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Email: oldfield@oldfield.org

Text Box: A true family history is never complete. It is an ongoing story of past lives and present relatives. As each day passes, lives are lived. People are born and pass away. People get married and have children. Someone moves--another weds--another is born to carry on--and so it is a never-ending task to keep up with your living family history. And it is a "living" history of your family, not just a collection of names and dates. You will find that each of your ancestors has lived a rich and rewarding life. You owe them and your living relatives to tell the whole story about your family. You will want to learn about where they lived and how these places relate to you. You will want to learn what they did with their lives, how they dealt with the historical events that took place around them and how they persevered through it all. Our ancestors have given us a rich and rewarding history that weaves through all of us. What we are, inside all of us, has been shaped by others now and in the past. Whether it's your hair color, a pronounced physical feature, a family tradition you practice or a physical place you call home, your family heritage transcends your time and times past. Researching, learning and writing about our predecessors can give us a sense of eventuality: the feeling that we are all part of something that continues well beyond what we will experience in our own time here.

There have been literally hundreds of books, dozens of beginners guides and a multitude of software programs written to help you discover your family history. I found many books that gave me directions and insights to genealogy, but lacked the information about using a PC for it. I found other books and articles that would teach me about PCs but lacked the hands-on focus needed to use the PC in family research. I hope this guide will help address both of these for you. In the 'pre-PC' days, the research was often times difficult, time consuming and required a lot of travel. Your PC will not only cut down on your travel, it will open up more avenues for you to research. Today, there is so much information available that it's often bewildering. Looking for simple solutions to a complex and rewarding family history is a daunting task, but one filled with excitement.

I have written this guide for people new to this hobby who want to use their PC to unearth their family roots. This guide will teach you the basics of beginning your genealogy research and where to find information with and without using your personal computer. You will learn where to find pertinent genealogical information and how to put what you've discovered into an easy to use format to share with others. You will learn how to put your research into a genealogy program and how to embellish it with text, graphics, and even audio samples of your family history using software you may already have. You will learn to use a word processor or personal publishing program, genealogy programs and related utilities to create your own great family history.

Text Box: Your Family Tree has no bias regarding race, color, creed, religion or nationality. I make no reference to any. We are many things to many people; both good and bad. You will discover that your family history will include people of greatness and near-greatness, rulers and rogues, the common and the not so common. You will find a history filled with mystery and intrigue, romance and success, tragedy and triumph and chance encounters of all sorts. Always remember that your ancestors were people. Every single person you research had feelings and beliefs, dreams and ambitions, habits and traditions. It's up to you to find them and put it all together for others to enjoy.

Although genealogy can be a great hobby for most of us, it also has a more serious side to it. Professional genealogists can provide the expertise that can help when you've come up against a brick wall in your own research. Professional genealogists are also hired by individuals and organizations to help research and document family relationships as well as medical, financial and legal work. All accredited genealogists must go through rigorous study and testing in order to be certified. It's very serious business. How far you want to go or how in-depth your research takes you is your decision.

I've written Your Family Tree as a beginners guide of advice to help you discover and write your family history. It covers the basics of collecting information and the methods to preserve and present your own family history with your PC. I can help you eliminate some of the mistakes that I ran into over the years. How far you go back in your family's history and how much material you share depends on a little luck, a lot of determination and acquired knowledge. The hunt for your family history can be a fun, fulfilling lifetime hobby. And it all begins with you.

Good luck with your search!  --- Jim Oldfield, Jr.