For the longest time I was interested in learning about my how to do genealogy but I was overwhelmed and confused at how to start working on my family history or genealogy. So I was really excited when I found out that my neighbor is a professional genealogist. Basically, she searches for ancestors of her clients professionally. Since then she has helped me learn the basics of genealogy and I’ve been connecting my family tree all over the place.
While I have been gaining a love for completing my family tree I also have been finding lots of cool ways to do genealogy every day. Some of those ways include keeping a journal or printing family photos like I did with Mixbook. Telling your children stories from your childhood is doing family history. And if you teach your children about your background and the cultures of your grandparents that is doing genealogy.
But if you would like to try to do traditional genealogy I have got you covered. I’ve been so enthusiast to share how I’ve been learning about genealogy I mentioned it to my neighbor and she wrote up this brief step-by-step guide on where to start on your genealogy. So if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or lost as to how to start researching your family tree here is your step-by-step guide to genealogy.
STEP 1 – FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF
Become familiar with your family tree. Fill out what do you know about your pedigree (free printable down below). Ask family about what records they have or more info they may have
- Become familiar with Ancestry.com. There is a free trial or if you are a member of the LDS church you can receive a premium membership by clicking here.
- Become familiar with “googling”, I know you may laugh but if you are not familiar with searches it is a skill to know how to google for something. If you feel clueless you can read more here.
Become familiar with Findagrave.com.
STEP 2 – FIND THE EMPTY CHAIRS
- Once you have made your family tree it’s time to get started identifying where to start which are your “empty chairs”. The place to start is with the ancestors who are born the most recent. Their records will be easiest to find and there will be more info on them.
- If you are LDS and have pioneer ancestry, look for the generation which didn’t die in Utah. Track descendants of all siblings to 1907ish. If convert ancestry, gather ancestors as far back as you can, including all family members. Track all descendants of siblings as well, either while working back or after.
- If someone has done a good majority of your ancestry you can always look for cousins or extended family beyond your direct line.
STEP 3- TIME TO SEARCH
- Alrighty, now is the area that is probably the most daunting. But don’t fret! Through these names, dates, places, and documentation you will be able to fill those empty chairs!
- Start by looking for that person in the empty chair on family search. Find family in the census – purpose is to quickly locate records (Suggested records are wonderful). Start by looking for any info you can find about your missing chair by looking for information on ancestors you already know. For example, if you already know a child look at their birth certificate and see if the parent’s names are written. Or if you now a brother you can look for immigration information and see info on his siblings or parents. By finding information on a member of your family you already know you can find hints to the names you do not.
- Here is a list of information you can find on Family Search that will hopefully give you clues.
- Birth, marriage, death records
- Certificates, if possible
- Family Bible records, if possible
- Cemeteries (see findagrave)
- Social Security applications
- Court records
- Wills, probate
- Court proceedings
- Passenger lists
- Alien registration
- Other places to look for this info include find-a-grave, google, or ancestry. Exploring all of these resources online you will be surprised at what you can find!
STEP 4- As you find information you will be adding it your existing line in Ancestry.com. Its like filling in a puzzle! Comment below with questions. I would love to help you learn what I have.
Doing genealogy gives me a sense of connection to who I am and really has helped me understand myself better. It also makes me feel connected to the people who lived before me, who had real lives and were real people. It is so interesting to me to know that hundreds of years ago people lived and I am descended from them. Comment with questions and I hope this post helps get you started so you can find the missing “chairs” or people in your tree.