How do I start my family tree search?

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Answered by: Stephanie, An Expert in the Start your Search Category
One of the best and easiest things to do when assembling your family tree is to start with your living relatives. Ask questions including correct spelling of the surname, their parents names and female relatives' maiden names. Always be sure to ask places of birth and death and any dates relevant to the specific event. Old pictures can be of help also by checking the back for names, ages, dates and places the pictures were taken.

Once you have the pertinent information arranged in a simple format that is easiest for your use, you can begin to expand realm of search . This preliminary information that you gather will be the beginning of your pedigree chart. You can now either start a local search at your nearby courthouse, newspapers, library, cemetery or via the internet.

If you choose to use the internet, there are several surname search engines to choose from that are both free and paid sites. One of the best paid sites is This site includes databases specific to a variety of life events such as census, marriage, and death records that can all be searched by use of a surname. One of the most useful collections is the US Census records. Information is compiled and recorded in the appropriate state, county, and township and list each member of the household under the family surname. Most census records also include the family members given names, ages at time of census was taken and each person's birth place.

A favorite free site among several genealogy enthusiasts is Cyndi's List. This site has tutorials and beginners guides that aids in getting you started with building your family tree. It is best to focus on one surname at a time and always make copies of everything you find. Other useful free surname database sites include Family Search which was created by Latter-Day Saints and Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree Magazine offers several useful articles with details of how to get started with the charts and offers resources in assisting with various other genealogy research including exploring surname origins. Sometimes learning and understanding how the surname was developed can be of extreme importance when conducting your family tree search.

Other possible resources for magazines or databases are historical periodicals and genealogical societies. These publications can be found both on the national and state levels. The National Genealogical Society is a payed subscription based offering services of education and training. It is perhaps the most well known and used by the genealogical community.

Whether you are a novice or an expert in the search for your family roots, finding a reliable, easy to use system can make the long road much more pleasant and enjoyable. Keep in mind that genealogical research can be a slow, tedious process that sometimes produces no results. Online site searches have made it much easier for the genealogical hobbyist in that much of the traveling to all the states and towns to filter through piles of paper documents has been eliminated. Start today and make your family tree search a fun and fruitful experience.

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