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Growing and Sharing Your Family Tree shows how rewarding and informative building a family history can be. Genealogy instructor Jeff Sengstack teaches how to find lost ancestors, connect with living relatives, and collaborate with others to grow a family tree. He explains how to use the Family Tree Maker application along with Ancestry.com and other internet sites to track down census data, immigration records, and other important documents, and then organize family tree data. Jeff also presents tips on how to scan old photos, create video slideshows, and build family web sites. Exercise files accompany this course.
Download Jeff's free genealogy tips from the Exercise Files tab.
Once you input basic information about close relatives into your Family Tree Maker software, it's time to go on a treasure hunt. You want to track down anything that can help you fill in details about the lives of your ancestors. Start at home, in the attic, the basement, closets, look for birth, marriage, and death certificates. They usually have parent's names, maiden names, important dates, and addresses. Passports record travel dates and places, plus usually have a photograph and a birth date. Photos are worth their weight in gold.
They personalize your family tree research. If you are not sure who is in the photo now, you'll probably find out sooner or later. Picture postcards not only might have brief handwritten notes, but they could have direct connections to your family. This is a postcard of The Guesthouse, the tavern/hotel owned by a relative in Germany. Letters, journals, diaries, they typically are loaded with information. Newsy letters were common years ago. Finally, look for newspaper clippings, advertisements, and even artifacts. Things like jewelery, needlework, and metals.
They sometimes have information engraved on them like this Boy Scout medal. As you gather all these goodies, it's important to protect them. Put documents and photos in plastic sleeves, then put them in three-ring binders. Your goal is to carefully preserve documents, and photos while making them easily accessible.
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