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How To Start Genealogy Research For Beginners

Updated on August 21, 2014

Genealogy Online for Dummies

Genealogy Online For Dummies
Genealogy Online For Dummies

A great way to get started with your genealogy research by understanding the options available to you online. Highly recommended.


How To Get Started With Your Genealogy Research

More people are now looking to start genealogy research thanks to the success of television shows as well as certain websites such as Ancestry in the US and Ancestry in the UK spending a lot on marketing in order to get their name out into the public domain.

There are a number of reasons as to why somebody may wish to start researching their family tree with the most common ones being that they wish to learn about themselves and where they come from, they love puzzles as a hobby and your family tree is quite a personal puzzle, for posterity to pass on to future generations, or to try to learn about a particular family story that has been passed down the generations.

However, having a reason to start it is only one part because you also need to know how to do your research and the tips that follow may prove to be rather useful for a number of people.

Begin With What You Know

This may seem obvious, but you are always best to start off by writing down all of the information that either you know personally or details that you can get from other living relatives.

This is going to give you a base to work from and it is surprising how many people you will be able to add to your family tree in next to no time, but of course unless you are 100% certain about various dates it is best to always check them out during your research as one small mistake can send you down the wrong road entirely.

Spend time looking for those family photographs that are in not only your house, but with other relatives and get copies, check for a personal diary or certificates related to an individual and use all of this to grow the roots of your tree.

Genealogy Software To Help You Get Started

Developing Your Interest In Genealogy

Download a Progam That You Can Use For Your Tree

There are several websites that will provide you with a program that you can then use as your template for your family tree and this should always be absolutely free. The reason why this program is so useful is because it helps to keep you organized and you will be able to move between family members with ease when you wish to check certain pieces of information. These programs will also allow you to upload dates, snippets of information, and even photographs linked to the people in question, so go to a website such as and download the template or you will only make life harder for yourself. One of my favorite programs is Legacy Family Tree.

Use The Free Websites To Gather Information

Even though websites such as Ancestry do contain a wealth of information, it is possible for you to use free websites in order to uncover different things about your family history.

Perhaps the main ones to use at the start include and rootsweb as they both hold an amazing number of records that are capable of embellishing your family history and take you back a number of generations.

It is advisable to use free resources wherever possible and then if you are stuck try a free trial on one of the paid websites in order to see if they can help to push your family story back just that little bit further.

Do Not Get Sidetracked By Trying To Research Too Many People!

When you start genealogy research, it is best if you decide on one name to follow no matter how many other names you come across as you build your tree. The reason for this is simple in that it does stop you from getting sidetracked and you are less likely to start making mistakes and cross-referencing the wrong people if you just deal with that one name until that line of enquiry is exhausted.

This approach does take a great deal of self-control especially if you feel that you have managed to come across a great story, but if this is the case make a note of it for you to go back to in the future.

If You Are Serious Consider An Online Genealogy Course

If you are indeed serious about trying to trace your family history, then one thing that you may wish to consider doing is taking part in an online course that will teach you how to find certain pieces of information that can fill in those blanks. An alternative is to join a local family history group as they will also be able to help you to get started and point you in the right direction of where to get your information from and there is no doubt that this really can be a fantastic way to build your tree very quickly indeed.

Be Prepared To Dedicate Time To Your Genealogy Research

Finally, you have to be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to your family history because unless you are very unlucky you are going to come across so many links and branches that your tree will continue to grow and grow until it appears to be out of control.

It is not unusual for this hobby to turn into a labor of love and there is a good chance that you will annoy others by talking about your new discoveries all the time, so do make sure that it does not take over your life and only set small targets as to what you want to find out at any given time and quit when you get that information.

That is an introduction to how to start genealogy research and you will see that it does not have to be as difficult as you thought and indeed there is no reason for it to cost you a small fortune just to learn about the origins of your family.

Learning about your ancestors can be a lot of fun and it is amazing the information that you can uncover on different family members that you have never even heard about. Go ahead, get yourself organized, download one of those genealogy tree template programs, and start using those free resources to get as much information as possible and good luck with learning about the generations of your family that came before you.

Getting Started With Genealogy Online


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    • pkmcr profile image

      pkmcr 3 years ago from Cheshire UK

      @Tamara14 thanks Tamara for the very kind comment which is really appreciated and glad you found it helpful

    • profile image

      Tamara14 3 years ago

      This kind of a research is on my "to do" list and thank you for these very good advices for the beginners; that's exactly who I am when it comes to this matter :)

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      I think genealogy would be a struggle for me. You highlighted one of my weakest personality traits - getting sidetracked!

    • Canadian Rose profile image

      Canadian Rose 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for writing this. I think I'm "addicted" to family history / genealogy, and really enjoy reading about what fellow genealogists have to say.

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 8 years ago from Bristol England

      A very informative hub, well written and easy to read. Well done and thanks for some good links

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 8 years ago from Texas

      Great piece really packed with helpful information. I am an amateur genealogist for many years and still enjoy the hunt as much as in the beginning.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California

      Nice to see a fellow genealogist. I love doing Family History too! Great Hub, with good information.