Tip of the Week

Friday, July 20, 2012

How To: Begin your Family Tree

In taking a break from my crafty projects before I have my knitting classes, I was working on my genealogy. Some say once you start researching your family tree it becomes a life-long process, but it really depends on what your goal is.  Do you want to go back to when your ancestors immigrated to the US?  Or do you want to go back 3, 4 or 5 generations?

Whatever your goal may be, and it may change too, here are my tips for starting your genealogy.

1.  Talk to your parents and grandparents (great-grandparents if alive).  Gather all the information they may remember, stories too.  I always find family stories to be interesting, both good and bad.

2.  Go through family photos and the "boxes" of old photos that have been passed through the generations.  You may want to make copies or digital copies for your records.  Photos may also provide clues - where an ancestor may have lived, occupations, other relatives, etc.

3.  Talk to other relatives, Aunts, Uncles, cousins and the like.  Gather information and stories from them.

4.  Compile all the information you have and start with yourself on the tree.  Then fill in your parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.

5.  If you are computer-savvy select a genealogy program to help you store and sort information.   Here are a few I have tried: Family Tree, Ancestry and Legacy.  Or use the online tree at Rootsweb.com

6.  Search records at familysearch.org using the information you have gathered.  You may also try Ancestry.com (requires a fee for most records) and Rootsweb.com

7.  Be sure to cite your sources and keep records of all references you have gathered information from.  The worst thing is to not be able to cite your source or forget where you found the information.

Now you should be able to start searching for your ancestors.  Personally, I think everyone should know at least 2-4 generations of their family history for medical reasons.  Check out the link below for the Oxford's Dictionary definition and more research links from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Click here for a bonus and more research links

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