So You Are Just Getting Started? Tips on starting your family tree For Beginners!
First – take a deep breath!
It will not be as hard as you think. It may or probably will take a lot of reading if you really want to get to know the people you are looking for. Especially the farther back you go.
But it will always well worth it!
Write on the Photos/ Make notes
Next gather all your photos and take the time to sit down and write on them and make notes. Then I would be sure to make digital copies and save in at least two different places.
I wanted all of my photos in chronological order so I knew when and where things took place.
Gather Everything into one Place
Gather all of your important documents up and make copies and put them in a safe place in acid free holders and where nothing will happen to them. Like a safe deposit box, or a in home safe. At the very least a fireproof box in a dark closet with other important items.
When on the family tree search sites, do your own digging. I look at others work sometimes to compare, but what if they are wrong and you never knew? I came across one of these yesterday while looking for someone way back there. Many, many men with the same name! They had the family thing of naming children after a well loved uncle. Or sometimes after the fathers, and adding the mothers maiden names to many of the children.
Use Many Different Genealogy Websites
A lot of these websites offer introductory offers. Search for free sites and be sure and save the information and sources for all your work.
Expect a Big Mess
What a mess I had dug into. Many of the other people searching this family had their idea of what happened. Many of them were different.
But if you can’t find proof then it may just lead to a wormhole that you can’t dig out of.
I was constantly deleting and redoing everything trying to make things work. This may not happen to you. Just realize that its common to get conflicting information.
How do you do that?
I had to concentrate on the information and not the names.
I had four generations were all named William Thaw. Then everyone had a nickname, or used their middle name. So a common name can trip you up.
Sometimes people just said they were Jr. when or the second. Now days you can’t just do that. Or at least with my grandfather it wasn’t permitted. You can’t just call someone Jr. or the second or the third unless the names are exact.
If you find yourself in one of these situations just gather the facts. One was a famous pilot, one was a Doctor. I had to read a lot in the newspapers, find those key points to help answer family questions about family members with the same exact name.
Don’t rush – that causes mistakes
Take your time, there is no time line or date to be finished. I don’t feel mine will ever be finished.
I love reading about what happened back in those days. I also love the surprise of finding new information and the exploration of the tree. It is like going on a treasure hunt. And you never know what you might find.
Download some of the forms so you can organize your thoughts and gather information. Always write everything down. Be sure to document where everything comes from, you may need to go back at some point.
Ask For Help
If you find yourself in a spot where you are stuck or just don’t know what to do next just ask. Ask in a couple different places, do not just hold yourself in one place waiting, get multiple answers for your questions so you can use it to come up with the solution that helps you the most.
The very most important thing is to have fun. It’s your family. Enjoy the adventure that many don’t even try to see. Happy digging and good luck!
Jena spends her time researching her family tree as well as others. She travels, visits cemeteries and other historical places while gathering and collecting old photos, albums, scrapbooks and other pieces of memorable history to study and share. Jena is a retired teacher, has served as president with her local Historical Society, and maintains a community history page. She also loves photographing historical reenactments, cemeteries and historical places.