What I Need to Get Started

Discovering your family's story

Here is what I need:  namesdateslocations!  Print the pedigree chart linked to the bottom of this page.  For each person, tell me as much as you know:

  1. Names.  The more exact the better, as far as spellings, nicknames, middle names... For women, I need maiden names if at all possible.
  2. Year of birth (or a good guess).
  3. Where born (state or country). 
  4. Also, names of siblings are a huge help with the census records; if you can give me even one or two siblings, then I’ll know if I have the right family.

So, start with your parents, then each of their parents.  And so on – names and whatever other details you know.   Even small details can be very helpful.   

I need to get back far enough to be dealing with dead people!  For most of us that means grandparents or great-grandparents.  I need to get back to people born in the early 1900s.

If the spelling of the last name(s) changed along the way, or if several different spellings were used, let me know.  Sometimes just changing the spelling of a last name makes all the difference when I do a search.

Sometimes I can go back many generations, and sometimes I can’t.  Unusual last names are easier; common last names like “Miller” and “Johnson” are tougher.  Once I trace a family line out of the USA, the trail usually goes cold very quickly, unless other researchers have info online.  (Exceptions are Canada and England, which have old census records online.)

  • If you have any documents—like obituaries, wedding announcements, or birth/marriage/death records—or if you have any family tree work done by other relatives, I’d really like to look through whatever you can find and loan me.  It can help me do a better job for you and not waste time finding information that you already have.   I can also scan such documents (into PDF files) and then incorporate them into your binder, add them to your CD, and/or upload them to your online tree.

  • Send along any photos you want me to scan (into JPG files), and I’ll add them to the binder and the CD (and also upload them to your online tree).  Printed images really dress up your binder!  I can scan/clean up/save/upload about 12-15 images an hour.  Please be sure names, etc. are noted on the back of each and every photo; I need names in order to attach the photo to your tree.

Printable pedigree chart to fill in