Guest post by EPL patron and long-time Madison Genealogy Society member Elsie W.
This month we're going to start a series on genealogical research. You may already know that the Madison County Genealogy Collection is housed here at the Edwardsville Public Library. We have many resources, including family histories, an indexed obituary file, printed census records, marriage records through 1882, some cemetery records, and quarterlies from genealogical societies within Illinois. If you are thinking of starting a family history, the library is a great place to begin. But where do you start? Here are some tips.
1. YOU'RE NUMBER ONE! Start with yourself; your full name, date of birth and other important dates; and the full names and dates of your parents.
2. KEEP THE RECORD STRAIGHT. You can use file cards, a notebook, or another system that makes sense to you. Enter all the information you find so that you can find it again when you need it.
3. ONE STEP AT A TIME. Prove the facts as you go. You can't skip generations. You cannot prove that Charles Edward Kilgare was your great-grandfather unless you can show positive evidence that your grandfather was his son.
4. PENCIL VS. PEN. You need both. Keep unproved records in pencil so they can be changed. Do not make a permanent record till you are sure.
5. IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR. Enlist the help of relatives. If they are nearby, visit them. If they are far away, write. Get reacquainted with distant cousins. Learn family traditions. Ask questions.
6. DATES ARE VITAL. Exact dates of birth, death and marriage may be found in family bibles, on tombstones, in state, federal of local records. Approximate ages appear in the census. Try every source.
7. THEY WENT SOMEWHERE! Census records since 1850 show state of birth which indicates migration patterns. Newspaper obituaries, county histories, and some land & probate records also give clues to residences.
Next month, more tips!