There are many good...and expensive...family tree programs for
computer buffs, but for the new researcher, the best tools are a loose leaf notebook, a pack of old fashioned notebook paper,
and a good pen. The notebook allows you to organize your information by individuals or families and move or add pages
as you wish. You are able to arrange or rearrange the pages/individuals as needed, keep separate sections
in the notebook for contact numbers, keep notes for required searches (such as censuses you want to check or death records
you wish to look up), and, of course, a section for extra paper and blank forms.
When you are sure you enjoy the research and are prepared to get
into a computerized program, check out the free one at Ancestry.com. first. It is an excellent starter program and the
cost is perfect.... free.
There are several words that are sacred in research.
1. The first is organization. Whether you keep your information
on floppy discs, in a filing cabinet, or in a notebook, it is vital that you are able to find and use the information easily.
There are many types of genealogy forms for sale, such as family registers, ancestory files, census forms, ect., but if you
have a printer, you can download almost any sort you wish at Ancestry.com for free. You can also design your own forms
if you prefer.
2. The second word to remember is source. Be sure to keep
a record of where you find your information. Not only will this give credibility to your research, but it will help
prevent you from going through the same census file four or five times because you forgot what you had checked previously.
Your sources are also your proof that you actually found the information and where it was.
(And a tip... if you "swap" research information with others, be
sure you find out where they got their material. Be careful that what you include in your family history is true and
factual to the best of your knowledge.)
3. And that brings up the third word.... fact. Everyone
would love to find a prince or duke in the family tree, but very few trees actually have any. But some unscrupulous
individuals feel it necessary to embellish their families with information that is less than truthful. If you can't prove
a piece of information, be sure you mark it as unsubstantiated until you can either prove or disprove it.
The best place to begin your research is with your immediate family.
Write down as much information as possible about your self, your siblings, your parents, and grandparents. Ask questions.
Older family members can often be treasure stores of family information about areas such as religion, occupations, schools
attended, locations where families were at different times (very helpful in census searches), as well as personal accounts
and family stories that add wonderful personal touches to family histories.
Libraries, courthouses, and churches are good places to search,
but in each case, it is wise to have some idea of what you are looking for before you go. It doesn't do any good to
spend four hours in a courthouse if it is in the wrong county. LDS family record centers are excellent sources of information
(Contact the local LDS church for the center nearest you) as is the LDS website, Familysearch.org.
Most counties in the US have a genealogy site online. These
are specific to that specific area and most have lots of useful information. Other online sites, such as Rootsweb.com
and Ancestry.com have large amounts of information, but I must caution you to verify all information you get from these sites.
(Remember the word...FACT) While most of the information is sound, not all is correct.