Genealogy Search How To

How to Begin a Genealogy Search

Here are steps to help you get started on your adventures in genealogical research:

Identify what you know:

  • Start with information about yourself – your birth, marriage, and other information.

  • Create a simple family tree with your immediate family.

  • Write down your parents’ and grandparents’ information.

  • Include where they lived and/or grew up as well as birth, marriage, and death dates.

  • Find out more information about your close relatives and those on farther branches of the family tree.

  • Talk with older relatives. Tape-record the interviews, if they are comfortable with that.

  • Verify names and dates – was Aunt Betty’s birth name Betsy, Elizabeth, or Bettie-Lou? Was she born in 1944 or 1934?

  • Look for family photos, Bibles, letters, and other documents that contain family history.

These are records you should ask all family members about:

  • Family Bibles

  • Birth, marriage, and death certificates

  • Divorce records

  • Deeds to property

  • Wills

  • Old letters

  • Photographs

  • Plaques, awards, honors, and other memorabilia

  • School certificates

  • Insurance papers

  • Funeral programs

  • Obituaries

  • Membership cards

  • Anniversary programs for organizations and churches

  • School and college yearbooks

  • Military discharge papers

  • Any other sources with names and dates