Ask Lots of Questions


How do you get started doing family history?  If you read any books or take a course on the subject they will all tell you to start with yourself and then work backward.  If you’re like I was you may have been listening to family stories for years so you know a lot already, but now it’s time to put pen to paper or get those fingers typing and set the record straight. After all, not all those stories are necessarily true, often there is only a grain of truth in the story.

Getting Started

You’ll want to have a tree where you can collect all the information and stories you find for those ancestors. There are several programs you can install on your computer, such as Legacy Family Tree,  RootsMagic or Family Tree Maker . Or if you’d rather do a paper version you can find tree templates just by doing an internet search or you can purchase a bundle from Family Tree Magazine called; Essential Family Tree Forms. Family Tree Magazine also offers 61 Free Family History Forms that you can find HERE for FREE.

Consider filling out your tree with your children or grandchildren after, if you get interested in this addiction … er …. hobby you’ll want to have someone that’s interested enough to carry on. Did you know that research shows that children who have a strong family narrative enjoy better emotional health? (You can read the article HERE). When I read that I decided to sit down with my grandson and started a little tree for him and his family and he was so excited he wanted a copy to take home to his parents.

Not Ready Yet?

But if you’re not ready to commit to this new hobby yet then here’s a word to the wise. Visit the older generation in your family circle; your parents, uncles, and aunties, grandparents and if your lucky great grandparents and ask them questions. Find a book about genealogy and make a list of questions.  Ask questions like; where were you born, how many siblings did you have and where were they born. What did your parents do as jobs and did they travel? Ask if they know things about their aunts and uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents?  Write all the answers down and then put the information away in a safe place until you have time to work on your family history.

You will be so thankful that you did this. I know I was when I looked at the sheets I’d kept for over 30 years because it gave me a starting point to work from.  Even if you never do your family history, imagine what a treasure it will be to you or someone else in the family to know this information in the future.


Here is a list of books you might find of interest (check your local library for availability as well)

Research Like a Pro written by Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer

How to Do Everything: Genealogy by George G. Morgan

Genealogy Basics in 30 Minutes by Shannon Combs-Bennett



Comments are closed.