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Old 07-31-2017, 04:33 PM
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I've always been interested in Genealogy. I'll take any suggestions on how and where to begin. I'd prefer info with no cost but that isn't a deal breaker.
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Old 07-31-2017, 07:05 PM
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You could do worse than starting with Ancestry.com.... there's a fee, but it's not outrageous, and I actually think it's quite reasonable for the records that you'll have access to. They link up to a lot of databases. You can even compare the family tree data you're collecting to other family trees, which can help you track down missing birth/marriage/death dates and locations, etc... like filling in the blanks.

Before you subscribe to anything, though, take the time to ask your relatives for whatever information they can give you. Pick their brains, and write it all down. This will be the starting point for your future research.

There are also many professional genealogists sharing info online. Their records are invaluable for separating the facts from the false leads.

And have fun with it! Without a doubt, you'll be starting a fascinating journey into family lore and into many sides of history that you were never aware of before now. Good luck!
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Old 07-31-2017, 07:27 PM
Location: zippidy doo dah
895 posts, read 1,381,069 times
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First suggestion is don't go in too many directions at once. It is very tempting, especially if you tend to get distracted easily.

And absolutely, as suggested by Ottawa, probe anyone living that can give you information. It will give you information you may well never know if they die before you capture it. And it also is good to have when you pursue the myth-stakes, because things often will not pan out but will set you off in an interesting direction that may have some semblance to the family story you know and love.

Take notes as you go and organize them. You will otherwise pick up the same wrong trails again and again and you will research people that you already worked on .

All of this is from someone who is distracted easily; didn't capture the info from the now-deceased; took notes but in a million different notebooks and scraps of paper and has re-researched; followed several times the same story down the same rabbit hole; and who went down a million different lines instead of building the skeleton family tree first. Experience is a dear teacher.
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Old 07-31-2017, 08:27 PM
Location: Mars City
5,732 posts, read 2,607,528 times
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Try to get whatever information you might be able to attain from within your family, such as parents, grandparents. Write down whatever information you can get.

There are lots of free sights and genealogy pages based on location. For example, if Grandpa Fred was born in Oz County, Wisconsin, find the genealogy page for that county, and start searching around there. I'd try to use as many free sites as possible at first. Also, if you live in or near a large town, look for their best library with genealogy books and resources. The growth of census records and digitizing is awesome and very helpful, especially when tying in with online search tools.

Family tree sheets can be useful, but also a bit hard to handle. I use Excel and just put in a line for each person with various columns (name, date of birth, parents, birth location, spouse, children, death date, burial location). You can navigate around fairly easy with that simple approach.
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Old 07-31-2017, 08:36 PM
Location: Georgia, USA
25,138 posts, read 30,041,038 times
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Originally Posted by HappytobeinTroy View Post
I've always been interested in Genealogy. I'll take any suggestions on how and where to begin. I'd prefer info with no cost but that isn't a deal breaker.
*** Be aware that this hobby is addictive! ***

1. Get a genealogy software program. I use RootsMagic, which costs about $30.


Others here will come along to tell you what they like. There are free places to park your tree on the internet, but I have chosen not to do so because I know mine has errors that I do not want to be propagated before I fix them. I also did not do this:

2. Document where you get every fact. Try to find more than one source for every fact. If your mother tells you Grandma's birth date, still try to get Grandma's birth certificate, too. Another thing I did not do is keep a log of what collections I have already searched. Doing that can save wasted time repeating something you have already done.

3. As Ottawa said, start with your relatives. They are free sources. Talk to your elders before they are gone and it's too late. If I could go back and do it I would record them, not just write it down. You can even add audio and video to your software. Just remember to take family stories with a grain of salt. This will also allow you to gain a sense of how your ancestors fit into history. For example, my father was on an LST during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Before he enlisted in the Navy he worked at the polio Foundation in Warm Springs, GA. Ask if anyone else is already into genealogy. Ask about old family Bibles and what churches family members attended. Are there family letters, journals, or diaries? Get out the family photos and get the names of people in them - before there is no one to tell you who they are.

4. If you still live in the same area that many of your ancestors did, consider looking at the original documents in county courthouses. You can make copies of marriage certificates, deeds, wills, and estate returns. Availability of some documents depends on laws that vary from state to state. You can also order birth and death certificates, but rules for getting those also vary. Many such documents are available online, but not all of them. I personally find handling the originals to be fun. It gives me a feeling of connection to the past and means more than collecting statistics. Deeds will tell you where people lived. To cover a wider area, state archives will allow you to look at documents from counties all over the state, though it may be on microfilm. Keep in mind that county and state borders changed. A town might be in one county one year and another later.

One bummer of researching courthouses is that they seem to have a propensity for burning down, and the Civil War did a job on some records, too. What you are looking for may not be in any public records any more.

5. Many libraries have a genealogy section. For a small library, the one near me has a pretty impressive collection - and a librarian who knows where to find everything in it. Some areas have local history societies which may have information on your family. Google the town or county you are interested in plus genealogy.

6. Google everybody. You will be surprised what you find. There may be other people researching your family who have posted on message boards. Most current obituaries end up online and a fair number of older ones do, too. Obituaries often list relatives and where they live. I recently found a number of newspaper articles about my father in law, just from searching his name. Google now will also pull up memorials at Find A Grave, which will tell you where people are buried and may contain additional material. You will eventually find yourself visiting old cemeteries. I find them peaceful and again a way to connect with the past.

7. Family Search is free.


8. Ancestry.com has a free two-week trial. If you do not care to continue with a subscription after that it is easy to cancel. Many people just resubscribe for a few months every once in a while instead of maintaining a continuous subscription. If you do the free two weeks, wait until you have some basic information and know what you want to look for. Choose a time when you can devote a lot of it to the computer. I did say it is addictive, and you will find yourself working into the wee hours if you like detective work.

Start your FREE trial at Ancestry

9. Record females by birth name, not married name. When you search, do searches by birth name and all married names.

10. Do not be afraid to contact people. The vast majority of hobby genealogists are eager to meet new cousins and are generous with sharing what they know. All of us have brick walls - ancestors for whom we cannot locate parents or siblings. The cousin who contacts us may be just the one who has information that will allow us to knock down that brick wall.

Except for Ancestry.com and travel expenses, if you want to visit courthouses, this is a pretty inexpensive hobby. I have bought a few books but stopped doing that when I found that usually only a few pages were helpful. Travel can cost a little or a lot. I have my eye on a trip to Scotland!

Oh, did I mention genealogy is addictive?
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Old 07-31-2017, 08:40 PM
Location: too far from the sea
21,413 posts, read 20,391,521 times
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All of the above and when you interview an older family member, go with forms like this and fill in their answers:

Genealogy Interview Questions


These are just two but there are many more examples. In asking the questions and recording the answers, prompt the family member to tell more. It's wonderful when they open up and get to talking about the old days. You will find answers to questions that aren't even on the questionnaire.
my posts as moderator will be in red. Moderator: Health&Wellness~Genealogy. The Rules--read here>>> TOS. If someone attacks you, do not reply. Hit REPORT.

Last edited by in_newengland; 08-01-2017 at 09:15 PM..
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Old 07-31-2017, 09:52 PM
2,933 posts, read 4,600,705 times
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Ancestry.com is available for free on many public library computers. If yours offers it than spend a fun afternoon searching and getting familiar with the numerous genealogy databases they have.

Familysearch.org is free to use and has numerous databases.

This site lists (by geographic location) newspapers that are digitized & searchable (some free, some not.) Many of the newspapers are very old.

Search family names on Google Books.

Start with what you know (present generation) and work your way backwards.

Research one family line at a time so that you don't get overwhelmed.

Get to know what records are available in the towns / cities that your family lived. Although so much is on-line today, there are still large amounts of records that are not.

The first time that you find your family on a census page, or find a naturalization record, you will be hooked on genealogy!
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:11 PM
Location: The High Desert
8,130 posts, read 4,434,348 times
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First, consider how you became interested in genealogy. Did you hear family stories? Some of those are true and some just have a kernel of truth. Some are made up. Do you have stories of a famous ancestor? Does your family have certain heirlooms passed down from past generations? Try to find out as much as you can. What do your living relatives know? Did someone already start a family history?

Next, build on what you have learned. I suggest you go after 'low hanging fruit' and construct a basic tree as far back as you can. Assuming you are several generations in the US, your parents and grandparents will be in census records...maybe great grandparents. You will find a lot of helpful information in census records. There are finding aids for every year. There are several census collections online (Ancestry is one). Census records can be flawed occasionally due to spelling errors or illegible handwriting. You might need to try alternate spellings.

Your local library might have a specialist to answer questions. State archives are a wealth of information on military data and other things like birth or death records. Some states did a state census. There is something about holding an original Civil War muster roll in your hands -- 150 years old -- and seeing your ancestor's name written in iron gall ink that will permanently suck you in to genealogy. You can do a lot online but finding an original source document is almost a magical experience.

You will run into brick walls. Let it rest and follow a different path and come back later. I found a way through a couple walls by searching digitized newspapers. They generally will be indexed but still time consuming, especially if you have a common surname. They reported just about everything in local newspapers including who was visiting who and what the relationship was.

If your family is newly arrived in one or two past generations you will want to look at immigration records and ship manifests-- mostly online. Researching in Europe, Asia, Central/South America, or Africa will be difficult. The LDS church has microfilmed millions of records but they will not be in English. Try to find out where the family came from. If you find a town or village there will be church records. I found Irish parish records online. German records are often in old script besides being in German. You might need to hire research specialist. You might find another researcher interested in the same village or parish who might recognize your name...that is very helpful.

You will possibly tie in to a royal or noble family along the way and -- presto -- you are related to Charlemagne. Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to know how accurate the old genealogies were. Unless you are willing to recheck all of the records you might want to place an asterisk by that ancient line.

DNA tests are marginally helpful if you know all of the potential surnames of every cousin going back five or six generations. Most of the 1000+ matches will not have a family tree drawn up and you won't recognize their names.

I'm making this sound like work but it is a lifetime hobby and you will chip away at it over time. Technology has moved things along tremendously. There is so much online now that you will find more in a day than we used to find in months. It can also be too much and distracting so make notes of what you want to come back for at a later date...but stay on track.
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:27 PM
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
40,383 posts, read 49,933,748 times
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OP. First you'll want to start out with something like this chart, then graduate to what everyone above has recommended.

Check out these other work forms too.Family History Forms | mymcpl.org - Mid-Continent Public Library
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:36 PM
1,519 posts, read 957,613 times
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I started with this interest at 18 and the first thing I did was post on genforum.com I got back the entire tree of my paternal grandmother going back to the 17th century from that post.So yes posting on forums is wonderful,I recently got my 4th great grandfathers journal from a post I made online on ancestry.com.

But in order to post anything you really need to speak with any elders first.
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