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Tips of the trade in tracking your relatives

Participants at the Mower County Historical Society’s Genealogy Detectives Workshop on Saturday learned some tips on tracking their relatives and learning more about their family tree.

Here are some of those tips:

• Start with information close at hand: birth certificates, obituaries, Bible entries, newspaper clippings, business records.

• Talk to relatives. Let your whole family know what you are doing. You may be surprised what they know.

• When faced with a large volume source, ask if there’s an index. Much of the work may have been done for you.

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• Take questions to the library resource center. What’s on microfilm?

• Austin High School has a complete set of yearbooks and other records.

• Make use of the Internet. It has revolutionized family research.

• Join up. The Mower County Genealogy Society meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the Austin Public Library; the Mower County Historical Society is open year-round 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Research fees are $3 for members; the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul provides many services and programs that will build your interest in history; the website is mnhs.org

• Visit the Family History Center at 404 31st St. N.W. in Austin, and go to www.familysearch.org . The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the largest genealogical collection in the world, including 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed records.

• Look at these websites: ancestry.com , rootsweb.com , ellisislandrecords.org , immigrantships.net ,

• Keep your work organized. The five generation ancestor chart is a good place to start; keep notes on your sources; put together a file that works for you; take pictures of heirlooms.

• Get and read a genealogy how-to book and then look for a better one.

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• Be patient with researchers. Most organizations only have one or two people doing the work.

• Don’t be afraid to ask questions of others involved in family history. Your turn to answer questions is just down the road.

• Learn something about the history of the place your ancestors lived. Background will help you to fill in the gaps in their story.

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