Genealogy

Frequently asked questions 

 
How do I start?  Virtually all experienced genealogists will tell you to start by interviewing the older members of your family for as much information as you can extract. Discuss family history in depth, and check for errors of recollection and inconsistencies. Then go through family papers and picture albums.
Which computer program should I use? There are numerous programs available, and the most heavily marketed are not necessarily the best. Any program you use should be GEDCOM compatible, meaning that it is attuned to the standard format developed by the LDS church: this standard will allow you to import and export data to other files without too much trouble. The program I use with great satisfaction is Reunion for the Macintosh (v. 5.0). A Windows version of Reunion is available: it would be very worthwhile to use until you get your Macintosh.
What Internet resources are available? There is almost no end to the uses of Internet in genealogy. A good place to start might be with the web site of the New England Historic & Genealogical Society (NEHGS), which has links to many other useful sites. Search files on the web through GENDEX. A good source for Pennsylvania German and Palatinate genealogy, with links to many general genealogical sites, is Ruckel's. There are also a number of useful tools for searching for living people.
Are there any CD-ROMs which would help me?  Most definitely. Most useful are the CD-ROM sets listing the residential telephone numbers in the country, such as ProPhone. Such listings may enable you to find long-lost relatives. There are similar 'phone CD-ROMs available for other countries: I have one for Germany. There are also CD-ROMs available which give indexes to census records, but not all states have been indexed, and the later census records (after 1880) have generally not been indexed. 
I got an ad in the mail from a place in Ohio which offered to tell me all about my family. What's the deal?  It's probably of limited value. Such offers are regarded with great disdain by serious genealogists. If you send in your money, you will get nothing more than some very simple, publically available records. You will probably be very disappointed. Save your money for college expenses. 
Are there any local resources you would recommend?  There is a Family History Library at the LDS (Mormon) Church on James Street in Morris Township. Also, the Morristown Library on South Street has a superb local history and genealogy section. We are in one of the best locations for genealogy outside of Salt Lake City. 
Are you related to anyone famous? Yes, but only very distantly. Remember the words of Plutarch: "It is indeed a desirable thing to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors." To find famous ancestors is not usually the reason people research genealogy. 
Why do people study genealogy? Probably for the same reason people go to garage sales and flea markets, or collect things, or hunt and fish, &c. It seems to be human instinct to search for things, and in genealogy one is always searching for new bits of information, and trying to solve new puzzles.
What's the good of it?  Genealogy teaches us history in a very direct way, which brings home the reality of the past. In this way it adds dimension to our own experiences. You also meet very interesting people, some of whom turn out to be related to you, and not all of whom are deceased.
The surname Boyer is French, right?  Not in my case. In my family it is Pennsylvania German (so-called "Pennsylvania Dutch.") 
  Families currently under study: Boyer, Bell, Dome, Downing, Chandler, Ferguson, Fletcher, Harper, Kimmel, Maury, McCandless, Shally, Slayton, Stevens, Walter. Also: Dehmel, Demarest, Grim, James, Metzger, Ryun, Tubbs. Also: Losito, Tedone, Winn.

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