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                                                   DIGGING UP YOUR ROOTS

What is the best way to begin researching your ancestors? Begin with the "here and now".  Interview your own family members and long-time family friends. Use some kind of recording device when you are interviewing, even if it is only a pen and spiral notebook. Don't depend on your memory alone. Try to obtain copies of any family Bibles, journals, letters, photos etc. that family members are willing to share. Hand-held scanners, copiers and especially your cell phone (if it takes good pictures) can be very useful so that you don't need to "borrow" special items.

Family reunions and hopefully relatives with good memories are wonderful resources! Relatives are usually really helpful in getting your research off to a good start.  Don't forget to make notes or ask if you can record as people reminisce.  The topic may not pertain to people you are currently researching but may come in very handy in the future.

Most of us have old photographs in a box somewhere that we don't have the slightest idea who is in the picture or maybe we can only recognize one person in a group shot. Taking these photos to your next family get-together may get you some answers.
It is safer to make copies of old originals so you don't have to worry about them being damaged. We prefer to take photos in an album with protective sleeves and include index cards or sticky notes etc. for each photo so that identifying info can be written down. The album can be easily passed around and shared. Just check periodically to make sure it is still circulating. Ask if anyone can not only identify whoever is in the photos, but perhaps what was going on, the occasion, location, approximate date and if there is a story behind the photo.
The internet offers such a vast array of information and it can be overwhelming. Be sure that you make and keep copies of any information that you discover. Things change very rapidly on the internet and that "great" resource you discovered today may not be there the next time you look. 

Document where you found your information. Such as, If your resource is a book, make sure you copy the Title page as well as the pages containing the information. If it is going to be more than a page or two, consider buying the book. It is always worthwhile to begin your own genealogical library.

If information is found in a census, a newspaper or other documents, then they are your source. Make note of or make a copy of title pages, dates and page numbers where your info is located.  If the information is attibuted to another person, then that person is your source and should be given credit for the information you are keeping with your records or that you are publishing to the Internet.

Just keep in mind that a lot of inormation on the internet can be misleading and /or incorrect. offers a "huge" amount of information! However it is a subscription site but it does offer a free 14 day trial.
You will definitely have to do some verifying of information. So much information has been added to family trees and just
copied and added to others without documentation. - Census and vital records, - U.S. military records
and - Historical newspapers; are now affiliated with They offer great resources. The only negatives to these sites is that you can easily get lost just reading through old newspapers or other records! is also a very good resource. You can find birth and death dates and sometimes photos of headstones or markers. When you find the cemetery you are searching for, type in the surname and it will bring up a list of everyone by that name. If you'd rater find a specific person, then just type in their first and last name. Often the site will have links to other family members even though they are in differnt cemeteries.

"What is Find A Grave? Find a Grave's mission is to find, record and present final disposition information from around the world as a virtual cemetery experience. Find a Grave memorials may contain rich content including pictures, biographies and more specific information. Members can leave remembrances via 'virtual flowers' on the memorials they visit, completing the virtual cemetery experience." (copied from Find a Grave's website)

Below are a few links which I continue to find useful:

  • One of the best FREE resources available!
  • The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) continue to be on the forefront of genealogy research. Use this link to do preliminary research, then take the information in to one of their Family History Centers to look for more details.
  • The site, has a large number of searchable files and databases, organized by state and county.
  • If you have specific family questions, try posting them here: or here: (depending upon the spelling).
  • NOTE: Genforum hosts many family forums - not just Abernethy! Use the same link that I have shown above, but substitute the surname you are interested in. Example, to go to the SMITH forum, you would enter:
  • is an educational project of The Battery Conservancy. This free site offers access to a database of information on 11 million immigrants from 1820 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened. 

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