I am your average person, who happens to enjoy researching my roots. I became interested in creating a family tree as a young child. As a class, we were asked to make a tree and I was only able to get up to my great great grandparents and only on my maternal side. I have always wanted to explore further and thus my journey continues. Here are some things that I have found useful.
Use of Genealogical Software
- http://www.familytreemaker.com/ This is the one that I use. I love how it does much of the work for you. One draw back is that you have to learn how to cite your research, but this can be made easy with a simple read of the manual that comes with the software. In order to keep the software going, you must pay a low monthly fee to have access to the large database, which includes census records, pictures, and other useful document. The fee is well worth it as you won’t have to go further than your computer screen to find out about your family.
- http://www.myheritage.com/ This is a free software that puts your tree on the internet. It does have a cost if you want to access other researcher’s trees, but that is one of the drawbacks. You can’t trust that other people have done the proper research. I only trust what I find in documents and not what others have to say about their ancestors. I have come across many people on this site who have incorrect documentation that I could easily back up with my census data.
- http://genealogy-software-review.toptenreviews.com/ppc-index.html?cmpid=74152 This website has various reviews and pricing on genealogy software. There is one for every budget.
Family: As the Best Source
You have gone the software route and you are staring at a blank screen waiting to plug-in what you already know. How will you know the dates and full legal names of all these people? The software can’t go any further unless you already have some working knowledge of your family.
You will need to get information from the elder members of your relatives. Your grandparents or great aunts and uncles can be of value in telling you the names and birth dates of your family. They may even have old pictures, letters or stories that will be of value to your research.
Other Internet Sources
- Historical Society Websites— When I find out where my ancestor has spent most of their life, I immediately look for a historical society website for that town or city. I have found pictures of my ancestors on these sites that I couldn’t get with my ancestory.com software.
- Simple Google Search— Of course you can use any search engine, but sometimes you will find information on your ancestors just by simply doing a quick internet search. Be sure to put the name in quotes ( “First Last”) that way the internet will only find people with that exact name. I have found books written about my ancestors in doing this.
The most valuable tip in doing your family research is to realize that it will never end. Pace yourself you can’t get it totally complete and you will never get it done. It is something to enjoy and to pass down. Have fun doing it and don’t forget to write down the stories of your family. You will be surprised by all that you find out.