Tips For Researching Your Family History

Researching your family history can provide a sense of continuity and your place in America’s history. It can be an exciting and interesting adventure researching your roots. You never know what you will find. Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Begin by interviewing the older members of your family. Talk with your parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Their story can help you begin to put together your family history. Be sure and get the details – names and dates of birth, death, military service and marriage.
  2. Next conduct a more in-depth interview of everyone. Use a video camera so you are sure to record everything they say and have it to refer to when writing up your research. Ask your oldest relatives to tell you everything they remember about the origins of the family. Ask them what they remember about significant events in their life and about their childhood. They may have information on who emigrated when and from where.
  3. Create your family tree. Make a diagram and include all the dates and names you have gathered. There are great websites to help with this.
  4. Research archives at official agencies. If you know where your parents and grandparents lived, visit the official records at city agencies, local libraries, and courthouses. You may be able to find birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, as well as property records and old wills.
  5. Gather up the family records. Collect copies of records kept by the family. These may include birth and death certificates, baptismal certificates, and marriage licenses. The family bible may be a good source of names and dates.
  6. Search online. There are many online genealogical search companies which can help you gain access to historical records. Some are free, while others charge a small fee. Most can help genealogical researchers access many types of records, include probate, military, land, birth, marriage, and death records.
  7. Visit your local regional office of the National Archives. You can search for family records and information on ancestors in census data and uncover military and immigration records. You can also find tips for doing genealogical research on the National Archives website.
  8. Try DNA testing. DNA testing can help you determine your genetic origins and ethnic heritage. There are many companies which can help with this test.

Share what you find. Get with your family members and show them what you have discovered. It will make a difference to everyone.