Getting to know the branches of your family tree can take time when first starting out. There are many websites that are helpful with your search - some better than others - but there is some preparing you will need to do before digging into your family's background. Here are a few tools and tips that can help you track your ancestry.
Gather your Information
Your family tree begins with your immediate family. You can find further information about your ancestry by gleaning information from the stories of your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. To gather the information you need to continue, you will need to record the following:
- Cities, states, and countries where relatives have lived
- Nicknames they might have had
- Birthdays, marriage dates, and dates of death
Take the information that you have and work backward, building as you go. Record information for your siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and use this information when you begin your online search. Baby Boomers may not have as many living relatives as younger people and may need to rely on other sources for their ancestry search. Family Bibles were often used to record vital information and may be a good starting place when tracking information to determine your ancestry.
Search for Free or Pay a Fee
There are many websites available for tracking your ancestry that offer a free trial so you can preview them before committing. Other sources, like Chronicling America, are free and allow access to digital versions of historic American newspapers that date from 1789 through 1922. Other sites that can help you track your ancestry include:
- Ancestry.com – Free Trial
- Archives.com - Free Trial
- Chronicling America – Free
- Family Search – Free
- Find a Grave – Free
- Findmypast.com – Some free information. Additional information for a fee.
- United States Census Bureau - Free
- World Vital Records – Free Trial
These are but a few of the many ancestry websites available that can help you get started.
Other Tracking Tips
Web tools aren’t the only way to track your ancestry. First-person accounts from your ancestors - such as journals, letters, Bibles, or memoirs - can give you a lot of insight into your family and the threads of information you need to find your family tree down to its roots. When searching websites and other sources for ancestral information try different spellings of the last name in your search, as many names have been given various spellings over time.
Get Started Now
Tracking your ancestry can be a time-consuming task, especially if you start with just a little information. The more information you can gather before beginning your search, the more successful you will be in finding your ancestry.