(MyHeritage – January 13, 2016)
How Do I Start My Family Tree?
Many people want to start building their family tree and researching their family history, but they have no clue as to where to begin. Often the first few steps are the hardest.
Here are some tips for getting started on your family tree:
1.Collect the information you already have and search for more. Search through drawers, closets, attics and basements. Ask your parents and grandparents for whatever information they may have. Talk to other relatives and let them know you are looking for any documents related to your family. Some relatives will know exactly where to look, while others may have to search. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll find. When visiting family, bring your smartphone or camera to photograph documents on the spot. Your aunt may be delighted to show you her parents’ photograph album, but she may not trust you with handing it over completely. This is legitimate and the photograph will be good enough.
2.Discuss your project with your family. They probably know more than you think. In addition to dates and facts, listen to the family stories. Don’t stop at your immediate family circle, but talk also to family friends. If your grandparents are alive, they will be happy to talk about their lives when they were young, and their own parents and grandparents. Make a list of open questions that cannot be answered with either “yes” or “no.” Genealogy is not only dates. Although you need facts to build family tree, it’s a good idea to start with stories.
3.Continue to organize and backup your data. Categorize and store the collected material properly in a safe place. To prevent loss of information, start building your family tree on MyHeritage, where you can easily share information with your family, and have them collaborate as well.
4.Set a goal, but be flexible. It is good set goals for your family history research but make sure to be flexible if you can’t reach that goal right away. Your family history is made up of a multitude of stories, and each discovery will help you piece it together. It helps to focus on a specific branch of your family tree and, if you get stuck, to try another branch. Don’t get discouraged. Patience is a huge part of genealogical research.
5.The Internet is your friend. It’s easy and comfortable to research at home, and access a huge amount of data. Your devices – computer, smartphone, tablet – connect you to the larger genealogical world. MyHeritage SuperSearch has a large, accessible collection of historical records and family trees, making it a great place to jumpstart your research
6.Organize and backup. Again. This is important enough to mention twice. Organize your papers and regularly back up your data on various media. Use flash drives, the Cloud, etc. Continue to add, to update, to organize your research. Without these steps, you may find yourself overwhelmed with information.