The historian, Will Durant, said, “Before we die, let us gather up our heritage, and offer it to our children.” Durant could have added, “and our children’s children.” Researching your family’s history can reveal information about your ancestors, but it also can lead to a fulfilling voyage of self-discovery. It completes the mosaic of who we are. If you are new to genealogy and want to research and preserve your own family history, you can start with these few simple steps.
1. Write down what you know about your ancestors, including information on their births, marriages, deaths, occupations, and other important facts. You will find that you want to organize this information into files. The Family Search website offers free downloads of Pedigree and Family Group forms. The Family Group forms have spaces for each couple and their children. The Pedigree Form allows you too look at your ancestral line.
They also offer a free download of their genealogical software, Personal Ancestry File (PAF). There are also a number of commercial genealogical software programs available for the PC. If you have a Macintosh, you may wish to try the program Reunion, available from (www.LeisterPro.com).
2. Ask your relatives for information. They may have additional family records, stories, and photographs.
If you intend to share your research with others, they will find the stories and history much more interesting than a dry lineage chart.
3. Pick an ancestor about whom you would like to know more. Start with the ancestors closest to you and work your way back. This may seem like a daunting task, but our ancestors left a document trail for us to follow.
4. There is a good chance that someone else may have researched all or part of your family tree. Good places to search are the Roots Web and Family Search websites. Subscribe to the Fisk and/or Fiske lists, and exchange information with others who are searching the same surname. Subscription or pay sites, such as Ancestry.com are also good sources.
5. If you search has taken you to a relative who lived prior to 1896, that person may be listed in one of the books about the Fisk/e family, such as Fisk and Fiske Family by Frederick Clifton Pierce, published in 1896 by W.B. Conkey, Chicago. (See the Sources Page)
6. As you become more serious about your research, you may want to avail yourself of the many free genealogy classes offered on Family Search and/or Roots Web.