Check Out Our Genealogy Blog »

Class 101 -- Your Family Tree

start-treeYou have decided this summer is the time to start your family tree. You want to explore more about your ancestors, get to know who they were and discover their story.

So how do you begin, well here are the basics to get started.

START with YOURSELF – yes, this is the easy part. Who know you better than YOU? Write your full name, birth date / location, schooling, places lived, marriage (s), children, etc.

Next start to work back one generation — Your Parents. Write out on a chart (family tree) or (story sheet) their names, birth date / location, etc., just like you did with yourself. Yes, there will be some information you do not know. Write the category that is missing, such as marriage place and leave room or space for that to be filled in later. Complete as much as you know on your parents. You might have quite a few blanks. Add the parents for each of your parents (these are your grandparents). Don’t worry about going beyond that generation, it will come later.  

Start- collecting itemsNext start gathering what you do have in your possession already, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, report cards, obituaries, family Bible and most important photos. Get them organized in basic groups, don’t worry about being exact yet.

Then start writing to or calling family relatives; your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles. See what they know to fill in some of those blanks. You can’t expect them to have all the answers and never start with ‘tell me everything about grandfather Bill’. That is too much. Be specific in just a few items or questions. With gathering information to build your tree you have to be patient. If you get stuck on one certain relative, move to another.

start-interviewIf there is a Family History Center nearby, do go there to use their many databases and resources. Take with you what information in an organized manner you have gathered. The basic tree with names, dates and places is a good start. They won’t do the research for you … that is the fun part for you to do. You will be surprised how quickly answers start coming, name and dates you didn’t know.

Many public libraries have genealogical databases online with their computer set up for the public to use. That can be a rich resource to tap, even if your family’s hometown is hundreds of miles away. That goes for checking with your own local genealogical society. Most have information on many locations, not just with where you now live.  start-items

Just these basic early starting points will take awhile to accomplish – all summer and into the fall season. However, it is a start. Don’t expect to finish everything in a short time. There is always plenty to learn and discover on your ancestors.

Related genealogy blogs:

Organize your Research

Tips for Beginners

Reasons to Work on Your Family Tree


< Return To Blog