Tips for Beginning Your Genealogy Journey

As a new family historian, starting your genealogy research can seem daunting. With so much information available and so many ancestors to trace, it can be difficult to know where to begin. However, the best place to start is with yourself. By starting with yourself and working backwards, you can begin to gather information, identify gaps in your knowledge, and start to build your family tree. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed checklist to help you get started on your genealogy journey by starting with yourself.

Below is a checklist for ‘Starting With Yourself’ in your genealogy journey in ‘Discovering Your Past’:

1. Gather your personal information: Start by collecting your full name, date and place of birth, marriage details, and the names and birth details of your parents and siblings.

2. Collect important documents: Gather any important documents related to your family history, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates. These documents can help you verify information and provide clues for further research.

3. Talk to family members: Reach out to your relatives, especially older family members, and ask them about their memories and stories related to the family history. Take notes of their responses and record them for future reference.

4. Organize your information: Keep your information and documents organized in a system that works for you. Consider using a genealogy software program, a filing system, or a digital platform to store your records.

5. Research online databases: Use online resources, such as Ancestry, MyHeritage, or FamilySearch, to research your family history. These websites can provide access to census records, immigration records, military records, and other resources.

6. Visit local archives and libraries: Check local archives and libraries in the areas where your ancestors lived to search for records, such as deeds, wills, and probate records.

7. Join a genealogy group: Join a local genealogy group or online community to connect with others who share your interests and to learn from their experiences and knowledge.

8. Attend genealogy conferences and events: Attend genealogy conferences and events to learn about new resources, techniques, and strategies for researching your family history.

9. Be patient and persistent: Genealogy research can be time-consuming and frustrating, but don’t give up. Keep searching and stay patient and persistent.

10. Document your research: As you gather information and make discoveries, document your research and keep detailed records. This will help you avoid duplicating your efforts and provide a clear record of your progress and findings.

By gathering your own information and documents, organizing your research, and reaching out to family members and online resources, you can begin to uncover your family history and build a more complete picture of your family’s past.

Here is a checklist of items, and documents that you should have when starting with yourself:

1. Full name and any other names used in the past

2. Date and place of birth

3. Marriage certificates or other relevant documents

4. Divorce certificates or other relevant documents

5. Death certificates or other relevant documents

6. Education and work history

7. Military service records, if applicable

8. Citizenship or naturalization papers, if applicable

9. Passport and travel documents, if applicable

10. Address history

11. Personal and family photographs

12. Family Bibles or other family records

13. Letters, diaries, and other personal documents

14. Health and medical records, including immunizations and illnesses

15. Any other important life events or documents that may provide insight into your family history.

In conclusion, starting with yourself is the first and most important step in genealogy research. By following the checklist outlined above, you can gather and organize your own information in a way that will make it easier to move on to researching your ancestors. Remember to start with what you know, gather documents and artifacts from your family, and connect with living relatives to fill in any gaps. By taking the time to properly document and organize your own information, you will set yourself up for success in discovering the stories and histories of your ancestors. Good luck on your genealogy journey!


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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