents, newspaper clippings, family bibles
or biographies that can be copied and shared with other relatives?
Step 4: Find Documents to Validate your Heritage
Once you start to gather information about your heritage, your family tree will
be missing some information for relatives, like birth, marriage, residence, death,
and military. There are many records that can help you fill in missing data. Refer
to our article
research your ancestry to find which documents can help uncover what
you are looking for.
If you are need some help with how to get started with your genealogy research,
we have an article that outlines the steps for searching and discovering your ancestry
organized research process.
Finding your ancestors through documents can be challenging. You might expect
to locate people in a certain place through an available document, only to come
up empty-handed or you may find too much information. When this happens, remember
Use alternate name spellings · Try to find close relatives and their known
Expand your search to adjoining counties.
Try searching for alternative documents that will provide the information
you are looking for.
Record everything you have tried, even if you were not successful, as this
will keep you from duplicating the same research in the future.
Always use several documents to validate that a person truly belongs in your family
tree. Using just one document can send you, and the people you share your information
with, down the wrong path causing incorrect information to be recorded. Validating
important names, relationships, dates, and places can be a difficult task. Our progress
rating chart can help you with that.