Genealogy - Where do I begin?

2/24/2016 10:26:00 AM

Somehow or other your interest has been piqued. You've started to wonder what your great grandpa was like, or if you have any famous ancestors hiding in your family tree. You know you want to start finding information but you have one daunting question on your mind: Where do I begin? Luckily for you, genealogy is all about asking questions. And luckily for you there is an answer to your daunting question:

 Genealogy, quite simply, is the study of a family and how members are related to each other. The type of research you do will vary depending on the time period you're searching, where you're searching, what records are available and what information you're looking for. But you don't need to worry about that quite yet. Right now is simply the time to gather. Write down or type up everything you know about your family and once you've done that ask other family members if they have more information for you. Is there a family tree online? A family website you can look at? A book that has been published about your family history? You need to know what has already been gathered so you can verify and build off of that.

 Now some of you, when you begin this process may find next to nothing has been done. You've got your work cut out for you!

 Others of you may find that scores of generations of people have been researched and documented. Guess what, you've got your work cut out for you!

 There are always individuals that have been missed. There are always individuals for whom assumptions have been made that may be connected to the wrong family members. There is always information to add, information to correct, and information to verify. Genealogy work is detective work filled with cases that constantly need solving and reopening. It's exciting exploring different avenues that might get you the information you need.

 The most important thing to do after you have gathered information is to record that information along with your source material. So how do genealogists record their information? Whether you're planning on keeping track of your ancestors online, on paper, or both, there are some common forms you will see that will help you keep your families and facts in order. Below is one example of a pedigree chart:
A pedigree chart is used to document your direct line ancestors, typically four generations back. This includes you, your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. There are variations on this that include more generations but less detail such as fan charts.

 Below is one example of what is called a family group sheet:

A family group sheet is used to document the parents and children that belong to one particular family.

Another way to record is on the internet through use of a family tree website. An online family tree program combines everything in one, giving you the ability to view your family lines in pedigree form, individual form, or family group form and allowing you to attach source material and records to your ancestors. Some programs will even search for possible matching records for you.

My personal recommendation for creating your family tree online is I am not affiliated with them in any way, I am simply a happy customer of over 15 years. And what's even better is that if you're LDS, your subscription is completely free! Visit this link to sign up and start your family tree.

If you are LDS you may be wondering why you need in addition to your account. Family Search is great and obviously necessary for submitting names for temple work, but your tree on family search is an open edit system. What this means is that anyone with a membership can log in and change anything to any individual in the tree at any time. It's meant to encourage collaboration but is more often frustrating than not as so many individuals don't provide contact information. It's nice to have your own personal family tree elsewhere that only you can edit and make sure information stays correct. And you can import individuals from familysearch to ancestry and vice versa. Also, has records available that familysearch does not.

So to sum up: