Genealogy for Beginners: 3 Easy Ways to Start Now

March 16, 2020  - by 

Let’s face it: genealogy can be hard to spell, let alone do. Maybe you find it overwhelming. Maybe you’ve always thought that you had to be an expert or have an expert dig up the roots of your family tree. That couldn’t be further from the truth! You can do it too—right now.

While it’s true that certain branches of your tree may take some climbing and while it’s true that some of that old cursive can be intimidating, that isn’t all there is to discovering the story of your family.

You can do simple things today to begin uncovering—and telling—the story of your family. After all, often the small, everyday details we discover about our ancestors make all the difference.

1. Start Where You Are

When it comes to genealogy for beginners, remember that your genealogy begins with you. Don’t be afraid to start small. Here are four questions to start with:

  1. What memories do you have about your immediate family?
  2. What memories do your immediate family have about your extended family?
  3. How did your grandparents meet?
  4. Where did your parents go to school?
A girl does genealogy work with her grandmother.

You might be surprised by how much you can learn just by taking time to sit with someone and reminisce. Just be sure that you find a way record these stories, whether you use a pen and paper, a video camera on your phone, or a recording device. You’ll be glad you did.

Once you’ve recorded your family’s stories, make sure to save them on FamilySearch Memories. Doing so will save them not only for you, but for your entire family to see.

2. Check Local Sources

a young girl on a computer

You don’t need to go anywhere to start your research. If you have a phone or a laptop with internet, you can get started right now!

Do you have any books that have been passed down to you? Ask family members if they have any old photographs, documents, or journals. You might also check your local library.

Even if your family is not from the area, consider checking out a book that covers a historical event or time period that you think may have impacted an ancestor’s—or even a parent’s or grandparent’s—life. Or simply search online for the meaning of your last name. Even these small steps can help you begin to piece together where you come from.

Using what you discover, you might also consider searching FamilySearch’s expansive record collections. With even a little bit of information about your ancestor, you can discover dozens of records about your family.

3. Continue the Legacy

It’s unlikely that the people in your family tree set out to be the most interesting ancestors on the census. Like you, they were just living their lives. Today, we live in a busy world. Don’t forget to take the time to create family traditions, even if they are as simple as an ice cream on a Saturday afternoon.

Remember to be present in the lives of those around you and to document your family’s adventures. Taking the time to learn about family, whether in the past or the present, adds extra color and meaning to life.

a group plays basketball together

So don’t sell yourself short; you might be better at this than you think. After all, nobody suddenly wakes up one day as a professional genealogist. The only way to learn more is to pick a place to begin.

Need some more ideas? Check out the FamilySearch Discovery Center, and remember that the most important thing about genealogy for beginners is to get started.

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