The Beginner’s Guide To Starting A Family Tree

It might be regarded as a traditional activity, but the days of building up a family tree are certainly not over. In fact, some would argue that it’s completely on-trend, especially when you consider how much easier it is to find out information about all of the relatives that belong in it.

However, when you’re first starting out, it can be easy to draw a few blanks after you have listed your immediate family. This is the reason this guide has been put together, as we take a look at some of the best tips to get going once you start your family tree.

Taking advantage of a people search service

For the family tree enthusiast, a people search service has been something of a game changer. The ability to type in a person’s name and several required details means that information can be returned on a whim.

It could be argued that this functionality has always existed through social media, but as anyone trying to find a person with a generic name will testify, it’s never that easy. The fact that people search services allow such drilled-down filtering makes the whole process a lot easier – and you can start to put together your family tree quicker.

Always work backwards

One of the most common mistakes that people make when putting together a family tree is not working from the right point in time. If you want to start from 1901, it’s going to be very difficult to find much information regarding that era.

Instead, work from the current year. By doing this, you have information about at least one person, and you can then work backwards from that point on.

Has anything been done in the past?

There’s nothing worse than investing hours upon hours into your family tree, only to realize that somebody has already made a start. The person who has done some work on it may have done so years ago, and you may not even know them. It’s for this reason that you may have to dig deep and ask distant family members, or try one of the online services which allow people to register research interests.

Gather documentation accordingly

While a large part of building your family tree will be asking questions to family members, and maybe even historians, you will also have to gather a lot of documentation along your way. After all, there are only so many generations that are going to be alive, and even then not many of these family members are going to have all of the answers.

As such, you need to search high and low for all of the right documentation. This is going to come in the form of marriage certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, records from the military and church, tax office records and umpteen other sources. You may even want to dig out newspaper archives to see if anything has been published there which can help your plight.


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