Ok, first off – one of my major pet peeves is the commercials for a certain Genealogy website that tells you to “Just click on the flashing leaf” and get started –BUT it doesn’t say make sure that the person we are giving a hint for is the right person for your family tree. I have gotten good hints, but I have also gotten hints that were so far off (a person that never left Sweden supposedly died in Ohio??)
The best way to start is start with family. Talk to the elder members of the family; talk to cousins; get birthdates; death dates; where they were born & where they died. Was someone in the War?
Once you have all the little tidbits, pick one branch of your tree and work on it.
You can get information from newspapers, Death Indexes, cemeteries and searching on the web.
One of the most important things to do is to make sure you write down or bookmark or somehow record the source of your information. Because as sure as anything, at some point someone is going to question your results and you want to be able to back up your information.
An example of such, is my GG-Grandmother, Caroline Margery Beach.
I had the paper from my Grandfather, that said she was the daughter of John Beach, one of the founders of Beachburg, Ontario. I contact someone who had a very large Beach Family Tree on the web, but didn’t list her. When I told him about my information, his comment back to me was “Anyone can say they are part of the family, but without documents (birth, marriage or death records) I don’t believe it.”
Well, I wanted to prove it and I did. I got a copy of her marriage records which states who her parents are and where she was born (Beachburg, Ontario). I also got a copy of her death record that names her parents, where and when she was born. When I sent copies of these to him, he believed me then.
So, the best things to do:
Talk to family
Write everything down – with sources
Remember, just because someone says one thing, it might not be right
Check and double check your work
But most of all, have fun with your research.
And nothing is better then when your research brings you in touch with family that you knew nothing about. Through my research I have found family in all parts of Canada, England, France, Sweden, Finland, Australia and the USA.
My little family tree is world wide and a joy to find.