Getting Started in Genealogy
If you're just beginning to research your family tree, we hope you find this section of our site to be a useful guide for getting started. For many family history enthusiasts, an intriguing tale of an ancestor or a cherished family artifact are the spark for a lifetime of research. For others, obtaining a collection of old letters, newsclippings or photographs may raise questions about the who, when, and where that are prevalent throughout genealogy.
No matter when or how you got started — welcome! You've joined one of the most popular and rewarding pasttimes in the world.
What do you need to get started?
There are just a few basic items you should have available as you begin working on your family tree. A few sheets of paper or a notebook, a few empty folders, and a pen or pencil. As your research continues, you may also find a tape recorder, camera, and computer to be useful tools, but they certainly are not requirements to get started. Better to get started and add those tools later.
What is the best way to get started?
The best way to get started is to download our free genealogy charts and then review our brief step-by-step genealogy guide. As you collect facts about your family, don't forget to note where you obtained them so that you can refer back to them at a future date (seasoned genealogists call this 'citing your sources'). Additional details for advancing your research can be found using the links below:
Detailed Step-by-step Genealogy instructions
Download free genealogy charts and forms
View topics offered by our genealogy speakers
Join us for one of our upcoming genealogy events