Friday, August 19, 2005

Getting Started

The most important thing to do when beginning your family history is to gather the information you already have around your home. Everyone had birth, marriage and death certificates available for themselves and immidiate family members. Gather these together in one location, like your desk, file cabinet or a document box.
You will also need a Family Group Sheet and a Pedigree Chart. These are readily available to print of the Internet or at a Family History Center in your area. You can even download the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) software for free from The PAF program allows you to print blank Family Group Sheets and Pedigree Charts. These sheets and charts are essential for anyone who wants to research their family history!
Now that you have your family records gathered together, use the dates and information on them to fill in the blank spaces on your Family Group Sheet and Pedigree Chart. Don't forget to record where the dates and other informaition came from! If another relative looked at your chart they would want to know where you got your info from.
Always start with yourself and work your way back to your parents, then to your grandparents, etc. Some people try to start with a fameous person from the 1800's and prove they are related. That will only get you frustrated and just doesn't work.
Once you have exhausted all the records at your own house you need to ask your parents or other living relatives for the information they have. Find out if there is a member in your family already doing genealogy and get in touch with them. Do NOT rely on the information from other peoples memories! Ask for records and documentation that you can then look up to PROVE the information they have shared. I have gotten plenty of misinformation from relatives. Whether the information is correct or not it gives you a great place to begin your research. Think of it as a clue in a mystery you are trying to solve.
This should be enough to get you started. Gather those records and start filling out your charts!

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