Sherry Stocking Kline
November 16, 2009
Just a few quick notes to help my Twitter Friend, @Bonnie67, have some Genealogy Fun!
Everyone told me three things when I started to do genealogy research.
A. Start with me and work backwards.
B. Document and log my searches through census and books, even when I didn’t find anything (so I wouldn’t search the same place two or three times) and document my sources, and
C. Get an organization system, a filing system, a notebook, etc.
I didn’t follow advice B and C as well as I should have, but I’m working to turn over a new leaf!
Ten Tips to Begin Your Family History Research
1. The first thing you need to do is start filling out Family Sheets/Family Group Sheets. You can find a blank group sheet here.
If you have a family that has more than six children, click here to download an add-on sheet for the children.
2. Fill out the first group sheet for your own family. Your spouse, yourself and your children.
3. Multiple marriages? Begin with the first spouse, and ‘tie’ children to their biological father.
4. Fill in with everything you know. The reference(s) line refers to where the information comes from, whether it is your personal knowledge, a relatives, a death certificate, census, etc.
5. If you have more children than blanks, add on an extra sheet.
6. Written everything you can? Then next fill out a family group sheet for your parents and their children (you and your siblings). Continue with your grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., as far back as you can go.
7. When you have gone as far as you can with what you know, you need to turn to other sources. Family members, such as parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, even your older siblings may remember something that you don’t.
8. After family, you will need to turn to paper records: wills, death certificates, obituaries, census records, newspapers, and much, much more.
9. Want a basic free genealogy program to help you save, sort and file your info? You can find a link to download one here: Free Legacy Family Tree Software, http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/Index.asp. And another one from Roots Magic here: http://www.rootsmagic.com/Essentials/.
Randy Seaver has written a Roots Magic Essentials review on his Genea-Musings here.
This will give you a place to begin to store your records. You do NOT have to have a program to do genealogy, but it does make it easier to file and manage all the information you may accumulate.
10. Review your Group Sheets. Someone told me once that doing genealogy was like working the world’s biggest puzzle. And that’s what genealogists do as they research, they add one puzzle piece at a time, checking to see where it fits. So now, you go over your Group sheets, and see what blanks you need to fill in, set your goals for future research, and start filling in the blanks!
1. Family Sheets/Family Group Sheets. You can find a blank group sheet here.
2. More children than blanks in your primary group sheet? Add on an extra sheet: Extra Children Sheet.