Maegan Kasteler | May 13, 2019

Genealogy ABCs: Photos to Technology

We are getting closer to the end of our Genealogy ABCs series. In today’s addition to the series, we cover photos, questions, reunions, surnames, and technology. You can also find the other blogs in the series here: AEFJ, and KO.

P: Photos

You cannot overestimate the importance of photos. Photographs are one of the best ways to make genealogy personal. These genealogy gems can add a human factor to your research and can help fill in details about the lives of your ancestors.

Photography first gained popularity among the general population during the Industrial Revolution. At the time, the demand for portraits combined with the cost and time it took for an oil painting to be produced contributed to the rise in photography's popularity.

Because of its early introduction, photographs can be found for some of our earliest traceable ancestors. Now it’s our job to make sure those photos are properly digitized and stored.

Read more about photos, storing, digitizing, organizing, and recognizing on our blog here.

Q: Questions

Questions, questions, questions. They are good to have and sometimes hard to answer. Questions really are the start of the research process. In the science world, you have what is called the scientific method. The steps in the scientific method mirror the path that genealogists follow. These are the steps:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Do background research
  3. Construct a hypothesis
  4. Test with an experiment
  5. Analyze the data and draw a conclusion
  6. Report results

The process for genealogists is similar:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Do general research
  3. Do specific research
  4. Identify documents and resources
  5. Analyze data
  6. Record results (Don't forget to cite your sources!)

The other part of questions is asking them out loud! Sitting down and asking your relative questions is another important part of genealogy. You can learn so much from your relatives!

You can read more about questions on our blog! Including 5 Tips for Interviewing a Relative and Interviewing Your Relatives, a Question Starter Pack.

R: Reunions

Family reunions have developed a bad rap. And admittedly, sometimes family reunions deserve that reputation. How many of you have been to a boring, long reunion? Most of them are outside and it can be hot, muggy, rainy, or snowy. Some people have to travel long distances. Overall, reunions can just be an awkward group of strangers trying to figure out how to be a family.

So now we‘re sure you’re wondering why we’re included reunions in the Genealogy ABCs if we’re just going to trash talk them. But we’re here to tell you that there are ways you can make family reunions fun! One way to do this is to hold a virtual reunion. You can find more fun ideas for in-person reunions in the blog post Family History for All Ages: Family.

S: Surnames

Surnames are a key part of family history research. Surnames—or family names or last names—can tell you a lot about your ancestors. You can learn about where they lived, what they did for work, or the name of one of their parents. Surnames can open new doors in your research.

You can learn more about surnames, their history, and their meaning in our blog post What's in a Name?

T: Technology

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention technology as an important part of family history research. Genealogy technology includes DNA advances, digital archives, social media, online journaling apps, family history smartphone apps, online indexing, and digital photo storing. With all these technological advances, it’s easier than ever to do your family history research.

You can read more about technology and watch videos of past presentations on our website here.

Check back soon for more of the Genealogy ABCs. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Maegan Kasteler

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