Discover your Family Tree Today

How to Start Researching Your Genealogy

Keep in mind when creating your family tree, it is more than just dates and places. Finding family documents, photos, wills, probates, deeds, marriage certificates, military, birth, death and census records are important. They validate history and bring a family tree to life.

Searching your ancestry can be a fun family event. Getting everyone involved with gathering photos, archives, and stories can help bring your relatives together by spending time discussing and sharing all the findings. You can also find other researchers through genealogy boards and forums that are willing to give helpful hints and tips and even do look-ups for you.

Genealogy Research Planning

Before you get buried with information; decide what type of information and records you want to look for. This can help keep a focused goal and what should be explored, by devising a fact-finding plan. Being organized and knowing as much as possible about the area your ancestor lived in and what documents are available for the time period that you are trying to discover/uncover will help you immensely in tracing your family tree.

How to Start Tracing your Heritage

With the internet, tracing our ancestors has become easier. Sources, photos, newspapers, and online family trees have all become more accessible. All data, especially transcribed information should be used with caution and should be verified before adding anything to your genealogy tree. False information and trees with errors can lead you down the wrong path. People referencing early territories that were not formed until later, or who claim they have family history facts from a birth, death, or marriage certificate before they were available are just a few examples.

Both beginner and veteran genealogists should always strive to learn something new about their hobby. Learning how to research and refine techniques to narrow down missing family information is a goal that we try to emphasis. Genealogy seminars, blogs, videos, tradeshows, historical societies, and state or national archives are a few places that you can learn about researching your genealogy.

Documenting Your Family History Research and Genealogy

If you can only find one document, include a narrative of why this one record is proof for your family. If no sources can be found a written narrative should be added for the ancestor explaining why they belong in your tree. Click on this Family Ancestry link to see a helpful list

While doing genealogy research everyone will get stuck looking for a document to substantiate a fact. This is known as hitting a brick wall. When this happens, go onto a different relative and eventually return to the task that once was started (possibly years ago). If you do not document your work, you will end up starting from scratch and redoing the same investigation over (maybe even several times), creating a cycle of brick walls.

family genealogy research

What Documents Should you Use for your Research?

There are lots of documents that can help with your research. Choosing the right type of document can help you to build your family tree. Deciding which one to find can help you prove a relationship or fact about a person. It is important to use many sources that help you to build a solid family tree that verifies relationships and important facts about each ancestor.

You may be tempted to copy information found on the internet and add it to your data. Be cautious and only add data that is supported by facts. Even then, you need to analyze and verify the data so you are not sent in the wrong direction and building a tree based on information that seems correct. To help you discover your family tree, include lots of genealogy research to find the important documents that back up the facts. Below are some important source types that can help you link family members, as well as, find important genealogy facts for the people in your trees.

Finding Family Relationships through Documents

Try using the following documents for discovering relationships: Military pension applications, census records, naturalization documents, marriage license, passenger lists, last will and testaments, probate records, guardianship, court records, cemeteries, family letters, photographs, SS-5 Forms, or engagement, birth, and obituary announcements.

Finding Vital Facts for an Ancestor

You can discover indirect and direct vital information for a person through: census records, headstones, military records, obituaries, birth and death certificates, church records, obituaries, original social security application, passports, draft registrations, and naturalization records.

Organizing Your Genealogy Research

Set up a filing system to organize all your findings before getting consumed with lots of information and papers. There are several options to setting up a filing system to organize what has been accumulated. Some options to file your collection is by year, alphabetically, or by setting up folders for direct family members then alphabetically for each ancestor within the 4 main files. Research will produce many different articles and will require some type of organization. Putting all similar documentation in color coded folders filed by year alphabetically is another option.

Whatever organization method is used: folders, notebooks, boxes, large envelopes, etc., be consistent with a filing system. Scanning all documents and adding them to a tree will help keep your genealogy legwork organized. Another safety measure is to have a back-up of all your information. You can lose your data if your computer crashes, as well as if a natural disaster hits your home. Having an external recovery plan is always a good idea.