Genealogy Research Tips


Genealogy research can be overwhelming, especially if you're new to this kind of research. The goal of this page is to offer some tips to make your genealogy research easier.

Genealogy Research Tip #1 - Keep Good Records

The better you keep your records, photos and other genealogy files organized, the better you'll be able to find information quickly when you're looking for it. Everybody has their own system, but here's the one that works well for me.

First I have a folder on my computer (in Documents), named, Family History. In that folder are sub-folders for each surname in the family. In each of the surname folders are sub-folders for each category of research. So for example, I have a Census Records folder, a Birth Records folder, Death Records folder, Military Records folder, Misc Records folder, etc. I also have a folder labeled, Unverified Info in each surname folder.

Everything I find on the internet, scan into the computer or create, goes into the appropriate folder. When you're searching the internet for information, you generally don't spend a lot of time analyzing it at the time, but it's a good idea to save it all to your computer for later review and cleanup (I like to edit the docs to make them more user-friendly for my needs).

Internet research is more a "fact-finding" mission. The goal is to find relevant information quickly and move on. You can analyze it all later.

Genealogy Research Tip #2 - Track Important Dates in a Spreadsheet

When your 're doing genealogy research, you'll be asked to give detailed information (names, birth dates, death dates, marriage dates, where all these things happened, etc). Tracking this information in a spreadsheet will help keep it at your fingertips when needed.

I use Excel for my spreadsheets, but you can use whatever spreadsheet you like. You can download a copy of my spreadsheet by clicking here. You'll need to have Excel or Open Office on your computer in order to open and use the document.

Genealogy Research Tip #3 - Stay Focused on One Person (or family)

Once you start researching your family, it's easy to get distracted and head down different paths tracking the various people in your family. I find it helpful to stay focused on one person (or one family) at at time.

For example, when searching a grandparent, you might start by looking at census data and notice that this person had several kids. Keeping notes of family members on a census will help you verify you're tracking the right people on other census records. Tracking a person or family for every census period, helps give you a good outline of that person's (or family's) life through the years.

When I'm researching a family member, I not only gather all the facts I can about that person before moving on (census records, birth records, death records, etc.), but I'll do the same for all their children. Tracking girls is tricky because surname changes, but in order to further your research, you'll have to figure who the women in your family have married. And if that wasn't tricky enough, multiple marriages are trickier.

Genealogy Research Tip #4 - Pay Attention to Names & Dates & on Records

While you generally don't analyze records while actively researching, you do want to take note of any names or dates listed on records. Often times you can figure out who the spouse (surname changes), parent or next of kin is on a record in addition to exact birth dates. These tidbits help further your research efforts.

Genealogy Research Tip #5 - Keep Family Group Sheets

You can download Family Group Sheets for free from the internet. Keeping one for every family will help you keep details straight which in turn will help you do better research.


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