5 Steps to Start Your Family History

Although we often have heard family stories about links to famous people it is always important to start your family history with yourself and work back in time.

Map image overlaid with number 1 and word gather to remind people to start their family history with what you have already.

Start with Yourself

Gather together what documents you have around the home. These could be birth, marriage and death certificates, newspaper clippings, birthday books, address books, family letters, diaries and bibles.

Don't forget the photos.

Once you have everything together in one place you are ready to start working through the information that you have. 

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Map, compass, notebook, bag overlaid with number 2 and word tools to highlight Ancestry Chart and Family Group Sheet to start research

What do you know?

There are two main forms that genealogists use to record their family history. The Ancestry Chart and the Family Group Sheet.

The Ancestry Chart records your direct ancestors, parents, grandparents and so on.

The Family Group Sheet records the siblings of each of these couples and can also be created for the descendants as well.

Once you get started you can also look at using a computer program or online website for storing your family history research.

Download your free charts here
Map and Binoculars overlaid with number 3 and word find to remind us to talk to our family first.

Talk to your family

After recording what you know, your next step is to talk to your family and find out what they know and what information they may have in the form of documents, photographs and family stories.

I've sent Family Group Sheets out to family members before and asked them to complete them and send them back in the stamped self addressed envelope that I sent them (remember the bigger the envelope, the less creases in what gets returned). I've had a great response and now is the perfect time for you to have a go.

Get my Guide to Keeping in Touch
Map and notebook overlaid with number 4 and word plan to remind us to create a research plan for our genealogy.

What do you want to know?

It's easy to get distracted and go down rabbit holes when you start researching, so making a plan before you start can really help to keep you focused.

I use a Research Planner to plan what I want to research and keep track of what I have researched (there's nothing worse than buying a certificate twice).

To help you I have a variety of forms and guides in store to help you with your planning.

Get a Research Planner
Hand holding a compass over a map overlaid with 4 and word Explore as we're ready to start researching our family history.

Now you're ready to research

Your research is going to take you to many places both physically and via your computer.

You may find yourself visiting the places that your ancestors lived, walking down the streets they walked down and researching in libraries and archives.

Then there is the internet where you can access fabulous collections of digitised records and indexes (remember that rabbit-hole I mentioned).

Have fun and don't forget to share what you have discovered with your family.

Book a Family History Starter Workshop