Researching Your Family History: First Steps

After you decide to do your family history the first step is to decide which side of your family you want to start with and what you want to find out . When you fill out a chart you usually start with your self and go backwards with the information you have. You can either create your own chart or use a family tree program or a web site. 2  Web Sites that offer free charts: (At Family Search, look on the left hand side and you will see “Pedigree Charts,” click on the link.) Once you put down the information you already know it’s time to start with relatives and continue to fill in the chart with information they have. You may also find these books and e-resources at Snell useful, as well as Genealogy Basics Online.


Genealogy–do you really want to uncover your ancestry?

You are perhaps thinking about doing genealogy research because you do not have much information on your family. Would you like to find out how far back you can trace and what was going on during certain time periods when your relatives were born?

You may learn about health problems in your family which can give you a better understanding of your medical history: “Tracing the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict the disorders to which you may be at risk and take action to keep you and your family healthy.” Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative ( While tracing your family do you really want to find that you may have what you consider an undesirable person in your family tree? Think first before undertaking genealogy research! Are you ready for what you may find or what you may not find?