Los Angeles Family History Library
Before You Visit The LAFHL
LAFHL Holdings and Collections
Consultants and Teachers
LAFHL Rules and Procedures
Before You Visit the Los Angeles Family History Library
Before you visit the LAFHL, spend the time researching from home, calling relatives, consulting family records, or looking at documents to find out how much you and your own family members knows about their lineage.
Stop by the LAFHL and pick up free Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets or print them out from http://lib.byu.edu/sites/familyhistory/print-forms-research-helps/ and also print out some "Source Notes" sheets. See this example of genealogy documentation. Fill them all out as you collect the information.
THE ONE-STEP-AT-A-TIME RULE: Genealogy Begins With Yourself First
Genealogy is always done beginning with yourself and going backwards in time one step at a time. Do not begin searching in England because there is family oral history that so-and-so was born in England. Genealogy begins with yourself first. Write down your name, birth date, place of birth, marriage if applicable, children, etc. on the Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets.
Next, fill in the blanks below concerning you father. If you do not know the information, then look through family papers. You may have to send for a birth or death certificate to verify the facts.
After you list your father's infomation, find the same information for your mother and then find information on both sets of your grandparents. Who were their parents? Where and when were they born, married, died and buried? Write down everything carefully, documenting where you obtained the information, who said it, their phone number, address, email address and date.
CONTACT YOUR OWN FAMILY MEMBERS TO FIND FAMILY RECORDS
Now, see if any of your relatives has information on your great grandparents. Contact all your relatives and ask who in the family kept the history, photos, and records. There is always such a person. If your relatives seem vague, give them a week and then phone again. They may have thought of something in the interim. Actually, many seasoned researchers continually interview their relatives since old memories sometimes will surface long after the first questions. Don't be shy. Ask, ask, and then ask again.
WHAT KIND OF FAMILY MEMORABILIA MIGHT HELP ME?
Here is a list of places to look for information about your family in doing your "home survey":
birth certificatesThere is a certain important "genealogy etiquette" which you must adhere to so that people will willingly offer you their research. Be aware of these rules and go the extra mile. Make sure you always offer to pay for copying costs, postage and research costs.
books with inscriptions on the flyleaf
military discharge papers
school and church records
birthday and Christmas card lists
notes written on scraps of paper
samplers sewn by members of the family
voter registration forms
--compiled by Nancy Carlberg
THE TIME TO VISIT THE LAFHL IS AFTER YOUR HOME SURVEY IS COMPLETE
Now that you have exhausted all your relatives of all information they know, it's time to visit the Los Angeles Family History Center (LAFHL) armed with what you have dilligently collected during your "home survey" on the Pedigree Charts, Family Group Sheets and Documentation Sheets. Ask at the Information Deck for a volunteer to show you the research process and where records might be on your family.
THE LAFHL HAS FREE CLASSES AND CONSULTANTS TO HELP YOU
While at the LAFHL, don't forget to take note of the beginner's classes which will give you a solid basis for being an effective researcher. It's often better to hear about the research steps while you are in the process of doing it, rather than hearing it beforehand and forgetting how to apply it later. Your class instructor will welcome any questions you have and will often meet with you privately if you feel confused. Consultants are available at the LAFHL to help you with your specific family history questions.
WHO ELSE IS WORKING ON MY FAMILY LINES?
You will also need to find out who else has been working on your lines. You don't necessarily want to recreate all that research work if voluminous records have already been compiled. The most important thing to remember at this point is that no matter who gives you their research, it is your ethical responsibility to prove what they claim is true about your family. You can do this by going back to the documentation they gave you and looking at the record yourself.
HOW DO I FIND OTHER RESEARCHERS?
Finding others with common ancestors is done by placing queries in genealogy publications and on the internet at places like GenForum. You can leave a query at a county where your ancestors lived at USGenWeb, or contact the author of a website with family information you are interested in. You can contact other researchers and see their data at GenForum AND http://rootsweb.ancestry.com/ using the "Search Rootsweb.com" section AND http://www.geneanet.org/
BE CAUTIOUS AND WISE
More and more people think the internet is an easy place to go for genealogy, but some have never even visited a library to look at the original records for whatever reason. Remember that information about your family on the internet is often wrong. Even at reputable government agency sites typographical or transcription errors do happen unless the original document has been scanned for internet viewing. Don't blindly accept anything until you know for yourself it is accurate. What is in print in some books and at some internet sites is often guesswork. Sometimes people actually construct lineages which are untrue. Perhaps they are lazy, or misguided, or don't know basic research methods. The dominoes effect of passing around genealogy of this nature is not uncommon. See Fradulent Lineages or Genealogies. If you want to make sure your family history is accurate, you need to recheck all information given to you.
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Website revised 15 April 2013 by Jon Schweitzer
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