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How to Start Your Family Tree



If you are new to genealogy, you might not know how to start your family tree. The task can seem overwhelming and exciting. It can be hard to decide where to begin. Here are some ideas on how to make this complex task more simple.

Break it into small tasks
You cannot possibly do everything all at once. That’s ok! Break down your family tree research into small, manageable, tasks. For example, instead of expecting to fill in an entire branch of your family tree all at once – pick one relative to focus on. Find out that person’s birthdate, learn the year they got married, locate a photo of them. Good genealogy research takes time.

Ask your relatives
When you get the opportunity to speak with a relative, ask that person questions about your family. Start with that person. Ask him or her to tell you specific details about themselves and their immediate family. Start with: full name, birthdate, marriage dates, names of their parents, names of their siblings, name of their children. Write down or record the information.

Trust, but verify
It is unlikely that your relatives will give you false information about your family. They mean well, and believe they are telling the truth. In most cases, things will match up. But, just in case, take the time to verify that the information they gave you is correct before adding it to your family tree. Search for vital records that confirm – or deny – their numbers.

Some beginning genealogists will be tempted to find a branch of their family tree online that they can copy. This is not a good idea. There could be mistakes in that family tree. Do the research to verify the data before copying anything.

Use the internet
Genealogists use online websites for the majority of their research. Choose Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, or other reliable genealogy websites. Make an account. Each one has a vast amount of records and information. Some of it could help you fill in your family tree.

Keep things organized
Do yourself a favor and immediately begin organizing your genealogy research. Take the time to transcribe your handwritten notes into text. Write down a list of things you want to look up when you have the time (before you forget what they were).

Put copies of vital records into folders dedicated to a specific person. Figure out who is in the old family photo as soon as possible and label the digital copy with that information. Doing this may seem tedious, but it will save you a lot of time later on.

Related Articles at FamilyTree.com:

* Your Family Tree – Where to Begin

* Family Tree Templates

* Three Tips to Help You Organize Your Family Tree Research

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