Steps 1-2-3

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Welcome, everyone! We are thrilled to have you join us for the first blog post in our series, “22 Steps in Researching Your Family Tree.” Get ready to embark on an exciting journey of discovery as we guide you through the fascinating world of genealogy and help you uncover the secrets of your family’s past. We can’t wait to share with you the valuable information, tips, and tools that will help you become a successful family historian and trace your family tree back through the generations. So let’s get started and make history together!

First we have to know…

What is genealogy?’

Genealogy is the study of family history and lineage. It is the process of tracing one’s ancestry and lineage through the generations, using a variety of sources such as birth and death records, census records, and family stories and traditions. Genealogy can be a hobby, a passion, or even a profession for some. It is a way to connect with one’s past and to understand one’s place in the world.

One of the main benefits of genealogy is that it allows individuals to discover their roots and to learn more about their ancestors. Genealogy research can reveal information about one’s family’s origins, migrations, and cultural heritage. This can provide a sense of identity and belonging and can deepen one’s understanding of one’s own place in the world. It can also help to answer questions about family medical history and inherited traits.

Another benefit of genealogy is that it can bring families together. Genealogy research can uncover long-lost relatives and can provide a way for families to connect and to share information about their shared history. This can be especially important for families who have been separated by distance, time, or circumstance. Genealogy can also provide a sense of continuity and can help to preserve family stories and traditions for future generations.

Genealogy also has a social benefit as it can help to connect people with their community and their country. Genealogy research can reveal information about one’s ancestors’ roles in historical events and can provide a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and political context in which they lived. This can help individuals to appreciate the sacrifices and contributions of their ancestors and to better understand the history of their community and country.

Moreover, Genealogy can be an educational tool as it can help to teach individuals about research methods and critical thinking. Genealogy research requires the use of a variety of sources and the ability to evaluate and interpret information. This can be an excellent way to teach individuals about research methods, critical thinking, and the importance of verifying information. It can also teach about the history and culture of different regions, as well as different historical time periods.

Additionally, Genealogy can be a therapeutic tool as it can provide a way to process grief and loss. Genealogy research can be a way to honour and remember loved ones who have passed away and to preserve their legacy. It can also provide a sense of closure for individuals who have lost touch with relatives or who have unresolved issues with family members.

In conclusion, Genealogy is the study of family history and lineage and it has a wide range of benefits. It allows individuals to discover their roots, bring families together, connect with their community and country, be an educational tool, and be therapeutic. It can be a hobby, a passion, or a profession and it is a way to connect with one’s past and to understand one’s place in the world. Genealogy research can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience that can deepen one’s understanding of oneself and one’s place in the world, as well as provide a way to connect with family, community, and history.

Why Research Genealogy?

Genealogy is the study and exploration of one’s family history, with the aim of leaving a legacy for future generations. As I delved into researching my own family’s genealogy, I realized the importance of documenting our past and passing it down through the generations. My ultimate goal is to compile a comprehensive Family Record or “Saga,” which can serve as a resource for family members and aspiring genealogists alike.

Each of our families has a unique and fascinating story to tell, and it is crucial that we respect and honour the contributions of our ancestors. For example, my own surname of “Gibbs” can be traced back to the Norman conquest, highlighting the rich history and heritage that lies within our family tree.

As I dug deeper into my family history, what started as a mere hobby soon became a personal and emotional journey of self-discovery. I realized that my ancestors’ lives and experiences were inextricably linked to my own, and that tracing my family tree allowed me to connect with my past in a profound and meaningful way.

The more I researched, the more I was struck by the sheer number of ancestors I had – theoretically, if I went back 15 generations, I could have over 130,000 ancestors! This highlights the importance of documenting our family history and preserving it for future generations to come.

Throughout history, different cultures have had unique ways of recording their family trees. From the ancient practice of tying knots on ropes or objects to the Chinese tradition of meticulously inscribing genealogies on turtle shells and cow bones, there is a rich and diverse history of genealogy that stretches back thousands of years.

If you are interested in undertaking your own genealogy project, I am happy to assist you in any way I can. Gathering information from living relatives is a vital first step in piecing together your family history, and I encourage you to embark on this journey of discovery and connection.

It’s important to research and document one’s genealogy because it provides an informed knowledge of the past and allows us to leave a worthwhile legacy for future generations. By compiling a family record or “saga,” we can ensure that our family history is available for family members and new genealogists to explore and learn from. Additionally, researching one’s genealogy can be a fascinating way to discover the diverse and unique stories of our ancestors and how they have contributed to our own lives.

Why You Should Create a Family Tree

Have you ever considered creating a family tree? While it may seem like a daunting task, a family tree can be an incredibly useful tool for teaching kids about their family history and relationships. It can also provide a new perspective on life and be a fun activity to do with the family on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Building a family tree can be as simple or as elaborate as you want, from drawing one yourself to using online ancestry websites or software. Starting with yourself and working backward through time, you can create a chart that links one person to another in your family. While creating an in-depth family tree may require some investigation and research, there are tools available online to make the process easier. So why not give it a try and have some fun while discovering your family’s history?

The First Three Steps

“22 Steps in Researching Your Family Tree” is a checklist I use for my own genealogy research. Today, we will be covering…

Step 1. Start with yourself

Step 2. Gather what information you already have or know

Step 3. Start the search with one family at a time by talking to family members and relatives

If these 22 steps have worked for me in my own genealogy research, they can also work for you too! In this blog series, we will be covering each step of the checklist and providing you with valuable insights and tips to help you navigate the exciting world of family history research. From organizing your research materials to analyzing your findings, we’ll cover it all. So get ready to take your genealogy research to the next level and join us for this informative and exciting journey!

Genealogy is a fascinating pursuit that can help us better understand our family history and heritage. However, getting started can be overwhelming. That’s where the “22 Steps in Researching Your Family Tree” checklist comes in. In this article, we will discuss the first three steps of the checklist and provide tips and tools to help you get started.

There was a guy named Abraham, he was a beginner family historian who wanted to learn more about his ancestors. He had always been interested in his family’s history but didn’t know where to begin. After doing some research, he stumbled upon the “22 Steps in Researching Your Family Tree” checklist and decided to give it a try.

Abraham began his journey and started his genealogy research with…

Step 1: Start with yourself

This is the first step in researching your family tree. This means documenting your own information, such as your full name, birth date, birthplace, and other important details. It’s also a good idea to gather any important documents you may have, such as your birth certificate, marriage certificate, or any other official records.

Starting with yourself is a crucial step in building your family tree. Not only does it provide a solid foundation for your research, but it also helps you identify gaps in your knowledge and determine which areas of your family history require further investigation.

One helpful tool to assist with this step is a family tree software program or online platform. These programs allow you to easily input and organize your information, as well as search for potential matches and hints based on your data. Some popular options include, MyHeritage, and FamilySearch, but there are many others available as well.

When using a family tree software program or online platform, it’s important to regularly back up your data to ensure it is safe and secure. You may also want to consider adding notes or sources to each individual in your tree to keep track of where you found your information and verify its accuracy.

So, as for our hypothetical family historian, Abraham, starting with himself was the obvious first step. He gathered all of his personal documents, including his birth certificate and marriage certificate, and used an online platform to create his family tree. With this information organized, Abraham was able to identify areas where he had limited knowledge and make a plan for further research.

Tip: Use a family tree software program or online platform to organize your information. Some popular options include, MyHeritage, and FamilySearch.

Note: More about genealogy programs at the end of the blog. I recommend doing your own research and select the one that is right for you. You will have specific ideas on how to create yours, so this will be a task for you so that you can begin your journey and use it throughout the blogs.

Step 2: Gather what information you already have or know

The next step is to gather any information you already know about your family history. This could include details about your parents, grandparents, and other relatives. Talk to family members and ask them about their memories and stories of your ancestors. This can provide valuable clues and insights into your family’s history.

In addition to talking to family members, there are several other sources you can use to gather information about your family history. These sources include family documents, such as letters, diaries, and photographs. You may also find information in family bibles or other religious documents. It’s important to gather as much information as possible in order to build a complete picture of your family’s history.

Another valuable resource is online databases and genealogy websites. Many of these sites offer access to public records, such as census records, marriage and death certificates, and military records. By searching these databases, you can often find information about your ancestors that you may not have been able to find through family members alone.

When gathering information, be sure to document your sources. This will make it easier to verify information later and ensure the accuracy of your family tree. Consider using a citation management tool like Grafiati, Zotero or RefWorks to keep track of your sources.


What is Grafiati and why should you consider using it? Grafiati is a citation generator service that offers a free trial with limited features or the option to upgrade to unlimited access for a reasonable price. Registration is quick and easy with no need for extensive tutorials or manuals as the user-friendly interface is easy to understand. Grafiati stands out for its unique tools that make citations quicker and simpler, offering the greatest depth of citations combined with simplicity. All references and citations are tailored to your language and country, with customer support available to incorporate user feedback.

What sets Grafiati apart from other citation generator services is that it does not use third-party software code, which can be unreliable and prone to errors. Grafiati’s algorithms are proprietary and have been meticulously developed by their team through research on information from publication manuals and university recommendations. To learn more about their approach, visit their homepage and read their article.

To use Grafiati’s bibliographic management service, simply visit their homepage and select the source type you wish to cite. You can find the source in catalogues or enter the details manually, and then change the citation style and sorting option as needed. If you need further guidance, their help section provides additional instructions.


Zotero is a free and open-source reference management software designed to help researchers collect, organize, and cite research sources. It was developed by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and is available as a standalone application or as a web-based service.

With Zotero, users can easily capture citations, metadata, and full-text articles from websites, databases, and library catalogs. The software also allows users to organize and tag their sources, create bibliographies, and collaborate with others.

Zotero is available as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and can also be downloaded as a desktop application for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It supports hundreds of citation styles, including APA, MLA, Chicago, and more, and allows users to switch between styles with ease.

Overall, Zotero is a powerful and versatile tool for managing research sources, saving time and ensuring accuracy in the citation process.


RefWorks is a web-based reference management software that allows researchers to organize, store, and share bibliographic citations, research notes, and documents. It was created by RefWorks LLC, a company now owned by ProQuest.

With RefWorks, users can import references from various sources, including online databases, websites, and library catalogs, and organize them into folders. The software also offers features such as citation formatting, collaboration tools, and the ability to create bibliographies and reference lists in a variety of citation styles.

RefWorks is commonly used by researchers, students, and librarians to streamline the research and writing process, and to ensure accurate citations and references. It is available as a subscription-based service, with different plans and pricing options depending on the user’s needs.

Using bibliographic management service products can offer several benefits, including saving time and effort in organizing and citing sources, reducing the risk of errors and plagiarism, ensuring accuracy and consistency in formatting, and simplifying collaboration and sharing of research with others. Additionally, these tools often provide access to a wide range of sources and citation styles, and may offer advanced features such as annotation, note-taking, and integration with other research and writing software.

Overall, starting with yourself and gathering as much information as possible is a crucial first step in researching your family tree. By documenting your own information and talking to family members and gathering records, you can begin to build a foundation for your family tree research.

Tip: Record all the information you gather in a notebook or a digital document. Make note of any discrepancies or inconsistencies, as these may need to be clarified or verified later.

Step 3: Start the search with one family at a time by talking to family members and relatives

Start the search with one family at a time by talking to family members and relatives Once you have documented your own information and gathered what you already know, it’s time to start your research. Begin with one family at a time and talk to family members and relatives who may have additional information. Ask them about their memories, stories, and any documents they may have, such as old family photos, letters, or journals.

It’s important to approach each conversation with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Be prepared to take notes, ask follow-up questions, and make copies of any relevant documents. You never know what valuable information you may uncover by simply talking to your relatives.

In addition to speaking with relatives, you can also search for public records and other documents that may provide additional information about your family history. Some common resources include census records, birth, marriage and death certificates, and military records.

Tip: Many of these resources can be found online. Websites such as, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage provide access to a vast collection of genealogical records. Check with your local library or genealogical society to see if they offer free access to these websites.

Remember, genealogy research can be a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process. Don’t get discouraged if you hit roadblocks or dead ends as we will cover that in a future blog post. Also, remember to keep an open mind, be patient, and stay organized. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to uncovering your family’s unique history and creating a lasting legacy for future generations.

Tip: Be respectful of your family members’ privacy and be prepared to answer questions about why you are interested in your family history. Share your own enthusiasm and excitement about the project.

In conclusion, the first three steps of the “22 Steps in Researching Your Family Tree” checklist are essential in starting your genealogy journey. Starting with yourself provides a solid foundation for your research and helps identify gaps in your knowledge. Gathering as much information as possible from family members, documents, and online databases helps build a complete picture of your family’s history. Organizing this information using a family tree software program or online platform and documenting sources using a citation management tool ensures accuracy and makes it easier to verify information later. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to uncovering the secrets of your family’s past and becoming a successful family historian.

Join us for our next blog post where we’ll guide you through Step 4 of researching your family tree: becoming a member of an online ancestry website. With so many resources available at your fingertips, we’ll show you how to navigate through these sites and uncover valuable information about your ancestors. Don’t miss out on this essential step in your genealogy journey!

Download Student Notes and the Quiz for today’s blog


In closing this blog post, I hope that this blog series has been beneficial to you in learning more about genealogy and how to trace your family history. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback on the series or would like to suggest any improvements, please don’t hesitate to send me a message or email. I value your input and appreciate your support in helping me to create more helpful and informative content for aspiring genealogists. Thank you for following along on this journey, and I wish you the best of luck in your own genealogical research.

If you require further clarification or have any questions regarding the content covered in today’s blog, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I would be more than happy to assist you and will do my best to respond to your inquiry as promptly as possible.


Published by Darrell Gibbs

A father of three children and five grandchildren who retired in 2015 and began a career as a non-fiction writer in genealogy resource ebooks for new family historians. Aspiring towards the future as a Historical Fiction Author of his premier book "Wessex Reign".

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