Steps to Researching My Family History - Introduction


In reviewing the information I have started putting together for this community, I thought it might be beneficial for people that may be just starting to capture their family history if I showed some of the techniques I use to gather various types of data and what I do with it. Therefore, I will be putting together a series of posts chronicling the building of my family tree. This will contain the same information I am posing on my Family History "site" (posts) which focuses on the stories tied to the names, dates, and places. I am sure I will find more information to add to those posts as I work through this series. As I have stated in that "site", I will not post information about people that are still living in order to protect their privacy. In these times of rampant identity theft, if you post any information about your family, I suggest you do likewise.

With that said, I want suggest anyone just starting to trace their family history to utilize some of the free sources available online. Two of the main options are Ancestry or FamilySearch. There is two main differences between the two. While Ancestry allows you to create multiple trees and has premium options which require a subscription, with FamilySearch everyone updates one massive tree with no premium option. You will see a lot of the same information provided in their respective hints. However, with the premium option, you have access to more actual documents. Since I want to document all of the information I include in my tree, I take advantge of the premium upgrade. But, I also have a FamilySearch account, as well. If you are just trying to find the information that connects your ancestors (which is a great place to start), that expense is not necessary.

J M & M A Dunn-headstone (rear).JPG

I would suggest you start with Ancestry so that you can control what information goes into your tree. I have had people make inacurate, undocumanted changes to people that I have added to FamilySearch which can be very frustrating. I will using Ancestry as I start a new tree for this series of posts. Also, since I am focusing on ancesters and not living people, I will not include my wife, offspring, or siblings in this tree. I have plans to create a similar tree for my wife's family in the future.

The best way to start a tree is with yourself and add all of the information you can about your parents and their parents. In my new tree, in addition to myself, I have added my parents (both living) with their birthdates and where they were born. At this point, you should start seeing hints (a leaf) on each person you have added to your tree. If not, try adding any information you might know about the parents of each of your parents. For me, all of my grandparents have passed avay, so I will be referring to them by name in following posts.

This is probably a good place to wrap up this post. In my next post, I will go over accessing and verifying hints, saving documents, and growing your tree through hints. If you have any questions about anything I discussed in this post, please leave me a comment. If you have any suggestions on starting a new tree, feel free to share that information in a comment, as well.

Next post in this series:
Steps to Researching My Family History - Step 1 - Building the Base