For the novice researcher the easiest record to access is family oral history as revealed through entries in Bibles, family photos, wills, and information provided by living relatives. As much as you may think that genealogists are focused on exact dates for birth, marriages and deaths, this does not need to be your quest in the beginning. Approximation of these dates as recalled by relatives is sufficient clue for you to be able to initiate a productive research program. After all, any dates and relationships recalled by others will have to be verified by you and the appropriate source cited. It is so important in the beginning to make a sincere effort to record the source of information gathered. This will help others to authenticate links they may make to your family tree.
At the outset it is important to put your quest to identify your ancestors in perspective and recognize that it is a task that you will never finish. The fun of genealogy investigations is not merely in identifying the BMD (birth, marriage, death) of your ancestors in primary records, but rather using this newly found information to identify relationships and begin writing the story of their lives, occupations, migrations, hardships, and accomplishments.
It will not take long for you to realize that there are many different directions you can take in researching your ancestors. The more you find, the greater the number of questions you will have to answer. The more you seek to find answers to these questions the more you realized that there is so much you do not know about where to look for information. At this point the initial enthusiasm may wane and you begin to get frustrated with the many different directions your original task seems to be going and the array of written notes you have made.
However, in the beginning, all of this is to be expected, and in reality is a good thing for your future research program. Your initial step is one of discovery and determining what you really want to find. You will likely decide to follow either your paternal or maternal line – or at times switch your investigation between the two of them. Of course tracing the paternal line is easier since you are following only one particular surname in its various spellings.
As in any dynamic human endevour we need on occasion to stop and reassess what we are doing, where we are going and what we need to do to become more efficient in completing the task at hand. It is the intent of the Genealogy Notes section of this website to help both the novice and advanced researcher by providing suggestions and guidelines in order to improve the efficiency of your investigations. The information provided here is specifically aimed at helping those in researching the English records of Cornwall.