Adding Genealogy to Your Personal Histories

Genealogy and personal history are a natural fit. Genealogists and personal historians are both driven by the desire to preserve the histories of and tell stories about people. You may realize the power of seeing a census record or vital record in the context of your work; it not only adds proof, but also visual interest. Census and vital records are just the tip of the iceberg. Consider military, immigration and naturalization, tax, probate, land, historical newspapers, and a variety of other records as well. These records help paint a picture. Not sure how or where to start? Here are a few ideas:

Call a Genealogist

While you can find a wealth of information on your own, consider hiring a professional genealogist. If you decide to hire or collaborate with a professional, the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists are good places to find one.

Genealogical Proof Standard 

Should you decide to go it alone, keep in mind the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) when doing your work. According to the BCG, the GPS consists of five elements:

  • a reasonably exhaustive search;
  • complete and accurate source citations;
  • analysis and correlation of the collected information;
  • resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.


You can find webinars, classes, and a wealth of information online. The National Genealogical Society and The National Institute for Genealogical Studies offer classes if you want to expand your skills and build your confidence (and the services you can offer your clients). Join your local genealogy society. They oftentimes offer classes and special interest groups.


Cyndi’s ListLinkpendium, and One-Step Pages by Steven P. Morse are great starting points to help you find genealogical resources on the Internet. Other great places to look are Family Search (see their Wiki as well) AncestryGoogleGoogle BooksFind A Grave and BillionGraves.

Infusing your personal histories with genealogy will add another dimension to your work. Give it a shot!

Originally published for the October 2014 issue of APH’s The Perstorian