When first beginning your genealogy search you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the vastness of documenting so many relatives. Look at it as a journey, one step at a time along a path and you will eventually reach your goals.
The first thing needed is to create a basic pedigree chart, listing your parents, grandparents, great parents as best you can. Keep a separate listing of siblings of your parents; those would be your aunts and uncles. If you know some of the siblings for your grandparents, make a list of those names with the grandparent they are related to. This is where you may need assistance from your parents, older siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins. Include as much as your can find out about birth, marriage and death dates along with locations. This basic information is the backbone from which you will build and add to along the path.
The collection of vital records to verify gathered information and statistics is essential to have a good genealogy. Checking with living relatives may produce copies of marriage certificates, birth records and obituaries. Keep everything organized by family surnames. You will find this part, gathering vital records, is a long-term process, yet one that reaps great rewards.
Once you have a significant accumulation of family information, this would be the best time to create a personal family history web site. If you do not feel knowledgeable enough creating the site yourself, check with some friends, high school students or your genealogical society for assistance.
You will not need every ancestor with all their information to begin the web site. With your parents, grandparents and some aunts and uncles you have a fine start to showcase your family. Include a contact email address so if someone comes across your site and has some information, stories or photos to share, they can reach you.
Never place living relatives personal data such as birth dates, Social Security numbers, residences, children’s names, etc. on the site, this is to protect their personal information. Once this family history is out on the Internet, you just might be surprised at how many people will see and correspond with you. Some of your best leads for new information can come from distant cousins who have read your web site.
Joining a genealogy message board is a great step in your genealogy path. Such message boards as GenForum by Genealogy.com, or Rootsweb by Ancestry.com, allow you to reach out and communicate with others who share a surname, a township, an occupation or immigration similar to one of your ancestors. Use the search engine with the message board to seek out similar interests. For example; individuals who lived in the town of Gorton, outside Manchester, Lancashire County, England between 1900 and 1905. If you do not see someone with a message seeking that information, you can create your own request. There are countless areas, names and events where other researchers have done earlier investigations and just may have some answers for you.
There are continual features to assist you along the path to learn more about your family. The collection of vital records is on-going, the family history web site should be kept updated and there are always new and interesting messages coming across the genealogical message boards.