Getting Started in Family History Genealogy Research

Many people ask me where to start with their family history and genealogy. I become almost giddy at the thought of what they will find and the stories they will learn from their family. I'm sure my excitement pours into them!

There are a few keys areas to consider on this journey of family genealogy. There are a few tips to implement in the beginning as well. These will ensure you create a firm foundation for your family history. You will thank yourself later that you built your journey on a firm foundation.

The first step to family genealogy is choosing a place to organize your information. You can select a website (like, an app, or your own binder. I personally recommend ancestry or an online database. This will enable you to share information with other family members easily. It also prevent those stacks of paper and sticky notes all over. 

Many genealogy websites are free to use, however, some require a fee for more features. The choice is entirely up to you. Do a little research and find the one that fits your needs best.

Now that you have a place to organize your information, you will need to start adding your family history. In the beginning enter the most basic information. This includes name, maiden name (if it's known), birth date, and date of death. Only insert the information you have documented. It's not a problem if you do not have a complete profile on your family member - you can always add information later. 

When adding your information on family members start with yourself and go back. A lot of people like to find that famous person and work with descendants until they arrive at themselves but this can become confusing for the beginner. It is easier to start with yourself, then your parents, grandparents, etc. You will quickly see your tree growing. 

The first records to seek out are Marriage, Birth, and Death records. The majority of my family is from the Appalachia region. Therefore, I look for records related to Appalachian genealogy. When I am seeking out vital statistic records I concentrate on the states of West Virginia and Virginia. These two States are where my family originated from. If your family is from the region (or you have family from this region) I have a great post on finding Vital Statistic records in the state of West Virginia. I will do a future Podcast on this as well. 

You can also find records on ancestry and even do a Google search for these records. When I do records searches online I like to use my ancestors name and any additional information in the search text. It can be a long search string, but it usually gets me results. For example, instead of searching "Mary Smith birth records" I will type the following in the search bar "Mary A. Smith 1857 West Virginia Logan County birth record." This method will yield more search results and usually the records I am searching.

Once you find your records, be sure to add them to your family tree and cite your sources. It is difficult to remember all your information and easier to document and store your information in the beginning. I can't tell you how many times in my own journey that I have had to quote my sources when revealing new information to family.

So for today, there are three things to do when getting started in genealogy and family history research. (1) Choose a place to organize your family history (2) Add your family member's information. Remember to begin with yourself and work backwards. (3) Search and locate vital statistics on your ancestors and include your sources.

How are you going to start off your genealogy journey? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below with the steps you plan on taking or where you are in your journey.

Getting Started in Family History Genealogy Research by Genealogy Girl Talks

3 Steps to Getting Started in Genealogy

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