Where Do I Start?

So you’ve heard about this genealogy craze and how much fun it is. Or maybe you have some burning questions about your ancestors that you just HAVE to answer. The desire to find your ancestors is there, but where do you start?

There are as many answers to this question as there are genealogists. Here are my thoughts.

1. Make a pedigree chart and write down what you know or what you think you know. Start with yourself, add your parents, their parents, and so on. Work backwards through time.

2. Collect names, dates, and places, the building blocks of genealogy. Find and document as many births, marriages and deaths as you can. These are called vital records, and they are vital to doing genealogy!

3. Use the census. Starting with the most recent census in which your ancestor would have lived (1940 is the most recent U.S. census available today) and find every census with him/her in it. Study them with a fine tooth comb. Each census asked different questions so you will find different clues in each one.

These first steps should get you started on your genealogical journey. Once you’ve gone through these records, you’ll find more clues and questions to take you further.

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