Begin Your Genealogy Quest

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How to Get Started on Your Quest[edit | edit source]

  • The first step is always to start with yourself, but before you begin, you need to decide where you are going to preserve your genealogy?
  • Preserve your genealogy by opening a free account on Click here to register.
  • FamilySearch gives you access to your genealogy and the ability to enter new information from any computer in the world.
  • Other family members can have access to it as well on their computers.
  • Not only is your genealogy preserved forever, but you can preserve photographs, documents, journals, stories and memories so they are not lost to time or natural disaster.
  • You can also print any of the genealogy or memories you have entered for family and friends who may not have internet access.

First Step - Let's Begin With You[edit | edit source]

  • After you have opened your account, go to the Family Tree.
  • When the pedigree chart opens you will see your name in the first box on the left.
  • Click on your name and begin by entering your information in the appropriate places about yourself.

Recording Names[edit | edit source]

Follow these guidelines for entering genealogical information:

  • Use full names when recording names. There will be a place to enter nicknames, titles, and relationships such as Junior, etc.
  • Do NOT use all caps for surnames. This is an archaic convention from the days when group sheets were filled out by hand or on a typewriter to quickly identify a surname.
  • Record only the maiden names for all females. You will not be able to trace your grand mother's ancestry with her married name.
  • If you know only her first name, you might record, for example: Jane.

Recording Dates[edit | edit source]

  • Record the dates as done in Europe: day, month and year.
  • For example: 24 April 2001.


  • As you type the date in Family Search, a menu will appear for you to select your date. This feature is to keep dates in a standard format to facilitate matches with similar names with the same associated dates.

Recording Locations[edit | edit source]

  • To record a location, start from the smallest entity to the largest such as city, county, state, country.
  • For a person born in the USA, an example would be:Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States.
  • If a person was not born in a city and you know the county, you might record just the county and state: Cook, Illinois, United States.
  • If you only know the state, you will record: Illinois, United States.
  • If you only know the country you will record: "United States".
  • In other parts of the world, locations may be: City, Province, Country. For example: Chester, Cheshire, England or Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico.


  • As you type in the location, you will see a menu to select your location. This feature is to keep locations in a standard format to facilitate matches with similar names with the same associated locations.
  • Record the location as shown on the earliest record you have of the event. Many times the place where a birth took place is in a different county or province today and in some cases even in a different country! For example, a person may have been born in a town which is in Poland today, but the town may have been part of the Kingdom of Prussia when the event took place. Boundary lines change over time in many parts of the United States as well as the rest of the world.

Second Step - Record Family Members[edit | edit source]

  • Next enter information on your spouse and your children.
  • Then you enter information about your parents.
  • Click on Add Parent and fill in what you know about them.
  • Add your brothers and sisters as well.
  • It will be interesting to see just how much you know about them.

Records Around the House[edit | edit source]

Vital Records.jpg
  • After filling in as much as you know, Look around the house for documents that will help you fill in the blanks such as:
  • Certificates - Birth, Marriage, and Death
  • Bibles
  • Letters
  • Photos
  • Diaries, Journals
  • Obituaries, newspaper articles
  • Anything else that might contain family information
  • You might consider gathering everything into a box so you can keep track of what you have found.

Smart Researching Procedures[edit | edit source]

1. Recording Your Sources of Information[edit | edit source]

  • You should record your sources for the information you record in your genealogy whether it be from a birth certificate, for example, or your own memory.
  • For example, is the birth date of Aunt Betty from personal knowledge or did you get it from a record in a family bible or was it given to you by a family member's personal knowledge?
  • You can be sure that in the future you will be grateful that you recorded your sources. While doing genealogy, it is common to meet other distant relatives who will either appreciate your evidence or sometimes challenge your sources.
  • Recording sources is an important part of doing your genealogy. Check out Cite Your Sources.

2. Create a "To Do List"[edit | edit source]

  • The next step is to create a list of information that you need to fill in the blanks.
  • Here you will list in detail the specific pieces of information you are hoping to find. For example: What is the birthday of Aunt Betty?
  • Then you will write down where you might find that information such as: "Ask my cousin George the birth date of his mother" or "Find aunt Betty's burial location and headstone."
  • Again, record exactly what pieces of information you need to find and where or how you plan to search for it.
  • An additional benefit when asking a specific questions about an ancestor is that it occasionally brings to mind other facts connected to the event. Be prepare to take down additional information.

3. Be Precise in Questioning[edit | edit source]

  • It is important to be precise in your questions.
  • Ask for one fact at a time in each question!
  • Ask for such things as when was the individual born, where were they born, when did they die, and where were they buried, etc.
  • Pay close attention to the responses you get. You might hear some interesting stories which should probably be recorded under Memories In

4. Research Logs[edit | edit source]

Because you will probably look through thousands of sources over the years it is important to keep track of what you have researched and your results.

  • If you had researched the town vital records, for example, looking for your great-grandfather John Smith and did not find him, make a note so you won't waste time looking at it again because you can't remember if you have already looked in it. You can download an example here of a Research Logs or

Keeping a Research Log.

Step Three: Family and Friends[edit | edit source]

  • Next step in your research is talking to family members and friends of the family to fill in the blanks.
  • They will often have lovely old photographs that you haven't seen that they are willing to share.
  • Make copies for your personal collection and submit them to so as to be preserved forever.

Step Four: How The FamilySearch Wiki Can Help You[edit | edit source]

Step Five: More FamilySearch Wiki Helps[edit | edit source]

  • Check out these links:
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Using the Wiki for Research
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About the Wiki
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