Posts Tagged ‘Getting started’

Ten Tips to Begin Your Family History Research

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, And another one from Roots Magic here:

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!

Happy Hunting!


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.

It was Harder Than I Thought!

By – Sherry Stocking Kline

Everything I read on-line said that creating a blog was easy.

Get a domain name. Pick a ‘spot’ to host it. Start writing.

Or in my case, start writing AND uploading the articles I’ve written for the Wichita Eagle’s special “Active Life” magazine over the years.

After all, I’m sorta, kinda, maybe a little bit computer literate.  Right?

Well, I thought that I was, but maybe not. Or at least the jury is still out on that.

So I started checking into blog software, hosting provisions, free blog hosting sites,,, ,etc.. I read articles and glanced at some books. I checked other blogs to see what they were using. I asked for advice from some Twitter friends, too, and ended up choosing to use my own domain and my own hosting company. And I picked WordPress.

With a lot of excitement I installed it on my website. And then I saw all these neat blogs with the cool graphics, and I thought, well, I need one of those, so I found a nice young mom on Twitter to tweak me up a nice graphic and background ( and I assured her that I could upload it to WordPress myself.

After all, I still remember a little HTML. I can still kinda, sorta use Dreamweaver.  Piece of cake, right?

Wrong.  It seems that HTML isn’t the answer to putting those cool graphics up and making your blog functional. What you need to know is a neat little programming language called PHP. Or know someone that does. Never mind what PHP stands for (that means I don’t know either), but it’s what makes the site work, and makes it searchable.

So, for a small fee, I found another nice young work-at-home mom named Cathy ( to help me upload and tweak the different parts of the blog.  Cathy made some cool suggestions, so we’re probably gonna tweak it again when she’s got some free time. She even invited me to one of her live on-line tutorial sessions where I learned a lot in an hour, and ‘met’ some other neat gals.

Cathy gave me some ‘homework’ to do.  Sometime this week I promise I’m going to read all this info! Honest. But for now, I’m up and running, and I’ll be uploading some of my favorites from my articles.

So why am I giving these two young woman a ‘free’ plug?

Well, when my kids were toddlers there was no internet. No Ebay. No Etsy. There was no easy way to work from home unless you were sewing, babysitting, or making and selling something. Even with Amway and Avon back then, you still had to leave home. So I admire these young women. And I wish them the best. You go, girls!

And just in case you want to do my ‘homework’ for me, here’s Cathy’s links:

Writing and Publishing a Post
Adding Categories and Tags to your Post

Embedding Media into Your Posts

Customizing your Write Settings

I’d sure love to hear from you! Suggestions are welcome. Both good comments and bad!

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