Do you have any official family documents?
Good follow-up questions that go with this question are:
Do you have birth, marriage, or death certificates for family members?
Do you have deeds, wills, or similar old items which mention the family?
Do you possess or know of certificates or papers from lodges, clubs, or veterans groups?
Do you possess or know of military certificates, discharges, or papers?
Can you give locations of family burial plots?
Now is time to gather family documents. The FamilySearch wiki lists official documents as:
- Certificates of birth, marriage, and death
- Wills, deeds, and property records
- Military service and pension documents
- Naturalization documents
- Medical records
- Licenses (business, marriage, fishing, driving)
- School records
- Insurance policies
Keep a record of contacts with family members on your research log. This will help you avoid duplicating your work and can help in following up later. Write notes about interviews, meetings, and reunions. Make copies of e-mails and keep copies of letters.
A research log is a comprehensive list of sources you already searched, or plan to search including the purpose of each search. A summary of significant findings and comments about your search should also be included.
Organizing and documenting as you go saves time in the long run. Documentation makes it easier to find and evaluate your of sources of information. If you wait, you may never do it. This results in lost and wasted time gathering information. You can have a research log for each location, ancestor, or family. Keep it simple. There are different formats for research logs depending on what information you are trying to find.