So, you decided that you want to research your family history, but where is the starting point? With so many ways to research online now it can be overwhelming for anyone. Have no fear though, in this post we will start at the most basic beginning for the genealogy novice. This step by step guide will help steer you in the right direction for your research.
STEP ONE – THE VERY BEGINNING
The first thing you need to do is close the laptop. Yep, you heard me, there is no search engine in the first steps of family history. Before you step into the world wide web of family research you need to do some old fashioned detective work.
Start with your family. Ask them everything they know or think they know. See if anyone has an old family Bible with names and birthdates written in them. When I started my research I asked my grandma to think back to all of her relatives, and though she didn’t know dates or even maiden names of the women, she gave me enough information to begin my search.
STEP TWO – BE ORGANIZED
Keeping all the information organized is very important in your research. I use my individual research log to help keep all of the important information in one place. Feel free to right click on my form and save it to use for your research. I don’t know what I would do without my forms. I have a folder for each individual searched (numbering close to 4,000 individuals) and this is the top sheet in the folder.
There are other forms I use as well and I will share them all in further posts. For now let’s focus on this one. You may be asking why write down the source. Every genealogist sites the source of where they found the information. The more sources you have for one item, such as date and place of birth, the more credible the information becomes. Also, from my experience with my family, they will argue that the information isn’t right. They would rather believe family legends instead of family facts. That is when I pull out all my sources to show them my facts.
STEP THREE – COMPILE A SIMPLE FAMILY TREE
Now that you have all this information, it is time to organize it before you begin expanding your research. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just as long as it is something you understand.
Opal Sarilda Vanderpool (born 14 Feb 1911, died 30 Nov. 1997), married William Howard Moore (born 16 Dec. 1909, died 06 Oct. 1995) on 06 Mar. 1930 in Cherokee County Oklahoma.
One simple sentence can carry so much information; name, date of birth, date of death, spouse, date of marriage, and spouses dates of birth and death. The next sentence could start with the child of Opal and William. ex. Mary, daughter of William and Opal (Vanderpool) Moore, was born…
Now that you have the basics to being your family tree, start reaching out to family members and gather all the information you can. Next week, we will discuss the best online sources out there for genealogical research. Thanks for reading!