5 Fast Facts on Genealogy & Family Tree Research

April 15th, 2021 by dayat Leave a reply »

If you’ve ever thought about following your family tree back to figure out “where you came from,” then you’ve contemplated the very essence of genealogy. While who you’re related to is not always going to lead to some lost fortune awaiting you, there’s little doubt that it’s a treasure in itself to learn a bit about your parent’s parents, and their parents, and so on.

People trace their family tree and collect genealogy information for different reasons. Some folks take pleasure in learning they are kin to the Founding Fathers, while others discover they are “blue blood,” stemming from a line of royalty. In any event, whether it’s learning you’re related to a small town’s only doctor or the judge, people love to figure out who begat who.

The fantasy is the easy part, however. The simple fact of the matter is that very few people really have their bearings when it comes to embarking on the journey of figuring out where they came from. The internet has opened up a tremendous opportunity, but the cold, hard fact is that you’re still going to have to roll up your sleeves and use a little elbow grease.

If you don’t know how to sort through massive amounts of data, you can actually become buried in the genealogy information you find on the internet. There are an abundance of websites alone, and knowing where to begin can be its own challenge. Should you start with Ancestry.com? Or would you be better off going with Rootsweb or MyHeritage.com? Just having some guidance to get started can mean all the difference between a great success and a great failure.

In general, these types of websites (assuming you’re using the right one) can be helpful in conveniently locating useful records such as marriage licenses, birth & death certificates, census reports, wills that have been probates, someone’s military records, and sometimes even tax returns. Ironically, sometimes you will not have trouble getting genealogy information, but rather getting information that is actually pertinent to you and your family tree. There is an awful lot of repeated information as well, so you can quickly become buried in useless data. You might also be surprised to discover how many people have the same name. To make matters worse, keep in mind that you’ll be researching the family history for perhaps dozens of people… so the chance for confusion is only multiplied.

The most rewarding, and least frustrating, approach is to find an efficient way to land the biggest batch of useful genealogy information right off the bat. From there, you can proceed to fill in all the cracks. If you start off with a nice head start, it’s often motivating to dig deeper for the remaining information you’ll need which, admittedly, can sometimes be more challenging. You’ll also want to fully leverage websites to gain access to “local” records, since few people really have the time or money to travel throughout the country (or world) to sift through local records.

However, if you belong to a family that has settled an area for generations, you may actually find the local library or courthouse to be a veritable goldmine for you. Tapping into court documents, or state department records, for a given location can be extremely useful, since you’re not having to sift through volumes of people that are not related. Another tip to use for a family that has planted firm roots in a given area is to visit the local funeral home. Often times, especially in smaller towns, you’ll find staff working there who have been there a while. It’s not uncommon for them to really know a lot about “who’s who in the zoo!”

Once you get the hang of genealogy research, one of the best benefits is the way that it’s useful for so many people. You’ll be out there playing detective and discovering relevant information not only about yourself, but also about those related to your family tree. You may find that you enjoy putting your findings together in a genealogy portfolio, which will be a blessing to those in your family who may not have even had the time, resources, motivation or desire to accomplish what you’ve done. But they’ll nevertheless enjoy learning all you’ve found.


Comments are closed.