- T. Cox
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Here are some tips to help you get started with researching your family history. (United States)
The first step is probably the one we skip the most
Start with yourself and work backwards, write down information like birthdate, birthplace, marriage date, parent’s names, sibling’s names, jobs you’ve had, schools you’ve attended, etc. Then do the same thing with your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. Write down whatever you know.
Next, I say narrow down your research
Pick an ancestor or family line to research, I think by narrowing down to a particular question you want to try to find out about an ancestor, for example, did my great grandfather own land in Baldwin County, Alabama? Or was my great great grandmother’s family related to Madam CJ Walker?
It’s time to text cousin George or call great Aunt Lucy
Contact relatives and ask them about your ancestor or family line you are researching. Even if you don’t think it’s important or doesn’t right, write it down anyway. Whatever information you can get can possibly help you while researching.
Let’s fill out some forms!
Filling out forms such as pedigree charts (first image) and family group sheets can help keep the names, dates, and locations for your family members organized as well as display relationship of family members.
The good old Census
With all the information you’ve gathered from the steps from above, you can now look for your ancestor or family line in the United States Federal and State Census. Currently, in the United States we have the 1790 to 1940 United States Federal Census available to search for our family members.
Look for your relatives on more than the Census
There are so much valuable information in these documents
-Birth and death certificates
Here are some helpful FREE resources, the first one is my favorite
Google.com (google your relatives names, the location they lived in, the church they went attended because you never know what you might find.)
Familysearch.org (search millions of digitized and indexed records)
Glorecords.blm.gov (land records)
Google Newspapers Archived (old newspapers)
ThoughtCo.com (helpful genealogical tips)
BlackProGenLIVE (watch as we discuss tips, experiences and ideas when it come to African American research)
Usgenweb.org (genealogical database)
Findagrave.com (cemetery and burial details)
Cyndislist.com (genealogical database)