Setup an organizational binder with tabbed sections for surname indexes, charts, document copies, and a place for plenty of note taking. It is also wise to purchase an archival quality storage container for rare family photos, certificates, and original records. As important as the research is, it is equally essential that care be taken in handling and preserving your family records and heirlooms. Light Impressions is one of many sources for non-acidic materials. If possible, you may also want to purchase a genealogy computer software program. These programs are critical once you have established at least two generational family lines.
Starting with yourself, list your immediate family and work backwards by generation. Gather family photographs and any official records i.e., marriage, birth, death certificates. It is critical at this junction, to take the steps in interviewing any aged family members who can offer important information and dates. Their stories and memories of a long forgotten era can be an invaluable tool. Through SGSI’s Oral History Preservation Project, oral history kits can be obtained for those wishing to record their Slovenian family histories.
Narrow your family history focus to a single surname. Genealogy can be a daunting task and starting with a particular individual or family can help keep your research manageable and prevent burnout. Remember, many times the spelling of surnames were changed once established in the new country. This is especially true for those with Slovenian heritage. Keep in mind any possible alternate spellings as you research. Joining a genealogy society can be helpful when researching records outside of the US when language translation becomes a stumbling block. Next, assess the reliability of all sources of information. Keeping a research log is important at this time. Document all sources of information and include any background notes to substantiate original record locations. Vital records include; marriage/birth/death certificates, naturalization, tax, probate, census, military, and immigration documents. The repository for these records can be found through most state and church archives, many of which are located on the Internet.
This is the exciting and fun part of genealogy! Once you have established a road map of family history, take the time to visit the place where your family lived and where they were buried. For many of us with Slovenian grandparents that emigrated out of Slovenia, it begins with a visit to the local cemetery to document their life, and then one day traveling to the land of their birth in Slovenia to find the home where they were born, bringing it full circle. Magic truly happens when you knock on that door and find living family relations!
Maybe the most important job of the family genealogist is to publish the findings of their research and gift it to family members, genealogy society’s, and church libraries.