Are you just about start tracing your family history? Getting started is the hardest part for all genealogists. Finding your focus or getting that burst of inspiration to start with your first LDS family search may take a little bit of encouragement and that’s exactly what this article is for. Whether this is the first time you will have researched your family history or even if you are a seasoned veteran the following tips will help you get your LDS family search and your Mormon family tree on the right path from the very start.
The first tip is an obvious one but also quite possibly the most important. The first thing you should do to get a jumpstart on your LDS family search is to review all of the research that you already have to hand that can help. For example study any old photographs that you may have or any other documents that you have been able to obtain to help with your research such as wills, marriage licenses etc. One of my cousins found a money order that my grandmother had sent to back home to her parents I asked her to scan the money order and e-mail it to me. This receipt held some fascinating little details which helped me write a little bit of a story about how my grandmother had helped her family purchase a piece of land that is still owned by members of my family to this very day. As you will come to see it’s all in the details so be careful that you don’t overlook things as being useless that could actually be extremely valuable when it comes to your family history.
Next I’m going to tell you to listen to what your ancestors are telling you, this does not mean to run round admitting that you have the voices of your dead ancestors echoing in years, what I am trying to tell you to do is to listen to what they are trying to get across in the records that they left behind. For example you may be fortunate enough to have a diary that was left by your great grandfather or maybe a video or an audio recording of a member of your family describing their time in one of the World Wars. These kinds of personal keepsakes can be an invaluable resource for you to understand your ancestors that you may never have even met.
This next tip is not so much aimed at researching your family history than it is about how you go about writing the story behind your ancestors after you have performed an LDS family search and you have completed your research. If you are looking to do more than just to create a record of your family history and want to write a story about your family history then you should use a style of writing that is showing rather than telling. By this I mean when you are writing a story do it in a descriptive manner and write your story as if your ancestors are characters rather than just being one dimensional and saying things like my ancestor did this, you want to use a style of writing that conveys to the five senses and creates a descriptive story.
Sticking with writing a descriptive story about your family history the next tip is to get your planning right. You want to map out on paper the events that take place in the story that you want to write about and then put them in chronological order so that you can gain a clear picture of what you want to write about. Finally you need to keep yourself motivated and make sure that you are challenging yourself. Set yourself daily goals, if you are writing your family history as a story then you could set a goal saying that you are going to write a minimum of 500 words a day or whatever other goals are right for you. The point is to make sure that you stay motivated.
Researching your family history is truly fascinating and whether you are doing it in order to perform temple ordinances for your ancestor’s or even if all the ordinances have been completed you can still use the research that you have compiled to write a vivid and descriptive account of your family history that can be passed down from generation to generation for years to come.