First steps of genealogy

Work from the known to the unknown. Start with yourself and your siblings and work back. Write your name (surname in block capitals). Then write your father’s parents then your mother’s parents.

  • Next go back and note all the dates and events you are certain of concerning your immediate family.
  • Ask as many people in your family as possible for their recollections.
  • Ask your more knowledgeable or receptive relatives to go over their reminiscences as many times as possible – nobody ever recalls everything in one sitting.
  • Beg and search for as many family records and memorabilia as possible.
  • Have a look in your attic and ask elderly relatives if you can look in theirs.
  • Scour the records you find for clues and make a note of any firm information you find, together with where you find it.
  • Show anything you find to your elderly relatives particularly old photographs.
  • Compile a list of questions arising out of your research. This will be a starting point.
  • Don’t despair if you can’t find out much. The minimum info you need to get started is your own place and date of birth.
  • Check your facts and confirm every step of the way.
  • Family myths are just that – myths! But sometimes they are based on an aspect of truth.
  • Once facts are confirmed then write them on your chart in ink.
  • Always record source information
  • Women are always referred to in family history by their maiden name. However, to find them in death records you’ll need to search under their married name.