Where Do I Come From? by John Skinner

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By John Skinner

In this Two Part article I will be mentioning certain software and websites. As is always the case with these articles, the software and websites are mentioned because they are what I use and I find useful. The software or website may not be so useful to you, but it hopefully will give you an idea of what you may want to look for, in order for you to find suitable software or websites for you. I urge you to research to find the software and websites that are best suited for you. Unfortunately most of the websites require a fee to use them.

A friend and I were planning a commemorative project documenting how the Bermuda Police assisted the emergency services in New York in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York (9/11) when the conversation morphed through photographs to backups to genealogy. He, like me, uses Family Tree Maker© to document his family tree.   His comments revived a number of memories.

My experience with recording family history started when on holiday and visiting my mother in the UK. She showed me a school notebook in which she had started writing memories of our family, especially her own relatives. At that time she had only just started recording her memories.

Two years later my mother had a stroke. I visited her for the last time and had to return to Bermuda whilst nature ran its course. Her condition made me very aware that my grand children would, when they became adults, want to know my history, my wife’s history and that of our ancestors. Before I left UK I purchased a copy of Family Tree Maker© and on my return to Bermuda starting using it to build our family tree.

Family Tree Maker© usually comes with a 6 month membership to their records. After that expires one can purchase an additional membership. The membership can be for your local area or world wide. Membership to the US version starts at $60 for six months. A world wide membership can cost well over $200 per year.

They have teams of volunteers copying official records of Births, Deaths, Marriages, Census and other public data. With the membership you have free access to their copied records. In comparison a single certified copy of a Birth, Death or Marriage Certificate from the UK authorities (http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content) currently costs £9.25 or about US$15. With Family Tree Maker© you also have access to family trees that other members are willing to share and have put on line.

I should mention that there are other genealogy programs both free and at a cost. I suggest that you use a reliable online computer magazine to research for that program which will be best for you.

Over the last few years I have added several hundred names to my tree index. Not all of them however are now part of my family tree. With some entries I am able to add address, school, life event dates, documents and even photographs.

My own system of recording these events etc is to file references in a Family History folder I have created in my main data files. In this folder I store photographs, facsimiles of official documents, facsimiles of indices of official documents and any thing else I can find which may document my family history and which I can store as a computer file.

I then import those items to the relevant name in Family Tree Maker©. Using this system, if I later find that I have to delete a branch of my family tree, I do not lose the attached files. These files may be useful later, if only for reference to verify whether or not to include a name in the family tree.

Last year, my late wife and I, for a birthday present, gave our young granddaughter a printout of her family tree. She is a computer savvy pre-teen and that should give her a good grounding in genealogy.

We also gave her some advice which I shall pass on to you.   That advice was that she should sit with her parents and us and her other grand parents to obtain as much information as she can. Also a lot of the information in the family tree may not be accurate and would need verifying.

In Part Two of this article I will tell you how and from where I verify the data I have collected.

By John Skinner

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