All kinds of people want to research and create their family tree. It used to be thought of as an obscure thing often done by retired folks because it required so much time and travel, but all that has changed.
Both young and old can now complete their family tree easier than ever before. Whether you are a child in school completing an assignment or a busy working mom it all begins with a simple step, easy (and free) step.
You start with yourself. Write down everything you can about yourself. Don’ t skip over things that you take for granted – get it all down. Remember, what you record will become part of a record for generations and they will want to know as much about you as they can. The essentials include things like: full name, nicknames, date of birth, marriages, divorces, and children (with their dates of birth). Be sure to add education, hobbies, work, military service, or any kind of accomplishments. It’s a nice touch to really make it personal – let them really get to know you. What’s your taste in art, literature, music? Do you like to cook or camp? Are you really into fashion or gardening?
Next, you will expand your research into your relatives. It’s best to start with the oldest first because with each passing year, their memories fade and health declines. You don’t want to miss learning as much as you can from them. They are a fantastic source of family history. It’s a good idea to make sure you are well prepared for these kinds of interviews so you don’t miss a thing.
It may be that your relatives provide you with conflicting dates, but don’t worry too much about this. As you progress in your research, you will be seeking other documents that will confirm or refute their information. A good genealogist always confirms their facts, because researching your family tree must be accurate. After all, you are creating a record that will be handed down through the generations so it is important to get it right. Good research skills – which you will develop – go hand in hand with accurate records.
Developing good research skills will come so don’t feel intimidated by the idea of it. Take it slowly. If you don’t you may become overwhelmed by the sheer number of different sources that you will eventually use to research your family tree. Too much information when you are just started out and aren’t yet confident of yourself sometimes just causes people to quit and we don’t want that!
One key thing for successful research on your family tree is organization. Set yourself up with a desk or table that is well stocked with supplies and space for all your records. Develop the habit of filing things as you go, rather than letting them pile up. Keep logs of the interviews that you have completed, the date completed along with all the others that need to be interviewed. Family data sheets will help you keep each family’s information straight. Developing these habits early on will save you from a lot of headaches later. This is because the information that you gather will start to grow quite quickly and things can become confusing if you are disorganized.
Just by following the few guidelines I’ve covered here, will get you off to a great start on your family tree. I truly hope you enjoy this fascinating hobby as much as I do!
Kay has been researching her family tree for over a decade now. To learn more about fun ways to present your family tree please visit: Family Tree Scrapbooking
She offers a free mini-course on genealogy at: My Genealogy Secrets More articles can be found by going to the site map at the bottom of the page.