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Getting Started    

Where do you start when you don't know where to start. This GenTutorial – Where to Start When You Don't Know Where to Start – provides basic instructions to get you started on the right ancestor tracking path. Follow the tutorial all the way through the ten steps and you will lay the groundwork for a successful genealogical journey.


Develop a research plan that works for you, one that you will be able to adhere to and follow consistently. Remember, there is no one single plan that works for everyone. The GenGuides below will help you to develop your research and organizational skills.

Beginning Your Research: Taking the first steps

The Interview: Tips and Techniques

Evaluating Web Sites: Tips and Techniques

Notetaking Skills: Save time and frustration

Develop an Organizational Plan: One that will grow as your research grows


Articles on the Web

Common Research Wrong Turns, an article by George G. Morgan

Genealogy: 26 tips to get you started by Robert Bickham

In the Very Beginning by Halvor Moorshead

Organizing Your Research by Diana Smith

Ten Reasons to Join a Local Genealogy Society by Kathleen W. Hinckley

10 First Steps to Finding Your Roots by Kimberly Powell


Sponsored Links:



Genealogy Web sites to get you started

Family Search
Search user-submitted files containing nearly 1 billion names.
The leading online resource for family history.

Interactive guides, numerous research tools, mailing lists and message boards

The Olive Tree Genealogy
Free genealogical data online: passenger lists, church records, land records and more.

Cyndi's List
Over 190,000 links to genealogy sites on the internet.

The US GenWeb Project
A volunteer project providing Internet web sites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States

The World GenWeb Project
Free research guidance from a world-wide network of volunteers.
Search for your ancestors in user-submitted family trees.

Ellis Island
Search the database of Ellis Island and Port of New York arrival records for your immigrant ancestor.

United States Vital Records Information
Information about how to obtain vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates; divorce decrees).

Social Security Death Index
A free resource from Family Search.



Give Your Family a Gift That Money Can’t Buy: Record and Preserve Your Family’s History, 4th ed., by Jeffrey A. Bockman

This slim but informative book begins with an overview of the genealogy research process by detailing the family group sheet and ancestor chart. Following those examples are several pages devoted to finding and using home sources. Through several examples from his personal research, Mr. Bockman offers guidance in using home sources to build a story about our ancestors’ lives.

Photographs are often overlooked in their value to further a genealogy research plan. Mr. Bockman provides a history of photography that defines the many forms of photographs through the years. He talks at length about preserving photographs and other documents and devotes several pages to this very important process by sharing a variety of solid preservation tips.

The meat of the book follows when Mr. Bockman talks about writing the family stories—going beyond the names and dates in a family group sheet and getting to know our ancestors as people. He offers many resources for locating the information to fill in those years between birth and death. An excerpt from his Bockman Family History shows how to bring it all together in a narrative form.

Give Your Family a Gift That Money Can’t Buy provides the impetus to start writing. His techniques are based on sound genealogical research principles. He identifies a variety of records that are useful when building our family’s history.

The book can be ordered by visiting

  Build a Genealogy Library
An abundance of print resources are available to help you get started researching your family history. A Bibliography of Genealogy Reference Books has been compiled as a guide to start you on your way. Many of these books are available at your local library, favorite bookseller, or online at

A few must-haves to get you started:


Unpuzzling Your Past
Unpuzzling Your Past: The Best-Selling Basic Guide to Genealogy
by Emily Anne Croom

Finding Your Roots Online
How to do Everything with Your Genealogy
by George G. Morgan

The Official Guide to
The Official Guide to
by George G. Morgan

Family Tree Magazine
Family Tree Magazine

Family Chronicle
Family Chronicle Magazine

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