With heaps of websites, databases, computer programs, subscription services and genealogy charts, it can be a truly daunting task to properly begin and conduct your family history research. There are a plethora of websites that offer birth, death, and marriage records, but you will have to fill all the remaining gaps with various county records, military records, as well as census records. But, the real question here is; Where to begin?
To help you out with your genealogy endeavor, we will share with you some secrets on how to organize your family history and properly start your search.
1. Start from the basics
Before you plunge into the mass of available information, make sure to collect and properly organize what you already have. This includes wills, birth and marriage certificates, baptismal certificates and burial records, and maiden names.
2. Contact your relatives
Once you have gathered some vital information, make sure to get in touch with your relatives, so as to ask them about any information and documents they could provide. Ask them whether they have knowledge or contact information of any family legends. Also, ask them if they have any copies of birth certificates, as well. To obtain birth and death certificates, you will have to know your mother’s maiden name and the region where the event took place.
To improve your genealogy research, you can rely on some of the following documents, most of which your relatives may have.
- Diaries and journals
- Family photo albums
To conduct a proper research, don’t forget to contact both your distant and close relatives. Keep in mind that there are always chances that some of your relatives have already started their research into the family history. If that’s the case, they might be able to aid you in your search.
3. Start searching
The best way of searching would be to rely on a plethora of websites. You can easily find numerous genealogy and family history websites specifically dedicated to family history. While some of them are free, the majority are subscription-based, so expect to spend a few dozens of dollars on these services. Also, you could also check the sites that offer public records, for a nominal fee.
- Hospital records
- Military records
- Census records
- Immigration records
- Deeds and wills
Before you check for these, keep in mind that the majority of online databases charge for their services. Before you pay for a particular service, make sure that the provider is legitimate, safe and reputable.
4. Visit the libraries
Aside from the online sources, you could also visit state and University libraries, as well as family history libraries. There, you can find records or microfilms of these locations, migration history books, relevant newspaper articles and more.
When conducting your family history research, it would be very useful to know full names of your deceased relatives, as well the states and counties where their burial grounds are. Of course, this information can be a bit difficult to get by. But, don’t lose your hope. While genealogy and family history research can be a truly time-consuming task, in the end, it can be a very rewarding and valuable experience. To conduct it properly, never hesitate to ask for help from your relatives and local librarians. They will surely be more than willing to help you out. If you find yourself wondering about a certain aspect of your research, you can always turn to various online forums and discussion groups, specifically dedicated to genealogy.