How To Start Your Genealogy Research From Scratch

Genealogy can help create a persona narrative

When you start your genealogy research from scratch you must find readily available resources and consult professional genealogists for guidance.

If you’d like to start this journey but need help figuring out where to start, don’t fret; we have you covered.

Whether you’re struggling to find sufficient records, have an uncommon surname, or don’t know your biological parents, we have guidelines to help break the brick wall.

Before getting into the technicalities, you must know what is in it for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Embarking in family history research helps you connect with your roots, explore family values, learn history, and preserve cultural heritage.
  • The first step in this long journey is to begin with yourself, writing down names and important dates of people in your nuclear family and expand to relatives.
  • The team of expert genealogists at RecordClick is ready to help with expert guidance and specialized genealogy services at affordable rates.

Adoption History Research: What You Need To Know

Why You Must Start Your Genealogy Research Now

Structuring a research process fromscratch

Start Your Genealogy Research

Embarking on family history research has personal and historical significance, not to mention the insights you gain about your current life and family.

Here are a few reasons you should start your family tree search.

  • Connecting with your Roots: Genealogy research unearths details about your origin and the ancestors’ stories that provide a profound sense of belonging and place in society.
  • Exploring Family Values and Traditions: Family heritage research can help you identify a unique holiday tradition or recipe revered by your great-grandparents. You can revive and cherish the same traditions and establish that deep connection across the family.
  • Honor Ancestors’ Resilience: Perusing ancient records can help you learn about the daunting challenges your ancestors faced, which can be a rich source of inspiration.
  • Learn History: A family history search is one of the best ways to learn history and how it shaped your ancestors’ lives and, eventually, your life.
  • Preserve Cultural Heritage: Through genealogy, you learn about your family’s customs, traditions, origin, and languages. This understanding is crucial in the globalized world where one is likelier to lose connection to their cultural roots.

What Is the First Step in Family History Research

A Collection of photos to start genealogy

Old photos are crucial in genealogy

The first step is to define your objectives. Embarking on a journey with a clear destination can save time and be more fulfilling.

An objective will help you in the following ways.

  1. Having a clear objective for your genealogy research guides your research, making it less likely to get lost in the vast world of genealogical data.
  2. An objective also helps you track your successes and know when to reevaluate or expedite the process. Having milestones along the way helps develop a sense of accomplishment and motivation every time you accomplish them.
  3. Understanding your goal helps you accurately allocate resources and time to ensure your only focus on what’s most likely to yield valuable results.
  4. Most importantly, a family heritage search objective helps you identify the most appropriate methodology to apply. For example, you’d focus more on international records to find immigrant ancestors.

Common Objectives When You Start Genealogy Research

A woman noting things on her notebook

Formulate A Plan For Your Research

Below are common genealogy goals you should consider in your research.

  • Unearthing Immigrant ancestors: One of the reasons many people consider starting genealogy research is to learn the ancestry migration patterns, the circumstances that led to the migration, and the challenges experienced in the new homeland.
  • Creating A Family Tree: Another reason to research and document your family history is to complete a family tree that spans multiple generations.
  • Discover Ancestors in the Military: Military genealogy helps you discover ancestors who served in the military, the battles they fought, their ranks, and awards.
  • Explore DNA Information: Researchers using DNA results can uncover ethnicity estimates, family connections, and unknown relatives. Sites like AncestryDNA and 23andMe have become popular for aiding genealogy through genetic matchings.
  • Preserving History: Conducting family history research by interviewing older family members and keeping records can be a clever way to preserve oral history and help pass down family stories through generations.
  • Joining Genealogy Societies: Some genealogy services require members to prove descent from a specific ancestor or a group of ancestors. For instance, you must prove descent to one of the Mayflower migrants to join the Mayflower Genealogy Society. To achieve this, you must start your genealogy research now.

A Genealogy Researcher Looks at Donald Trump and His Mom

How To Gather Family Information in Family History Research

A woman conducting genealogy research

Gather Relevant Information

Information gathering in family heritage research involves starting with readily available information and seeking additional data from archives, libraries, and relatives.

Here are the critical steps that lay the foundation for your journey.

  1. Begin With Yourself: Write down names and important dates of people in your nuclear family and expand to relatives.
  2. Find Clues: Gather documents such as family artifacts, heirlooms, old photos, marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc., and look for clues about your family’s past.
  3. Record Audio Stories: request relatives to share their stories about the family and its anecdotes to help you gain valuable context into your ancestors’ lives.

Here are examples of respectful and open-ended questions you may as your relatives

  1. Where and when were you born?
  2. Can you share any information about our family’s country of origin?
  3. What are some unique family traditions or customs you remember?
  4. What did our ancestors do for a living? Any notable achievements or professions?
  5. What religious affiliations did our ancestors have?

How To Organize and Document Your Genealogy Research

A blank family tree

Family Tree

A few steps into genealogy journey, the volume of data and records becomes overwhelming, hence the need to find a backup, establish a filing system, and create a research calendar.

Here are tips for best order and documentation as you start your genealogy research.

  • Use a consistent naming convention such as YYYY-MM-DD.
  • Cite your information to help with review and verification.
  • Use online sites and databases for historical records and features like research logs and source citations.
  • If you prefer physical means, consider archival-quality materials to protect photos and documents.
  • Consult a genealogist that’ll help meet your genealogy objectives affordably.
  • Identify local archives and libraries to visit and make inquiries.
  • Create a family tree and record vital information

Common Genealogy Challenges and How To Overcome

A woman conducting Online Genealogy

Online Genealogy

Common challenges when start your genealogy research include scant records and hitting brick walls, but we’ve highlighted breakthroughs.

  1. Scant RecordsA lack of crucial records can lead to a dead end in your research, but it shouldn’t be the case always. Instead, you can expand your research to other areas where your ancestors may have lived or connect with local genealogists familiar with the missing information.
  2. Surname ChangesDealing with surname variations is a common challenge in genealogy as people change names after marriage, immigration, or personal preference. The best way to address this hurdle is by documenting all the variations and analyzing all the immigration and marriage records for any variations.
  3. Hitting a Brick WallEncountering a brick wall means failing to make progress in tracing your family lineage. In this case, consider reviewing the research steps so far and look for discrepancies, overlooked clues, and missing details.

It would also be wise to check local archives and seek help from a genuine genealogist to provide a fresh perspective on your endeavor.

A Good Genealogy Researcher Must Find The Rest of the Story

It’s Just the Beginning, Not The End

Your genealogy journey has just set sail, and a boatload of discoveries and history is waiting for you.

Luckily, RecordClick offers resources, tips, and tricks to help you dive deeper into the fascinating world of genealogy.

Similarly, our team of expert genealogists is here to help with expert guidance and specialized genealogy services.

Take advantage of free consultation to learn the steps to start your genealogy research and overcome unique challenges in your exploration.