Have you ever been asked, What is Genealogy? I thought it to be a rather odd question. I thought everyone knew what genealogy was, however in recent days, I have been asked that very question. So here is a description of genealogy, and how you can start your genealogy research.
What is Genealogy?
Genealogy is the study and tracing of the descent and history of individuals or families. It involves researching and documenting the relationships between generations of people, typically with a focus on identifying ancestors and understanding their familial connections. Genealogy often relies on various sources of information, including historical records, birth and death certificates, marriage records, census data, wills, family letters, and oral histories.
The primary goal of genealogy is to create a family tree or pedigree chart that illustrates how individuals are related to one another over multiple generations. Genealogists use this information to uncover their family’s heritage, learn about their ancestors’ lives, and preserve their family history for future generations. It can be a fascinating and rewarding pursuit, allowing people to connect with their roots and gain a deeper understanding of their cultural and historical background. Genealogy research has also become more accessible with the advent of online databases and DNA testing services, which can provide valuable insights into one’s genetic heritage and distant relatives.
How to Start Genealogy Research?
Starting genealogy research can be an exciting and rewarding journey into your family’s history. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you begin your genealogical research:
- Start with What You Know:
- Start by gathering information you already have about your family. This may include names, birthdates, marriage dates, and places of your parents, grandparents, and other close relatives.
- Interview Relatives:
- Talk to older relatives and family members while you still can to gather more information. They may have meaningful stories, documents, or family records to share. Take notes or consider recording these conversations for later reference.
- Organize Your Information:
- Create a basic family tree chart or pedigree chart to visualize your known family connections. You can do this on paper or use genealogy software or online tools for this purpose.
- Research Family Documents:
- Look for family documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and obituaries. These records often contain essential information about your ancestors.
- Visit Local Archives and Libraries:
- Local libraries and archives may have historical records, newspapers, and local histories that can help you trace your family’s history. Librarians and archivists can be valuable resources.
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- Utilize Online Resources:
- There are many online genealogy websites and databases, such as Ancestry.com (Try a 14-day free trial today with Ancestry®), MyHeritage, and FamilySearch, that offer access to a vast collection of historical records. Some of these resources are free, while others require a subscription or library access.
- Join Genealogy Forums and Groups:
- Online forums and social media groups dedicated to genealogy can provide support, advice, and assistance in your research. You can ask questions, share your findings, and connect with experienced genealogists.
- DNA Testing:
- Consider taking a DNA test through services like AncestryDNA ( If you would like to purchase an AncestryDNA® kit, click here) , 23andMe, or MyHeritage DNA. These tests can provide insights into your ethnic heritage and may help you connect with distant relatives.
- Document Everything:
- Keep careful records of your research findings. Note the sources of your information, including dates and locations. This documentation is crucial for accuracy and future reference.
- Be Patient and Persistent:
- Genealogy research can take up a lot of your time, and you may encounter road blocks and dead ends. Be patient and persistent in your quest for information. Sometimes, breakthroughs come when you least expect them. Don’t feel bad if you need to take a break and come back to a problem with fresh eyes.
- Verify Information:
- Cross-check information from multiple sources whenever possible to ensure accuracy. People often make mistakes or provide incorrect details in records.
- Learn Genealogical Research Techniques:
- Familiarize yourself with genealogical research techniques and methodologies. Books, online courses, and genealogy societies can provide guidance and education.
- Join a Genealogy Society:
- Consider joining a local or regional genealogy society. These organizations often offer resources, workshops, and networking opportunities with other researchers.
Genealogy is an ongoing and evolving process, and it may take time to uncover your family’s complete history. Enjoy the journey of discovering your roots and the stories of your ancestors.
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