Beginners Genealogy Research Tips

Researching your family tree is exciting. But with so much history behind us it’s hard to know where to begin. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take heart. We’ve put together these research tips for beginners to get you started in the right direction. The first step is to organise your research …

Knowing where to start can be the hardest step

First Steps

  1. Manually chart your family tree. Start with yourself and work back.
  2. Make duplicates of original documents (i.e. birth records, marriage records, death records, certificates).
  3. Create folders or binders for different branches of your family tree.
  4. Create a database on your computer for your genealogical research.  (i.e. Legacy, Family Tree Maker, or other free family tree software).
  5. Create a research log to help you remember what you have researched and which resources you used.

Begin your genealogy quest

  1. Gather the information you already have on your family.
  2. Enter this data into your genealogical database.
  3. Identify the information you need.
  4. Talk to your relatives.
  5. Record your discussions with family or take notes.
  6. Decide which resources to search. If you’re unsure, ask the Mandurah Family History research assistants.
  7. Search the Internet – you will be amazed by how much information it contains.
  8. Explore specific websites such as the WA Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.
  9. Organise your new information into the folders or binders created in First Steps
  10. Use the information to build your database and/or as a basis for the next phase of your research.

Cautions and suggestions

  1. Beware of jumping to conclusions. Family trees that state ‘facts’ without evidence are considered unreliable.
  2. Just because you desperately want something to be true, doesn’t mean it actually is. Wait until you find hard evidence that proves the data you have found is correct.
  3. Don’t give up! At times it is going to be difficult and frustrating.
  4. Most importantly, have fun!

Where to next?

With luck and perseverance you’ll go far with the above tips. If you hit a dead-end remember, you are not alone. At times it will be easier in company with those on the same journey as you.

Why not come along to our next meeting? You will pick up more tips and meet some interesting people. Most importantly, you won’t be trying to do genealogy in a vacuum.