My next step: Research

You've asked your mother and your father about when you were born and where. You asked them about themselves and you've carefully entered this information into your journal. You may even have grandparents that you have sat and talked with about their lives and have heard many interesting stories. But now you'd like to know more about your ancestors who are no longer living. Where do you start your research?

Here is where you become an Ancestor Detective. First, ask if there is a Family Bible that your parents or grandparents have that contains a written record of when and where family members were born, married and died. Keeping paper records was not required many years ago. Families relied on their Bible to track when children were born; couples married and loved ones buried after their death. If your family doesn't have a Family Bible, ask your mother and father about starting one for your family.

The Vital Records Department is another place to find this information. Ask your parents to work with you. The records should be found in locations where your ancestor was born, married and died.

Be sure to visit your local library where they may have copies of old newspapers from your local town or city on microfilm. By reading the birth notices and obituaries, you can learn names of family members you'll want to include in your family tree. Sometimes an obituary will also tell where that relative was living at that time.

Many libraries today also have access to electronic databases that hold information on your ancestors. You can find census records from 1790 through 1930 on the Internet today. The U.S. Federal Census has been taken every 10 years since 1790.