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How to Research Your Genealogy & Family Tree

Researching genealogy takes a little enterprise and the skills of a master sleuth.


  • Step 1: Interview Record interviews with family members. Use photo albums, diaries, scrapbooks, news clippings, and old letters to jog memories.
  • Step 2: List family history Make a family tree. List dates and locations of births, marriages, and deaths.
  • Step 3: Access original records Access directories and census records at your local library. State records can confirm birth, death, and marriage information.
  • Step 4: Make a system Devise a system to organize your information, using cards, databases, or numbering. Sort out any missing information, contradictions, or redundancies.
  • TIP: Investigate records compiled by others, such as biographies and family histories.
  • Step 5: Discuss with family Discuss your findings with family members and go over memories that might trigger additional searches. Record interviews so you can reference them later.
  • TIP: Ask extended family for stories, pictures, or information they may have gleaned from intermarriages and family crises.
  • Step 6: Announce searches Visit online genealogy message boards to announce your searches. Browse location-specific sites for new information.
  • FACT: The phrase "six degrees of separation" was popularized by a 1990 play and refers to experiments on the interconnectedness of society.

You Will Need

  • A notebook
  • A tape recorder
  • Internet access

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