Getting Started: Where Do I Start?

If you have never done genealogy before you may be wondering where to start and what to do. First you should realize that genealogy is the study of your ancestry and through it you can learn where your family came from. It allows you to learn more about your past, your heritage and your family.

It can be overwhelming and difficult when you think about how to start. Your family tree stretches back forever, and there is so much information available. The easiest place to start is with what you know. You can begin by jotting down names or using a family history chart or entering them into a computer program.

You should start by jotting down your name and birthday and then moving on to your parents, and then their parents. If you know where they were born or lived as adults you may want to make a note of that because it can give you a place to look for specific records. Go back as far as you can on your own, and then ask other family members if they know more information or if they can verify that information.

Next you should verify that the information you have is correct through records. You can look at birth and death certificates if you have them or you could go to familysearch.org to verify the information is correct. This site will allow you see the information such as birth and death dates, spouse, and parent information. As you verify you will also find new people to add to your family history.

You can continue with this process until you hit a roadblock. Since the census is online you should be able to go back several generations. You may have a more difficult time looking for the names of brothers and sisters, but this should help you get started. Then when you go into a family history center at your local library or family history center.