Beginners Guide to Starting Your Genealogy Research2022-06-08T07:46:57-04:00

Getting Started

This is for beginners, wondering where to start. The tips on this page start with those things you can do that are free, and then we will add some ideas that will cost a little bit of money.

Here are the suggestions:

  1. Just start! As simple as that sounds, decide to start researching your family’s history. It is a fascinating pastime, for sure.  But you first just decide to move forward.
  2. Start with what you know. Start with your parents, their parents (your grandparents), and so on.
  3. The information you want to record is full names, date of birth, marriages, and dates. You will also want to know locations of these life events. If family members are not alive, include their date of death, the location where they died, and the cemetery.
  4. Write it down! Use a legal pad or anything similar.  You can also use free forms of family trees from the National Genealogical Society.
  5. The Internet has changed our lives. And it will make your searching easier than ever. Of course, the first place to start is with the search engines, like Google and Bing.
  6. Another good starter site is Find-a-Grave.
  7. Expect holes in your trees.  It will take time to gather all the facts about your family.
  8. Be sure to visit FamilySearch.
  9. As your searching continues, you will soon discover the government is your friend when it comes to researching your family tree. Many different government agencies are sources of information. It may become a challenge as to where to look, but the public information available is astonishing.
  10. Plan a trip to your local library and look for city directories, old newspapers, and local history books.

Quick Warning

Not everything you will find about your ancestors maybe 100% accurate. This is often true of dates and spellings of names.  The older the record, the more likely you may find inaccuracies.

Next Steps

So far, our beginner steps are free.  You will likely soon want to consider some things that could cost some money to assist in your family research.  Those things are:

  1. DNA Tests (check court our Beginners Guide to Sheldon DNA Testing)
  2. Paid research sites, such as
  3. Memberships to websites that will help you build an online family tree
  4. Desktop software if you are using a computer that builds trees and links to the Internet.

This is just a beginner’s guide, and it could be much longer. It is only designed to give you some basic information to get started. If you have questions, feel free to contact Sheldon Genealogy.

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