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How to Research My Family

Step 1

Brainstorm a list of information you want about your family's history. You might want to obtain birth and death dates, full names, pictures and interests of your relatives. If your relatives immigrated, find out where they were born.

Step 2

Talk to your family members. Begin by starting with your parents, who may be able to provide information about their parents and grandparents. Ask them as many questions as you can that may help jog their memories. Contact living grandparents and great-grandparents to get more information.

Step 3

Write down or record the information you are given. Later you can create a family tree with it or organize it on a computer.

Step 4

Request pictures. Photographs help you draw a connection with your past and help bring deceased relatives to life so you can share your past with your children.

Step 5

Ask if you have any relatives who are family historians. Some people keep meticulous records, documents and other information that will help you supplement the information you have gathered. Even if the family historian is a more distant relative, he may have information based on large family gatherings.

Step 6

Use the Internet to take advantage of government records to obtain a more complete synopsis of your family history. Census, military, bankruptcy and other records can help you trace details about your relatives. Additionally, examine lists that may provide information based on your family's ethnic or cultural background. Among the online sources you can consult are Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, USgenweb.org and EllisIsland.org.

Step 7

Visit cemeteries and take pictures of gravestones of relatives. Both major and local libraries often have extensive genealogical records, as well as copies of old newspapers with information about marriages and death notices. If you reach a dead end with a particular family line, you may wish to hire a professional genealogical researcher to help you in your search.

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