How to Build a Family Tree
If you are like most people, you are interested in your family tree. Many families have their own family historian, someone who has many old photos and maybe some great oral stories. Here is how to start your own family tree and pass on the stories and pictures to other members of the family.
First: Know who to talk to
Before digging into your own research, try interviewing family members both young and old on what they know about your family history. This is a great opportunity to call your aunt who you have not spoken to in a long time or an older cousin who knew relatives that have already passed. Get to know the estimated ages of grandparents and great grandparents. Ask about locations they think they lived or grew up in, and try to find out what you can about their personalities. Make sure to take notes. If the search later on gets a little hard to follow, or you uncover interesting details, have a notebook handy to help you sort all the details.
Second: Looking in all the right places
For a nominal fee you can hire a person to do the genealogy work for you or sign up for a self-service genealogy website. Many records are freely found by searching census records online or digging through courthouse records. A few courthouses and states have done an excellent job at creating online databases that are relatively easy to search. Look for all of the birth, marriage, military and death records as well.
Third: Piecing together the puzzle
As you gather your information you may notice that many pieces of information overlap, or discrepancies exist among the dates. Carefully look at the original data to double check for human, errors (like penmanship). Once you have pieced together all that you can, there are many online forum groups you can turn to for advice on finding specific information and to help clarify any questionable search results you may find.
Fourth: A nice leafy tree
When you have found all of the information you can find, it is time to decide how you want your tree to look. Some people choose to create a tree they can display by quilting it, scrap-booking and framing a tree, or simply keeping a journal of the family history. How elaborate you are is entirely up to you.