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:

  1. Using a pedigree chart, start with yourself and write down what you know about your family.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Comments (4)

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  1. Thank you so much for this site. I have been looking for relatives for quite awhile and this was the most helpful site I have used.

    15 April 2011
    11:03 am
  2. 1930 census, Lee Co., MS, Lawrence Long married to Florence, one of their children is listed as Bomer Long. Must be a misreading of the original census record because that child's name was Bonner Long. (Full name Bonner Wayne Long)

    IJK 05 April 2011
    12:45 am
  3. Looking for any information about the Felix Racavitch family of Nicholson Pa. Mother Catherine and children Anthony, Andrew, Joseph, Margaret, Anna, Victoria and Mary

    Vickie Farr 03 April 2011
    10:44 am
  4. This is fine but what I need is to find cencus or records for Mt. Carmel Pa. We know Josephine Wesolowski was born there May of 1885 and we are looking for her father and What happened to him. Simon Wesolowski Married to Agnes and there are 4 children. John, Josephine, Kate and Thomas

    Ruth Boks 29 March 2011
    5:03 pm

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