Question: Brandon B., Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Can you outline for me the essentials in doing a family genealogy.


Becoming a successful family genealogist means more than just looking up your ancestors online or in records at the courthouse. To succeed at this gigantic and often frustrating endeavor without going mad you'll need some essential skills. Some of these you probably have already used; while others will take some time to develop.

Here now are some of the twelve very important things you need to look for and deal with when doing your family genealogy.

Plan an attack

Take notes whenever and wherever you talk with someone

Be Cooperative and show your respect for what little or much they know

Use a creative approach

Learn to question validity

Develop an interest in other people’s genealogy

Be a good listener

Organize and collate information

Follow up your requests

Be skeptical if you're not sure about something

Know and register your sources

See the “Big Picture”

QUESTION: Malissa R., Cold Lake, AB. CA.

Is there a difference between genetic and hereditary?

ANSWER: Genetic conditions are those that are related to our genes, at least in some part. More often than not, these genes are what we call the inherited factor. In other words, we are born with those conditions or genes. Changes in our genes may change, like mutations, and can cause medical problems in following generations. Some medical problems are hereditary, meaning they are caused by a gene mutation (or mutations) that are inherited (or passed on) from one parent to grandchildren. Inheriting certain genes could go back in time by many generations. A particular disposition to a certain gene may surface in a family line for many generations after it has been dormant, then suddenly that specific medical gene can appear. This may make us wonder where and how this came to surface. Genes are not ever picked up in the course of one’s life. We are born with certain habits and we also may acquire or just pick up a habit and adopt it from society. Anything we pick up is considered acquired. As a matter of fact there are a lot of habits we pick up besides those that we have inherited.

Why are your pictures on this website of poor quality?

"How can we trust you to produce good quality images for your books and restoration of pictures?" That question has been raised by several people for a long time. These and similar questions are raised about the quality of pictures we use from time to time on our website.

The reason is straightforward. What I am about to say does not apply to this website's visitors and customers. Still, we have experienced one or two individuals who are dishonest and copy the pictures without getting permission. So to avoid theft of our historical pictures, we deliberately release our photos in such a way to discourage anyone from thieving photos from our website. Does that make sense to you?

Suppose you are someone who likes a particular photograph and would like to buy it from us. In that case, we try to reproduce these in the highest professional quality you deserve and release them to you with a purchase order.

Pictures which come under the "public domain" will always be of good quality, but pictures to which we hold ownership of, they will be reduced in size and reduced in quality to prevent theft.

QUESTION: Maggie T. – Victoria, BC. CA

Can you give me a quick guide to start my family history and how and where to store it?

ANSWER: The best way to start your family history is to start by making some serious decisions. The best decision you can make is to start your family history by beginning with yourself. YOU first. That is right! From there, you need to get organized. Decide where you are going to store your family tree. You can store it in a ring binder. However, most people are now using their hard drive computers. The next thing you should decide upon is where you will store your documents and photographs. That would likely take the form of file folders.

On the other hand, if you have a scanner, you might want to scan the documents and photos and store that information on the computer. Here is where you would be advised to open a file that stores all these. Here you should choose a genealogy program of which there are many excellent programs on the market. Be sure to select a program which is simple and easy to work with. You need to choose and define a simple process.

The next part of the process is to familiarize yourself with various available sources. Up to this point, you have done all the right things. But now, a word of caution. To protect yourself and the entire collection of research, genealogy, and documentation stored, it is necessary to guard against hackers and viruses. Do not leave your computer at the mercy of the internet. That was one grave mistake I made early on in family history research.

On one sunny day, I was faced with the unbelievable. Without warning, my computer screen was covered with a cruel message, “Pay me $5,000, and I will restore all your files,” in bright red lettering. Could I believe the messenger? The police said, no, do not pay him anything! He will take your money and run. My heart sank. I trusted the internet, believing that nothing like this could ever happen to me. I believe this sort of thing only happens to other people. I lost everything on my computer. All my genealogy research is stored on my computer but with a big difference. My computer is NOT connected to the internet. All my genealogy work and storage are offline and on a computer strictly dedicated to genealogies only.