How to Begin Researching Your Ancestry
Today I thought I would write a slightly different post – or rather a short series of posts on how to help you begin researching your family history in 5 simple but effective steps. This is the format I’ve been following for years and have found it to be the most effective and streamlined system to keep me focused and on track. In fact, I use this same set of principles on many of my other daily tasks because it works so well and really keeps my mind [as well as my work space] uncluttered.
Step 1: Research Goals [The Plan]
The first thing you need to do is find a time and a place where you can sit and concentrate. I try and pick a time when I know I’ll be alone like after everyone goes to bed or early in the morning before everyone gets up so I am pretty much guaranteed not to be disturbed. Gather your supplies next. You don’t really need much. – a notebook, pen or pencil and an eraser of some type. I chose this really cute compact notepad I picked up at Michaels for less than a couple of bucks with my initial on it that I can carry with me in my purse. I also love that the color makes it a bit more difficult for me to lose. Now choose a work space like a desk or table with some decent lighting and nothing on it. If you are going to sit at your desk like I do I would advise you power down your computer and mute your phone or you might find yourself answering emails or catching up on social media like I do which for me can last several hours if I don’t manage my time carefully.
Here is where you decide exactly what it is you are hoping to accomplish through your research. Are you looking for information on a specific ancestor like a grandparent or particular branch of your family? What information do you already have and what is easily accessible to you now? Do you plan to research from home primarily or are you able to travel to a Family History Center ? Do you need certified copies of documents or are photocopies acceptable? How much time do you have or are able to commit? Would you be willing to hire someone or will you be attempting it on your own? These are all things you can put into your plan.
Next: Step 2: Start with what you Know