The first step is to become involved with your ancestral family on a regular basis. Set aside a time each week to think about your family and organize and review the documents you have. How about an hour every Sunday or some other day, when you organize photos, dig out the old letters and documents and begin to look at them as the history of your family. How about finding and organizing all your own certificates and documents. You could go online to FamilySearch.org and spend some time looking at the Family Tree program. Take some time to look at the photos and read the stories online about your family, if there are any. If there are no photos online, start putting your own online.
The second step is a little more involved. Look for any genealogy or family history that may have already been done in your family. If there is a book containing some of your family history, do you have a copy? Is there something online in one of the huge digital books sites about one of your ancestors? Have you searched your family's surname in FamilySearch.org's Books website? If you have or learn of a book about your family, read it. Look online at the Family Tree program and match up the information in the book with what is online. Think about whether the information you have is consistent and believable. Take some time to study the history of where your family came from and how they originally came to America or any other major historical events. Look for prominent or interesting ancestors.
The third step is now the one that puts you on the path to competency. It is the really the first step in your education. This step is to talk to a Ward or Stake Family History Consultant or visit a Family History Center. Don't just talk, ask questions about classes and the training available. Take the time to learn about the local resources you have to help you learn about the process of doing your family history. Find someone who will help you get started. If you are the type of person who wants to do this all on their own, then use the vast online resources available to help you on your journey. Here are some websites that will get you started:
- Begin your genealogy quest
- Principles of Family History Research
- Starting Your Family History
- Getting Started
- Getting Started in Genealogy and Family History
- Getting Started
- How To: Getting Started in Genealogy
- Starting Your Genealogy Research - The Basics
That's probably enough to give you and idea of what is available. So now, take the first step.