Genealogy 101: Getting Started

Instructor: Bob Dawes
(All downloadable items on this page require Adobe Reader

Getting started in Family History research can be both very daunting and extremely rewarding.  Where do you start, how do you keep track of everything and how can you get help?    Quinte Branch has started this Genealogy 101 basic instruction on the website to help you get going.  You will find helpful tips and hints, research guides, downloadable charts and articles on genealogy extracted from The Quinte Searchlight, our quarterly newsletter in the Course Materials. For more research resources explore the links to other websites in the Tool Kit for up-to-date genealogy news, finding aids, resource and research guides, “how-to” articles and helpful reference.

The Basic Rules

1. Start with yourself and work backwards.  Record everything you know about your ancestors.
2. Be organized. Record your information in a logical format using memo books or index cards and identify where you found each bit of information.
3. Interview your living relatives to fill in the blanks in your tree identify new areas of research.
4. Stay focused on one family line at a time.  The shotgun approach only leads to confusion and frustration.
5. Learn about surnames and their origins.
6. Join a society or take a course to expand your horizons.
7. Use a computer and the internet to reach into remote places from the comfort of your home.

To help you get started we have included three downloadable forms that are used by all genealogists:

1. Pedigree or Ancestral Chart which tracks your direct ancestors back from you. Start with yourself and work backwards.
2. A Family Group Sheet which allows you to fill in the details of each family on your Ancestral Chart.
3. Family Combo Chart where you can record both direct ancestors and family members.
HINT: Always fill in your charts with a pencil because you’ll be making lots of changes as you delve deeper and deeper into your past.
From a technology standpoint, there is no easier way to record and keep track of your family tree than on a personal computer. To get started you don’t need to spend any money on software as there are several free programs that will do everything you need.  Two of these can be found at:

Genealogy 101 Course Outline
UPDATED: October 2022
by Bob Dawes
This handout for the Quinte Branch OGS Beginners Course discusses using basic charts and forms, the seven golden rules of research, what records are useful, local area repositories, computer programs and using the internet.

Starting Your Own Family History(VIDEO)

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