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Write down what you know. Use an empty family group sheet or five generation chart to begin recording information regarding your family. Interview relatives and consult home sources (such as family records, letters, birth and marriage certificates, etc.) to gather as much information as you can on your family.
Look for missing information. Examine the information you have compiled—what is missing? What individuals or families intrigue you the most? From this list choose a few goals or objectives to research. Locate and identify sources. Once you have your research goals in hand, learn what sources are available to aid in your research. Read articles and books or listen to online seminars to gain additional knowledge on your research topic. You can also find sources online at AmericanAncestors.org and other websites.
Research. After locating the list of sources that might answer your question, begin looking for the answers to your questions. Keep track of what you look at, including the title, author, call number, and location of the materials using a research log.
Analyze and record new information.Add the information you have found to your own records, including the source of the information you identified. Several software programs and other resources exist to assist you in tracking and organizing your genealogical information.
Once you have completed these steps, you are certain to identify further questions and other missing pieces of information. Start the research process again by locating and identifying sources that might help you answer your next set of questions.
When working on your genealogy, here are some tips and best practices to keep in mind:
Family Group SheetFive Generation ChartResearch LogList of Home SourcesKey Genealogical SourcesGenealogy Software Programs