1. Let's begin by learning that you must organizing yourself. For as time goes on you will find yourself with so much paperwork that you will be lost. For each person make a Family Group Sheet, a Research Log of where you obtained your information and Research Questions you might have on this person along with a checklist. Remember to document everything you find on your ancestors. We will discuss each of these in further details below. Also remember that you certainly want to look into purchasing a genealogy software program to store your family data as paperwork can become overwhelming as you will see.
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2.The Family Group Sheet is a very simple way to keep track of family groups. Take the information that you receive on each ancestor and make a Family Group Sheet (an example is shown at end of this page) on each person in your family. Start with yourself, then your parents and their children, your grandparents and their children, etc. As you go back further in time you may contact relatives or other researchers. Ask them to please fill out your FGS (Family Group Sheet) and return them to you. It is always welcomed if you enclosed a SASE.
3. The Research Log is very important for in the future when you share you data or decide possibly to publish your work you will need to know your sources for obtaining the information on your family lines. It is always nice to keep a log for each ancestor. Show their name, birth, death, married, spouse. For instance if you found the persons birth certificate show the date you found it, birth certificate, the source (quoting file#, etc.), source name & address. Wherever you obtain information be VERY specific with the information quoting authors, titles, pages, publishers, etc.
4. Research Questions can sometimes be personal questions you have on a certain ancestor other than birth, death and marriage. Again make a chart for each ancestor with their name, birth, death, married, spouse. You might have a list of questions for example, Immigration, Occupation, Religion, Adoption, Military Service, Spoke Foreign Language, Family Stories about this Person. These questions could also add some color into your gathering of materials on your family as time goes by. After all genealogy is not just about birth, death and marriage. We want to know about the history of our family. You might just find some interesting facts on your family lines.
5. Now to get into the real fun part of genealogy. Do interviews with your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in your family lines. Even talk to your families friends. Tell them you are researching your family roots. Ask them birth and death dates and places, marriage dates and places and who the person married. Always begin with the current year and work backwards. When you get stuck move to the next line or investigate the brothers or sisters of your ancestor. I have found some of my best information by researching the brother or sister of my direct line of ancestry. Also ask them to check their homes for information they might have on ancestors and family members.
6. Check all your family members for family bibles, genealogies and histories, an excellent resource for family lineage. Sometimes the dates might not be exact but you can always correct them later after you obtain birth, death, marriage and baptism records. You can order Birth, Death, Marriage & Divorce Certificates by clicking here.
7. Ask family members if they have available baby and wedding books, divorce papers, funeral cards, awards, diplomas, school yearbooks, employment records, military records, medical records. It also could be that your family kept journals or diaries. Check the attic.
8. Get birth certificates on individuals. These most always show parents and sometimes other valuable information including where the parents were both born, their occupations, etc.
9. Get marriage licenses and certificates. These show ages, parents, witnesses and other various pieces information including in some cases where the bride, groom, and parents were born and their occupations, etc.
10. Get death certificates. Of course these show death dates, birth dates, parents, who reported the death, where the deceased person was residing and much more info including causes of death, etc.
11. Go to your local newspaper and get copies of obituary notices. Obituary notices are a wealth of knowledge. Look at an obituary in today's newspaper and you will see all the information that can be obtained from one. In the older obituaries, longer write-ups are given on family members when they died telling about not only the person but about their life and in some cases about when their family line settled in a certain area of the country. Or you can Search the Obituary Collection at Ancestry.com by
12. Get church records on your family. Baptismal, Christening, Marriage, Membership, etc. These will show as much, in some cases, as vital records.
13. Go to the cemeteries that you know your ancestors are buried in and look for other family members. Write down all information off of tombstones even those that may not necessarily apply to your current direct family members. You might not visit this cemetery for awhile and you will have the necessary information right in front of you for future reference.
14. Ask all your family members to gather family picture albums out check for data, names, etc. You never know what you might find on the back of an old photo. Or who might have something hiding in their attic, garage or basement that has long since been forgotten.
15. Get Census records. Begin with the latest census available and work backwards. Census records have been take since 1790. Before 1790 you can use Tax Lists and other local lists that might have been compiled according to the state you are researching in. This will help you fill in the missing pieces and find family members. Some libraries and historical societies have census records on microfilm at their branches. Of course, today with the advent of the Internet and CDs, it is convenient for us to do our research in the privacy of our own home! Check Census Records for the US from 1790 to 1930 at Ancestry.com by clicking here. Search the 1930 US Census at Ancestry.com by clicking here.
16. Go to your local library, historical society or LDS center. This is where I began my research on my own family line and found many of my ancestors in local history books, resource files and collections of family related material. Click on the banner below for the Ancestry Book Store, where they offer over 3,700 different genealogy related books. Some of their book categories include: Ancestry Publishing, Custom, Genealogy, History, Reference and Pictorial, Ancestry Magazine, Biography and Memoir, Family and Heritage Cookbooks.
17. Some other sources to look for might be these records: Adoptions, divorce, emigration, medical, ownership of land, naturalization, school, biographies in history books, wills, etc.
18. Go to Court Houses and check records for your ancestors. Check deeds, probate (wills, estate, intestate), voters records, indenture, marriage, court proceedings, any kind of legal papers that would have been filed in a courthouse.
19. Post your surnames (maximum of 10 surnames) to our Researchers Pages by filling out our Post my Surnames Request Form. Over 500 fellow researcher's visit our pages every day. It only takes one person to make a connection with someone in your family line. That one person may hold the key to opening up a wealth of information on your family.
20. Visit Over 40,000 Genealogy Links where you will find links to some of the top genealogy sites on the internet. These links are great for beginners. Featured are major links and surname sites, genealogy tools and services, coats of arms and family crests, new and used books, CDs, software, web rings, search engines, message boards, chat, genealogy shopping and much more.
21. Post your information including the family or families you are searching on our Family Tree Message Board. Family Researcher's will gather not only on our board but on other genealogy boards across the Internet to exchange information and try to connect family lines. You might get lucky and find a cousin or missing family link! So post on as many Message Boards on the Internet as possible. Although, be very careful what you post. Take some friendly advise and do not post your home address or home phone online. Always use common sense when posting personal information online. Our fellow genealogists are wonderful individuals but you never know who else is looking at these boards.
22. Use the search engines (MSN, AOL, Google, Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, AltaVista, AskJeeves, etc.) on the Internet to put in the names you are looking for. I have found many connections using this method. You will find Web sites and also individuals listed. Also use the Internet White Pages to look for current generations that have the same last name as you. Remember, missing cousins!
23. Remember, in order to receive family information you have to share your family genealogy with others. That includes telling others where you obtained your information. If you received your data from a specific person, please give them credit for providing you with their research findings. It might not only have cost them a lot of their valuable time and patience in deciphering records, microfilm, etc. but additional expenses such as gas, copying & research fees and travel expenses. When I first began researching my family lines and I visited my local library I remember an elderly lady helping me find tons of information in books. I asked her why she was assisting a total stranger and she told me, "That is what genealogy is all about, helping others to find their roots".
24. Most important, look into buying a good "Genealogy Software Program" so you can keep track of all your findings. Check out some of the genealogy programs available by going to our Genealogy Software Program Shop. You will find programs such as: Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker and more.
25. And finally, after researching your family roots, gathering your research materials and documents, entering your data into your "new" genealogy program, sharing your finds with family, friends and fellow family researchers, well then.... how about thinking about a Genealogy Site on the Web!
FAMILY GROUP SHEET
Please fill out and return to (Your Name, Address, Phone, email, etc.)
Name of Spouse:
Birthdate and place of spouse:
Deathdate and place of spouse:
Parents of spouse:
Name of Spouse:
Birthdate and place of spouse:
Deathdate and place of spouse:
Parents of spouse:
If the parents had more than 2 children keep numbering #3, #4, etc.
You can than make a FGS (Family Group Sheet) for each of these
children with their spouse and showing their children
(Do this for each child. Use additional sheets if necessary)
We have just touched on a few of the many tips and guidelines necessary to begin the quest for your ancestors. There are many different charts that are used in genealogical research such as Pedigree Charts, Descendants Charts, GEDCOM, Genealogy Reports, Ancestors Trees, etc. but for now as a beginner you have to start your "Genealogical Journey" one step at a time. Wishing you all the best in finding your "Roots"
For a change of pace, take a break from your research and cast your vote on favorite genealogy questions. Let's make this a fun and informative poll for each other. It will be interesting to find the likes and dislikes, statistics and research habits of our fellow researchers. All voters and their votes will remain anonymous.
Genealogy Shops & Online Resources
Visit the "Genealogy Shop" and you'll find
tons of online resources to assist you in
your search including: Books, CDs,
Magazines, Software, Coats of Arms &
Family Crests, Resources, Services
and many Searchable Online Databases
Over 1,000,000 Worldwide Family Surnames
Including Coat of Arms & Surname Histories
Search the 1930 Census! at Ancestry.com The 1930 United States Federal Census is the largest census released to date. The census contains information about a household’s occupants including: birthplaces, occupations, immigration, citizenship, and military service. The census can be a valuable tool to use when researching your twentieth-century ancestors because it contains records for approximately 123 million Americans. If you had family in the United States during the early twentieth century, you are likely to find at least one relative’s information within these census records. This makes the 1930 census a good place to start research if you are a beginner, or if your family, vital, or religious records are missing.
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Search Historical Newspaper Collections at Ancestry.com About This Collection: Read history as it was happening in more than 16 million pages from over 1000 different newspapers across the US and U.K. dating back to the 1700's. The full-text index and Advanced Image Viewer deliver highlighted search hits on every page. Your Newspaper subscription also includes access to the new Obituary Collection that contains more than 9 MILLION Obituaries.
Order Birth, Death, Marriage & Divorce Records Online! at Ancestry.com Order copies of birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates for your ancestors. A copy of the original birth or death certificate sometimes provides additional information such as dates, locations, parents, spouses, or other information. It also provides documentation collected by careful genealogists or lineage societies.
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Answers. Solutions. Advice. Stories. Know-how. How-to. And Your Personal Mark on History. It’s all here in Ancestry Magazine.
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Six times a year, Ancestry Magazine delivers family history insight and ideas that tackle the tough questions about your family’s yesterdays and provide the latest ways you can pass on the legacy for tomorrow.
Learn more about who your great-great-grandmother really was, why she made the choices she did, where to look for the rest of her family, and how it all made you the person you are today every time you open an issue of Ancestry Magazine.