Beginners First Step - Summary and Links

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Need a genealogy guide to help with a family tree project? Beginners or experts, old or young, get started by taking care of the two critical steps immediately to preserve your ancestry and family history. This page is a Summary section for the article New to Genealogy - Beginners First Step.

First , preserve as many memories as you can
A balancing act (First Step)

Begin the discovery of your ancestry, family history, and family tree. Starting from novice to expert, learn to locate and search the genealogy records using the free FamilySearch Research Wiki.

This page is an article summary for the main article “New to Genealogy - Beginners First Step” that relates to those that are new to genealogy and the steps they should take when deciding if they want to become a family historian. This page provides condensed summaries of the step by step approach that would benefit their new undertaking. It also provides a listing of the links that are associated with the original article and provides a list of other links to Research Wiki articles that those "new to genealogy" might find relevant.

Editor’s Note: The table on this page will also be viewed in the original article. Contributors are requested to add links in the final section of this table in order to provide quick access to other articles not already listed here. Again, the theme relates to “New to Genealogy” and should provide the article link and a very short summary statement (~50 characters or less). Please make sure the linked articles are up-to-date and that internal links are all working properly as this could be the user’s first exposure to this Research Wiki.

Since a part of this page is transcluded to the original article, portions of this page can only be edited using wikitext (areas outside the "onlyinclude" tags). The table itself can now be edited using the "rich editor" but if you prefer not to add the links yourself you can add the suggested link to the "talk" page and it will be transferred to the table.

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Article Summary Section (+links from this article: Wiki articles highlighted in BOLD)

Theme: “New to genealogy” (This journey could potentially become a hobby, a passion, a vocation, a career, or a legacy)
Article “Steps”
Summary Statement
Article links
Article keyword used for link
1. Perserving information and memories (questions produce answers)
Critical step: Ask questions of your relatives before it is no longer an option. Record not only the facts but also the memories of an individual (the only dumb question is the one that was never asked). See the article on how to conduct a good interview.
If you are a member of the senior generation than simply ask yourself the questions from the question lists.  Your answers could contain valuable clues for future family historians.

Searching Genealogy Names

Creating a Personal History

Involve Children and Youth in Family History

Creating Oral Histories

"online data"


"children to help"

“interview process”

2. Collecting and storing documents and photos Locate, label, and digitize (scan into a computer file) all the old photographs and documents for your family first and then branch out to grandparents and then aunts and uncles. Preserve as much as you can.  If you are the family member with the most life experience you may find this task is bigger than you would want to tackle on your own.  Tell the younger generations that you would like help with entering this information on the computer.  If they agree then it is a win-win situation for the family.

Digital Storage

Preserving Photographs and Documents

Adobe Photoshop



“free program”

"free online services"

Step 1 is critical and step 2 should be done ASAP
If you do nothing else, make sure you (or someone in your family) takes care of Steps 1 and 2 as soon as possible. These are crucial steps in preserving your family’s history and you may not have the opportunity to complete these at some future date. You will regret it later if you put these off for too long.
3. Build a small network of family and distant cousins to collaborate with
Start to build a network of contacts within you family by having others ask around to see if anyone has already started collecting data. Expand your network to distant “cousins” by searching the Internet.
Involve Your Extended Family in Family History
"extended family"
4. Organize what you have already collected

Learn from the experience of others about how to get organized and what filing systems work best. Evaluate software options that are compatible with other programs that you may use in the future.
Organizing Your Files

Document AS YOU GO

“filing systems”

“as you go”

5. Try a small project first to build some confidence
Interpret the data but watch out for common rookie mistakes. Try an easy project first to build your confidence like writing a story about one of your ancestors.

Rookie Mistakes

Free image resources

Creating a Family History

“rookie mistakes”

"free" (photos)

"short story"

6. Continue the storytelling by starting a webpage
Share your new story and your family history information with other by starting a website or blog that others can access. Make it a collaborative effort with other involved with genealogy.

Create a genealogy web page


(How to create your own private website)

Finally, A Society Website Anyone Can Manage



"limited access website"

"simple blog"

7. Re-evaluate your current objectives and think about long term planning
Sit back and evaluate what you have accomplished so far. Once the critical issues have been taken care of the rest of the data is not going anywhere so this is the time to do some longer range planning.

8. How do I keep myself (and others from burning out?
Don’t get discourage when you run into the proverbial brick wall. Setbacks happen to everyone so you just have to step back and readjust in order to get around the roadblocks. Just remember there is help out there.
Solving Tough Research Problems – Overcoming Brick Walls

Resources for individual help

“brick wall”

“never really alone”

9. Searching for more (what information is missing)? This wiki will provide reliable assistance in finding where additional information is located throughout this country and the world. The Family Tree software can also assist you in searching for people in your ancestry. Start to explore more and more options and do not hesitate to readjust your goals as needed. Time is on your side.

Websites for Family History Beginners

Introduction to LDS Family History Centers

"the internet for free”

“LDS records collection”

"local history centers"
“A Free account”

Articles for further reading

Additional article worth checking out if you are curious about what is next or you have decided that you do want to become a family historian. Share your knowledge by adding to the Wiki
Begin your genealogy quest
Principles of Family History Research

“write articles”

(same title)
(same title)

Editor's Note: Please include additional relevant links that can be found in the Research Wiki that those "new to genealogy" might find useful.  This table is transcluded from the "Beginners First Step - Summary and Links" page.
Other links that may be of interest to those that are "new to genealogy"

What is Heritage? (short article)

Ideas of where to begin your Family History

Social Media: blogs, forums, message boards, wikis

Links to several social media articles

Using  the Family History Center and local facilities

Ways to preserve your unique family heritage

How to present it to your family and the world

Find guides, maps, and family histories

Stories you would love to have

Overcome the thought, "I'm not much of a writer"

Reviews of various ways of documenting your history

Learning your own legacy by telling your story

Become reacquinted with who you are

The act of writing has many benefits

Some things have to be seen to be believed

The hallmark of good genealogical research

A comprehensive list of areas to check out

Hiring a researcher: what to expect

Is it worth submitting samples for DNA testing?

What is Heritage?

Getting Started/Intro

Popular Social Networks for Genealogy

Social Media

A Guide to Research

Create a Family History

Creating a Family History

Use the Internet for Family History Research

Oral Personal History

Personal History - Hints on Writing

Personal Histories - different kinds

Write a Personal History

Writing Your Family and Personal Histories

Personal History - Write or Record It?

Personal History - Recording with a Camcorder

Cite Your Sources (Source Footnotes)

Resource Checklist

Hiring a Professional Researcher

Hiring a DNA Testing Company

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