Family history, or genealogy, is one of America’s most popular hobbies. There are tremendous resources, many free, to help you discover your family history. Here are some suggestions to get you started on the right track:
1. Print out blank forms or purchase a software program to capture your research. Family Data Sheets capture information about parents and children. Pedigree charts capture family lineage – parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. See below for sample forms.
2. Collect as much information as possible about your family history by interviewing family members and reviewing old letters, news clippings and bible records held by your family.
3. Use free resources at Familysearch.org, Find a Grave, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress to search for information about your relatives.
4. Use search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). Enter your relative’s names and place of residence. This could give you results from local newspapers, message boards on family history sites, and history books. Add birth, marriage or death dates to possibly get announcements or obituaries.
This simple (and free) tool yielded one of the more interesting (and tragic) stories from my family tree:
5. Join a local genealogical association meet-up group to discuss your findings and to get more strategies to continue researching your family tree. The U.S. Gen Web Project is a great place to start:
6. Visit your local LDS Family History Center for access to free records
I present the above information to public groups interested in family history, writing and publishing. My current presentation is located here: Publishing Family History