One of the first steps in starting your family tree is to look around your house and ask your relatives for anything they may have to help you get started. Some of the things to look for are of course birth, marriage, deaths, and baptism certificates, but also, letters, post cards, pictures, baby books, funeral books, funeral cards, school report cards, diplomas, family bibles, confirmation certificates, membership cards, naturalization records, Journals, address books, date books, and this is just to name a few. You never know what you information you can get from these things. Never discount anything. People sometimes wrote stuff down on little scraps of paper. When I read old letters they will sometimes mention other people, and then I have found myself searching for the people mentioned in the letters. I have a date book of my grandmothers. Not only did she record every date accurately, she made comments next to each date about the person or event. For instance, she wrote that her cousin Julius Reinhardt was somewhere in the South Pacific. She started this date book during World War II. That not only told me she had a cousin Julius Reinhardt, but also that he was stationed in the South Pacific during WWII.
Here are some of the things that I have in my house that were given to me by my mother a long time ago.
I have many more items that I have not scanned yet. But this gives you an idea of what to look for around your house.
From these documents I can get my grandfather’s birth date, place of birth, where he was born, his parent’s names, where he worked, and how long he worked there. The pictures tell me what jobs he did while working at Texaco. The letter written to my grandmother gives me her address and an address in Ottawa, Illinois. It connects her to her Bower side of the family in Ottawa. The picture of a great aunt shows that she was in some kind of play around 1900. The class picture shows that my mom (second row, first one on the left) went to Gray School when she was in sixth grade. Not only do I get the dates, but also a glimpse into their lives.
You might want to check out the following sites to read more about home sources.