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

Thursday, March 3, 2016

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

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.
Step Three: Choose a reasonable goal
Step Four: Start educating yourself

Now I will move on to Step Five:

Step Five: Seek a Teacher or Mentor

Pursuing your family history can be a very solitary activity. Frequently, members of your immediate family are either disinterested in your project or may even express opposition. Over the years, I have heard hundreds of stories of the antipathy of family members towards genealogical research or family history. Even if family members are neutral or even cooperative with your investigations, you still need some expert help. Fortunately, there are organizations of genealogists throughout the world that provide support and education about genealogy. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) through its FamilySearch organization maintains a network of over 4,600 Family History Centers across the world. These centers are staffed by volunteers who have your same interest in family history and can help you with your questions and point you to resources for further education.

There are also a huge number of local, state and national genealogical societies. Sometime members of the Church think that genealogy is a purely "Mormon" advocation and they are very surprised to learn that members of the Church are only a small minority of those who are interested in family history around the world. On making visits to local family history societies in the past, I have found that the members of the Church are not at all aware of the local genealogical activity in their own communities.

At any given time in the United States, there are probably a number of conferences and workshops being held somewhere in the country about family history and genealogy. You might want to search for news from your local or statewide genealogy societies about upcoming conferences.

In addition to conferences, there are various online series of formal classes available. One very complete series is offered through the Brigham Young University Independent Study Department.If you have the means, a visit to the famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah or the nearby Brigham Young University Family History Library can be a valuable experience. Thee are other major family history oriented libraries scattered across the country and around the world. You might also check with your local library for special interest groups or clubs.

The key here is to seek help from those who have already faced some of the same issues you are facing as you get started with your family history. I have found that genealogists, as a whole, are responsive and very helpful when help is needed.

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