For those new to genealogy, the task of beginning your research may seem daunting. It can be overwhelming in this information age. There are many products and websites that want to help, but at the same time seem mind-boggling or do not fit into our budgets. Let me offer a few suggestions:
- Using a pedigree chart, start with yourself and write down what you know about your family.
- Go around your house and collect birth certificates, obituaries, and pictures that may help jog your memory about various events. Check your filing cabinets, drawers, or attic. You may surprise yourself by finding items that have long been forgotten.
- Talk to your living relatives. While their memories may be foggy and not completely accurate, the information they provide will guide and direct your future research. Take notes or use a recorder to keep track of what they say.
- Most importantly, choose one goal, one piece of information you want to learn about your family. Look at what information you have and determine what missing information you want to find. Once you have the information, record it on a pedigree chart, family group sheet, or a computer genealogy program.
- Search slowly. With many individuals I have encountered, once they find one name on a census record, they want to race ahead and trace their line back as fast as possible. Take your time and gather multiple records for an individual. The more records you find the more success you will have moving your lines back.
- Share the information you have found with family members.
Years ago I learned that I cannot research all the family lines. Choose one line to research carefully, record what you find, and source where you obtained the information. Family history was meant to be fun. Do what you can and don’t feel overwhelmed.