You’ve heard people say that they will believe it when they see it, but that doesn’t always work in the world of family history research. When you conduct your LDS family search, it is important to have a positive outlook, and think outside the box to get the best results. By opening yourself up to different ideas, and ways of thinking, you will be pleasantly surprised to find many facts about your own family’s history that you were unaware of. The story of your family could be staring you right in the eye, but you have to believe it to see it, or even find the pieces of the puzzle. When you begin to study your genealogy, there is one important question you must keep in the back of your mind. Who do you consider part of your family? This question leads you to think in many different ways of searching for your entire family. For instance, will you research your surname only, search for your grandparents, or will you search for your entire family so you can add them to your ever growing family tree? Instead of limiting yourself to certain areas of your family’s history, allow your family tree to grow with numerous branches.
If some of those branches conflict with each other, continue to research these members of your family, and go back and prove the conflicts later. You never know, a great aunt, or great grandmother may have kept your family bible with all the records in it, and you may discover that a distant cousin has a wealth of family photos that will continue to tell your family’s story. It is much easier to search for information about your family, if you know the surname you are looking for. However, it is much more challenging, if the child’s surname is different from that of the mother, and vice versa.
Genetic links to your family can be hidden behind many various surnames. These physical and emotional connections will not only give you links to DNA, but you will find many different cultural, linguistic, and nationality links that were previously unknown. Finding these connections can often be frustrating, and may lead you into a brick wall in your LDS family search, but don’t give up the search, because the treasures you will find are worth the struggle. If you are confused by the spelling of a person’s name, just remember that consistent spellings of a person’s name didn’t become as important as they are now, until sometime during the 20th century. Some highly educated and the most literate people used a different spelling of their names, sometimes every day, while those that were uneducated had to rely on others to write their names for them, thus spellings differed greatly from one person to the next. It is important to search for the names of your ancestors by using many different spelling variations when searching through census schedules.
Don’t Let Spelling Mistakes Get in Your Way
As your search possibilities continue to expand, you will often find that the list of spelling variations gets longer and longer, the further you dig into your family’s history. Although the sound ex system can help you find many variations of a person’s name, these systems often rely on the transcriptionist’s eye and wisdom. Sometimes one letter written in cursive may not be exactly what the person intended; therefore the sound ex system is useless. When this happens, it is best just to forget the index and search line by line for your ancestor’s name, by sounding each name out by the way it’s spelled in the record. You may find family members hiding among the spelling variations. When you interview your senior family members, remember that the telling of family stories may change from person to person, and from generation to generation. Your grandparents may embellish their stories to make them more interesting, while you have a great aunt that will change the telling of what actually happened to hide something embarrassing that happened when she was a child. The stories can change, depending on your family member’s memory of the way the story was told to him or her. No matter how many of the stories may differ from one telling to another, it is important to keep a written record of the stories for your family tree. You can prove them against other documented records and the accounts of other family members later on in your LDS family search.
Skeletons in The Closet
People may often times have events in their lives they wish to keep private. These skeletons aren’t what you intend to research for; these are things you come across in your LDS family search. These skeletons can come in many forms: divorce, mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, criminal action, mental illness, disability, and many more variations of events that happened in the lives of family members. This doesn’t mean that you should give up the search, but be mindful of the person’s feelings. This type of research can be valuable to your family tree, and it can bring healing to the person or people involved in these types of events. These secrets lose their power over people once they are revealed. Document your findings and cite the sources, but only reveal your findings with consideration of those who have lived through, and have been hurt by these skeletons.
Although researching your family history online can be fun and exciting, and visiting a library can be very informative and interesting, the most valuable research you can do to find out more about what your ancestors experienced, is to visit the places where they lived, worked, worshipped, and buried their deceased. Take a walk through their old neighbourhoods, smell the flowers and other fragrances around you, listen to the same noises they heard from day to day, and get a feel for their lives in these areas. You never know, you may meet some of your family who are still living in these old neighbourhoods.
Now that you have broadened your research and gathered all the information you can, take time to prune your family tree. Sort through all of the information to help you back up the family stories, let the facts about your family fall into place, even if they don’t turn out as you expected. After you sort through all your information and put the puzzle pieces together, the family secrets will disappear, the family stories will make more since, and the people you meet will come alive for you, , instead of just names and places on a page. You will see how the seemingly endless lists of family members are connected to each other, and where you belong on your family tree.