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Getting Started

The Five Steps:

1. Identify what you know about your family:
Write what you already know about your ancestors on a Pedigree Chart.  (Legacy can print blank Pedigree Charts for you.  You don't have to buy them.)

Write the surname in all caps: This lets the eye scan genealogical records easier. (RAGAN, Jonathan Daniel) 

List the dates in this fashion: 03 Mar 1895 instead of 3/22/1866. This keeps the numbers from getting jumbled. 

Write the places in this order: City/Township, County, State, Country. (Jacksonville, St. Johns, Florida, USA) 

Also, fill out Family Groups Sheets for at least yourself and your parents.  (Legacy will print blank Family Group Records to assist you.)

Note: If you are a parent, you will put yourself on a two Family Group Records. On one as a child, along with your parents, brothers and sisters and on another as a parent with your spouse and children. If there is more than one marriage, fill out another sheet for each. 

These are the MAIN tools used in genealogical research. Even with all of the wonderful genealogy computer programs available today, filling in the blanks on these two charts are your main objective in researching your genealogy. 

2. Decide what you want to learn:
Pedigree charts ask these questions about each ancestor: 

 Birth date Birth place 
 Marriage date Marriage place 
 Death date Death place 

Pick one of your ancestors from the pedigree chart and identify which questions you want answers to about that person, such as, "when and where was he born?" 

3. Select records to search:
There are two main types of genealogical records: 

Compiled Records: These are records that have already been researched by others, such as biographies, family histories, or genealogies that may be on microfilm, microfiche, in books or at FamilySearch computer stations.

Original Records: Are records that were created at or near the time of an event, such as birth, marriage, death, or census records. 

Look for compiled records first, THEN search for original records. This could save you lots of time and effort. Finding compiled records doesn't mean that there won't be mistakes or wrong information. But, you might be surprised at what research may ALREADY be done on your family lines. 

4. Obtain and search the record:
Many local libraries have very good genealogical materials, especially for the surrounding areas of that library's location. Again, Family History Centers are an excellent place to obtain records. 

What ever the source, search the records. Look at broad time periods, check for spelling variations, and write down your results even if you come up empty-handed. 

5. Use the information:
Evaluate what you've found. Did you find the information that you were looking for? Is that information complete? Does it conflict with other information? 
-Copy the information to pedigree charts and family group records. 
-Organize the information. Use a filing system that works for you. 
-Share the information with interested family members. 

What's Next? Select a new objective and start the process over again based on what you now know about your family.