If you’ve embarked on a journey to learn more about your family history, you have begun a process that is sure to change your life. Learning about your ancestors will be revealing and inspiring, but it’s often a difficult process. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Before you begin your detective work, get organized. Decide what you’ll need to help you track and record information so you don’t spend your time going down the same path over and over. Many online tools helps you store names, places and other information. Look for one that contains an app for easy access on your portable device. You can quickly add information while you’re visiting a gravesite or library.
Family tree templates provide a quick, easy location to organize family names. You can study the pages to see what information you have and who is missing in your studies. This visual aid allows you to develop a picture of the people you’re learning about and their relation to each other.
Start with What You Know
Sure, you want to get back to your ancestors in the Revolutionary War, but it’s easier to begin with your relatives who are currently living. Ask them for as much information about their parents and grandparents as they have. Go in-depth about all of the places they lived, their families’ occupations and any other information that may help you.
Information will be sparse as you go back further. The more you have, the more options you will have in your research when you reach a dead end. Make sure you record details, no matter how minor they might seem. You never know when that tiny bit of information might help you start a new path in your research.
The most obvious place to begin your research into your ancestors is in public records. While this may work well for the first few generations, it won’t be as beneficial the further back you go. People didn’t keep as accurate records and many times they were lost if they did. You may have to find other ways to learn new information.
Newspapers from the town where your ancestors lived can provide valuable information even if they don’t mention the people by name. Find ads or clippings about local events, which may list people involved and include your family. Visit museums that specialize in local history. They may offer resources you can’t find elsewhere. Find out if the town has an historical center, which may help you move forward in your research if you’ve hit a dead end.
If you want to begin learning about your family history, take the time to get organized with tools like a geneology app and family tree templates. Start with the information you already know or have easy access to and find new places to conduct your research when you run out of information. With persistence and effort, you can learn more about your family history than you might have expected.
This article was a guest post by Suzie Kolber, who created Obituarieshelp.org to be the complete online resource for “do it yourself” genealogy projects. The site offers the largest offering of family tree chart online. The site is a not for profit website dedicated to offering free resources for those that are trying to trace their family history.