Getting Started with Genealogy

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


Getting Started with Genealogy

Ask many people why they scrapbook, and you’ll likely hear that they want to capture their family history. They want to remember the details, document the events, and photograph the images that make up their family’s story. This important work will provide so much reference information for future generations.

What if you want to take this family history documentation a step further and look into your own genealogy? The process can seem overwhelming. Here are simple steps for getting started with genealogy…

Start Close

Work your way backward slowly by starting close. Talk to all of your living relatives, and glean as much information as possible about dates, people, and places. Email, facebook, and blogs make it easier than ever to reach out and gather information. Mary Maurer, an experienced genealogist, suggests “Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. and slowly work backward while creating family group sheets for each family. These forms are available online. Also be sure to make a record of any interesting family stories while the people who remember them are still alive.”

Capture Every Detail

Interviews are a great way to get details from relatives that you are able to contact. You may want to write a basic list of questions that you can start with. Ask for dates, places, names, and relationships – every detail that you can think of. Keep this information for reference, but don’t assume that it is entirely accurate until several people have verified. Mary gives an example of why when she explains, “I read one report from the late 1800’s of a prisoner’s supposed execution, when in fact later issues of the newspaper revealed that it never took place. The story had been filed early because of bad weather!”

Explore the Internet

The internet provides so many resources for researching family history. Google “beginning genealogy” or “genealogy tips” and you’ll find a wealth of information to help you get started. Search census records, organizations, church records – anything that your ancestors might have been involved in.

Add Your Own Crafty Touch

As you research and gather information, create layouts to document your history. One way to do this is to create layouts using old photographs that you gather from relatives. I created this layout with old photographs that my mother sent to me. It’s a quick snapshot that captures parents, siblings, uncles, and grandparents – all in one layout! Reminder – always add names to your layouts. Don’t rely on memory!


Enjoy your genealogy journey – and good luck!