If you’re just starting to research the history of your family, this section will attempt to aid you on your journey:
How are you going to record the information?
I think that the very first step for starting family history is to decide how you are going to record the information that you find out. Obviously this can be changed at any date, but the more information you have stored, the harder it may become to swap over simply.
A few options are:
- Simply write it down – this is great at first but once you have over 30 people, it starts to get a little confusing and you run out space.
- Online – Some companies such as Ancestry enable you to create a family tree online. There will be a visual diagram of your family, (mainly in tree or pedigree form) or as well as individual pages on your family members.
- Computer Programs – Similiarly to the online section, there a programs out there that you can use. Some are free, some are not. Some are good, some are bad! Choose wisely!
- I personally use Family Tree Builder that MyHeritage offer for free. I find this is one of the best programs to use and store my research. Although sometimes slow, one can easily navigate through it’s simple but informative user interface. This makes up for the speed.
Draw a simple chart
Now draw a simple family chart out such as the one I have drawn out below. This will just include names at first, as you want to be able to visualise your family. This can be very helpful as now you already have a group of people that you can research. This will give you a base that you can work from.
I believe that the best way to start researching family history is to start with yourself. Write down your name, date of birth and date of marriage if you are married. Any other information you think of such as descriptions, other dates and facts can also be added at this stage, but can be added later too.
Immediate Family and Cousins
You should now begin to write down vital information for your immediate family and cousins. This may include your spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, grandparents and cousins.
Asking Family Members
I believe that asking family members about their parents and their other relatives is a very helpful and effective way to find out information. If you are lucky enough to have your parents and/or grandparents around, ask them about their parents and their grandparents. It is a very easy way to obtain this vital information, and it’s first hand! Please use the time you have with your relatives wisely. Record or video any family history conversations with your relatives, as they will become precious later in life.
Facebook and other Social Media
I have gained a lot of information from people on social media. I believe that if you are part of a family history community, you are more likely to gain help, when and if you are ever stuck. Groups on Facebook such as Genealogy! Just Ask! are extremely helpful, as they have friendly, keen and interesting members and admins.