...........so you want to know where you came from???
Some Tips Before You Start
Before you do anything, talk to the older family members and ask them to relate anything at all that they can remember about the family. Record every detail. You may need several visits to some of the older relations as they tend not to remember details until after you have left and they continue to think and recall.
Find out if there are any birth, christening or baptismal certificates, or marriage or death certificates anywhere within the family. To make a start on your research you really need your grandparent's birth certificates and marriage certificates. If the marriage certificate is not in your family's possession, as long as your parents know the names of their parents and the marriage date, the certificate is easily obtained from the Office of the Registrar of Births Deaths & Marriages. A Marriage Certificate is your link to the next generation, as it usually gives the names of the father of both the bride and groom.
Check the family Bibles. It was commonplace to record the family births, deaths and marriages inside the cover of the family Bible.
Don't lose sight of the fact that although there may be only ONE of you and you may have only had 2 parents and 4 grandparents, you had 8 great grandparents, 16 gg grandparents, 32 ggg grandparents, 64 gggg grandparents 128 ggggg grandparents etc.
It is best to work backwards, from known information about already-identified ancestors. i.e. your parents or grandparents. Trying to work forwards, e.g seeking descendants of the famous historical figure that family legend claims as an ancestor of yours in the hope of somehow eventually reaching your own family, is very rarely profitable. But don't try and go too far back too soon. Take small steps and be very, very sure of the facts before taking the next step. Never ASSUME.
Document everything. Keep a careful record of every search you make even if you find nothing. It will save you from searching the same records again at a later stage.
To assist you in the early stages of your research you should make use of the various free charts available on the web to record all the details as you find them. If you don't keep your details in some semblance of order you soon become 'snowed under' with a mountain of paper.
One particularly important information source that has been produced by the Family History Library is the International Genealogical Index (or IGI), now available on line at the LDS FamilySearch site. This contains millions of entries, mainly of baptisms and marriages, many of them taken from parish registers as part of an organized program of careful transcription, others provided by individual but not always careful researchers. Although you will need to check the original souces of the information contained in the Index, you will often find that the Index can be a great help to your research. However, it's coverage is far from complete, so the fact that the ancestor you are seeking does not appear in the IGI should not cause you to give up.
The following websites will help get you started with your genealogy
From the Rootsweb site it is also possible to search the Rootsweb Mailing Lists Archives.
The above sites are only a few of the many thousands of very useful sites available for your research. But as my website is only meant to assist you in the very beginning of your research, to list all the sites available on the web could confuse the beginner.
Once you have established a few family facts, have a few leads to follow and are feeling confident enough to start delving more deeply then I suggest you visit Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet.
Carol Rothwell © -
updated February 2002