When people ask me how to start tracing their family history, my best advice would be start with you. Whether you know much about your family or you don’t the starting point is the day you were born. It’s like you have stumbled across the last few pages of a book and you want to know what happened in the story. Well with this book every page has to link to the previous page heading towards the beginning. So you’re kind of reading the book back to front! Have an understanding on what line you want to trace whether it’s your family surname or your mothers line. Maybe you’re clueless about both lines and this is your opportunity to find out more. Well the one thing I have to express as a family researcher is when you are researching there are no promises with results, not everything might be as you believed and were told. It may unfold a can of worms and dig out skeletons from the closet and most of all you may not like what you find out. However on the flip side you may find out a lot, have a good understanding of your ancestor’s lives and be successful with building up a pedigree chart of your family tree with background knowledge. All this will open doors to who you are and how you got here.
Never have the expectations that you will find everything out in a day or a short period of time. Any genealogist will tell you it takes time to research and find things out. There are so many different records to get information regarding your ancestors and identifying them when they have a common surname amongst the rest.
Firstly get yourself a note book and record as much as you can about your parents and family. Include family memories, photos, war stories, birth, marriage and death certificates, letters etc. Talk to your living relatives! Not only is this a great way to make contact with your family but it will give you a details on where to search next. Talk to the older members of your family who might be able to give you first-hand accounts of what it was like growing up and they might be able to give you names of great grandparents, occupations and where they came from. Memories and answers to help you on your journey back to the past. You will find some relatives more helpful than others and some simply won’t want to talk about the past. Some will get information a bit mixed up and some will give you what they have been told. Your next step would be to find the records on these people and to provide a solid path back from your parents. Its a journey worth while and it opens your eyes not only to whom our ancestors were as people, but the historic events that were going on at the time.