How to Start Genealogy Research

Ancestry

By Brynne Ramella. My mom and my granddad are absolutely obsessed with genealogy research. My granddad has written a book on our family history, and I found my mom staying up past midnight one night, absolutely enthralled in her research. In my moms words, it's addicting. Not only is it a great hobby, but it's a fantastic keepsake to pass down to your family. There are a number of sites available that can assist in this journey, such as Ancestry.com, but here's how to get started.

  1. Record what you already know.  Ancestry research will require you to be incredibly detail-oriented. Dig up any old family photo albums and journals and compile your own notes about them. Keep notes in your own journal or on a computer - whatever you are more comfortable with. The more detailed your own notes are, the easier your research will be.
  2. Move on to oral history. Talk with older members of your family. Let them know that you are beginning to research your ancestry, and ask if they have any stories to share with you. By talking to her father about their ancestry, my mom actually found out about a family member that she didn't know existed. This saved my mom from reaching a dead end with her research. Plus, older family members will have great stories to share about your ancestors!
  3. Move on to census records. Censuses will give you great basic information, such as births, deaths, locations and when certain family members came to America. Try using FindMyPast to peruse census records online. Judging by my mom's experience, this sounds like the addicting part of genealogy research. Tracking down records of a certain family member can be both frustrating and thrilling!
  4. Research family stories. Once you feel that you have a good grasp on basic information, start looking into stories about your family. Maybe you have an eccentric third cousin twice removed, or you are related to a famous person in history. This is the fun part of genealogy research! You can search newspaper records once you have a good lead on a story. FindMyPast has its own section dedicated to searching through US & world newspapers.
  5. Share your findings! Keep your family updated on the fun and interesting things you discover! Younger family members will appreciate hearing stories of their ancestors. It's something that can be passed down through your family for years. I always love hearing what my mom and granddad have dug up on my family!

Good luck with your research, and let us know if you find anything interesting!