06 September 2014

A few helpful tips for the beginner genealogist

Here are a few helpful tips for the person wanting to begin researching their family tree:

1.) Write down everything you know about your family. Names, places and dates are important. Estimate dates if you don't know them. If you don't know the person's full name, write down their first names or even nicknames. This may be of importance later. Include information about cousins, aunts and uncles and other family members that are closely related to you. Put this information on forms and/or in a database. Here is a link to free forms that you may print out and use. Here is a list of free genealogy database software that you can download on to your computer. Whatever database you use, make sure that it is GEDCOM based. If it is GEDCOM based, you can transfer data from one type of software to another.

2.) Look for documents you can use - photos, birth certificates, newspaper clippings (especially obituaries), letters, etc. Keep them safe. Make copies of them.

3.) Interview older living relatives. Ask them specific questions about specific family members, dates, places, events, and relationships. Ask follow up questions. Record this information either in writing, or, better yet, on video or audio. If you do record it on video or audio, you may also write it down, too, as video and audio is not always permanent.

4.) Write down where you get your sources. If you interview a relative, write down their name, and when and where you talked to them. If it is a document, write down what the document is (including page numbers, publication information if necessary, etc.) and where you got it. For how to cite sources, click here.
5.) Then begin doing other research - visit libraries, courthouses, collect documents from other family members, etc. Work at your own pace - don't let anyone push you.Where should you look? Here are a few resources:

* FamilySearch.org

* Family History Centers.

* Albuquerque Genealogy Center

* New Mexico Genealogical Society

* Hispanic Genealogical Research Center

* New Mexico Genealogical Society Facebook Page (you must have a Facebook account to join.)

7.) And lastly, publish! After you collect information, make sure to publish it somewhere. Whether it is a blog, a handout you give to family members, or a book - publish your information. Share it with the world, or at least with your family.

I hope this helps!

- Robert Baca
President, New Mexico Genealogical Society

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