Getting Started: What Do I Need?

If you are just beginning your genealogy journey you may be wondering what you need in order to do the research. The Internet, online access to census information and databases have made having a computer and Internet access much more important to making your research easier. However you can still do the research if you do not have a computer at home. You can visit a genealogy center, your library or a family history center to complete the research.

Computer Programs and Basic Information
You need to have the basic information to have a starting point. This can be as simple as your parents’ name, birthdates and birthplaces. The more information you have the easier it will be to tell if you have found the correct record for your family line.
A simple computer and Internet connection is enough to run most of the program and to access the databases. You may want to choose a genealogy program that will allow you to store the information that you have found. There are many to choose from such as Legacy, Family Tree Maker and Roots Magic. You should look for a software program that provides the tools you personally want as you track your family history. If you do decide to subscribe to a service or database, you should check to see if the software is compatible with your chosen database.

Database Membership
You may choose to subscribe to a database service or to join a free one. These databases will have information available that makes your search much easier to complete. They often also offer a place to record and back up your family tree. Many also come with the option to join a community or to create a community around your family tree. As you look at the different features each on offers you should weigh the price against the features that you want.

You may also want a mentor or a guide as you begin your work. You can find free online classes that will help you get started as well as actual genealogists that are willing to work with you as you begin working. It is always nice to have someone to turn to when you find yourself stuck.