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How to Start Your Genealogy (With Free Charts)

Updated on October 4, 2013

The Very Basics of How to Start Researching Your Genealogy


inding your ancestors is a basic desire of almost everyone. There are many good genealogy guides online with great information. This mini guide is meant to be a very basic, simple start. You don't have to be overwhelmed with information to get started researching your genealogy. Start at the start. The experts have to begin there, too, each time they research a new line.

Start With Yourself and What You Already Know on a Pedigree Chart

You Get the Number One Spot on Your Family Tree


lace yourself in the first spot on a standard pedigree chart. Fill in all the information you can about yourself. Then fill in information about your parents, then grandparents, etc. Fill in all the details you can, as far back as you can on each line. The pedigree chart is a record of your direct line (lineage). It becomes the roadmap of all your research.

(Free Adobe PDF Viewer is required to access the charts.

Download viewer if you don't already have it.)

Group Families Together and Fill in More Information on a Family Group Chart

You wouldn't want to leave anyone out, would you?


edigree Charts allow you to trace your lineage straight back, but they don't take into consideration all the children in each family.

Once you have filled in the pedigree chart as far as you can, fill in family group records for each family, listing parents with children and other important family information. As you fill in the blanks on the charts, you’ll discover a lot of other information, such as occupations and residences. Be sure to record this information as well, in the notes section or on an attached blank sheet of paper.

Now Look for the Missing Information

The Detective Work Begins


tart looking for information for people closest to you first and push back. Search for records in your house and within your reach. Next, call living relatives for information they have. Document your sources of information on the chart you are filling out in the notes or comments section. Attach blank pages if you need to. Get as much information as you can from your oldest living relatives. Let family members know you would like information about the family, and not to throw out old records and photos when settling an estate. Be willing to share your work and research with them if they’re interested.

Don't be overwhelmed. Even experts have to start at the start each time they research a new line.

Expand Your Research


ow expand your research to outside resources, such as libraries, societies, and the Internet. Start with sources on the Internet first because it puts information at your fingertips and requires the least effort. There are many free sources to search first, then you may choose to subscribe to those sites that seem likely to have the resources you need. Next go to local libraries and LDS Family History Centers.

There is still a lot of groundwork you can accomplish at home to prepare for your trip to the library. These sources will give you many other leads to follow.

You're Off to a Good Start


his should get you started. There is more information about the proper way to record names, dates and places, as well as documentation and source information. There are commercial and free genealogy software programs to help you computerize your records. There are so many resources available from your home (computer) before you even set foot outside on your quest for information.

Researching your ancestors is a very rewarding project. Words cannot describe the purpose and feelings you’ll experience as you connect with your kindred dead and learn about your unique heritage. Good luck with your quest!


Say you're missing your grandfather's death date. Using the following links, go to first and do a search for your grandfather. Next go to and see what they have. Both sites will guide you to the Social Security Death Index and other resources to check.

A Starting Place for New Genealogy Researchers - The Very First Place to Start if You're New at Genealogy


on't get bogged down in information overload. Start with the basic information from the basic genealogical sites. These sites will lead you to more information as you go.

Thanks for stopping by, and please come back again.

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    • Scraps2treasures profile image

      Scraps2treasures 5 years ago

      Great tips! I am getting back into researching my family history and appreciate the information. Blessed

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm trying to learn all I can about my family, so your tips here are much appreciated.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      I love the tips you've given. I've struggled for many years with how to organize an' find the information I find. Thanks for sharing.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Debbie and I met while researching our family histories. We met on, a UK based site that has extremely helpful members, and that has a wealth of information on people tracing their roots back to the UK and the Commonwealth. We both also use Legacy Family Tree, which is a fully featured free genealogy program. Nicely done, I wish I could get back to my research, but Squidoo takes all of my time.

    • Teddi14 LM profile image

      Teddi14 LM 6 years ago

      Great tips. I started doing my family history last year. I am totally addicted to it. I am searching my biological, step and adopted family line. I have found a number of direct ancestors that were on the Mayflower. Read more about my search and what I have found at:

    • Genjud profile image

      Genjud 6 years ago

      Nicely done! I like your selection of graphics.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great lens. I put you on my lens roll...;)

    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 7 years ago

      A very helpful introduction

    • Nochipra profile image

      Nochipra 8 years ago

      Great lens again! 5*

    • profile image

      Merlyn63 8 years ago

      Great Lens, I have been doing my family research for some time now and have started passing on my knowledge to others.

    • profile image

      Joan4 9 years ago

      Congrats! New Giant badge looks great! Love this lens, too! Lensrolling to How to Write your personal history!

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 9 years ago from Vancouver

      I've been doing genealogy for many years too. Recently a new online has come to our attention and is wonderfully interactive for everyone to get involved. I love it. More people are coming out of the woodwork!

    • profile image

      MrMarmalade 9 years ago

      Great help I have been working on this for three mo9nths slowly and patiently

      great advice

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 9 years ago

      doing your genealogy can be very addictive, I have done research for many years, my lineage literally ends with me...5*s