The study of family history, or genealogy, is a well-known pastime that has become even more popular now that large amounts and varied types of data are available on the Internet. People of all ages and backgrounds are interested in discovering who their ancestors were and how they lived. The search is like doing a huge jigsaw puzzle, with a few important differences. You need to start in the middle, with yourself, and work outward. Some pieces get lost and you may find them later on the floor, or you may discover that the dog ate them and they are gone forever. This interactive overview is designed to help you work through the basic steps of research on your own.
Tip: If you discover that one of our internet links doesn't work, do a Google search for the item.
Millions of people all over the world are researching their family history for one reason or another.
- the hope of inheriting a fortune
- a family story
- conversation with friends
- a book or a TV show
- an interest in history or sociology in general
What are your goals in pursuing family history? They will largely determine the course of your research, although they may alter with time.
On the following list of possibilities, note the goals that you find interesting right now.
- record Grandma’s recollections
- make charts for a family reunion
- trace all ancestors possible
- trace ancestors of one surname
- trace descendants of one or more ancestors
- write a biography of one or more ancestors
- write a book about individual ancestors
- study a theme, e.g. Loyalists
- study a time period, e.g. the Victorian era