Family history can be extremely overwhelming at times. Even when you have been doing if for a while you can still get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there and it's easy to get lost and discouraged. To help combat this here's a few tips.
- Start with yourself: I know you're not dead so it's easy to overlook yourself but who better to track down your documents than you. Find your birth certificate, find your baptism or christening date, document where when and by who. Find your marriage certificate, birth of children, write down where you lived, went to school, when you graduated. Create a timeline of your life. I don't mean spend hours writing out your personal history although that's important to it can be another daunting task so just start with the basics.
- Get info on your parents: It's easiest to start with the people we know and just as important. And although it sounds like an easy task sometimes it's not as simple as you think. It's nice to be able to recruit the living in helping to track down their own documents.
- Move onto the next generation-Grandparents: Grandparents is usually when you have to start some real digging, unless they're still around then you can just ask them. Most of mine are but they are getting up there in age and it's getting harder for them to remember where they put stuff like that. And ever if your grandparents are into family history and have written their own story down often times they forget to add documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates and baptismal info.
- 4 Generations: Most of your basic family tree charts go out four generations and it's a more difficult task than you think to get all the info for four generations. Sometimes tracking down names is simple but piecing together their life can be quite a challenge. As a family we are still all searching for the birth certificate of my great grandma. We have the date because it's written on her headstone and on other paper but the official document is missing.
- Scan the documents: Sometimes we think we need to have it all together before we do anything with it. But if you scan it as you go and attach it to a program like Familysearch.org or Ancestory.com then you don't have to worry as much about it getting lost. You'll want a hard copy as well however if you have it both digital and paper then it's less likely to disappear.
I know it's fun to be able to trace your linage back to Adam however you will be surprised how far your tree extends once you finish your four generations. Since Genealogy is one of the top hobbies in the world the chances of you being able to connect to someone through your four generations who's been doing research in your family tree is extremely high. Genealogy is a massive undertaking but it's getting smaller as technological advances have made it possible to connect with distant family from around the world.