Introduction to Genealogy

You are going to find a great amount of study material available for the beginning genealogist. The sheer volume of material someone wants you to read is overwhelming. Almost all of them want to sell you something.

The Web is growing so fast it is a total waste of time to write a conventional hard-copy book. Everything will have changed by the time the book makes it to the bookstores. It does no harm to read a few of the better ones from your local Public Library. I certainly wouldn't buy anything at the moment.

Get it out of your head that you are going to be visiting musty old courthouses somewhere in Virginia. We don't do that anymore. The Mormons have microfilmed everything in that courthouse. For $3.25 they will send you the microfilm. Just learn the location of the nearest "Family History Center." Ask at any Church of Latter Day Saints.

While we are on the subject of the Mormons: don't waste your time looking for them online. They are not there. In February 1999 they anounced they will be placing material on the Internet but no mention as to when this will happen. Learn to use their "Family History Centers." It is possible to be a genealogist today and use nothing but the FHC. It is not practical to be a genealogist and try to do without them. You will never meet nicer, more helpful people, than the volunteer ladies staffing the FHC. You can actually get a good start in genealogy by just following their instructions. You are very welcome there and except for ordering film and fiche, it doesn't cost a cent.

One caveat regarding the FHC: don't trust their Ancestral File. It can be used somewhat as a guide but is full of errors and inconsistencies. Use the FHC to request from Salt Lake City microfilms of original documents. One of your ancestors may have written a book that is long "out-of-print", but you may still be able to get it on microfilm.

Genealogy programs for your computer.

This is an area where you can waste a lot of time debating the relative merits of a half-dozen programs that all do much the same thing. All of the popular programs are good. I use Family Tree Maker for Windows with zero problems. Family Tree Maker maintains a strong on-line presence and is going to be around for a long time. It makes no difference. Choose a different application and in six months you will probably be able to say the same for your program.

I am unable to find a better "How To" procedure than this one by Family Tree Maker. I would appreciate suggestions. It seems to me that this procedure, along with help from the Sisters at the" Family History Center", will teach anyone the "Basics" of genealogy.

As I said earlier, you canít possibly read everything available. The books written just a few years (months ?) ago are of almost no value. The World Wide Web is the area in which you will learn "Genealogy for the 21st Century." Along those lines I suggest you read, on a regular basis, the on-line publication linked below.

Please consider a donation to help keep the Waller pages on line. The Waller Family pages will be preserved here for as long as we can keep it going. Thank you. Ali.


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