4 Research Tips for Beginner Genealogists

By Vanessa Wieland

Genealogy can be confusing for a budding family historian, but if you’ve decided to dip your toe into the water, you’re in luck! There are plenty of resources right on this website that will get you up and running in no time. One of the biggest mistakes a new genealogist can make is to dive right into the deep end without understanding what you’re getting yourself into or how to build a strong foundation for your research. Below, read four tips for beginner genealogy.

1. Start with yourself

You may want to jump right in with your grandparents’ generation, but take the time to document your own life’s milestones. By writing down dates and gathering records for yourself, then your siblings and parents, you’re anchoring your research, connecting each generation to the previous, and creating a strong chain of relationships.

2. Fill in the forms

There are several forms that help you document and keep track of your research, but the most basic and well-known is the pedigree chart (aka, the family tree). You can use paper forms or software, but the most common is the online tree.

3. Start with the resources closest to you

If you have old photographs, letters, documents and even heirlooms, you’re sitting on a treasure trove of family history. Go through those first to see what you can learn. Then, set up a time to interview your elderly relatives. Take some of those photos with you to get them talking.

4. Search online

There are a lot of websites that contain information pertinent to your research. Chances are, you’ve seen the commercials for and maybe you’ve even taken a DNA test there. You can find records on other websites and repositories—sometimes for free!

Related Reads

Don’t know how to begin your genealogy research, or hit a brick wall? Get on track and inspired with this sample family history research plan.
Start building your genealogy reference library with these 10 great genealogy books.
Nobody’s perfect. We all find genealogy errors in our trees from time to time. Learn how to prevent the most common.

Get Your Free Essential Genealogy Research Forms

Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter and receive 10 research forms as a special thank you!

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Download the Essential Family Tree Forms Library!

Can’t get enough forms to organize family facts? This download contains over 100+ templates, checklists and worksheets to track your research—from conflicting death dates to DNA matches, censuses to source citations.