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 There are many definitions of this word


 Wikipedia -

 1. A line of descent traced continuously from an ancestor: "combing through the birth records and genealogy".

 2. The study and tracing of lines of descent or development. 

 3. A plant's or animal's line of evolutionary development from earlier forms


 Web definitions

     successive generations of kin the study or investigation of ancestry and family history

     Genealogy (from Greek: γενεά, genea, "generation"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. ...

     Michel Foucault's concept of genealogy is the history of the position of the subject which traces the development of people and society through history. His genealogy of the subject accounts for the constitution of knowledges, discourses, domains of objects etc. ...

     In philosophy, genealogy is a historical technique in which one questions the commonly-understood emergence of various philosophical and social beliefs by showing alternative and subversive histories of their development. ...

     The descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or ancestors; lineage or pedigree; A record or table of such descent; a family tree; The study, and formal recording of such descents



 I'm sure one could go on forever with different wording but the same basic meaning. Genealogy is the study and recording of one's ancestral history.



Written by: Nelda L. Percival



 The foremost important part of any true study is documentation.  For genealogy there are three parts to documenting a study of one's ancestors.


          1. Primary documentation - actual physical records, which can include Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, Tax Records, Court Records, Bible Entries, Census Records, Military Records, Wills and probate records, although a death certificate is official, it is also filled out by the relative  who is stressed to say the least. Information here can be incomplete and incorrect. This list does not limit what can be considered primary records.  

 Primary records are the actual recordings of a subject at the time it happened and is not the copy of such in a book, magazine or index on or off  line. 


          2. Secondary documentation - the extraction of primary documentation and recording of such in books, Magazines or indexes, including  such items and newspaper articles on or off line.



          3. Family history - The family history handed down generation to generation. Although, family history can be factual, as much as possible;  the facts of the item needs to be proven by primary documentation.


 The more documentation that can be found to prove out a fact, the better your genealogy records. At least two secondary documents are needed to  prove a fact and the more the better.



 Documentation changes a poorly researched file into good genealogy.



Where do I begin


 One must always start with one's self. You might say why would I need documentation on myself, I know who I am. Well let me tell you a true story  that concerns my own family. Mary Jane Gilpin, my older half-sister went through life by Mary Jane- Janie, she entered school, graduated, married,  divorced, worked, paid taxes, bank accounts drivers licenses and everything any other individual does in life. In her mid 40s Mary Jane and her  second husband were going on vacation in Europe. Mary Jane needed her birth certificate for a passport. Low and behold Mary Jane's actual birth name was Jacqueline. All those years, all those official records, all incorrect. Janie, continued to use Mary Jane for the rest of her life.


 Document yourself, birth, marriage(s), divorces, and births of children, now go back a generation. Do the sane for your parents. Include information on your siblings. You could include documents on your siblings. After researching your parents, continue backwards as far as you possibly can.


 It is very important to record your findings in a genealogy software. There are many different types of software and depending on what you want to   do with your files will result in your choice of what brand you use. I use the free software provided by the LDS church. (PAF) All genealogical  software needs to be able to create a file. files are used to transfer your records from one type of software to another, and to  facilitate sharing between researchers. In most genealogy software programs you can merge two or more files together. Where the files are identical  on a particular person, the information in the file being added can over write the information on the original file. For this reason, I input additional  files from others one individual at a time, by hand. Very time consuming but you don't lose data that way. If you choose to merge files, make a copy  of your original so that any lost/over written data can be retrieved.


 Always make a back up file. This should be done daily, but in reality which one of us does this - The smart one.


 Keep your back up file on a disk/flash drive, what ever away from your computer. That way if you ever get a virus, you have a clean backup file. It also doesn't hurt to have a hard (paper) copy.



Where can I get all my documents


 There are many areas world wide that have the documentation you might need. Before the computer, one had to go out to the different county court  houses, trying to get permission to sit for hours going through dusty book after book of county records looking for that one individual who's life you  are trying to record. One might think how dull this type of research could be, you would be wrong. From personal experience, I can tell you; you do  not even realize the hours have been slipping by when the clerk comes to tell you they are closing for the night, nor the excitement you feel when that  individual is finally found.

 With the invention of the internet and the digitizing of  county records you can get some of that research done from the comfort of your own home.  


 Maybe some of the excitement is gone, meeting new people, the clerks and other researchers you find in your journeys, but it is less expensive. No  traveling costs, nor hotel or restaurant fees, and it can be quicker. Although, if you ever get the chance to do actual hands on research, do it. It is a   wonderful experience.


 Go on line, go to your favorite search engine, now search for search engines - record what you find. Using different search engines can give you different finds. One search engine does not have all the millions of websites listed that are out there on the world wide web.


 Now, in your favorite search engine, input  genealogy, record the websites offered. These maybe free or pay for use sites. Remember that money  you saved by not going to that courthouse? Well, spend it on a membership at a pay for use site. 


 Also some libraries have access to pay for use sites for the library members, go join your local library.


 Also there are the LDS family history centers, call the local  Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints, LDS/Mormon for hours of operation for the family history center. They charge a very minor fee  to have micro films sent for you to view at the center.



The first online website to go to is?



 Without a doubt, is a free site created back in the early 90s or late 80s, by a husband and wife team. Due to the volume of use,  and the inability to keep up with new servers to handle the flow of millions of hits daily, was sold to, who promised to keep the website free. Rootsweb offers many different avenues of research, primarily being the mailing lists. These  lists are identified by subject, surname and areas. If you use only one type, you are greatly limiting yourself. Normally every list has an archive which can be accessed by searching or browsing. Doing research this way is also limiting as you can only access what others have written/asked questions about. If you join the mailing list you can send out emails to the list (every member) with your request for research help. As a old timer, I suggest  that you refrain from using such wording or words just requesting help. Use your subject line to introduce the person your requesting help on. It  would go something like: Rebecca Doggett, b. 1655, Hingham, Mass. 


 Keep your request simple and as complete as possible. There is nothing more irritating as doing a couple hours of research for someone and finding  out they already had that information. So include in the email a little report on the person your researching In my example I'll continue to use Rebecca Doggett. A real ancestor of mine.


 It might go something like this:



 I'm Nelda and I'm researching Rebecca Doggett. Can you help? 

 This is all I have on her.


 1. Rebecca1 Doggett, born 1655 in Hingham, Mass, daughter of Thomas Doggett. She married in 1675 John Wilder.


 I need information as to who her mother is and if she had any children.


 Thank you



 You have a better chance of the researchers who have been researching for years helping you, well at least reading it, if you keep it simple and exact. 


 Don't forget to also use the message boards at too. You use the same type of format there.


 Now where else do you go?  This website is also free but is more like a message board. It will notify you that a response has been posted to your message.


 Google your surname, contact others researching your people.


 Never take information from a website, make contact and ask. Never use someone else's research as proof, use it as a spring board to look up the documentation. Exchange documentation and records. You may have had to pay a lot of money to do your research, but share anyway, that  ancestor had other descendants, who are your relatives and may need your help. 




You do not own the facts 



 Frequently Asked Questions about Copyrights 


 The Copyright Office offers introductory answers to frequently asked questions about copyright, registration, and services of the Office. when you go there click on a subject heading  to view questions and answers relating to your selection. Links throughout the answers will guide you to further information on the 

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 Can I Use Someone Else’s Work? Can Someone Else Use Mine?   

 How do I get permission to use somebody else's work?


 How can I obtain copies of someone else's work and/or registration certificate?
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  and Copies of Copyright Records and Deposit, provides additional information.  

 How much of someone else's work can I use without getting permission?
 Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for  purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a   specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use  depends on all the circumstances. See FL 102, Fair Use, and Circular 21, Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and   Librarians.  

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there are page and pages on Copyrights




Copyright Basics for Genealogy


 The basics to remember are these:


 1. Facts can not be copyrighted


 2. Ask for permission first and always record who was the original researcher and the date they gave you permission to use the data. Yes Facts are not copyrightable, but that is a possible relative - family;  ask and give them credit for the find.


 3. The notes or comments written by the researcher are Copyrightable. Do not use unless you have written permission. 





 If you have more questions on Genealogy research contact me at: [email protected] Please put the word "genealogy" in the subject line. I get well over 200 emails daily, if the subject does not have the word genealogy then it might get thrown away.


 Hope this has helped you                                           




 I am not a certified genealogist, but I do have 15 years experience doing genealogy, for myself and freely for others.  I have been the administrator of as many as 30 genealogy mailing lists simultaneously, but at present only administer to four and 18 message boards, all at 




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