Researching your family tree is a great way to bring your family together and find out more about where you come from. It also preserves your family’s history for future generations to come.
However, getting started can be a bit overwhelming! Here are some ideas on where to start:
Where To Start Your Family Tree
Genealogy experts advise the best place to start your family tree is with what you already know.
Start by writing down everything you know about your immediate family, your parents’ families, your grandparents’ families and so on. Keep going back as far as your own knowledge can take you. Once you see it on paper, you may be surprised by just how much information you already have available to start with.
Next, ask around your family to check if anyone else has already created a family tree and compare notes together to combine what you have.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a clearer view of what requires more in-depth research and digging.
Questions To Ask
The next step is to ask members of your family for all the information they have about your ancestors. Check if they hold any documents and records which give information about their lives. Fill in the gaps on your family tree by asking questions about your relatives. Here’s a guide for the types of questions you can ask about a person’s life:
Basic Personal Information
It’s always best to start at the basics. Look for information about them such as:
- Their name
- Date and place of birth
- Who their parents were
- Where they lived
- Date and place of death/where they are buried
Ask for information about their family life to fill in the tree around them:
- Were they ever married?
- Who was their spouse?
- Did they marry more than once?
- Did they have any children?
- How many children did they have and who were they?
Ask questions about what their life was like. This can include education, occupation and other interesting facts:
- When and where did they attend school?
- Did they go to university?
- What was their occupation?
- Did they ever serve in the military?
- Were they religious? If so, which denomination were they?
- Did they ever live or travel abroad?
- Do you know what they looked like? Did they have any nicknames?
There are many online resources available with extensive databases that you can search.
These sites often allow you to link in with other users. You never know, you may discover an unknown relative who has already done a lot of the hard work and can fill in lots of your family history for you!
Some of these sites will require a fee, but others are available to search for free. They use census records and other historical registers which can help you piece together the story of your ancestors’ lives.
Another way to find clues to your past is to have your DNA analysed. Services such as Ancestory DNA and 23andme will give you a break down of your DNA and what areas of the world your ancestors originated from.
It will also link you in with other users who you have shared DNA with – you may find close cousins through this service who you never knew about!
A tool like this is particularly helpful if you have missing links in your family tree or members who were adopted with no adoption records available.