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How to Start Tracing Your Family Tree

ClickHowTo Team
Written by ClickHowTo Team

Looking into your family history can be a fun and enjoyable hobby. A lot of people love spending their time researching their families, finding out where they came from and where they ended up. If you’re interested in learning more about your family, it’s easy to get started. There are lots of ways to seek out the information you need, and you can keep track of everything with genealogy software. You’ll soon have built yourself a family tree, which you can keep growing. If you ever reach a dead end, you can just start tracing down another branch. Follow these instructions to start researching your family history. You could discover some fascinating things about your ancestors.

Gather Any Information You Already Have

The first place to begin when you want to look up your family tree is with some names. You can use any information that you can already get access to, including documents and photos, to find some interesting names. Ask your relatives if they have anything of interest, look at newspaper clippings and family photographs to find names you can research. Maiden names can be especially important because they help you access another branch of your tree. You can begin to put together a map of the last few generations of your family.

Use Public Records

Having people’s names is a good start, but in order to distinguish one Jane Smith from another, you need more information. Statistics such as birth and death dates, marriages and divorces are very useful. You can find these things in public records, through your government or city archives, in censuses or perhaps in churches. A census will tell you information such as someone’s date of birth, occupation and address. Churches often hold records or marriages, christenings, and funerals. You can also look through military records, which are helpful if you want to research your family’s role in particular conflicts. For example, you can search for Australian Military records online. Of course, you can also ask your relatives, which can help to give you a starting point for where to look.

Focus Your Search

You have hundreds and thousands of ancestors, and you can’t go off in every direction at once. If you try to trace the families and stories of every name you come across, it will take you a long time to develop much. Remember you can always return to certain things at a later date, so it’s better to pick one thing to focus on at a time. Perhaps you will first choose to look at your maternal line, following the lives of the women in the family.

Collect Stories

Creating your family tree isn’t just about the statistics. Part of the fun of the research is discovering personal stories. You can start by talking to your living relatives, who might have stories to share about their parents or grandparents. It can be more difficult researching this type of personal history because there might not be any records. But you can still discover things you never knew.

Genealogy is a fantastic hobby, which can help you feel closer to both your living relatives and your ancestors. It’s easy to get started, so why not give it a try?

About the author

ClickHowTo Team

ClickHowTo Team