Jane's Genealogy Jigsaw
Advice to Beginners
In my opinion, if you now have, or think you may ever have, an interest in your family history, talk to your older relatives. NOW! Don't wait, they won't be around forever. Get their stories.
Secondly, keep track from the very beginning of where you got every little bit of information. If you don't, you may end up retracing your steps, or scratching your head and wondering just where that date or this place came from. Save yourself some trouble, and start out documenting your sources from the very beginning.
In addition, do not expect to be able to find all the resources you need to research your family available on the Internet. While more and more information is becoming available online every day (some of it for a fee), the vast majority of genealogy sources still need to be tracked down in more traditional research venues: homes, libraries, courthouses, etc.
Where to Start
- Read a book. Excellent books for beginning genealogists include:
- The Genealogy Sourcebook
by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack
Published by Contemporary Books, 1997
- Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy, 4th edition
by Emily Anne Croom
Published by Betterway Books, 2001
- The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy
by Val D. Greenwood
Published by Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc, 2000.
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy
by Christine Rose and Kay Germain Ingalls
Published by Alpha Books, 1997
- For additional resources see Recommended Reading.
- The Genealogy Sourcebook
- Take a class. Classes are often available:
- At local colleges and universities
- Through local and national genealogical societies
- At local libraries
- On the Internet
- Join a society. In addition to offering classes, genealogy societies often
- Provide speakers and programs at meetings;
- Sponsor seminars;
- Sponsor Special Interest Groups, e.g. an Irish Interest Group or a Computer Interest Group;
- Publish periodicals and newsletters;
- Publish and/or collect books of local interest.
- Subscribe to a few Mailing Lists.
- There are mailing lists for surnames, localities, computer programs, occupations, and many other subjects.
- Start small, don't subscribe to every mailing list for every surname right away, or your mailbox may soon be overflowing.
- To find Mailing Lists of interest, check out: Genealogy Resources on the Internet - Mailing Lists.
- Most genealogy mailing lists are administered by volunteers — for additional information on the lists that I admin see Mailing Lists.
- Post Queries on Message Boards.
- Like Mailing Lists, there are Message Boards for surnames, locations, and various other subjects.
- Read a few postings first, before you post, to get an idea of the "flavor" of the board.
- Many genealogy message boards are also administered by volunteers — for additional information on the boards that I admin see Message Boards.
- For good advice on writing successful Message Board queries see the following articles from Ancestry Daily News:
- Starting Points:
- Basic Guides:
- Rootsweb Guide to Tracing Family Trees
- National Genealogy Society: Getting Started
- Guide to Family History Research
- Mailing Lists:
- Cyndi's List - Mailing Lists
- Genealogy Resources on the Internet - Mailing Lists
- RootsWeb Mailing Lists
- Message Boards: