Interested in Genealogy - Don't Know Where to Start?

Believe it or not this is a very common question with a very simple answer that can help you get started right away. If you are interested in your family tree and want to know more about where your family roots are, then the best place to start is with YOU. Stories, pictures, anecdotes are all nice things to add to your genealogical collection, but to get started what you want are what we call the VITAL STATISTICS. These include the vital dates and places of the major events. There are three major events BIRTH, MARRIAGE, DEATH and several more minor events that often get included and we can talk about those in another session, but BIRTH, MARRIAGE and DEATH dates and places get you started.

Now naturally with you, there will be no DEATH date to list (and maybe no marriage date, or several marriage dates) but list what you have with date and place. Everything else related to those dates is anecdotal i.e. born at 5:06 a.m., Dr Murphy delivered me, pictures, etc. Then simply go to the next level backwards to your parents and list what you already know. You could also go forward and list you children and their VITAL STATISTICS. This is creating what we call a DIRECT LINE. This is a straight DESCENDANT or ANCESTOR line of relationships. Adoptions are trickier and we will talk about those later, but the information is usually accessible. If you have adopted your children, then listing the information may not be appropriate, but having it available somewhere is a good idea as you never know if the subject or interest to know will arise at some point and it will become vital to those adopted children  when they are trying to create their own DIRECT LINE. Once you have listed what you know, start asking questions with a family source ---- mom, dad, uncle, aunt and get the statistics that you might be missing for your parents. We will talk more about familial sources later.

Once you have you and your parents and (if applicable) children it becomes time to make some choices. Years ago people working with genealogy only followed the male lines. That is not the case anymore, but still becomes a choice as to what LINE to work with next. Once you have listed a father and mother, the next step would be to decide if you are going for just DIRECT of the INCIDENTAL BRANCHES as well. Incidental branches include you father and mother's brothers, sisters, wives, husbands,  children and so on. They are not in your direct line but you can show some relation. This will expand your family genealogy very quickly and become somewhat cumbersome to keep track of it on paper. That brings us to computer genealogy programs and which one to use. And that's another story, but you have just begun to get a handle on your family tree and are well on your way to becoming part of the growing society of genealogists. It can be very addictive so watch out and have fun. Until next time enjoy EVERYTHING GENEALOGY.