More Genealogy Tips and Tricks

Here are some more genealogy tips and tricks for your family history research. Click Ancestry & Genealogy on the right under Categories for similar posts.

  1. Formatting a Tree: Once you get further back in your family research it feels satisfying to see it all on one page. At one point I wanted to see seven generations from both sides represented on a one-page tree. This is not an easy task. Other than printing on legal size paper, I found that sports playoff brackets work great, whether the FIFA World Cup or The World Series! I adapted them for genealogy and then traced out my own. (Go Giants!)
  2. Adoptions: I don’t have any experience researching adoptions, but I have a couple of cousins sprinkled here and there who are adopted. I think it’s important to make a note in some way in the comments section where you might put blood type or eye color. Related to this, let me give heart to those who are adopted. Your family tree is just as important. And it’s not that you don’t have a family tree, you have two. You are twice blessed. Your biological father may have given you blue eyes, but your adopted father gave you a love of baseball or architecture or what have you. They are both part of your heritage and who you are.
  3. Outside the Internet Box: It is now considered normal to search online for your roots, but don’t forget old fashioned sources. I enjoyed the significant collection of San Francisco address directories at the California Genealogical Society as well as their in-depth collection of newspaper obituaries. These are not readily available online as they are much more local in nature. Yet this is where the good stuff, the meat, the story of the family, can be found. I learned of a great great-grandfather who was laid off from his job as a stevedore, likely had a few drinks, and washed up the next morning in Oakland. Not the proudest moment but insightful nonetheless.
  4. Fires, Earthquakes, and Natural Disasters: For the most part, the 1890 U.S. census burned before copies of census records were being kept in separate locations. However sometimes records are salvaged and then relocated. For example, regarding church records, I found my grandparents marriage certificate at St. Emydius Church even though they were married at St. Michael’s. They are neighboring parishes. A construction project at St. Michel’s and its later conversion to a Korean Catholic Church resulted in the records remaining at St. Emydius until I found it. Fortunately this was known by the church secretary, but sometimes you will need to know the history of the archives to get the history of your ancestor.
  5. Record Keeping: I highly recommend some organized filing system for your research, even if you don’t expect genealogy to become a full-on hobby. As a teenager I developed a simple way to group research using colored folders: green for the Irish, blue for the Scottish, red for the Danish, and purple for the Italian. I roughly followed the colors of the flag and went Roman purple since the green and red were taken. You may want a binder with the following sections: family records, active research notes, family worksheets, and family trees. You can also file by surname or generation; just pick something that works for you. This way if you take a break for a few months between research you will not have to start all over again.

Sample Sports Bracket


About Daniel Roddick

Daniel has a B.A. in American History with minors in both Ethnic Studies and Sociology. He also has an M.Ed. in College Administration and Counseling. Daniel has worked in the financial aid industry for over a decade. He has presented all over the country on financial aid issues related to equity, inclusion, and access to education. He is also a writer of poetry, fiction, and this blog, all of which touch on identity.
This entry was posted in Ancestry & Genealogy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More Genealogy Tips and Tricks

  1. Jed Herman says:

    I enjoyed reading this very much. It’s nice to see your words and your work.

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