We have researchers come to
The Odom Library and say, "I'm stuck! What do I do?"
Here is a little checklist if you come to a brick wall in your
* Have you interviewed all of your relatives?
* Have you interviewed former family neighbors?
* Have you identified all of your family pictures?
* Have you considered ALL of the possible spellings of your family names?
* Have you considered ALL pronunciations of your family names...and then
considered all of those spellings?
* Have you just taken a break from that particular family, worked on
another line of the family?
* Have you written up what you already have?
* Have you reviewed all materials on that family?
* Have you checked ALL the vital records available?
* Have you checked land and court records?
* Have you checked court records and probate records?
* Have you checked local and state records?
* Have you looked at federal records?
* Have you checked church records?
* Have you checked occupational records?
* Have you checked ethnic records?
* Have you checked fraternal organizations?
* Have you researched every organization to which your ancestor belonged?
(Church, fraternal, military, etc.)
* Have you read over the materials you have and checked your own
* Are you researching from the present to the past?
* Have you organized your information?
There's no easy way to do genealogy. We have
folks who come to The Odom Library and say, "Hi. My grandpa's name was
Bill Jones, he had red hair and he could sing. I want his family history."
We have people who say, "I had an hour and thought I would come by The
Odom Library and get my family history."
Genealogy is a hobby that will last a lifetime.
I read that by the 20th generation, we have about a million and a half
direct ancestors. Even if we could - and it's not possible - find
information on each and every one of them, we would need nineteen
semi-trucks to hold all of our basic information.
So, whenever you think you are "finished," know that you are not. There's
always more to do.
You don't come and "pick up" your family history. Even if a wonderful and
thorough genealogical book was written ten years ago about your family,
you have ten years of records to create and add. Even if that book
contains all you ever wanted to know about that particular family...what
about the thousands of other surnames that belong to you?
We have people who are afraid to work on their family history for fear
they will find "skeletons."
Remember that million and a half direct ancestors? There's just no way
possible for all of them to be wealthy, lace-encrusted aristocrats. Each
and every one of us has kings and queens, aristocrats and famous
people....as well as a pirate or two, maybe someone who was a "horse
improver" (This means you steal horses, feed them up and then sell them
back to their original owner!) or even worse.
To me, that's the fun of genealogy!