Researching Your Family History
If you are just beginning to research your family history, knowing where to begin can feel confusing and intimidating. Following the pointers in this workshop along with the guides and resources on this site will provide you with a solid foundation for building your family story.
One firm rule of family history is to begin with what you know and use it to find out more.
Starting with yourself, write down your name and family names, dates and “stories”. The stories may or may not be true, but hints about names, place origins, occupations, religion and so forth, may help guide your search.
Before going near any records talk to your family – parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins – and find out what they know. Most families have at least one person who has kept track of extended family and many families have sources – birth certificates, funeral service programs, etc. – that can be useful in guiding your first steps.
Think of yourself as a detective taking each piece of information as potential evidence and using it to track down more information.
Family History can be made easier with the right tools and organizational forms. Forms and templates can be purchased from the Shop.
Family History Toolkit
> Father’s Family Template – What do I know already about my father’s family?
> Mother’s Family Template – What do I know already about my mother’s family?
> Home Sources Checklist
> Questions to Ask Your Family About Your Ancestors
> Contact Log
> Family Relationship Chart