Interested in getting into the world of genealogy but not sure where to start? Genealogy research doesn’t need to be overwhelming or too time-consuming. You don’t need to be an expert to record and research your family history. With just a few simple steps you can get started on yours. Preserve your legacy and learn about your family lines!
1. Start with a plan.
Heading into your research, it’s helpful to have some direction. Genealogy research can be overwhelming. Having a plan in place can help you from falling down the rabbit hole of research. It’s easy to get sidetracked or lost in all of the information. Set small, attainable goals to start with and go from there.
2. Find the questions you want to be answered.
To keep motivated in your research, you should determine your questions. Why are you starting this project? What do you want to achieve? What questions do you want to be answered? This will not only help to motivate you, but it will also help to guide your research. It will give you a good starting point and goal to work towards.
3. Create a family tree.
Having a family tree set up is essential to genealogy work. A family tree will help you stay organized as you start building out. It will also help you to visualize your research and have a visual representation of your progress. There are many online tools for building and saving your family tree. Among the most popular are ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and familysearch.com.
4. Record what you already know
Starting with what you know is a great place to start! You are likely familiar with your parents, grandparents, and possibly even great-grandparents. Start with recording their lives. You can include pictures, memories, life longs, records, occupations, addresses, birthdays, death dates, etc. Just recording the information, you already have will flesh out your family tree a nice amount. It will also give you a great place to start as you dive into family lines, aunt and uncles, cousins, and so on.
5. Start with census records.
Once you’ve recorded the information you have, move on to census records. Census records are like gold when it comes to family history research. These records are filled with important details that can help you track down family members. They will show you family relationships, names, locations, etc. Typically, census records are updated every ten years. Other records that can be helpful include church records, military records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates.
6. Record your living family moving forward.
One of the best things you can do for your future generations and future genealogists is to record your living family. Whether that is your children, your siblings, your parents, your grandparents, whoever it may be—you currently have easy access to information that will not be so accessible in years to come. Take pictures, record memories, keep journals, digitize important documents, do whatever you can to preserve your family’s legacy.