Genealogy, or the study of family history, has become a very popular pastime. People of all ages and backgrounds are interested in discovering who their ancestors were and how they lived. The search is like 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.
Millions of people all over the world are researching their family history for one reason or another. What piqued your interest? Note which items below apply to your situation.
- the hope of inheriting a fortune
- a family story
- an interest in history or sociology in general
- a book or a TV show
- conversation with friends
What are your goals in pursuing family history? They will largely determine the course of your research, although they may alter with time. In the following list of possibilities, make a note of 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