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Genealogical Research Tips

Dear Genealogical Researcher,

The complete answer to your question, how to research the genealogy of your family, is very lengthy. Many people take school classes in the subject. The best way I can answer your question is to provide you with important principles of genealogy research which have proved successful for me and to provide you with references which will provide more detail.

That is what I have done.

Your first step is to determine the surnames of interest to you. Work with one family name at a time, otherwise you will inundated with facts which you will not be able to digest. Patriarchal lines are normally easier to research than matriarchal lines. Take what appears to be the easier, or more famous lines first.

Before you get into the details of your research, interview all members of the family, the oldest members first. Record to paper or computer files all the information you receive. Collect pictures, newspaper articles, awards and other object given to you by family members. Keep a separate file for each family. If you receive a lot of information, you may have to keep a separate file for some family members.

Begin your search with the current generation. That is you! Work back one generation at a time. DO NOT SKIP A GENERATION. Should you skip generations you are in danger of picking the incorrect family link and you will be lost forever. Go back in time using death certificates, marriage certificates, and birth certificates in that sequence. Later, as you progress, you will find that you can seek out other helpful documents.

Buy an inexpensive genealogy book to get you started. I purchased "Finding Our Fathers", by Dan Rottenberg. It was of great help to me. You can purchase this book at Amazon.com located by scrolling down the home page of Sephardim.com (also at the bottom of this page, for your convenience).

Join a genealogy club. The members of the club will have already solved problems you will face in the future. Join a genealogy forum, for the same reason. A forum will provide you international research exposure. You will find your fellow researchers very cooperative and helpful. If you are interested in joining a Sephardic forum, join the Forum at Sephardim.com (click the link to open a preformatted email, which you can send right away, or just write me at SteinHE@aol.com). If a Family History Center of the Mormon Church is located near you visit them. The Mormon Church has the largest genealogical collection in the world. The volunteer librarians will try to help you.

When you come to a halt because of difficulty and feel you cannot proceed, begin research with another family. You can go back to the first name later. What you learned in researching the first family you will can use with the second family. What you learn in the second family, you can apply to the first family.

Have patience. You will have productive days, weeks, and months. Your will have nonproductive days, weeks and months. Know before you begin the project, that by definition, you will never fully complete your project because your family will grow as you work without your knowledge.

These are what I consider the basics you must know before you begin.

Your will find more information in greater detail on the links page of Sephardim.com. In particular, please visit the links labeled F4 through F15. Please also visit link A37. There you will find a super Surname Navigator.  The numerous search engines connect to this site will give you many leads.

I wish you great success in your search.

- Harry Stein

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