PARTY LIKE IT'S 1860
To understand the dead, we start with the living.
Invite relatives to a family tree party. Ask them to bring old photos,documents, newspaper clippings and stories. Family lore is a rich source of family history but too often not gathered centrally or well documented.
Be sure to mark photos with names, places and details of the occasion. It's very sad to have great pics but no idea who they are. Flea markets are full of lonely orphan photos.
How marvelous it is that we have Smartphones to capture our past quickly and easily so be sure to mount your phone on a tripod and video all of the wonderful the stories and lore.
PRACTICE SAFE STORAGE
We've come a long way in storage options. Cloud is a safe and easily shared solution for scanned images or documents. Google Drive is great and it's free if storage 15 GB or less. Nominal fee after kicks in after that. Whatever your storage choice, it's important to assign a Legacy Contact to ensure continuity of your accounts access.
Avoid CD's for storage. They rot over time so not a good long-term solution. Anything you already have on a CD should be transferred.
Original fragile (and precious) documents and old original photographs require special preservation procedure. Lots of professional advice available online Learn how here Life Storage .
TRACING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
Discovering your history is like working on a giant jigsaw puzzle. Piece by piece information fits together to solve your family puzzle. There are many online information sources that offer free access.
Chances are some unknown distant relative has already done a ton of research and publicly shared the information. Check out these sites first. Rootsweb & World Connect are owned and funded by Ancestry but both sites are free-use.
The Canadian Government has compiled a Genealogical Immigration Guide that includes a variety of useful links to online resource tools designed to help you find your ancestors . This is especially helpful if you're starting your family tree with little information or have hit a dead end in your search so far.
Rootsweb Message Boards This is an online genealogy forum and can be searched by name. Lot's of convo and people are eager to help you in your search. Just ask.
World Connect Project People from around the world have uploaded their family tree to this free-use, searchable-by-name fantastic site.
Family Search History & Genealogy Far too much great stuff on this site to list here. Create a free account, enter your family name and see what pops up. Many but not all images are available for free peek and download.
They also offer the option t create your free tree here and adding stuff you find in your search.
Another great feature is they will email you when someone posts information related to an ancestor you are tracking (optional).
Also check out "Genealogies" (a/k/a/ family trees) . These are uploaded trees you can access. Genealogy search