Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Guide to Starting Your Family History in 10 Very Basic Steps -- Step Three

This is an ongoing series on starting your family history research in 10 very basic steps. The steps so far are:

Step One: Start with yourself.
Step Two: Find out what has already been done.

Now I will move on to Step Three:

Step Three: Choose a reasonable goal

The new Find, Take, Teach model of doing family history is based on the resources in the Family Tree. The process follows a flow chart showing how to get started. The idea is find an ancestor or cousin that needs temple ordinances. Then complete those ordinances and teach someone else the process. The "Find Your Family Names, A First-Time Guide" is available online as a PDF file or you can order printed copies. Here is a screenshot of the first page of the Guide.

The first step, if you have a lot of names in the Family Tree is to find an ancestor born before 1800. My experience is that you need to be careful in following your family lines back to make sure you are actually related to that person. You can look carefully at each generation of your ancestors to see if the information looks accurate, is supported by sources and the places where events occurred is consistent with reality at the time the events occurred. This last issue means that you look to see if the places are consistent with the ability that the people had to travel. If you are considering a family where the events, such as birth, marriages and deaths occurred in different  states, colonies, counties or even different countries, then you need to do some research to find out if you have the right family members.

As a beginner, if you have no or few names in the Family Tree, then your choice of what to do is wide open. You can choose any one of your family lines to work on. FamilySearch will usually provide research hints that may add information to the individuals in your segment of the Family Tree or may not. All of the record hints need to be evaluated for accuracy.

At this stage, you may need to ask for help. has a Get Help menu on every page of the website and also has a long list of programs or apps that might assist you. The App Gallery has over 100 helpful programs. One of the most helpful to beginners is The Family History Guide. This is a sequenced, structured program with over a 1000 resources to help you learn how to approach the Family Tree and also how to get started doing some research. also has a Learning Center under the Get Help menu that has hundreds of classes and other instructional videos to teach you how to get started.

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