Organize what you know and prepare for what you are going to find

Yep, you will have to make a choice.

Choose your Methodology: Manually or Digitally


Physical papers and documents will need a storage place, begin with a folder and then a place for the folder like a box or file cabinet. Start with a father and his family using Family group sheet for the recording and then put any documents and photos or newspaper clippings on that family in the folder. You will notice that the folder will accumulate in no time. Then separate by the children’s names and so on.

My manual storage in one family tree for documents is stored in date order as it begins with first ancestors in early 1700s. I have 4 storage boxes and the 1st one is in date order. When I get to a certain generation, I then put them in name order for it is easier for me to find. Family name order is recommended and knowing your family’s names being easy to recognize on folders. You will want to keep photos, newspaper clippings, articles, documents like land records, wills, successions and organicational memberships information in books and magazines are copies with source information and some cases just purchased the book or magazine.

I don’t want to scare you off with my collections since 1982 but making sure you have the space as you continue your searching takes years of wonderful exploring your family and their history, immigrations, citizenships, countries of origin and much more. I also have computer storage both in program and online in several sites.


There are many programs for computers or apps for computer storage just make sure you have your information backed up in several places such as flash drives and computer drives, just begin with your computer, and then keep backing up until you need more space, them move on to flash drives and passport drives as needed. The program I use is Family Tree Maker and I have updated once I need the newest version which has been available for years.

All costs for your needs are your decision to make you can spend very-little money or a lot. To me purchasing the FTM program was a one-time thing and I store it all on my computer drive and back up to a flash drive. Later, when I could afford to invest in a membership, which I have on hold at this time, I can restore my membership at any time.

Computer storage can also include website built for genealogy such as and, Geni and many more take your choice. Some are free and you just have register in their site, but many have subscriptions or memberships and as long as you pay your bill you are given access. On these sites you can post and store your files in FTM or other formats and you need to download them when you leave the site or your membership is going to expire. Once the membership is over, you will not have access until you renew the membership.

NOTE: You will have to probably do both manually and digitally and eventually as paperwork will accumulate and computers make it very easy to keep these records.

Remember what you are doing is important not only to you but also your family as you are preserving your history, culture and names. Also remember God loves you and he is blessing you every step of the way.  

Part I: Resources reveal documentation of vitals and Clues to family history

The old family bible treasured by genealogist is the number one go to for information if one exists. Some families recorded just about every birth, marriage, and death in that old family bible. Sometimes several generations are recorded.  This would be my first go to if one exists. Don’t just copy the information on your family but all if possible. Take photos of entries and log them into your resources. Take pictures of the whole bible I mean to show what it looks like, take several. List the family name and its owner as well as their phone number and complete address as well as email address. You will also want to list the date, place and time of this viewing. I would also do an interview and tape it with pictures of these family members who have kept this bible special in their lives. You may also want to check online to see if family members have posted any bible statistics.

Handed down through generations of family, family bibles record generation information on history inside it. The most common information it contains are of births, deaths, baptisms, confirmations and marriages and an excellent source for genealogical research.

Finding photos of your family begins with your own family. Then contact living relatives beginning with the oldest and see if you can find the old family photos. Remember to be polite and ask if they would have the time to show them to you. Ask if you can bring a camera and take pictures of them. Search newspapers, yearbooks, local histories, business directories and military records and passport applications. Libraries and historical societies should be contacted in the areas where your ancestor lived. Check for local oral history collections. If you find old photos don’t forget to look on the back of them for further clues and photograph anything written there.

Interviewing family (oral history) helps to understand family situations and can put an end to rumors. Contact the elders in the family as soon as possible. Record their interview as you will need to get their permission on tape at the beginning say the date into the microphone or phone and say this is name of person and they were born date of birth in location say, city, parish or county and state. You can mention their relation to people you are going to talk about. Make sure you have your list of questions. Make sure these questions will answer the questions you are wanting to find out plus more. Some sensitive questions should be mixed with simple ones, not to disturb the person you are interviewing, especially if they are elderly. This one was covered in an earlier post.

Birth certificates can tell you not only when someone was born but where, and give important details about the child’s parents, often including when and where they were born and their occupations and more. You can obtain these through the parish courthouses via their vital records applications and some states provide online service, or you make a request by mail. Before the 1900s, birth records were filed by parishes, but most have been transferred to the state vital records. Births of earlier dates can be found in courthouse records, plantation journals and baptism recordings.

Baptism records list dates of the baptism and births as well as parents and sponsors who again may be family or friends. Although found in church records and be also found in bibles of the family as well as Father Hebert’s Books. South Louisiana Records, Southwest Louisiana Records. Check out the church for which the family belongs. Were they always that religion or did they change? Call to contact the churches and find out where their records are kept. Sometimes they are kept at another location.

Check out Part II: More resources

What you know gets recorded

This Blog was created for people doing research in North America. I have done some European research but only in the confines of the World Wide Web.

Beginning your family search should start with what you already know about your family that includes their names and relationships and dates you know like mama’s birthday and their anniversary etc.  Put this information in a spiral notebook or special pages you have copied or purchased from genealogy websites. The best I use are the Family Group forms and the Five Generation chart.

Keeping the family in a Family Group form is easy, just list the parents and their birth, marriage and death information that you know, what you don’t know is what your searching is all about. Then list the children in date order, first born first. List their birth, marriage and death dates along with the name of the spouse with their info as well.

On the Five Generations charts you will begin the first one on the left by filling out your information. Then the top will be your father info and the bottom will be your mothers. This will follow suit, father top, mother bottom on the following generations.

Again, fill out what you can on their vitals birth, marriage and death dates and places. If you are using the forms you can put them in ascending for descending order as you prefer, but always keep them in a folder or binder which ever you prefer. Once you have the first page started, then you need to look at the missing items and begin to get that information.

NOTE: When you fill out the information with what you know please put in your Source or right behind the information OH, self or your name. This represents Oral History, Jane Doe. Once you obtain documentation of these items you can change the Source info to where you got it. Such as HR Church, Houma Bt Vol 4 No 2, meaning the Holy Rosary Church in the Baptism book Vol 4 and No or page. Notice I put Houma after the church name as the is another Holy Rosary Church in a nearby parish.

MEMO: Born in Louisiana, I am used to saying parish as that is what our counties are called. Please relate any information when I say Parish to County in your neck of the woods.

  1. Name of relative or self
    1. Date of birth, location and source
    2. Date of marriage, location and source
    3. Date of death, location and source

Please spell the name correctly and it can change as you go back in time with family names.

  1. Date of birth sometimes as b. or bn. is preferred, sometimes all you have is a baptism bt. date if that is the case use this date and show the Bt. And the source, church name, location, Bt. Book # and Volume and page numbers.
  2. Date of marriage, again this can be deceiving. In Louisiana, there are civil and church marriages. Usually, the civil marriage date is just the date the license was acquired at the local courthouse or the date a bond was posted. The church marriage usually followed with a different date. If I have both I put both, but for documentation on this form, there is no room for both, choose the one. you prefer or write the other on the back of the page of your form with the corresponding number from the front form. Example: Date: TPCourthouse MGs Book #, page# doc #.  & Date: HR Church Houma Mg book # page# doc#
  3. Date of Death:  DATE: Location, Bur. HR Houma Cemetery Main St Lot # Blk #, if this person died at a different location then put where they died in location city, state and or country, then put Bur. Location. Now this person could be living so this area is left blank.

NOTEs: If the person is single and not married then the marriage section would be left blank as well. If the person never married then put that in the marriage section, but if they had children, then you would ask permission from the persons to include the father (s) of their children as well as putting never married. For genealogy’s sake I always include the father’s names and put a note they were never married. That way the biological father would be named for medical reasons. If someone has been adopted, you may prefer to have one or both families listed and there are apps where you can place them as biological children or parents and adopted children or parents. If you have both and want to include them. Your choice. If you are writing them on the form or sheet then just create a second form for the adopted parents.

These are all choices you will need to make for yourself, no one else should make these decisions for you. Make sure that your reasons are on the up and up and not to hurt anyone. May God Bless you in a special way for taking up the genealogy of your family.