Read a beginner’s book to become familiar with how to do genealogy
and the types of resources used. Attend a class. Join a genealogy society.
Read some beginner's
Gather your supplies. You will need
print copies of pedigree charts and family group sheets and/or a genealogy
computer software program to organize your information. You’ll also
want to have binders or file folders to organize the documents that you
Record what you already know. Pencil in all that you know on the charts.
Remember to use maiden names for women.
Look for clues in your own attic, basement, etc. Photographs, diaries,
scrapbooks, documents, family bibles, and other mementos in your own home
may have information that can help you find names, dates, and places to
help guide your research.
Talk to your relatives. Ask them about documents and photographs that
they may have in their homes that will provide further clues. Record their
personal stories and memories.
Find out what others have already done by checking for published family
histories in books or magazines and looking at web
Start research at libraries, courthouses, cemeteries, churches, funeral
homes, etc. Search online databases.
For a list of the types of resources you can try when researching an individual,
try our Family History Resource Search
Document your sources. Sort through the conflicting information. Try to
find more than one source to confirm information by evaluating your sources
for reliability. Some problems you will encounter are missing records,
spelling variations, and lack of indexes.
Keep organized. The number of people you are researching increases quickly
with each generation you go back in time. Take the time to enter information
on your charts or in your program. Copies of records will mount up so
develop a system to organize your copies by surname, place or type of
record. Preserve your original documents and photographs.
Ask Questions. People generally are willing to help. Most genealogists
are happy to share their knowledge about where to look for information.
Join genealogy societies in the areas you are researching, keep attending
workshops, read how-to books or watch videos, find books on the state,
type of record, or general problem that you are working to solve. Come
to the library’s reference desk.
Getting Started Guide Books
The Bare–bones Guide to Genealogy: Researching and Recording
Your Family History (929.1 MCG). Offers clear and concise steps
to get you started on the trail of your family’s history.
Climbing Your Family Tree: Online and Off-Line Genealogy for
Kids (Youth Services 929.1 WOL). Gives step-by-step instructions
with lots of fun projects along the way.
Do People Grow on Family Trees?: Genealogy for Kids and Other
Beginners (929.1 WOL). Includes suggestions for conducting interviews,
tracking down relatives, and deciphering handwriting.
Through the Eyes of Your Ancestors: A Step-by-Step Guide to
Uncovering Your Family’s History (Youth Services 929.1
TAY). Presents many different ways to approach family history and the
types of records you will use.
Unpuzzling Your Past (929.1 CRO). Offers an introduction
to genealogy research that includes helpful examples. If you like this
one, also check out this author’s other books: The Genealogist’s
Companion and Sourcebook (929.1 CRO) and The Sleuth Book
for Genealogists (929.1 CRO).