Jackson family genealogy charts Mefford family genealogy charts Personal histories, books and periodicals used for research Biographies of living Mefford descendants
Photos and histories regarding locations important in the Mefford history A bulletin board for queries, questions and answers Links to other genealogy sites David's main index; http:david.mefford.org


Just Getting Started In Family History?

Researching your family history can seem like a daunting challenge. You know who you are, you probably know your parents, but from there, things can grow fuzzy very quickly. But it is not quite as difficult as it appears. Like eating an elephant; you just need to take it one bite at a time.

How To Start

The best thing to do is to start where you are right now. Don't think about what you don't know, concentrate on what you do. Here is a brief guideline of how to begin.

The first step is to write down what you do know. Start with yourself.

1. Where were you born?
2. When were you born?
3. Who are your parents?

Then do the same with each of your brothers, sisters or spouse. It is helpful to use a Family Group Sheet to record this information. You can print blank copies for yourself from the following web site: http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/Rg/images/31827_FamGrpRe.pdf

Your next step is to move back one generation and repeat the same steps for each of your parents. You can add other information as it is applicable.

1. Where was your father born?
2. When was your father born?
3. Who are your father's parents?
4. When was your father married?
5. When did your father die?
6. Where was your father buried?

1. Where was you mother born?
2. When was your mother born?
3. Who are your mother's parents?
4. When did your mother die?
5. Where was your mother buried?

You may find it helpful to record this information on a Family Pedigree Chart that you can also download and print blank copies from the following web site: http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/Rg/images/31826_PedChart.pdf

These two forms, the Family Group Sheet and the Family Pedigree Chart, are the basic forms for recording Genealogy work. The Pedigree Chart acts as the outline of your family tree while the Family Group Sheet records the specific family and individual information. Together they help you keep your information straight. As you add generation upon generation and family upon family, you will need to learn some of the advanced methods to organize your history, but for now, gather and record what you can find.

There are also many different software programs for computers in which you can enter in your data. They have powerful search and manipulation features that enable you to better track and organize your family as it grows. You can also share the information you have with others, or receive completed lines from related individuals.

Genealogy information is universally transferred digitally through what are called Gedcom files. Gedcom files are merely a computer data file. You can recognize them by the .ged suffix after the file name, as in Mefford.ged or Jackson.ged. Gedcoms are merely the format used to transfer genealogy information from one computer to another.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) pioneered the use of computer programs and developed most of the standards for Family History work. You can download free copies of their program, Personal Ancestral File (PAF) from the web site: http://www.familysearch.org. While many companies now sell their family history software, all of them had their roots in PAF.

Now you are off to a great beginning. You just repeat this same cycle generation after generation as you move back up your family tree.


Where Do I Find The Information I Don't Know?

There are many places to search for this information. Much of it is literally sitting under your nose. The easiest and often most helpful sources are to:

1. Interview living relatives, i.e., parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
2. Browse through family photo albums and scrap books. These give you a lot of answers as well as a lot of new questions.
3. Family bibles, other family records or certificates.

Other places of research are many and varied, depending on your location and origin. There are many Family History or Genealogy societies, organizations and libraries around the world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has the largest number of Family History Centers scattered all around the world. Here you can access the complete genealogy records the LDS Church has gathered, including the millions of records that have been microfilmed and stored over the last 80 years. The Family History Library Catalog can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHLC/frameset_fhlc.asp. It is also avaliable in several languages.

Available records include:

1. The collection has over 2.2 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 742,000 microfiche; 300,000 books, serials, and other formats; and 4,500 periodicals.
2. The Ancestral File database contains approximately 35.6 million names that are linked into families.
3. The International Genealogical Index database contains approximately 600 million individual names. An addendum to the International Genealogical Index contains an additional 125 million names.
4. The Pedigree Resource File database contains 36 million names that are linked into families.
5. Government and church records available are from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
6. In 2000, the collection increased monthly by an average of 4,100 rolls of film and 700 books.
7. A majority of the records contain information about persons who lived before 1920.
8. U. S. Census records
9. Approximately 242 cameras are currently microfilming records in over 40 countries. Records have been filmed in over 110 countries, territories, and possessions.

Microfilm and microfiche can be sent to a local Family History Library in your area for your own personal perusal. It is available to you, whether you are a member of the LDS Church or not. The local Family History Centers are staffed with trained volunteers who are eager to help you in your search for your ancestors. Check out the list of local Family History Centers to find the one nearest you.

Another source of information is the Internet. There are tremendous resources already on line and many more joining every month. Check out my Links Page for a list of some of the most popular, most effective and most productive sites I am aware of. Some require a paid membership, but most are free of charge.

Good luck in you pursuits in finding your family. Please let me know of your success.

David L. Mefford


This page and all of its contents is Copyright (C) 2002.