Beginners Guide to Genealogy
Thank you for visiting the Genealogy Forum's Beginners Center. Our purpose is to help you with tips and hints to assist you with your genealogy quest. We can't do your research for you, but will be happy to help with the "how-to's". You may want to print this Guide out and keep it next to your computer for quick reference.
The Beginners' Center portion of the Genealogy Forum can be accessed using the following URL: http://www.GenealogyForum.com/gfaol/beginners/index.html. We add new data frequently; you will want to check this area often.
HOW TO BEGIN YOUR FAMILY TREE
As you gather information, work backwards. Start with you, and go back one generation at a time. This is how you form your family tree.
What do YOU know about your family? Write down everything you know about your family. This includes: first names, middle names, last names (maiden, married, adopted, or changed), nicknames, dates &places of all family events (births, marriage, deaths, burials, adoptions, graduation, baptisms \ christenings, divorces), occupations, military service, everything you can remember about each person. There are specific forms designed to help you keep all this information organized. Family Group Sheets and Pedigree Charts are two of the most common. You can find free blank forms, such as a Research Checklist, a Census Substitute list, a 1930 Census Abstract Form, and more, to help you organize your research at: Printable Genealogy Forms.
What does YOUR FAMILY know? Talk to the members of your family. If you are unable to visit each relative in person, contact them by the telephone or by mail.
VERIFY your information. Names \ dates \ facts you have gathered may not be accurate. Make notations of any discrepancies or variances in your documentation. Record where you found the information. There are many great places to begin your research: Family History Centers, State Archives, Genealogy Societies, Historical Societies, Public Libraries, and the County Court Houses are a few. You can find addresses for many of the various libraries at: Addresses.
What RECORDS do you need? Some of the most useful records include the Federal and State Census, Vital Records (birth, death, marriage), cemetery records, church records, wills, probate records, military records, newspapers, and land records. There are files in the forum library about Federal Census, State Census, Birth, Death, Church, Probate, Cemetery, Land, and others.
DOCUMENT your research. Document every place that you look for information. Include the date, name of the book, the name of the person you talked to, and any other data that will help you to find that information again in the future if you need to investigate further. It is always a good idea to get copies of all documents that help to prove your information. Note that many times the cost of copies of birth \ death \ marriage certificates can be minimized by asking the person making the copies for an "unofficial \ genealogy" copy, which is usually cheaper than a "certified" copy. Documentation will serve two purposes: (1) to show where and when you found your information, and (2) to remind you where you have already searched so you won't repeat that search unnecessarily, down the road.
How do I FIND OTHERS researching my family names? You will not find your entire family tree online, but you may find other researchers working on your surnames. The Forum's Message Boards are a great place to make family connections. There are Message Boards by alphabet for surnames, various reunion and events announcements, and specific ethnicities. You will find the Message Boards at Messages.
You might also make connections by joining free e-mail mailing lists for various regions, states, or surnames. These lists can be very helpful when you have a question, or need a lookup.
Our Forum Library is in the midst of being updated, revamped, and enhanced to make things easier for you. To put it bluntly, things are changing every day. As they say in the construction business "Please pardon our mess; we're working to make things better for you". <grin> To utilize the library use the following path: File Library. Once there, you will find various files containing information related to the topic of the folder. There is a wealth of information to be found in the library, so take your time when visiting our library. One never knows what treasures can be found, and it's only a click away.
Our GEDCOM files and Tiny Tafels are in a separate libraries. They are located at the following links:
We hope you visit the Genealogy Forum again soon! If you have any questions about this Guide, you can email us at GenealogyForum@aol.com..
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