A gloved hand holds an old black and white photo. More old pictures lay on a table decorated with burlap and flowers.
Thursday, December 03, 2020

Have you ever wanted to research your family history and genealogy, but weren’t sure where to start? The holidays are a great time to begin your research as you may visit with family. If you have an opportunity to interview an older family member, be sure to take advantage of the moment. You will learn about your ancestors and your relatives will enjoy sharing their stories.

The best place to start in your genealogy research is with yourself. Record your full name, birthdate and place and your parent’s names. Then work backwards from your parents to your grandparents with the same information. Keep track of what you find with a genealogy chart, in a notebook or in your computer files. If you use a computer, don’t forget to back up your records to the cloud. Document the information you find and where you found it.

Personal interviews can be a vital source for your family history or genealogy research. Here are some basic questions you can use to begin your genealogy research and some open-ended questions that can be used to get good family conversations started. You should either record the interview or take notes.

  1. What is your full name and why were you named that (include maiden name for women)? Were you named after someone else? Did you have a nickname? Why were you called that?
  2. When and where were you born?
  3. What is your religion and were you baptized or christened? Church records can be a source for genealogy. Do you have a family Bible with family records?
  4. Where was your first home?
  5. What were your earliest memories of your home?
  6. What are the full names of your brothers and sisters? Do you have a favorite memory of your brothers and sisters?
  7. What did your family do for fun when you were a child?
  8. What chore did you hate doing as a child?
  9. Did you read? What books were your favorite? Did you have a favorite bedtime story?
  10. Where did you attend school? What was it like? Favorite subject? Least favorite subject?
  11. What did you want to be when you grew up? How did you decide on a career? College?
  12. What was work like? What were the hours?
  13. What wars have been fought during your lifetime? Were you in the military?
  14. When and where did you get married? Include the date, place and/or church. Describe the ceremony and attendants.
  15. Who is the oldest person you can remember as a child?
  16. How is the world different from when you were a child?

Learn more about genealogy at the Library's virtual program series:

Genealogy 101
December 8 at 10:30 a.m. on Facebook Live
Where do you even begin researching your family history? Learn what questions to ask, what resources to collect and more on Facebook Live.

Genealogy 102
January 12 at 10:30 a.m. on Facebook Live
Now that you've collected your basic family information, learn how to move forward with Library resources like Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com and more on Facebook Live.

The Ouachita Parish Public Library has a designated Genealogy and Special Collections Department. Our staff are experts in genealogy and family history research. They can show you how to use resources like Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com and more. You can access many of these resources with your Library card from your own home. Many of these resources include written records. Written records are great if they exist and if you can find them. Written records record the facts, but a good interview can help you learn the rest of the story.

If you have a question about genealogy or ever get stuck researching your family history, reach out to the Library’s Genealogy and Special Collections Department, located in the Main Branch Library at 1800 Stubbs Avenue in Monroe. The Department’s hours are from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday. You can also email the librarians at genealogy_SC@oplib.org or call them at 318-327-1490 ext. 3022.