Genealogy is a rewarding hobby for history buffs. Not only do you seek and find your ancestors, but the research brings history alive.
I began my research as a teenager with the goal of finding the original immigrant to America in each family. Then I thought I was only researching four names, those of my father's parents and my mother's parents. It has multiplied into the hundreds as one surname leads to two more and on and on and on... Twenty-five years later, I still am searching for some elusive families. Eventually, I'd like to publish my research in a book to pass to the next generations.
I have ancestors that came on the Mayflower, Jamestown settlers, some that came to America as indentured servants, and one that came to fight against colonists in the Revolution with the goal of deserting and starting a new life here. There are Irish, English, Scots, German, and Dutch...some famous and well-to-do in their time, some poor as dirt looking for a fresh start. I've traced many families as they moved west, some coming to the Northwest over the Oregon Trail. It has been, and continues to be, a fascinating journey.
There are lots of ways to get started. Several websites provide beginner tips. Visit www.rootsweb.com , www.familysearch.org, and www.genealogy.com for blank forms and instructions for completing them. To begin, you should download a blank pedigree form and a blank family group sheet and make lots of copies. Then start by filling in the information you already know. Ask older family members for their help whenever possible.
If you live in a town that has a local genealogical society and library, go and join! In Yakima we are blessed with the YVGS (Yakima Valley Genealogical Society). Over the last few years the group has been busy moving and settling into a brand new library, and fundraising efforts to pay for it. This year the focus is on increasing membership and the collection of resource books (already one of the largest in the state).
The library is staffed by volunteers and open Monday-Saturday 10AM-4PM September through May, it's closed on Saturdays in June, July and August and also closed on major holidays. The library is located at 1901 S. 12th Ave. (just south of Washington Ave.). Non-members may visit the library for a fee, or join the society and visit as often as you'd like!
Membership fees for YVGS are $20 for individual, $21 for a couple, or $25 for the whole family. With your membership you also receive a quarterly bulletin. Meetings are held once a month and the library hosts workshops and classes throughout the year. Visit www.rootsweb.com/~wayvgs/ for more information. And think about exploring genealogy as a hobby your whole family can share!