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From the Green Valley News, Friday 2 March 2007, page B7

Genealogy Today, by Betty Malesky

Researching Your Family

If you are reading this column you probably have an interest in knowing more about your own genealogy and family history. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates as many as 40 million Americans have at least a fleeting interest in their ancestry.

You may be curious about the real truth behind family traditions, or if your family never talked about the past, you may feel challenged to find out why. You may want to learn about your ancestry for medical reasons. If you were adopted, you may want to find your birth parents. If you are a history buff, tracing your family in the context of history brings them to life. Whatever your motivation, itís exciting to learn more about the people who made you who you are today.

The Green Valley Genealogical Society is sponsoring a series of four free beginning or basic genealogy classes from 10 a.m until 12 noon every Monday beginning on March 5 at the Green Valley Public Library. The classes are open to the public.

You will learn how to prepare a family chart and a family group sheet, two forms of keeping track of information so you can easily see what is known and what is needed about each person on your family tree. Tips for interviewing relatives and using items you already have to get started on your family record will be shared.

Weíll talk about how to find and use vital, census, military, and courthouse records as well as other sources used in family research. Documenting your sources is an important part of the research process. When you learn the right way to do it youíll be surprised at how simple it is.

Genealogy software is inexpensive and helps to keep your family data organized. Before you get too far into your research you may want to consider computerizing your findings. We will compare several genealogy programs and discuss how to choose the program thatís right for you.

The last class will focus on Internet genealogy. Itís not practical today to attempt family research without taking advantage of the resources on the Internet. Learn where to find information about your family and how to evaluate what you find. Just as everything you read is not true and factual, not everything on the Internet can be trusted, but even undocumented data may provide clues to help in your search.

The question most frequently asked of family researchers is, "When will your genealogy be finished?" Thatís entirely up to you. You can research one or both parentsí lines. You may choose to track your family back to their arrival in this country and let another generation pursue their ancestry across the ocean. Your family history can be as detailed or as simple as you want to make it.

In my case, the answer is, "Never!" Now donít let that discourage you, because thatís my choice. Every ancestor has two parents and each has a story to tell. I like to learn as much as possible about them so I can write their stories. To me, genealogy resembles a vast jigsaw puzzle with hundreds of missing pieces waiting to be found and put into place and each piece is important.

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