Getting Started in Genealogy

Anyone who knows me in real life and online knows I am pretty vocal about the things I do and love in life. One of those things is genealogy. For a while now, people I know online and in real life have been approaching me with ” I like to research my family but don’t know how to get started. Could you show me.”  I know this feeling. I remember what it was like feeling lost and overwhelmed when I first started. So instead of sending out the same emails repeatedly I decide to blog this for them and anyone else out there seeking help.

My first recommendation is to start with the information that you, yourself have. Names, dates, places, documents, images, & stories. Then record this information, whether it is on paper or your favorite word software. It is important to have it all down in at least one place so you’re not back tracking for a name, date, or a place later down the road. As your tree starts to grow it will become harder and harder to remember it all. (Believe me, this is a good thing.

Next step, hit the family up. Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles. Are there any family bibles that record your family history? Are there any family letters, documents, or images laying around in an old shoebox buried deep in someone’s closet? Just because your parents don’t actually have this stuff in their possession doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

One more thing before we move on to some online resources. Always ask where people were born. Never assume, and if someone starts out with “Well I think” That is not a fact. That is only a starting point for you to prove or disprove.

Now, while you’re waiting for people to get back to you with the requested information it is time to hit some online resources! (Did I just hear someone shout “Finally?”)

These are sites that I do use. It is not a full list; it will grow as I add to it. Not all sites are free, nor will you find the information you are seeking on every site. However, the more resources you have the greater are you chances of finding information. One thing you do need to keep in mind. You will not continuously find the information you’re seeking. It could be that information does not exist, or it just has not been uploaded to the internet.

This is my favorite site. I don’t care what anyone says or thinks. I have found tons of documents here that I’ve not been able to find anywhere else.

http://www.ancestry.com/

This next site I can take or leave it. However, I have a friend who says this is her pot of gold like ancestry is mine. This one is free.

https://www.familysearch.org/

I really like this next site and it is free too

http://usgenweb.org/

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

Online Civil War Indexes, Records & Rosters

http://www.militaryindexes.com/civilwar/index.html

Native American Resources

http://www.genealogybranches.com/nativeamericans.html

One resource I could never do without is a search engine. My favorite search engine is Google. I swear genealogy and Google are best friends! I have found land deeds, where people are buried, children that were born & died in between census years. Information on Civil War Soldiers. You never know what may come up in a search from those who have gone before us. Search engines are a priceless resource. Don’t overlook them. Don’t exclude them.

  1. The last one for today is Find A Grave. “Find A Grave is a free resource for finding the final resting places of famous folks, friends and family members. With millions of names, it’s an invaluable tool.”

http://www.findagrave.com/

Genealogy is not for the faint of heart. It takes patients, preservation & determination. However, the information & knowledge that you find along the way, & the bonds that you will build are worth it.

If anyone has any links they think will be useful to others please feel free to share them.

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2 thoughts on “Getting Started in Genealogy

  1. Interesting to read your comments on the various websites. I think they all add value as long as the researcher is aware of how reliable the source information is. I have found a lot of useful leads on Ancestry, but I always look for alternative verification of what I find there. Familysearch has improved significantly in the past couple of years but I find the search engine irritating so I tend to go there only when I have drawn a blank elsewhere.

  2. Hello and welcome Genealyn, I agree with you on both accounts. My friend Dijea knows how to work, coax, kick,(whatever you want to call it), Family Search. She finds tons of stuff there. I have only found 2 things there. One document I already have, the other one was worth all the blanks I have drawn from that site in the past because it was an 1880 city death cert that I have not been able to find anywhere else on my gr, gr, grandmother. But I don’t see it ever being my favorite go to site.

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