My advice for people who are just getting started with their family history: keep it simple. Finding more about our ancestors and our heritage is a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it can be overwhelming if you try to learn and do everything at once.
1. Write down what you know.
Start with yourself. Use the chart on the back of the guide to enter the family history information you already know. If you do not know exact dates and places, estimate them. Circle any missing or incomplete information, and decide what you want to find first.
2. Talk with your family.
Contact your family and friends. Record any useful information and stories they provide. Ask about copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates as well as journals, letters, photos, and other records that might be available. Find out if they know other people you should contact.
3. Search other sources.
• Gather your records.
Start with the records you already have, and organize them in one place.
• Explore online sources.
Visit FamilySearch.org for free access to family history records, guides, and resources. You will also find links to other helpful Web sites.
• Get personal help.
Visit a local FamilySearch family history center for free personal help and many other valuable services. Center staff may also direct you to other local community resources. Find a center near you online at FamilySearch.org.
4. Preserve and share what you have gathered.
Your relatives and family friends may also be interested to learn more about their ancestors and heritage. You can preserve, share, and donate your family history with the help of free software found at FamilySearch.org.
What’s great about this approach is that actually taking the first step is simple, yet meaningful. You will no doubt find out things about your family and yourself that will be both interesting and personal. Keeping it simple at the start is the first step on your family history journey.