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Before you start
After that, list your parents' siblings' information as well as their parents' (your grandparents') information. If you don't know any of this information, ask a person or a relative who most likely know about your family. Keep doing this with each person's parents and siblings on your lists. There may be more information you will want to collect, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, occupations, military service, etc. Do not forget to collect photographs of all these people. If you do not own the photographs, use a digital camera or a scanner to make copies of these documents. Do not forget to thank the people who have provided the photos.
The next step would be to join a genealogical society close to where you live. You may also join one or more genealogy discussionn groups dealing with the genealogies of people who have lived in the same area as your ancestors.
What you need
Basically, you only need a few sheets of paper and a pencil to start gathering information. In any case, you should start your genealogy in an orderly manner. It is better to use more or less standard forms (A4 format) from the start. Once the number of sheets starts getting quite big, it would be a good idea to get some files to keep them in and so that it is easy to find them later. We have tried to put some standard forms on this site. Feel free to download them. You may even edit the forms to suit your purpose. You do not necessarily need a computer to do your genealogy. But, if you have one with a printer, you may start designing your own forms and printing them before you start your research sprees. I would not recommend computer forms unless you are very organised. It is very easy to inadvertently lose your work. It will always be possible for you to digitise your forms at a later stage and keep them in computer directories for ease of reference.
Some Basic Rules
In genealogy, you must always start from what is known without any ambiguity and move up or down step by step over time towards the less known. This should not prevent you from, sometimes, making an assumption. In which case, it will be necessary, however, to bear in mind the speculative nature of this assumption and undertake research to confirm or deny it before going further. There are usually no roadmaps in genealogy. If you have taken the wrong track, there will be nobody to tell you that and you may have researched the wrong family for a long time before realising that you have done so. Remember that homonyns are generators of confusion. But, be prepared to investigate some homonyms as well
It is not a good idea to do one's genealogy with the hope of discovering a relationship with a famous person, or finding a hypothetical petrol magnate would have made a fortune somewhere. Expect your ancestors to, more likely, be very modest: labourers, servants etc ... They were more numerous than kings and nobles. You will not be deceived.As human beings, we have a 99% genetic similarity with chimpanzees. Nice cousins, aren't they?
Starting off the right way
Start writing down what you know about your family. Of course, you need to know your date and place of birth, the name of your parents (They are on your birth certificate).
The next step is to start interviewing members of your family. Try not to disturb them too much. Write down on paper all the information they can give you about members of your family that they have known:names and given names , family relationships, dates and places of birth, baptisms, holy communions, marriage, death, etc. Where they lived? A tape recorder or video camera is sometimes handy. Remember to make transcriptions of all audio/video recorded data. Try to ask for photographs of individual and groups, invitations, military data, etc . All information whether incomplete and even verbal is welcome. Scan or photocopy their documents only with their consent. Involving your famiy helps to make your research progress faster. The "unknown" on this photograph that your uncle has entrusted to you may be identified later by your grandfather or your mother who will also remember the name of his wife. Even when you think you have have been around the issue, you can still discover something new during the course of a conversation. In places where your ancesrtors have lived, it is often helpful to visit cemeteries, churches, etc. This first phase of data collection should allow you to get information of more than a century old. In some countries, civil status data of less than 100 years old are usually not acceesible for the sake of preserving individual privacy. It will be easier to get access to older documents. Try to organise your notes as efficiently as possible. One sheet per couple is a good idea. Remember to number your sheets.Soon the use of some genealogy software will arise.
Getting and Verifying the Information.
Some of the information you have gathered does not seem correct. Do not think that your relatives have deliberately misled you. Very often, family stories get distorted with time through oral transmission. Human memory is by no way infallible. Because of this, you will need to write to civil status repositories, parishes, etc. and request full copies or extracts of births, marriages and deaths certificates that the first phase of your research have brought to light. These documents are official and validate your data. Complete your data with residential addresses, professions, witness names and even marginal entries in these certificates.
What you can get?
If you are a Mauritian resident or you are visiting the country, it is possible to obtain information from the following sources by paying a visit or writing to:
- The National Archives;
- The Civil Status Office;
- The Land Registry
- Land Administration, Valuation and Information Management System (LAVIMS) http://www.lavims.mu/index.php
- Catholic, Church of England and Church of Scotland Dioceses
- Mahatma Ghandi Institute
Other Records Sources
Complete population count for a given area or place taken on a specific date every ten years giving the address of the household, the names, ages, sex, occupations and places of birth of each individual residing in his or her accommodation.
Atlases and Maps
Atlas maps are useful to find the places of residences of your ancestors. Over the years, the trails become roads, streets change names, villages disappear with the expansion of cities. Old maps are a great help to determine the places where your ancestors lived. Some old maps are available at the Mauritius Archives and on our website. Directories Directories provide snapshots views of communities and their inhabitants. They help trace ancestors in the census.For recent ancestors, old copies of telephone directories can provide new clues to your research.
School and University Records
Gazettes and Newspapers