Getting Started in Family History

Where to begin?

Tracing your ancestors can be a very long, time-consuming process, so before launching into the project:

  • Decide which line of your family you wish to trace; it is often easy to be sidetracked by coming across records on other branches of the family, or unrelated families of the same name.
  • Get all the information you can from members of your own family, such as names, dates and places. Even if some of this information proves to be not entirely accurate, it can often provide useful clues or pointers in the right direction.
  • Start with yourself and work backwards. It can be tempting to skip the recent generations that are most familiar, but there is always a chance that you will miss vital clues, or be taken in the wrong direction.
  • Plan how you are going to collect and record information. Note where you found it from the start.
  • Aim to avoid guesswork and test your assumptions and when possible check the original records.
  • Prepare to be challenged and frustrated. Our ancestors did not always share the truth with official record keepers, and records were never created for the benefit of family historians!