First Steps in Cuban Genealogy
1. Genealogy is the search for our ancestors. Family history is the study of the lives they led. Using the information from each area provides us with a true picture of our family.
2. When beginning your genealogy, start with yourself and work your way back to your ancestors, NOT the other way around.
3. Make a list of all living relatives when you start your genealogy research. Interview every one of them. Be prepared with a list of questions. Use a tape recorder for the answers or take very good notes. Respect the person's privacy.
4. When interviewing relatives be sure to ask if they have papers or documents that could help you in your search. Bring a digital camera or portable scanner to copy these items if you are conducting the interview in person.
5. Search for any documents, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, newspaper clippings, obituaries, scrap books, albums and family memoirs that your family may have stored away somewhere. Make Xerox or photocopies of the documents and return the originals as soon as possible. Do not keep or handle the original documents unnecessarily to avoid loss or accidental damage from mishaps such as spilling coffee on them.
6. Genealogy is like real estate... it's all about location, location, location. Become familiar with the countries, cities and/or towns you ancestors lived in. Search for maps of the areas (both modern era and historic) by using a gazetteer (online or paper based) and searching online.
7. When writing to a relative for information, make specific requests. Don't ramble! Offer to share your information
8. Acquire, document and archive important documents from YOUR life and YOUR immediate family (ie: husband and children.) Sometimes we're so focused looking backward that we forget the present and future. Your descendants will thank you!
9. Remember to document everything you find on your ancestors. UNDOCUMENTED GENEALOGY IS MYTHOLOGY!
10. DNA testing is the latest rage in genealogy. It is a helpful tool to have in your pocket but it does not replace a documented family tree. It's difficult to make connections if you both don't have working family trees.