Starting out researching your family history and genealogy is both exciting and daunting. If you’re not quite sure where to begin your big genealogy journey, here is some advice on things you need to do that will help jump-start your process.
1. Gather What You Already Know and Have
Search your basement, closets, garage, and attic for family records, letters, photographs, journals, certificates and diplomas, old newspaper clippings, and anything else related to your family. You want to gather anything that tells a story about family members. If you’ve started conducting research in the past, make sure to gather up everything you already have.
2. Gather What They Already Know and Have
Along with everything you know, you need to figure out anything and everything that your family knows. If anyone in your family has conducted family history research, sync up with them and gather any information they have compiled. You should also talk to your family members and those close to them (friends, neighbors, classmates, etc). Talk to them and interview them now! Do not wait — this opportunity may not last long. Find out what they know and what information they can share. If the same story comes up twice (or more) compare the two stories. All of this information is just a phone call, email, or a visit away.
3. Join the Social Networking Conversation
Join in on social networking conversations about genealogy and family history to help make connections and gain new insights on expanding your knowledge and resources. Follow professional genealogists, family historians, and genealogy companies on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Tune in to podcasts about the subject, join “groups” on the subject, read blog articles and forums, and watch YouTube videos. Doing these things can help build your knowledge base and potentially give you tips and tricks you didn’t know. These social networking groups can be very supportive, too.
4. Head to Your Local Family History Center
Did you know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has more than 4,000 family history centers across the world? Member of the church or not, you can access the world’s largest collection of genealogical information and the many resources available. Resources like viewing microfilm records of birth, marriage, and death certificates, databases, articles, etc. Talk to family historians and genealogical experts for assistance and any questions you may have. Using resources like these can help fill in the gaps, verify information already known, and open up more doors to learning more about your family’s history.
5. Don’t Give Up
In the world of genealogy and family history, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the information that is available. It’s also easy to feel as though you’ve hit a brick wall and can’t seem to get past it. Try to stay focused on what you’re looking for and why you started this genealogy journey. Remember, there’s always support around you and a reason to keep going. Don’t give up, stay patient, and stay focused.