Friday, January 23, 2009

Getting Started in Genealogy

It doesn't happen often, but every once in a while, someone asks me how in the world one gets started in genealogy.  It seems to be the million dollar question (in the genealogy world at least).  Luckily, I got some answers for you:

1.) Start with yourself and work your way back, starting with the three basics: birth date and place, marriage date and place, and death date and place.  Once you've finished writing your birth date and place for yourself (include marriage date and place if that applies to you), start with your parents.  Then move on to your grandparents, etc, etc.

2.) Ask your relatives about what they know about your family.  Usually, they can give you information that you might not of known about.  Write down any dates and locations, even if they are only estimates.  All of the information you gather will serve as a guide for when you finally jump into the research pool.

3.) Put all of that information that you've gathered onto a Pedigree Chart and on some Family Group Sheet (You can find these sheets at a TON of websites, but the links that I included go to the forms provided by Cyndi's list).  By putting your information on these forms, you have it all organized.

4.) Start researching information about the censuses, birth records, death records, marriage records, etc. in the area you are researching.  Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to memorize it or to look at all the records that are available - the point of this is just to get an idea of what you can search and what records your ancestors might be found in.

5.)  Now, it is time to go out and start proving that information.  If you are ready to invest some money, then try to buy a subscription to a website like or (I recommend when you are just starting out).  If you don't want to invest money just yet, try the message boards on websites like and  Try going onto free websites like

So now that you have some easy steps, go ahead and try to get your feet wet in genealogy.  Just be careful though - this will become an addiction.


Becky Jamison said...

You did a good job on making your links look "pretty" Elyse. Nice post!