SIX STEPS TO STARTING YOUR GENEALOGY
As a new genealogist, you probably don’t know where to start your genealogy. Here are six simple steps to begin your ancestor search with details for each step:
1) START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW!
Look at your own records. These include birth, marriage, & death (BMD) records. Also look at old family bibles that may have the BMD info completed of your ancestors in the front or center bible pages, other genealogy records such as school or non-profit group awards, military documents, old school yearbooks, or photos you may have inherited. Keep copies or the originals in a safe place such as a portable file container or larger file cabinet. Keep your labelled file folders organized for instant recall as you will be reviewing these documents again and again for clues.
2) TALK TO YOUR RELATIVES!
Has anyone in your family researched genealogy or started the family tree? Ask them if you can have a copy and please verify what they have already done. You would be surprised on how many family members including your first or second cousins may have details on your same ancestors.
Visit the online trees to find your ancestors and more cousins. More info on this below in step 3!
3) RESEARCH YOUR ANCESTORS ONLINE!
Use the many different available sources on the Internet such as the FREE or subscription genealogy databases on your home computer. See our FREE Popular Genelaogy Websites for additional info.
Many major libraries have several genealogy databases such as the Poudre River Library District Genealogy Webpage. Remember, you can use your Fort Collins library card to access HeritageQuest (uses several Ancestry.com databases) or MyHeritage Library Edition databases from your home computer in case you don’t have their home subscriptions. Or go to any major library to access the Ancestry Library edition (includes many worldwide databases). Any Colorado resident with a CO driver’s license can request a library card in person at most libraries in Colorado.
Several of the major databases include family trees. You may find several family trees that include your ancestors as listed by cousins you never knew. Contact them to gain more details of your ancestors.
Last, you may want to travel to where your ancestors lived and obtain information from their local libraries, historical archives, or courthouses. However, before you do that, consider using a genealogy research volunteer in that area from the popular Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website. Their fees are minimal compared to using Vitalrec or Vitalchek, several online cost based vital records services.
4) VISIT YOUR LOCAL GENEALOGY FACILITIES!
Visit your local library, local Family History Center (part of the Family History Library network), City or County historical archives, County Courthouse, or the local National Archives (NARA) facility in Thornton (I-25 at Hwy 7), which have many genealogy records in storage and have online databases too.
5) RECORD YOUR GENEALOGY!
There are three popular methods to recording your genealogy and family history.
1) Use the paper method, but be forewarned you will have mounds of paper records and can be confusing on how every ancestor is connected. It’s recommended to have all your birth, marriage, and death records including bibles, diaries, military records, etc. for verification! You can scan and digitize these important documents for digital storage too!
2) Using genealogy software on your home computer resolves this problem and allows you to be very organized with creating a pedigree chart to show how your ancestors are connected. The top three home genealogy software vendors are Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, and Roots Magic. We will have training videos of all three software companies on our training video webpage if you’re not computer or software literate.
3) Using the Internet trees to show your family’s ancestry. This is the new trend for millennial genealogists. Websites like Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, or FamiySearch.org are reliable websites to record your family tree. They ask you for sources to verify your family tree, which we highly recommend. Other family tree sites may not have any sources, so be suspicious of those trees without any sources as many new genealogists like to copy from existing trees, thus you don’t know how accurate they are.
It’s highly recommended you cite your sources no matter what version you use above! This is for verification purposes and proves you have verified your family tree! If you send your family tree to other family members or family genealogists, they will know you have verified your family tree and they don’t have to check your work!
6) JOIN A LOCAL SOCIETY!
By joining a local genealogy society such as ours, you will learn how to research your genealogy by attending the monthly programs with speakers that provide information on researching either general genealogy topics with many hints or provide specific ethnicities research, or research methods. See our Membership Page for information on joining our society!
FREE GENEALOGY TRAINING VIDEOS
Our society has many training videos on genealogy research covering the popular genealogy categories. Please visit our GENEALOGY TRAINING VIDEOS to discover our online learning videos including our locally produced Genealogy Quest TV Series.
FREE GENEALOGY CLASSES & WORKSHOPS
Additionally, our society provides FREE classes on Beginners Genealogy, Intermediate Genelaogy, or specific classes on DNA (genetic genealogy), database companies, or specific research such as Researching Church Records. Visit our Events Webpage for a schedule of our upcoming classes. Also you can select our Education webpage to learn more about researching your genealogy!
FREE ONE ON ONE GENEALOGY HELP
Also our society offers FREE genealogy help on Thursday afternoons from 1 to 5 pm at the Fort Collins Downtown Library (second floor meeting room) or in the genealogy room at the Loveland Library. If you in live nearby to Johnstown or Wellington libraries, see our Events webpage schedule for their genelaogy help. These are experienced volunteers with over five years of genealogy experience. They can help get started with genealogy, help you with your ancestor brickwalls back to 1800, or show you how to use the genealogy databases.
FREE STUDY GROUPS
Our society has different study groups you can join to learn more about British Isles, Colonial, DNA, Irish, Family History Writing, and Technology. See our homepage or Events webpage for details on their meeting schedule or please select the Study Groups Webpage for more info.
Don’t forget about specific genealogy societies dedicated to the different ethnicities in your area. In Denver, we have the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Black Genealogy Group, Daughters of the American Revolution, Germanic Society and Palatines of America, Hispanic Genealogy Society of Colorado, Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado, Mayflower Society of Colorado, Norwegian Society of Northern Colorado, Sons of the American Revolution, Swedish Genealogical Society of Colorado, and WISE Family Association (Wales, Irish, Sottish, and English Family Association aka WISE) and many more! Please select any of the society logos above or Google them to learn more about joining their societies. Most have monthly newsletters and have monthly meetings and some have annual seminars too.
To see more of these ethnic or special group societies, please visit the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies Members and select the preferred member society to learn more!
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND LEARNING AIDS FOR BEGINNERS
Please visit Hobby Help for more tips in starting your genealogy!
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