If you are a Texan (congratulations!) and you are ready to do your ancestral research and make a family tree, your best genealogical research resources in the Lone Star State are knowledgeable librarians and stellar genealogy research resources. This article brings you both! Susan Kaufman, the President of the Texas State Genealogical Society (2012-2013) and the Manager of the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research / Houston Public Library shares her expertise with genealogy researchers. A genealogy librarian for 25 years, Ms. Kaufman began her career in Illinois. She has held board positions in Midwest genealogy societies, as well as the Federation of Genealogical Societies. What she has to tell you about genealogy research in the Lone Start State is indeed – Big and Bright. So, pack up your saddlebags, we’re goin’ for a ride.
Welcome to Texas, y’all. We’ve cooked up a passel o’ goodies for you to chomp your teeth into. Nope, it’s not ribeye, it’s good ‘ol homegrown genealogical research resources, and Sue Kaufman, President of the Texas State Genealogical Society, is gonna tell all y’all ’bout them right this very minute.*
RC: What are the first steps a genealogist should take?
Kaufman: Start with yourself and ask the questions: Who, What, When, Where, and How? Identify Who it is you specifically want to research. What do you want to find out about this person? When did this person live, and Where did they live? How and where will you find information on this person?
Fill out family group sheets and a pedigree chart, which is often refer to today as a family tree – they’re the same thing. The pedigree is your ancestral “map.” The holes become your area of research.
Do your homework. Take the time to read about how genealogy research is done by master genealogists, such as The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy (edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, Ancestry Publishing; 2006; third edition) and A Researchers Guide to American Genealogy (Val Greenwood; Genealogical Publishing Company; Baltimore, MD; 2000) among others.
Genealogy research is not done in a vacuum; talk to other lineage researchers for suggestions and research tips. Join a lineage research society. Some of the genealogy websites offer podcasts and informative blogsites with helpful resource research advice; Ancestry has a learning center; FamilySearch.org offers free online learning classes and a wiki. Take advantage of what your local libraries offer in the way of workshops and seminars.
The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research in Houston offers workshops and seminars that teach researchers how to maneuver through websites and book stacks; it offers library orientations, including the use of library catalogues; and it conducts education sessions each month on variant topics, and information about conferences and workshops outside of the library. These sorts of activities and events will help you adopt and improve the efficiency of your genealogy research methods.