Discover your Family Tree Today

Research your Family to Understand your Ancestry

Genealogy is a great family hobby. No matter where you live, people from around the world are enthusiastically searching for their ancestors. It helps give people a reference of where they came from.

Beginners usually rely on assembled family trees that they find on the internet or have acquired through a relative. The internet has driven the genealogy hobby to be what it is today. 10 years ago, the detective process was much different. To learn about your ancestors, you went to your local genealogical society, family history library, and the national archives. These types of facilities were the starting point of your journey to document your family history. Now these facilities seem to be the end point for most hobbyists. For the family historian who wants to accurately document their heritage we have a few helpful tips listed below.

Getting Organized for your Research Trip

Whether you are traveling long distance to take photos of family headstones, going to a State Archive, or local library, you should be prepared. In order to maximize your time, we have some suggestions. Know what the facility has before you go. Call, Email, or if they have an online index, spend time to get familiar with the facility and what it has to offer. Know their hours of operation, and their use policies. Some facilities require appointments. To get the most out of a visit, plan as much as you can to maximize your time at the facility.

Before going, create a to-do list. The more detailed your list is, the better off you will be. Have a good idea of what you are looking for, and know what is available. You may get overwhelmed with the digging and analysis process because of too much or too little information that is actually available. Sometimes you will start to find data for another relative from the same source that you were actually trying to find for another ancestor. This might lead you off track, so it is a good idea to have a copy of your family tree and family fact sheet to assist with the exploration process.

track and document your family ancestry

Keeping Track of your Research

Once you get to your research facility, you may have a limited amount of time to search. Gather as much as possible, but don’t forget to record the who, what, when, where, and why. Make copies from different books, microfilms, etc. Don't be the researcher who in their haste realizes after they get home and sort through their information, that it is not organized or well documented, and may have to throw some of it out because they can’t piece together their findings.

When making copies, be sure everything was copied correctly. Immediately bind the information together with a stapler or paper clips. Write down all the necessary info to recall the source. If the information is from a book, copy the cover, the chapter details, and write down the page numbers (if they are not shown on your copies). if you are missing something, it will be easy for you to call the facility and ask them to copy what is missing. If you don’t have enough details, they won’t be able to help.

Research Logs keep you Focused

Having a log will benefit you in knowing what has been researched and what to work on next. Write down what you have found, either successful or not. Keeping the log in a spreadsheet format can help to sort and filter on what has worked for you, what has not, and gives the ability to recall information easily. We have research genealogy forms for: pre-research, research, task log, document management and other downloadable forms.

How to Manage your Family Ancestry

Over-whelmed with digging for your ancestry? Document what you have done, take a break, and come back to it later. At the end of the day, the process should be enjoyable and rewarding, so when things get frustrating take a step back and take a deep breath. This will assist you to stay energized and focused on the task at hand. If you are at a loss for what type of source to use to document your ancestry, we have reference lists to help with research your family ancestry.